form groups and explore initial opinions on their question-at-issue
share initial opinions and learn about their peers’ frames of reference
Connection to Course Goals. Today we add collaboration to the close and critical reading skills already established. These activities prepare students to enter academic discourse, and will generate material they can use in their Critical Introductions.
Attendance and introduction (2-3 minutes)
Announce groups and ask students to rearrange (4-6 minutes)
To minimize confusion, put the list of groups and inquiry questions on an overhead transparency. Direct each group to a particular part of the classroom, and give students an opportunity to introduce themselves.
Tip. Groups of three are probably ideal—four becomes a little cumbersome and two makes it harder for the pair to find enough information.
Tip. Group work has its unique pros and cons. You may want to read this guide on Writing@CSU. You might want to assign it to students, too, to help them understand the value of and ways to succeed at a collaborative project such as this one.
Write-to-Learn (8-10 minutes)
Have students write about their initial opinions about their group’s inquiry question. A WTL will ensure that every student gets to voice his or her ideas. This is important for establishing group dynamics. Put these or similar questions on the overhead:
If you had to answer your group’s inquiry question now, how would you
answer it? Why?
What disciplines care most about your inquiry’s subject?
What keywords would you use to research your inquiry question?
What other questions might your group need to find answers to in order
to answer your inquiry question?
Interview activity (25-30 minutes)
Tip. Doing this activity will help students get to know each other and assess their starting point.
Ask groups to share their initial opinions through the following interview activity:
Goals: Your aim here is to learn about your own and your group members’ frames of reference regarding your topic.
Interview: Take turns interviewing each other. You may ask any of the following questions and any others that you think of. Take notes as you talk so that you can refer to these initial thoughts as your group drafts an explanation at the end of this project.
Tip. Students should hold onto the notes they take during these interviews so they can do the homework for Friday and so they can incorporate them into the Critical Intros to their Annotated Bibliographies.
What interests you about this question?
How much do you know about this subject?
How do you answer your group’s inquiry question right now?
Where do you think your views on this subject come from?
Where did you grow up? When did you grow up? How might this background affect how you think about your subject?
What do your family and friends think about this subject? Do their opinions influence you at all?
How do you identify yourself politically? How do your political leanings affect how you view your subject?
What sorts of values do you hold that might influence your opinions on this subject?
What else about you might influence what you think?
Conclude class and assign homework (3-5 minutes)
Wrap up class as usual, making sure each student has chosen another student to write about for homework. Each student should be written about once.
Type up a summary of one of your group member’s inquiry interview. Read back over the notes you took during the interview, and recall the discussion you had so that you can write a fair and accurate summary of your group member’s interests in the subject, their opinions, and frame of reference.