What they'll do today in class:
- Quickly review summary with Adams
- Practice analysis of Dilbert - style/tone/voice and organization
- Introduce focus and how to decide what to focus on
Connection to course goals: Practicing the skills of summary and analysis again shows students the need to meet the expectations of the context. They can also see the ability to make choices within that context because we focus on a different aspect of an essay this time (style, tone, organization). Introducing focus is the next step in meeting the expectations of an academic audience.
Today we'll look at the Dilbert essay to once again walk through the steps of evaluating, and we'll move one step further to begin using evidence to support our judgements about how well an essay meets our criteria.
- To begin, let's quickly summarize the main ideas of the Adams essay. (You'll probably just want to do this as a large class discussion and list the ideas on the board. Hopefully, they'll have the hang of summary by this point so it will come a little easier.) (5 min)
MAIN POINTS OF ADAMS ESSAY:
Let's again practice analysis, but with this essay we'll focus on organization and style. (NOTE: When we talk about style, we're referring to things like voice, tone, how the author "sounds" to the reader, whether the essay effectively gets and keeps the reader's attention.)
- The "Peter Principle" - people are promoted based on their competence until they reach their level of incompetence - has given way to the "Dilbert Principle" - the most incompetent workers are systematically moved to management b/c that's where they do the least damage.
- Managers are idiots (in so many words…)
- Let's look at the organization of this essay first. To do that, we'll do what's called a "backwards outline." That is, we'll work off of the finished essay and "outline" what each section is doing in terms of the overall purpose.
- Group Activity
- (see the appendix for backwards outline worksheet)
- In your groups, complete a "backwards outline" of the Adams essay based on the following guidelines:
- (NOTE: You may want to have half of the groups start half-way through the Adams essay, to ensure that you'll be able to get through the whole essay as a class.)
- Put these guidelines on an overhead or on the board so they can follow them easily.
- When you're filling out the first column on the worksheet, feel free to "group" paragraphs together if they accomplish the same purpose and make the same point.
- When you're filling out column 2, just try to give a quick summary of what's said…we're not looking for academic here.
- For section 3, look for various parts of an essay that we've seen so far - Is this section making a main point? Providing evidence? Getting the reader's attention? What does it do for the reader? (15 min)
- Make a class backwards outline on the board. (15 min)
- Then ask them to consider the following in terms of how well this "outlined" organization works…
- Does the organization effectively make the author's point? What are the main points and where are they made? Are the points clear? Are they interrupted or obscured by any of the organizational features we see in our outline? Would the main ideas be more effective if placed elsewhere?
- Does the organization lend itself to an easy or entertaining read? What works well for the reader? Were you ever lost? Did you ever lose interest because the organization was confusing? What other ways could Adams have organized this essay?
- Where does the essay utilize evidence? What kind of evidence is used? Is it effective?
- What pattern or structure of organization can you identify?
- Is the structure effective? Does it work? Why or why not?
Sum-up this activity by emphasizing that a backwards outline works well to really break-down the organization of an essay. (5-10 min)
- Return to the criteria list and see how some of these issues meet or fail to meet those general criteria. Where do these issues fit with our criteria list? How well does the essay meet the criteria? Where would it work well, where would it falter?(5 min)
Transition: We've seen his organization, now let's take a look at a different aspect of the Adams essay, his style.
- WTL: Take about 5 minutes to respond to the following prompt:
- Did you enjoy reading this essay? How would you describe the "voice" or tone in this
essay? Did you like the "voice" in the essay? Why or why not?
- Discuss their WTL's to get at issues of style and tone.
- Discussion questions:
- How would you describe the "tone" of this essay? The "voice"?
- How does this tone effectively draw the reader in (or fail to do so)?
- What specific places do you think achieve this?
- How credible is the tone in this essay? Do you trust the author? Why or why not? What specific places in the text make the author sound trustworthy or questionable?
- How effective would this tone/voice be in the sociology class?
- Why might the professor want an essay with this style? What would it accomplish well for their purposes? What would it be less effective in accomplishing? (you might return to the criteria list here) (15 min)
Emphasize while they're giving examples from the text of the places where they "see" the tone and style and this is one type of evidence that will be useful in developing their second essays. If they make claims about features of the text, they'll need to use specific textual evidence to support/show those claims.
Transition: So far we've looked at how evidence, organization, style, and tone could all be areas to focus on in evaluating an essay. Let's spend some time discussing how you might choose which of these to focus on with an essay.
How do you choose the parts of an essay you want to focus on? In this discussion you're trying to get them to think about the choices they'll have to make in writing their second essay.
- Once they've chosen an essay, what kind of questions should they consider to decide where to focus their analysis?
- What is my purpose? Am I going to recommend the essay be used or not used?
- What aspects of the essay really stood out to me?
- What aspects of the essay would be most relevant for the sociology class?
- Which criteria are most important for me (or for students in general)? (5 min)
- Once you have a list of possible questions, ask them to answer those questions in terms of the Adams essay. What would they focus on? What would be their purpose? What aspects of the essay stand out most?
RC Schor, "The Overworked American" pp. 366-370
Hochschild, "Work: The Great Escape" pp. 371-381
A one-page response to one of these essays. Focus on how well the essay meets one of our established criterion, and then explain why you chose that criterion.