Week 15: Monday, December 3-Friday, December 7

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This week, your students need you to help them make rhetorical choices for the public argument.  Also this week, you’ll conduct a public argument workshop, wrap up the course and administer course evaluations.  The chronology of this week will depend on what you did last week as well as your students’ needs.  Adjust the following suggested activities according to what will work best for your class.

Compare academic and public argument strategies

Take time to underscore the differences between the academic argument and the public argument.  Audience and genre will likely be the most changed elements of the writing situation; how will that impact the rhetorical choices students make as they write this argument?  (You can use the rhetorical hierarchy to prompt discussion—how might the focus change?  organization? development? tone? voice? genre conventions? etc.)

Discuss visual rhetoric

Since many of the students’ genre choices will require some visual elements, take time to discuss how visual choices can contribute to logos, ethos and pathos.  Give students the following as a handout or on an overhead.  This is adapted from a full-length handout that can be found in the appendix.

Visual Rhetoric
“Visual Rhetoric” has been used to mean anything from the use of images as argument, to the arrangement of elements on a page for rhetorical effect, to the use of typography (fonts) and more.

TEXT ELEMENTS Questions to consider when choosing fonts:
1. What kinds of expectations does my audience have regarding fonts?  Are they scholars or soccer fans?  Church-goers or movie-goers?
2. What am I representing in my font choices?  Am I a job applicant?  A student writing a seminar paper?  A club officer making a poster to advertise a formal dinner?
3. At what distance is my text being viewed?  On a greeting card or a bumper sticker?  A poster or a flyer?
4. What fonts are commonly available on people’s computers that I can use for the Web? 

COLOR Questions to consider when choosing colors:
1. Does the combination of colors I'm using lend itself to easy reading, either on-screen or on paper?
2. Are the cultural associations, if any, accompanying the colors appropriate?

IMAGES Questions to consider when choosing images:
1. How will the image relate to my ethos (credibility)? 
2. Do illustrations and diagrams offer clear, selective representations of reality?
3. Have I chosen the right kind of graph to represent your information?  (Pie charts help show parts of a whole (percentages); Bar graphs show comparisons between a number of different variables; line graphs plot changes in one variable over time).
4. Are digital images of high quality?  Is there anything irrelevant in the shot?

DESIGN Consider these things as you bring all of the above factors together:
1. How will a reader/viewer will experience my design: what will they see first, and what will they notice later?
2. Organize according to importance: important information gets large text, special fonts, color.
3. Organize according to consistency: certain kinds of information appears in similar places, in similar style.
4. Organize to surprise—rotate text, use images as background, leave space around different elements, etc.
5. Step back to see how the design affects you.  Ask yourself: would I read this?  Does the design clarify my information, or make it more confusing? Is the design unique enough to make it stand out?  Is the design readable from its intended distance?  What is the tone of the overall design?  Does this tone work for my purpose and audience?

Discuss each of the elements—text, color and images—and how they relate to overall design.  Practice answering the questions with sample visual arguments such as advertisements.  Ask small groups to choose an advertisement in a magazine and to discuss the ways in which the visual elements are working.  Then, groups can explain their findings to the class.  As groups explain how the ad works, you can prompt the class to answer questions about rhetoric, such as: how does the design draw readers in?  How do design elements contribute to credibility?  Does the ad attempt to get you emotionally involved at all?  What claim is the ad making? etc.

You can then move on to discuss student work (you can find sample public arguments in the appendix) [link to sample public arguments here] to look at the ways in which students have applied design principles to the assignment at hand.  Also you can have your students brainstorm ways in which they may use the design principles in their own arguments.

Conduct a public argument workshop

Design a workshop activity that reflects the goals of the assignment, the grading criteria and  classroom instruction.

Homework for Week 15: