Thursday, August 31st

Day 4 - Thursday, August 31st

Lesson Objectives

To continue discussing the issues brought up in the readings; to once again highlight how purpose, audience, and context influence a text. To introduce the two types of response we'll be using and get students started collecting ideas for their response.

Connection to Course Goals

The discussion of homework articles is connected to our goal of helping students become accountable for the conversations they wish to participate in. Introducing response is important for the thematic aims of this course because it allows students to invest their own ideas on issues of public importance.

Take Attendance and Introduce Class (3 - 5 minutes)

After taking roll, you may want to remind students that we will be workshopping their P1A essay one week from today. Remind students that you are available during office hours to meet with them if they have questions about their writing. Also, remind them that the Writing Center (in Eddy room 6) is a great resource.

Transition: Develop a transition here to move into the next activity.

Collect Summaries of Martin (3 - 5 minutes)

Let students know that you'll return their summaries in time for your feedback to be useful as they prepare their P1A final essays.

Transition: Develop a transition here to move into the next activity.

Discuss Homework Articles (15-20 minutes)

The goal of this discussion is to help students see how the articles we've read so far fit into the conversation regarding racial and cultural issues precipitated by Hurricane Katrina. Remind students that you did a similar activity on Tuesday, and encourage them to think of this process as a useful critical reading tool.

Begin by breaking the class into four groups. The easiest way to do this initially might be to have them form groups with the people sitting nearest them; or, if you want to mix them up a bit, have them count off by 4's and designate a quadrant of the room for each group to gather in. While students are getting settled into their groups, draw the following grid on the board or put it up on an overhead you prepared for this activity:

  Purpose: What was the author's purpose? What were they trying to accomplish? Audience: Who was the article written for? How does this audience differ from us? How is the article still relevant to us? Context: Where and when was this article published? What else do we know about the context that could help us better understand this article?

"New Orleans Blues"


"Wake Me When It's Over"


"American Dilemma"


"A Desperate Sense of Optimism"


Once the students have gotten settled into their groups and had a chance to look at the grid, tell them that their task as a group is to fill in the blanks for their assigned article. Give each group an article to discuss, and let them know that they have about five minutes to work through all of the questions. Make sure to remind students to discuss what they found out about the context of these articles through their research. Once groups have analyzed the purpose, audience, and context of their assigned article, they should send a group member up to fill in the appropriate spaces on the grid. (Note: Make sure to have multiple markers or pieces of chalk available to avoid a bottleneck at the front of the room.)

As groups are working, you should walk around the room and check in with each group. You might ask groups a follow-up question or two about their analysis of the articles, or you might answer any questions that they have about purpose, audience, and context in general.

Once all four groups have filled in the chart, ask each group to briefly talk through their findings. You might remind the class that this is useful information to take down in their notes, as our discussions of these articles will continue for several days yet. This would also be a good moment to link back to the overall concept of writing as a conversation by discussing how each of the author's add their own "voice" or perspective to the discussion about racial fallout in New Orleans precipitated by Hurricane Katrina.

Sample Transition: Now that we have a clearer sense of where these articles are coming from and how they fit into the larger conversation, let's discuss your reactions to them.

Discuss the larger conversation (15-20 minutes)

In groups or as a whole class, ask students to share their responses to "New Orleans Blues". Do they agree with the concept of a "people's reconstruction"? If so, why? Did they disagree? If so, why? What support can they think of for their positions? How does the idea of a "people's reconstruction" differ from the positions of Early and Wilson?

Use this initial discussion as a springboard to explore the larger conversation about racial and cultural fallout in New Orleans precipitated by Hurricane Katrina. When conducting a large class discussion like this, it's useful to come prepared with a list of questions about whatever it is that you want to discuss. You can use these questions to guide discussion (though it's important to let the conversation develop on its own as much as possible). Make sure, too, to have follow-up questions ready to help generate conversation. Follow-up questions might ask students to explore why they had a particular response; they might also, in this case, take the form of asking students about their own reactions to the devastation caused by Katrina, or perhaps any relief efforts they took part in. You might even ask them what they think should be done next -certainly the articles we've been reading present a range of views on possible reconstruction techniques. Taking notes on the board of the points raised in the discussion will also help guide and shape this activity.

