What they'll do today in class:
- Introduction to concepts of context, purpose, audience, and focus.
- Examine how we all read from a given context that is influenced by culture.
- Introduction to the "individual and society" topic.
Connection to course goals: Introducing the terms starts to get students thinking of writing as a contextual act, and the grocery and homework activity shows that we make choices within writing contexts. The activity on responses to Zoellner begins to show students that culture plays an active part in the choices we make in writing and reading, setting the stage for later using writing to act critically toward culture (i.e. If culture influences our reading and writing choices, presumably if we're aware of that influence we can exercise more control and try to change that influence).
NOTE: you can use the above sections to provide students with an introduction to the day's lesson plan. Again, it helps students if they know what they're trying to learn in that day's class. For example, you might take the above activities and goals and introduce today's class as follows:
Introduction:Today we'll be returning to the idea of how context influences our choicesand actions. We'll look specifically at contexts created by culture andhow they influence us as writers, readers and individuals. We'll thendiscuss cultural analysis as a focus for this class, and finally look at howwriting occurs within a context that influences a writer's choices.
Again, you're just trying to give the students a quick overview of what you'll be covering in class so they can keep it in mind during the activities.
- Roll -- Who's added or dropped since Tuesday? Remember that some students who may not have attended the first class will likely show up today. If you have room, you can sign an add form for anyone on your waiting list, and if someone has missed both classes you can dis-enroll them through the form you were given with your roster. (2-5 min.)
- Discussion of critical thinking and studying culture by referring to the reading from CR
- What is Reading Culture? You can turn them to page 3 for an exact discussion, or to generate discussion if it falls flat by highlighting passages).
- Why should we read culture in a writing class? Why not just "write"?
- Need a context and purpose for writing (something to write about!)
- Cultural messages, as we'll discuss, are transferred through a variety of texts. This class will broaden people's definition of "texts" to include television and other media. We'll be "reading" culture just like a text, because it serves as another form of communicating ideas and beliefs.
- When writing, it's useful to be able to understand the cultural contexts of your audience, so you can address them more effectively.
- Understanding the entire rhetorical context - including cultural concerns - allows a writer to choose a more appropriate purpose.
- Literate and educated members of society should be able to apply the tools of critical analysis to the world around them. This allows us to understand how things work and to make better informed decisions. (You many want to define "critical" and "analysis" for them).
- We all need to think about our choices/values and make these decisions as informed decisions, not just operating on received wisdom. We're participants in culture, so why not be more active participants?
Transition to next activity: In the first unit, you'll be concentrating on the relationship between the individual and society. What kind of societal pressures influence our individual lives? What kinds of power can individuals exercise over society? What aspects of our lives help define our cultural identity? The readings in the first unit will all deal with these issues, and critical reading is a necessary component of critical thinking, two of the skills you'll be developing this semester. Since part of critical reading is considering the influences readers (including ourselves) bring to texts, let's examine how context influences our reactions.
- Group activity on cultural influences and response to Zoellner. (NOTE: This activity aims to give students a chance to talk with a few classmates to generate a list of cultural influences people face, and then discuss their responses to Zoellner with some attention to how their responses may connect to these influences. The overall goal is to show how we bring our own contexts to our readings of a text. That is, just as the context we were in influenced our choices with the interview activity, the context(s) we bring to a text when we read influence how we read and respond to that text.)
- Break students into four groups. Each group should respond to the following prompt:
Discuss cultural influences and contexts we bring to reading. On one side of the board, make a class list of the cultural influences they compiled within their groups. On the other side of the board make a list of the types of responses people had to Zoellner essay. After you've got lists on both sides, move to the following discussion questions aimed at seeing how our cultural influences are carried through to our readings of texts…
- Using your homework assignments, compile a group list of various cultural influences that influence people's actions. You might also consider the following question: What makes up someone's background or identity? How might these aspects influence a person?
- After you've compiled that list, turn to the Zoellner essay and have each member of your group give a quick explanation of their response to his essay. Did you like it? Do you agree with him? Do you disagree with him? Why?
- If time, look at your list of cultural influences and think about which might impact how someone would react to Zoellner. (10 min)
- Are there any clear connections we might make between a reaction from this side and a cultural influence from the other?
- Looking just at the influences, what reactions might they produce and why? (you might pick one influence at a time and ask how you think a person with that influence would react to the essay)
- Look at the reactions and try to think of certain influences or beliefs that might lead to these reactions.
- How might a smoker react to this essay? How do you think a non-smoker would react? Why?
