Thursday, October 16

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Day 16 (Thursday, October 16)

Lesson Objectives
Students will

Connection to Course Goals. Reflecting on inquiry and reporting on it builds understanding of critical reading, information literacy, writing processes, and rhetorical situation. Discussion of differences between explaining and arguing furthers students’ grasp of academic discourse while they begin laying the groundwork for the Academic Argument.


Attendance and introduction (2-3 minutes)

Assess inquiries and explain activity options (5-10 minutes)

Determine which groups you need to meet with today.  Explain that while you meet with each group, the rest of the class needs to work on one or more of the following activities (put the instructions on an overheads or make handouts):

Annotation workshop

Trade annotations with your group members, and give feedback by answering the following questions (explain all yes/no responses, please):

Negotiate answers to inquiry questions

If your group is finished with research, take time to share what you found by reading sources and/or bibliography entries.  Discuss your opinions—now that you have researched, how do you answer your inquiry question?  Compare your answers now to what they were when you started.  What changed them?  How did they change?  If they seem unchanged, why is that?  Are there subtle changes you’re not considering?  Make notes about all of this, as you’ll need to use them as you write your explanation on Thursday.

Discuss what each of you has discovered from your sources.  What do the sources each of you found add to the conversation on this questions?  

Read and evaluate sample Critical Introductions

Take out your assignment sheet and review the strategies and criteria for the Critical Introduction.  Read the sample Critical Introductions and discuss their strengths and weaknesses (using the grading criteria as a guide).  As you discuss the samples, also discuss your plans for the Critical Introduction you will write on Thursday.

Work on drafting Critical Introductions

You can begin drafting your explanation even if your research is not 100% complete.  Reread the assignment sheet to remind yourselves of the explanation’s purpose and audience.  Begin drafting.  Be sure to hold onto what you write today so that you can use it on Thursday as you draft the rest of your explanation.

Conference with groups (30-35 minutes)

Tip: You may want to make the Group Project function on the Writing Studio available to students to post their annotated bibliographies in-progress so they can share them electronically during the process of writing the Critical Introductions.

As students work, you can conference with the groups you didn’t conference with last time.  Aim to help them assess their inquiry: are they finding relevant, reliable sources?  Are they finding a range of perspectives on the subject?  Is anyone very behind (if so, how can you and the group help the person catch up?)?  Are there group dynamic problems that you can ease?  Also, be sure you have communicated that you understand where each individual student is with his/her research. This should help motivate anyone who is lagging behind and it should ease any concerns that the best-prepared students may have.

Tip. Aim to leave each conference having helped the group formulate a plan drafting the Critical Introduction on Thursday.

Discuss Critical Introduction strategies (10-12 minutes)

Especially if you will not be meeting your class on Thursday, take time to revisit the assignment sheet and to reiterate the purpose, audience and strategies for the Critical Introduction.  Ask students who chose to read and evaluate sample Critical Intros last time and/or today to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the samples as well as to offer any advice about how to draft the explanation.

Big Tip. Some instructors have chosen in the past to open this assignment up to any subject students are interested in, which usually goes badly. The danger of plagiarism increases dramatically when students can choose any topic and abandoning the climate change issue will negate much of the value of the research just completed, as well as derail the trajectory of focused inquiry that has been the work of the previous eight weeks. If students express exhaustion with the climate change issue, work with them to see it with new eyes. And remind them they can choose the question another group researched or pose a related question if they do not want to write an argument about the question their group researched.

Conclude class and assign homework (3-5 minutes)

Wrap up class as usual, emphasizing the importance of sharing research so that everyone in each group can complete a thorough Critical Introduction of the group’s research.  Allow groups a few minutes to arrange a meeting if necessary.


Arrange to meet with your group as necessary (in person or online) to share enough information so that you can finish your Critical Introduction.  Post your Critical Introduction and (non-annotated) bibliography to your group’s discussion Forum by the beginning of class on Tuesday (October 21), and bring your sources, your annotations, and your Critical Introduction in a folder to turn in.