What they'll do today in class:
- Learn how to find the main ideas in a text.
- Practice reacting to the main ideas of an essay
- Prewriting activity for Wednesday and Essay 1
Connection to course goals: The first two activities stress responding to the context of a writing assignment (in this case the need for an audience to understand how the student "read" the essay s/he will be reacting to), while the prewriting activity begins to show writing as an ongoing and recursive process.
INTRODUCTION: Today we'll work with skills necessary to meet the expectations of the context of Essay 1. Given what you're trying to do in that assignment, we'll be working on finding main ideas in a text and practicing reacting to those ideas, both of which would be expected to meet the context effectively. Then we'll move on to do some pre-writing for Essay 1 to help you start generating ideas and focusing for your first essay.
- WTL: Take about 5 minutes to summarize a recent TV show or movie that you've seen.
See who they summarized - pick the most popular one
- Summarize on board. (They will probably list events here. They'll probably explain what happened in the episode rather than what ideas the episode conveyed. They might say that Saving Private Ryan was about the Normandy invasion, then a group of soldiers goes to find Private Ryan, on the way two of them die. They find him, but he won't leave his comrades. They all decided to stay and fight. Everyone dies in the end except for Ryan and two of the soldiers. These are the events. We're after ideas - SPR is about: How war is terrible. The effects war has on an individual. Choices between the good of one person versus what's best for many. It's about the price of freedom. Etc.)
- Then discuss the difference between Ideas and Events. Look at the list of the events on the board, and ask them to come up with ideas that these events convey.
(NOTE: The point of the activity is that in a personal context, you'd summarize the events of a movie or TV show - you're just trying to tell your friend or whoever what happened in the movie. In an academic context, you try to summarize the ideas from a text. What does the text mean? What ideas are conveyed by the events? Be sure to emphasize CONTEXT here. We're not saying that event summaries are inherently bad or wrong, just not what an academic context demands.)
Transition to next activity: For the first essay you'll need to find the main ideas of an article before reacting to be sure you're accurately and fairly representing the author's points.
Group activity: practice finding the main ideas of an essay…
Divide the class into 4 groups
Remind them as they start that all of the essays we're reading are concerned with the overall issue of the individual and society, as well as how we're affected by context, and to keep those overall ideas in mind when looking at these essays.
Each group should accomplish the following tasks:
(NOTE: While the groups are working, you'll want to wander and check their understanding of the text. Feel free to use the discussion questions in #4 below to help them along if they're stuck. Or sometimes pointing them to consider specific places in the text is helpful.)
- Make a list of the main ideas of the essay. Include by each main idea a page number where you find that idea expressed.
- If time, begin to react to those main ideas. Do you agree or disagree with the author? Any personal experiences that you've had that relate?
- Main ideas of the Chapkis essay
- The environment you're in will make demands about how to dress - biker gang, punks, "normal" society (mother).
- There are differing societal expectations for how concerned men and women should be about their looks - they're more of a concern for women?
- We are, in some ways, defined by our choice of look. (wig incident)
- Resisting those norms can be a way to show strength. (combats rock world sexism)
- People are often treated differently if they don't look "normal" -- i.e. don't conform to the requirements of a social context.
Large group discussion of main ideas in Chapkis. Make sure they're providing an accurate representation of the essay's main ideas. You might want to encourage students to take notes so they can have a list of the main ideas of each essay. Be prepared to deal with readings that may be a little inaccurate. It's probably best to try and head these readings off by wandering during the group work time. However, if they do have misreadings you can deal with them during the discussion. Here are a few helpful suggestions for how to deal with these:
- refer to the page numbers they've listed so everyone can read the main idea directly. Then see if everyone agrees with the groups' reading of that section in the text.
- Ask if classmates agree with the main ideas the groups have listed.
If possible, try to avoid having to take on the role of correcting them yourselves. Encouraging them to respond to each other's ideas will make the class more student-centered, and means you don't have to come down on them for being wrong. But, of course, do correct them if the class fails to. A little discomfort now is better than leaving people with a misinterpretation of the essay.
Discuss the essays… here we're trying to make sure they do understand the main ideas and then get them started on reacting to those ideas.
- Discussion questions for the Chapkis essay…
- How much does the way we dress affect how people treat us?
- How much pressure is there to dress certain ways in certain situations?
- What if I walked in dressed in shorts, a KISS t-shirt, and a hat? Would I be treated as a teacher?
- Is Chapkis successful in making a statement? Why or why not?
- Any personal experiences you've had in terms of fashion?
Transition: After reacting to the essay as a group, let's move more toward your first essay and get you started on reacting to a main idea from a text in writing.
Prewriting activity - We've flushed out the main ideas of these three essays, so now let's practice reacting to those ideas by writing. Take about 5-7 minutes to freewrite your personal reaction to one of the main ideas from one of these authors. Pick one, and keep writing. Don't stop. Just generate any thoughts or feelings you have about what they're saying, and experiences that might relate, any observations that seem to comment on the idea, etc. (5 minutes)
LOOPING: Look back at your prewriting. Underline any points you think you could use as a focus for your first essay. Underline any examples you might be able to use. Choose one point, and begin a new freewrite. Choose one example, and describe it in detail and then explain how it relates to the author's point. (5 minutes)
Read in RC:
Fiske, "Shopping for Pleasure" pp. 257-261
A one page list of the main ideas in and reaction to the Fiske essay