This might also be a time to bring in any supplementary materials about Hurricane Katrina that you think will help generate discussion. If you have a smart room, you could show news clips from the event, or you can check out a projector and laptop from the English office and look at resources on the Web. The lecturers have a variety of materials available, too, so don't hesitate to ask for resource or ideas.

Transition: Develop a transition here to move into the next activity.

Introduce Response (15 minutes)

The goal of this discussion is to briefly introduce students to two ways of responding to a text that we'll be exploring: agreeing/disagreeing with the text's ideas and analyzing/evaluating what makes the text effective or ineffective. Review the points on pgs. 168 - 170 in the PHG, highlighting important concepts and phrases. Also, check out the teaching guide on Types of Summary and Response . You may want to make an overhead like the following:

Although there are a variety of ways we can respond to texts, the two ways approaches we'll be pursuing in this class are:

The goal of an Agree/Disagree Response is to emphasize one important idea from a writer's text and support or refute that idea using reasons and evidence. Here, you want to convince a reader that your position is a favorable one. (Portfolio I - Part A focuses on Agree/Disagree Response)

The goal of an Analytical/Evaluative Response is to determine a text's effectiveness by examining its parts. You might look at the purpose, the intended audience, the thesis, the main ideas, the organization and evidence, and the language and style. Here, your aim is to point out an essay's strong points and/or where it falls short. Analyzing the text's effectiveness allows you to make more informed decisions about the usefulness and credibility of a writer's argument. (Portfolio I - Part B focuses on Analytical/Evaluative Response)

Once you discuss these broadly, focus more narrowly on the agree/disagree response since they will do that for homework. Our goal here is not to show students that these types of responses exist simply as responses devoid of writing situations. You should ask students when/why they would choose to write a given response and/or provide examples of this.

You can point out that they will practice both ways of responding through upcoming essays. For now, it's only important that they understand the differences between the two approaches. Also, let them know that a combination of responses is possible for some of the papers they will write. If they choose a combination, they simply need to be sure that their response makes an overall, focused point.

For the agree/disagree response, discuss what students feel the focus of the response will be (with what and to what extent they agree or disagree). And explain that this type of response is usually best supported with personal experience and/or outside textual sources.

Transition: Develop a transition here. You might explain that students will shortly practice writing an agree/disagree response to the one of the articles they've read as homework; but first you'd like to take a few minutes in class to freewrite about their responses.

Conduct a Write to Learn (10 minutes)

Introduce this activity by reminding students that writing is a process, and as such, we have to start somewhere. Freewriting is one tactic that can help us generate an initial draft. You might bring in a few paragraphs from Anne Lamott's essay "Shitty First Drafts" (available in the appendix or from one of the lecturers) to help emphasize this point and break the ice.

Have students choose one of the P1A articles (Martin, "New Orleans Blues", or Early) and freewrite about their responses to it and to the discussion in class today. Tell them that they're not obligated to continue working with the article they're writing about now, but rather that this is an opportunity to record their thoughts so that they'll have something to go back to later.

If time, discuss students WTL responses. Tell them you'll collect these responses as process work for their first portfolio.

Conclude Class and Assign Homework (3 minutes)

Write a conclusion for today's class.


  1. Read about subject, purpose and thesis on pg. 24 of your PHG text.
  2. Print off and read the sample Portfolio 1A paper. Note in the margins what you think this essay is doing well and where you think it could be improved.
  3. Drawing from the other articles we've read, the resources posted under the Web Links button, personal experience, and/or any searches you've done online or in print, develop your freewrite from class today (or a freewrite one of the other P1A articles) into a rough first draft of an agree/disagree response, keeping in mind our discussion about quoting and paraphrasing source material. Remember, it doesn't have to be pretty or perfect - just get a draft down. Print your draft and bring it to class.

** Note to GTAs: The Portfolio I - Part A Sample Essay is located in the Writing Studio page for your lecturer's class. You will need to make it available to your students by copying and pasting it into your own class page.