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 Thursday 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 ofthe context of Essay 1. Given what you're trying to do in thatassignment, we'll be working on finding main ideas in a text andpracticing reacting to those ideas, both of which would be expected to meet the context effectively. Then we'll move on to dosome pre-writing for Essay 1 to help you start generating ideasand 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.) (15-20 min)
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 essays…
- Divide the class into 4 groups, two for each essay.
- 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
- Make a list of the main ideas of the essay on your overhead. 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?
- 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. (10 min)
- Main ideas of Fiske essay:
- Malls function to reinforce larger cultural notions of consumerism and power
- The "religion" metaphor often attached to malls and consumerism doesn't really stand up because consumers have more power than it usually appears.
- Malls try to "equal" people out with advertising - "Admits everyone"
- The power of the mall is subverted by youths who come to hang out - they "consume images and space" rather than products.
- The people who browse with no intention to buy and elderly "mallwalkers" also resist. They're not there to do what they're supposed to do.
- This resistance threatens those who supposedly have power in the mall - security, shop-owners, etc.
- 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.
- Have each group present their OH. 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 in their presentations, a few helpful suggestions for how to deal with these would be:
- 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 Fiske:
- Who has the power in the malls?
- How much influence does society have over our actions as consumers?
- What is the mall's relationship to the larger culture. What does the mall do in terms of cultural messages?
- Where do you fit with his "groups" of mall people. Are you a consumer? Ever browsed w/out buying? Ever just "hung out"?
- 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 essays 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 PHG:
Wong, "The Struggle to be an All-American Girl," p. 26-28
A one-page reaction for 2 of the 3 essays we've read so far that includes: The main idea you're responding to, your reaction, and some explanation of why you think you react that way.