Day 2 (Wednesday, August 22)
Connection to Course Goals
Today's class focuses on close reading and begins to introduce rhetorical concepts.
Connection to Students’ Own Writing
Identifying thesis statements practices close reading and prepares students for summary writing. Developing questions for further inquiry will engage students in ongoing inquiry that they will write about in Phase 1 and Phase 2 assignments.
Before today's class, be sure you have reread "One Thing to Do About Food,” revisited the Writing as a Conversation model and written your own lesson plan.
"One Thing to Do About Food" (annotated for each author's thesis and reasons)
Identifying Thesis Statements activity instructions
Homework (or make handouts for homework--do the same thing that you did on Monday)
For today's class, students have read "One Thing to Do About Food," have looked for thesis statements, and are expecting to discuss the reading. Note that it's not uncommon at all to have a few students come to class the second day without having done the homework. Usually this is because of technical difficulties that the students have waited until class to tell you about. Any unprepared student can join with a peer to look on with the reading and will be able to follow along during class. Be sure to arrange a way to help the student with the problems and point out how important it is to keep up with everything. Remind students of the upcoming limited add/drop policy deadlines. Refer them to the yellow sheet you handed out on the first day.
If you arrive to class a few minutes early, you might write the "agenda" on the board. A brief list of today's activities could go something like: "Discuss reading; Identify thesis statements; Introduce summary; Further inquiry." If you do this, make it a routine so that students know what to expect.
Take care of any remaining registration issues, and be sure to note which students are absent.
Begin today's class by previewing the activities you have planned: today we are going to start talking about academic inquiry and the subject we'll be inquiring into together over the next several weeks-- food ethics.
Prepare an overhead transparency with instructions:
On a sheet you can turn in, please write for a few minutes in response to the following questions:
- Are there problems with food in the U.S. today? If so, what are some of them? If not, why are so many people concerned about food right now?
- What are some of the problems with food in other parts of the world?
- What are some ethical (right/wrong) debates about food?
- Do you have an answer for "what should we eat?" If so, what is it? If not, why not?
When students have finished writing, engage them in a brief discussion of their responses. Then collect the Write-to-Learns. You'll want to read them over to get a preliminary sense of your students and their writing as well as to start a list of inquiry questions and topics.
Transition: We've come to this class with our own knowledge, beliefs and values about food, and we've read what several writers think about the issue. From this starting point, we'll explore the subject together.
Explain to students that as members of the academic community, one of our goals is to inquire into significant questions. Working together, we can see what others have to say about such questions and find "answers" to them. Explain the inquiry list. Here’s a sample explanation:
As we work over the next few weeks, we will be keeping track of the questions and terms we want to know more about. I will start a list as I read your WTLs from today. During each class session, someone will be in charge of adding questions to the list rasied by our reading and discussions.
Then ask for a volunteer “list-keeper” for today (or start with the first (or last) name on your roster). The "list-keeper" should listen especially carefully during discussions to make a record of the ideas and questions that come up. Also, the list-keeper can add questions of his/her own.
Transition: one of the ways we will inquire is to discuss what we are reading.
Talk with your students about the reading. While the aim of this activity is to teach students what it means to read a text closely, it's very likely that students will have reactions and opinions they want to share. You might start off with a general question, such as "which writer did you agree with most?" or "which of these suggestions do you think would work best?" As students offer answers, encourage them to talk to each other by responding with questions like "how many people agree (or disagree) with that?" or "who had a different reaction?" Don't hesitate to ask "why" or for clarification. If your students are very reluctant to speak, give them a WTL and then ask for some responses. If your students are overly-exuberant, keep track of time so that you can move forward with class after 10 minutes or so.
Transition: these reactions show that, often, writing gets a conversation going.
Explain the ways in which writing is similar to conversation. Here’s a sample explanation:
Like a conversation, writing involves exchanges of ideas that help us shape our own ideas and opinions. It would be foolish to open your mouth the moment you join a group of people engaged in conversation—instead, you listen for a few moments to understand what’s being discussed. Then, when you find that you have something to offer, you wait until an appropriate moment to contribute. We all know what happens to people who make off-topic, insensitive, inappropriate, or otherwise ill-considered remarks in a conversation.
The following is a visual representation of the way in which this course is designed around the writing as conversation metaphor. Present it to students on an overhead, or draw it on the board.
Right now, we are at the first stage: reading what others have written. That is, we are listening in on the conversation.
Take time to define "thesis statement." There are many ways of defining this term; for our purposes a definition such as "the main idea that the writer wants to communicate to readers" works well.
How can a reader find a thesis statement? Brainstorm ideas.
The writers in "One Thing to Do About Food" have made their thesis statements pretty easy to find, because each essay focuses on answering the question: "What is the one thing we can do about food to make the most difference in current food-related problems?" Practice with Peter Singer's essay--what is his answer to the question? (He says, “don’t buy factory-farm products.”)
Now, give students a chance to practice this in small groups. Give instructions for group work on an overhead before you divide students into groups.
Identifying Thesis Statements
Work with your group to identify the thesis statement in one of the "One Thing to Do About Food" essays.
If you disagree, try to figure out why, and try to reach a consensus.
In a few minutes, you'll report your findings back to the class.
Group 5-Duster and Ransom
Have students count off from 1 through 8 to create groups (all 1’s will group together, all 2’s together, and so on). Direct groups to particular parts of the room. Give groups a chance to say "hello" to each other, and then remind them of the task at hand.
It probably won't take groups a lot of time to do this; ask the first two groups finished to come to the front of the room and write the thesis statement they came up with on the board.
Once you have two theses on the board, talk them through with the class. Ask groups to explain why and how they identified this particular thesis, and ask the class if they agree with this group's identification. You can refer to your own notes to add on to (or to correct, if needed) what the groups have come up with. Remind students that thesis statements don't always come in the first paragraph, nor are they always neatly packaged in one obvious sentence.
Transition Being able to find the writer's thesis statement is essential to listening to what the writer has to add to the conversation on an issue.
Assign the following as homework:
Homework for Friday
- Read pages 163-168 in The Prentice Hall Guide for College Writers (PHG).
- View the video titled “The Meatrix” (available through the links section of our class page) and the accompanying presentation (available in the file folder).
- Annotate "One Thing to Do About Food" to identify reasons that support each author's thesis.
Conclude class by saying something like, on Friday, we will work on identifying how these writers support their thesis statements and work on writing summaries.
Connection to Next Class
On Friday, you will continue on with concepts you introduced today and introduce academic summary. In class, you will review summary writing, and students will work collaboratively to write summaries of the arguments in "One Thing to Do About Food."