Day 10 - Thursday, September 21
What they'll do today in class:
- Practice workshopping using the sample essay
- Analyze how well the sample meets the context for Essay 2
- Conduct a mini-workshop on focus and expectations
Connection to course goals: The activities from today's class emphasize the importance of revision in the writing process. Practicing a workshop with the sample essay asks students to evaluate how well a text meets a writing context, while at the same time developing their critiquing skills in preparation for helping each other revise on Tuesday. The final activity asks them to consider how the choices they made in their introduction set-up expectations for their essay, and also is practice for the main workshop on Tuesday.
- WTL: Take about 5-7 minutes to skim over the sample essay again, and then respond to this question: How well does this essay meet the context for Essay 2? What aspects of the essay work well in meeting that context and why? What parts of the essay don't meet the context as well and why?
- Discuss WTLs - We're trying here to get them thinking of the sample essay in terms of the context of the assignment rather than as a "model" for them to follow or avoid.
- Discussion questions:
- Which parts of the sample essay worked well for our context?
- Which parts didn't work as well?
-Generate a list of these CONTEXTUAL strengths and weakness on the board.
(NOTE: Hopefully students will raise issues of focus and development, but if not make sure you ask them to consider these aspects of the sample essay. These are the two most important parts of writing we're trying to teach them with this essay, so try to focus on them as much as possible.) Some possible questions you might use to get at these issues:
- What is the overall claim of the essay?
- Are there any parts of the essay that don't seem to connect to the overall claim?
- What are some examples of effective evidence in the essay?
- Are there areas where the audience might want more examples or development? If so, where and why?
Other concerns such as style, grammar, tone, etc. can certainly be brought up and discussed, but emphasize that these are less important in the overall scheme of an essay than focus and development. (10-15 min)
Transition: Now that we've decided where this essay works well and where it needs more work, let's practice providing constructive feedback that could help this writer improve.
Practice workshopping by suggesting to the author of the sample what they could do to improve.
- What are your experiences with workshopping/peer critique?
- Have you done any peer critiquing of any sort in the past?
Generate a list of "what helps" and "what doesn't help" in regard to workshopping and getting feedback on your work.
- Be HONEST but tactful.
- Point to specifics
- Make suggestions
- Don't take over the paper
- Concentrate on larger issues rather than smaller issues in early drafts.
- Strengths and weaknesses
You might have them try to place the list you come up with in a hierarchy. Which are most important in providing good feedback. Concentrating on larger issues, for example, is probably more important than providing specifics. Pointing to specific examples of misused commas won't help the essay much if the main problem is the focus isn't narrow enough. (10 min)
Transition: Let's put these into practice on the sample essay…
In groups of 2 or 3, look at the list of strengths and weaknesses.
On your overhead, write the author a brief letter which provides constructive feedback that will help them revise and improve their essay. Be sure to consider the list we came up with above. (10 min)
Present critiques. As the groups present their letters, ask the class to evaluate how helpful the feedback would be. Be sure to emphasize strengths and weaknesses in each example. They'll probably all have some helpful feedback, but also places that could be more useful. And remind them that you're all trying to become better critics - at this point it's not important who has the best letter, it's important that as a class they learn what type of feedback will be constructive so they can help each other improve. (10 min)
Transition: Now that we've practiced workshopping and giving constructive feedback, let's turn to your own essays and try to provide each other with helpful suggestions for writing the draft for Thursday.
Introductions - Let's start by reviewing the reading from the PHG. According to that section, what are the goals of an introduction?
- Get the reader's attention
- Introduce and focus on your main idea (thesis)
- It sets up expectations for what you'll cover in the rest of the essay
Focus and intro workshop. We're going to look at each other's introductions to see how effectively they grab the reader's attention, how well they set-up the overall main point of the essay, and what expectations they set-up for what the rest of the essay will cover.
- you may want to define the terms "lead-in," "essay map", and "thesis"
- Then ask - what are some different ways or options for "lead-ins"?
- Personal example - description of a person or place
- Example from a case study - Startling fact or statistic
- Statement from a book - Striking question or questions
- A common error or mistaken judgement (5 min)
- Exchange intros (pass them one person to the right)- After reading the intro, respond to the following questions on a separate sheet of paper (you want them to use a separate sheet of paper because if there's time more than one person will respond to each intro, and you don't want the second or third person to see what the person before them wrote)… Give them about 5 minutes to respond to these questions.
- How effective is the lead-in? Will it get the audience's attention? What other possibilities would you suggest for a lead-in and why?
- Looking at the intro, underline what you take to be the overall main point (thesis) of the essay.
- Based on the introduction, what do you think the rest of the essay will address? What points will the author make? Write a BRIEF outline of what you expect the rest of the essay to look like based on the expectations set-up in this introduction.
- Once you've finished answering these questions, pass the introduction one person to the right, and pass your responses back to the writer. (thus a new person will be responding to the introduction and the writer will collect these responses as they're completed. Hopefully everyone will get at least 2 people to read their intro, so they can compare responses). (10-15 min)
After at least two people have read each intro, have them return their responses and the intros to their writers. Each person should end up with their intro, and at least two responses. Then have them look over their responses (they can do this at home if you run out of time) and consider the following questions…
- Are the responses consistent in what they identified as the thesis?
- Are they consistent in the outline they provided of the rest of the essay?
If the answer to either of the above questions is "no", think why they weren't consistent and how you might clear up the thesis and/or expectations. A "no" is a pretty good sign that you're not clearly getting across what you need to get across.
- How well did your lead-in work? What other options were suggested? Will any of these work better?
- Based on the feedback you received, make a quick list of what you'll want to keep in mind when revising the introduction and writing the rest of the draft (5 min)
A completed draft of Essay 2