- NOTE: you might also think about general examples that could be used to show how different experiences produce different reactions to a text or topic (your racial experiences may affect what you think of Affirmative Action, for example)
Summarize this discussion by emphasizing again that context, while influencing the choices we make when creating texts, also influences the choices (reactions) we make when reading texts. (15 min)
Transition to next activity: Remind them that while we all come to a text with certain expectations, in order to read critically, we must be able to step out of that position to recognize the author's position. Similarly, to write effectively, we have to consider the context of our audience and our own contexts to clarify our writing in such a way that it communicates to someone with different expectations.
- Introduce importance of purpose/audience/focus. Read the material in PHG that they read for homework to see what you want to highlight here. Emphasize that no matter what you write, there is always a purpose, a focus, context, and an audience (which might be just you).
Purpose, Audience, Focus chart with their homework. Now that you've shown how purpose, audience and focus are important in a simple writing task like a grocery list, let's see how they conceived of these three in regard to their own homework. On the board, make columns for "Purpose," "Audience," and "Focus." Ask students to say who they envisioned as their audience for their homework writing - was it themselves? Was it the class as a whole? Was it simply you as an instructor? Next, ask what purpose they had in mind for that audience - Was it to show the teacher their writing skills? Was it to explain their cultural identity to themselves? Was it to let others in on what they think influences their lives? Was it just to fill a page to complete the assignment?
- Ask students to each take just a minute to jot down their basic grocery list if they were to go shopping.
- Ask one student to offer their list to put on the board. After you that students list on the board, ask them how this list might change if they were writing the list for their mom to do the shopping for them. They should add more detail to this list, for example maybe "cool ranch doritos" on this list vs. "chips" on the first list. They also might adjust the list based on amount, location, health concerns (low sodium or cholesterol foods), etc. Do this with another student's list, and provide a different context again. (10 min)
- Always try to think about why you are writing, what you're trying to accomplish with your text, and who you are writing to. That way you can more easily make conscious choices about your texts.
- Also, this shows that for any given writing context there are likely several different ways to meet the context -different audiences, different purposes, etc.(5-10min)
Transition: Now that we've talked a bit about how purpose, context, and audience in the writing process, let's examine the first essay assignment to identify these three concerns.
- Introduce Essay 1
- Handout assignment sheet
- Let them read over it
To check their understanding of the terms in general, and the essay in particular, ask them to restate the purpose, context, and audience as a class…
- What is the purpose of this essay?
- Who is your audience for this essay?
- Then, move to discussing how these three responses will affect their choices when writing Essay1. Since they are part of the audience, include them by asking what type of response they would like to read.
- Given your audience, what will they want to know about your reaction?
- What will you have to do to successfully explain your reaction to the class?
- What type of reaction would you want to read? (5-10 min)
- they should be able to generate such concerns as:
- A reaction that isn't a rant
- A reaction that doesn't go off on tangents or try to cover too much (focus)
- A reaction that has an appropriate tone
- A reaction I can relate to
- A reaction that explains why they react the way they do
- A reaction that doesn't offend the audience
- You can use this list of what they'd like to read as a basis for many of the activities we'll be doing over the next few days - We'll work on focusing on a main idea, supporting their responses, and other skills necessary to meet the goals they've set up above.
(NOTE: Be sure to emphasize here, and later when you discuss essays, that their essays should respond to a MAIN IDEA from a text, not an author's actions or the events in a text.)
Being a critical thinker and reader is important to our goals over the semester. This means paying close attention to texts you read. Let's think quickly about how we can become close and critical readers, and then we'll practice it quickly
What makes an effective critical reader?
- Practice "critical thinking and reading".
- How does one becomes a close reader of the text?
- What can you do to be more active and critical when reading an essay?
- Close reading - marginal markings, notes outside of text
- Consider the context in which the essay was written
- Consider your context - what am I bringing to my reading? Why do I react this way?
- You may want to emphasize that an important part of being a critical reader is turning that lens inward and examining your beliefs and influences and how they affect your reading of a text.
- Let's take a look at how one could be a "critical reader" of the Zoellner essay. Have an OH of the Zoellner essay prepared and then annotate as a class.
- Quickly have students skim the "Reading Strategies" on p. 20-21 of Reading Culture.
- Let's practice the first two suggestions here with the Zoellner essay.
- To connect this with your first essay, let's think specifically about reading Zoellner in preparation for writing Essay 1.
- What would you annotate? Underline? Mark in the margins?
Try to get them, here, to think about things like marking places where, as a reader, they reacted to something Zoellner said. Or perhaps places that seem key to his argument. (10-15 min)
Conclusion: Today we looked at how cultural contexts influence us as readers and writers, as well as how a writing contexts influences the texts we produce. On Tuesday we'll turn toward responding specifically to the context of Essay 1.
Read in RC:
Chapkis, "Dress as Success" pp. 211-214
Fiske, "Shopping for Pleasure" pp. 257-261
Read in PHG:
"Techniques for Reading" 149-157
List the main ideas from each essay