Connection to Course Goals
Today’s class hits on many course goals; students are immersed in an inquiry and they are practicing sophisticated rhetorical analysis.
Connection to Students’ Own Writing
Critical reading is part of the writing process. The letter-writing assignment focuses on analyzing and evaluating a text.
Your prep for today may also be substantial, as you will need to carefully re-read "An Animal's Place" and take notes for the critical reading strategies you assigned to students to be prepared for today’s class. Hopefully you have had time to read over the summaries you collected on Wednesday, at least cursorily. Maybe you’ve begun grading them. If not, think about ways you can budget your time between now and next Wednesday to get them graded without losing sleep.
Rhetorical Situation graphic
Group work instructions
Writing a Letter assignment sheet handouts (if you choose to hand them out)
“An Animal’s Place”
For today’s class, students have, in effect, completed a rhetorical analysis of “An Animal's Place” (that is, they have done a double-entry log or a critical rereading guide).
Take attendance and introduce class (3 minutes)
Begin class as usual, being sure to preview activities and connect this class to Wednesday’s. Also, remember to keep the inquiry list going.
Discuss textbook reading (8-10 minutes)
Check that students understand the reading by asking for definitions of the terminology from chapter 2, by asking small groups to paraphrase definitions of particular terms, and/or by going around the room and asking each student to contribute one piece of information (or a question) from the reading. If you ask, “did you understand the reading?” you may not be able to address all of the gaps in understanding, so be sure you cover the terms. You might show the rhetorical situation graphic once more, and recap how all of the parts are interrelated.
Ask students to discuss the double-entry logs and the critical rereading guides—which did they choose? How did they choose? What did they learn? Focus the conversation on the insights students gained from writing as they read, especially those things which they would not have noticed otherwise.
Tell students that they may need these notes for the next paper and that you will collect them with the paper. Or you may choose to collect them today in order to assess how well students are grasping the concepts (and to hold them accountable). Keep in mind that if you collect this homework, you do not have to respond individually to it. You can record that it's done, and respond to the whole class about shared strengths and weaknesses, and you can explain to students that you are simply using the assignment to assess what they know as you plan your teaching.
Transition develop a transition that will show how the textbook reading connects to critically reading “Power Steer.”
Since students have already critically read “An Animal's Place,” students should be well prepared for today’s discussion. You can divide students into groups and assign each group a particular aspect of the rhetorical situation to discuss. Be sure to provide written instructions. This shouldn’t take terribly long since students will already have their own notes to compare. Pose at least one evaluative question to each group as well, and encourage students to show evidence from the text (“how well did Pollan accomplish his goals? Why do you say this?”; “are Pollan’s assumptions about his audience fair? Why/why not?” etc.). Allow groups time to present. Today, it’s fine to push students further in their explanations and to add to and/or correct as needed (since this isn’t brand new to them).
Before you move on to the next activity, be sure you tie the pieces together in some way. It’s all well and good to analyze something by breaking it down into parts, but if you don’t answer the “so what?” question you haven’t understood how the text functions. What does your analysis tell you about the text? Often, analysis leads to evaluation. The goal is not simply to judge the text “good” or “bad” necessarily, so encourage students to use other adjectives, such as "entertaining," "vivid," "sensationalistic," "credible" (or not), "logical" (or not), "confusing," "amusing," etc. Encourage students to focus on their responses to the text and what causes those responses. Pose the “so what?” question to encourage students to put the pieces back together.
Transition develop a transition that connects the skills you just practiced with the Writing a Letter assignment.
Distribute and discuss Writing a Letter assignment sheet (8-10 minutes)
Hand out the assignment sheet (or ask students to take out the one they printed from the WS) and go over it together. You can allow students time to read it silently, then highlight important aspects and answer questions or you can have students read sections of it aloud to the class. If you put the assignment sheet on an overhead instead of handing out copies, be sure the font is large enough (at least 16 pt.) that students can see it, and be sure you reiterate the importance of accessing the assignment sheet through the Writing Studio. This assignment is considerably more complicated than the summary, and students will need to be familiar enough with the assignment sheet that they can accomplish the basic assignment goals.
Transition write a transition that will connect this activity to the next.
Think through and write down your “if time” and “if I run out of time” ideas here.
Assign homework, collect the inquiry list, and conclude class (2 minutes)
Assign the following as homework, collect the inquiry list and then wrap up today’s class:
Homework for Monday
Research Michael Pollan by going to his website (www.michaelpollan.com). Read some of the interviews with Pollan (under “about”), take a look at his biography and vitae as well as the rest of the site. Try to home in on things that are relevant to what we have been reading, but collect whatever information sparks your interest. Bring what you find to class on Monday, when we’ll gather at least one piece of information from each student as we aim to describe Pollan’s “frame of reference,” or “lens.”
Access, print and read “Power Steer” (remind how to access) and do either a double-entry log or a critical rereading guide (whichever one you didn’t do for “An Animal's Place.”
To class next time, bring your Pollan research, and your critical reading work for “Power Steer” and for “An Animal's Place.”
Connection to Next Class
Today, students began thinking about the next essay, which you’ll continue to work towards during class next week. The analytical work students are doing now is quite challenging, so keep encouraging students to hang in there.