Thursday, August 27

Day 2 (Thursday, August 27th)

Lesson Objectives

Students will




For today’s class students should have created a writing studio account, purchased both texts, read the Preface of the ROG and “A Path of Hope for the Future” annotating each piece and expecting to discuss the readings.  It’s not uncommon to have a few students come to class the second day without having done the homework, or for new students to show up.  Unprepared students will be able to join in a group without too much floundering.  Arrange a way to help students with any problems (couldn’t log on to Writing Studio, bought the wrong textbooks, etc…), but plan on a WTL, quiz, or other means of holding students accountable for the reading assignments and check students’ understanding of the texts. Remind students of the upcoming limited add/drop policy deadlines. Refer them to the yellow sheet you handed out on Tuesday.


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:  WTL / Discussion / Thesis Statements and Key Points / Academic Summary

 If you choose to put up an agenda, make it a reliable routine.

Attendance (2-3 minutes)

Take care of any remaining registration issues (such as new students or students that were absent on the first day), and be sure to note which students are absent. You might take attendance by asking each student to describe one thing he or she remembers about a classmate from the getting-to-know-you activity last time. Or, you can collect the WTL as a means of taking attendance.  Be sure to tell students you are taking attendance this way if you choose to do so.

Reading Comprehension WTL (5 minutes) 

It’s important to consistently hold students accountable for class reading assignments, and a quiz focused on close reading or a WTL are both good methods of doing so.  Whatever you choose, introducing your preferred method during the first weeks of class is a good way to signal that students need to keep up with their reading.

Possible Quiz questions:

Or try this WTL:

Are you familiar with what Quinn refers to as “commencement rhetoric”? Do you ever feel cheated that it is all “up to you,” to “save the world”? What advice would you give to the next generation? How is this similar to and/or different from Quinn’s advice to the Houston Environmental Youth Conference?  Does the preface of the ROG contain any advice?  If so, how is it similar to and/or different from Quinn’s advice?

Discuss “A Path of Hope for the Future” and the Preface of the ROG (10-15 minutes)

Collect the WTL’s and discuss the answers with the students.  This will give you an opportunity to review the main ideas of the article and for students to check their understanding of it.  Refer students to the text as questions arise and reinforce the idea of reading closely.  Move the discussion from simply comprehending the article to the students’ responses to it. 

Review Thesis Statements and Introduce Main Points (5-10 minutes)

Take time to review "thesis statements." Remember, there are many ways of defining this term; for our purposes a definition such as "the overall idea that the writer wants to communicate to readers" works well. You might ask students what other words they’ve associated with “thesis,” such as “central claim,” “primary argument,” etc. 

How can a reader find a thesis statement? Brainstorm ideas.

Take time to define “Main Point” and how it is different from the thesis.

Activity (5-10 minutes)

Continuing the class discussion, you might provide a summary outline of the Rhetoric of Green Reader Preface in a chronological fashion. 

Summary Outline:  The stuff you’ll need to identify 

This summary outline example can and should be used for all upcoming articles.

Introduce Summary Writing (10 minutes)

Introduce academic summary by explaining that summaries require one to set aside one’s own biases and preconceived ideas and really listen.  On the board, write:

Academic Summary

Purpose:  To offer a condensed and objective account of the main ideas and features of a text; to demonstrate your accurate comprehension of a text.

Audience:  Your instructor

Make sure students understand what “objective” means, and then ask students to talk about how they might about writing a summary that accomplishes the above purposes for the audience.  That is, how can students write a summary that will show you, the instructor, that they have understood what they have read?

Give them time to think through your question, and be encouraging about even minor suggestions (provided they apply—if a student says “write about why I disagree,” for example, don’t validate that because it will confuse everyone in the class).  Below “Purpose” and “Audience” on the board, make a list of “strategies”.  Once students have offered everything they seem to have, take time to assess the list of strategies.  If there’s anything that seems off, clarify it.  If anything essential is missing, add it and explain why you are adding it.  It’s okay if this list isn’t 100% complete because students will read more about writing summaries for homework, and you will cover it more in class next week.  In a perfect world, the following would be on the list in some form (explanations you might give are in parentheses).

Model the Process of Summary using Quinn (15 minutes)

Using Quinn’s “A Path of Hope for the Future,” model the process of summary writing for students.  On the board put the headings of the summary outline up and as a class, put pieces together.  Start with the context, and then help students identify the thesis and key points.
The following can be made into a summary outline notes overhead.

Summary:  The stuff you’ll need to identify

Often, main points are reasons or "because" statements that support the thesis. Sometimes they are not phrased with the "because" conjunction, though they could be. Ask students to find specific language in Quinn’s essay that explains why he thinks we should, indeed, change our “cultural vision”. Possibilities include: "To end a vicious cycle of passing on the responsibility to save the world to future generations," "you will set an example for other people," etc. 

How do these statements differ from ones like "it means we have forty years to find a new path for ourselves " and “back in the eighties, a lot of eight-year-olds-came home and told their parents, ‘By God, we’re going to start recycling aluminum cans!’—and they made it stick”? The difference, mainly, is in scope—the statements quoted in the paragraph above are broader and use general language; they are reasons. The statements quoted in this paragraph are narrower and give specifics; they are evidence that support the reasons. Writers often offer several pieces of similar evidence to prove a reason; Quinn has done so in this essay. 

With a thesis and some reasons listed, you’ve got a good start.  But does this cover all of Quinn’s main points? Not really; arguments often contain more main points than just a thesis and reasons (sometimes they offer concessions, refute counter arguments, or suggest solutions; these things do not offer direct reasoning for the thesis, but still they are integral parts of the argument). In Quinn’s case, he has included a few “fundamental notions” for saving the world. These notions are important key points, though it is not a reason for the thesis (stop continually waiting for someone else to solve the world’s problems by passing on the responsibility through the generations.) Leaving the fundamental notions out of the summary altogether, though, would be misrepresenting the text. 

On the board, now, you should have the basic things that would need to go into a summary of Daniel Quinn’s essay. Ask students how they would turn this list into paragraphs. How long might the summary be?  Might they incorporate quotes? 

Group Summaries (15 minutes)

From outline to paragraph form. In this activity, students will work in small groups (3-4 students) to complete the same tasks you just worked through on the board, and to write the summary in paragraph form. Explain the group work instructions (on an overhead transparency) and then give groups time to work. 

Group Summaries Work with your group to write a summary of Quinn’s essay.

Come up to the front of the room to get a blank transparency and an overhead pen.  Write an academic summary in paragraph form.  Please write your summary on the overhead transparency so that we can look at it next week during class.

Note:  Each group member should retain a copy of this group summary (or at least detailed notes) because you will be asked to review this summary in the future.

Once all (or most) groups are finished, collect the transparencies and markers.  Talk about the writing process, and ask if students have questions about writing summaries.

Assign Homework for Tuesday (3-5 minutes)

Conclude class

Conclude class by saying something like, next time we will continue our exploration into the conversation about green rhetoric by looking closely at a text and being able not only to summarize the content, but also to analyze the rhetorical situation.

Connection to Next Class

Take time to read over today's in-class summaries to casually assess students' writing abilities.

Next week, you will continue on with concepts you introduced today.  You’ll move from close reading of a text and summarizing the argument toward  analyzing it in a rhetorical context.