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Unit One, Day 9 - Tuesday, September 19

What we'll do today in class:

Connection to Course Goals: Once again, in order to effectively evaluate an essay for a sociology professor, they'll have to focus their essay and support their judgements about the essay to convince the audience. This demonstrates writing as a response to context, and the first activity is specifically designed to show how part of the writing process is asking the right questions to show what they must do to meet the context and where they can make choices.


  1. WTL: Focus Activity - Generating questions to help focus an essay. Take about 5-6 minutes and make a list of questions you might ask about an essay to help narrow your focus for this assignment. That is, if you're sitting down to start draft #1, what questions could you actively consider in order to help narrow your focus and purpose? You might start by thinking about the context of the assignment, and then consider which parts of the assignment or essay you should ask questions about. You can use general questions that would help focus any essay, or questions that are specific to this assignment. (5 min)
  2. Generate a list of questions for focusing on the board. What you're after here is helping them develop the ability to consciously focus an essay. The questions should hopefully be things like:
  3. Focusing is really what the 1st step in Evaluation asks you to do - State your overall claim, which should include a judgement for each criterion you will use (i.e. which parts of the essay you've focused on as important and relevant to your purpose, and how they do or do not make the essay worthwhile for the professor's purposes). We also use the term "thesis" in regard to focus. A thesis will clearly and concisely state your overall focus for a reader. (10 min)

    Transition: Now that we've generated some questions that hopefully can help narrow the focus for essay 2 (or any essay) and complete step 4, let's practice focusing and also see how once you've focused your essay, the next step in evaluation - supporting the judgements you've made - becomes important.

  4. Before we practice focusing and supporting your essay, let's review the PHG reading on evidence.
  5. Transition: Now let's go ahead and practice focusing an essay and developing the judgements you make with specific examples. And keep in mind that these parts of the writing process work together. You can't really have any effective development without a clear overall focus and purpose. Think back to the map activity - I didn't give you a clear focus and purpose in drawing the US and CO maps, and you consequently couldn't incorporate the right details.

  6. Practice focus and development with the Schor essay or Hochschild essay.
  7. In your groups, take about 10 minutes to consider the following questions…

  8. Present overheads. Look at their individual theses and then examine the evidence to see what type of evidence they used and if it is specific and effective. Again, when they're presenting their overheads, ask the class to evaluate how effectively the group has narrowed their focus and supported their points. Get the whole class involved so they actively have to learn exactly what they should be doing.(10-15 min)
  9. Transition: We've now seen how focus and development can work, so let's turn to your assignment and get you started on focusing and supporting your essays.

  10. Pre-writing activity on focus and development.
  11. (NOTE: Put these instructions on an OH, and then lead students through them one at a time so they have to focus on the specific task in each part.)

    1. Pull out your homework writings.
    2. Read over what you wrote, and then consider the questions we generated above for focusing an essay. Is your focus narrow enough? Are the a number of directions you could go from your homework? If so, use the questions we've generated to narrow you focus. Another place to go that might be helpful would be the list of criteria we've used throughout this unit. How would you "personalize" this criteria to your purpose and context in Essay 2? Which of the criteria are most important for your essay? Which would you most like to address? Which would the professor be most interested in regarding the essay you're evaluating?
    3. On a separate sheet of paper, make a list of your "personalized" criteria. Then write a statement that summarizes your focus (your evaluation of the essay based on those criteria).
    4. Once you've narrowed your focus, think about what types of evidence you'll need. Will you use only textual evidence? Will personal experience be needed? Could personal experience be useful in helping your argument?
    5. Make a list of at least three specific examples you'll be able to use as support for your essay, similar to what we did in the group activity above. Under each example, write a brief explanation of how this example supports your judgements about the essay. (10-15 min)
  12. Now let's get some initial feedback on your focus and development. Exchange you sheet with a classmate. Once you've exchanged, respond to the following questions…
    1. Are there any other ways you could narrow this focus? Will a reader easily be able to follow this "map" within the allotted space (750-100 words)?
    2. Are their examples DIRECTLY relevant to the focus/thesis they stated above? Will the examples be specific enough for a reader to understand? Are there any other examples you can think of that would be useful for this writer?
    3. Are the explanations of their examples clear? (5-7 min)
  13. Conclusion



Essay 2 sample (Found in Appendix)

PHG, "Introductions and Lead-ins" p. 299-301


An introduction for your essay 2