What we'll do today in class:
- Begin to define their context
- Zero Drafting of positions, audiences, purposes
- Audience Analysis
- Evaluating Sources
Connection to Course goals: The first few activities all ask students to begin analyzing the context for their final essay, including possible choosing a narrow issue, a purpose, and an audience. We then introduce source evaluation as an expectation of an academic argument. In order to effectively meet this context students must be able to find credible sources so they can support their arguments effectively.
. Have students do the question analysis found in the PHG on p. 553. Emphasize again the importance of a narrow focus. For example, if a student has decided they want to focus on "standardized testing", this is certainly narrowing things down from the vast field of topics they could discuss. But they still want to refine this a bit more, by narrowing the topic to "standardized testing at the secondary level", or "is standardized testing biased".
- Focus activity
Transition: After you've narrowed your issue, your first goal is understanding the various positions and questions within that issue, just like we worked on Tuesday. We're going to spend some time now working on helping you define a context and audience for your issue.
Zero Draft of Context. The premise of a Zero Draft activity is to get students thinking and writing based solely on what they know or have found so far, without any immediate concern toward deciding which audience.
- Write your tentative focused issue in the form of a question on the top of two sheets of paper
- Write for 10 minutes on the following questions:
- What are the various positions on this issue? Start with the 3 you generated as homework, but also add any others you think might be possible. Why do people take each of these positions?
- Who is interested in your issue? Who could do something about your issue? Why are they interested in this issue?
- What potential audiences can you think of for your essay?
- Which of these audience do you think will work best and why?
After they've done this for their own issue, have them exchange their issue/question with a classmate and have them answer the same questions for someone else's essay. This should provide students with a variety of possibilities for positions and audiences, and also some sense of possible purposes they could achieve based on who is interested and why.
Looking again at your own answers and your classmate's feedback, consider the following two questions:
Which of these positions have you actually found in your research so far? Which do you still have to make sure are really there?
Who do you now think would make a good audience?
Audience Analysis activity. Design an activity that asks students to choose a tentative audience for their essay and then consider what values, concerns, interests, etc. this audience will have that they should be aware of or address in their essay. You might also have them think about possible counter-arguments the audience will offer and the writer should refute.
Transition: Once you've narrowed your focus and considered your audience, you've taken two important steps in evaluating sources. Narrowing your focus helps determine more readily if a source will be relevant and useful for your purposes. Narrowing your audience better defines what type of sources will and will not be effective in addressing this group. Let's now consider these and other factors to consider in evaluating sources.
Evaluating sources. Discuss the purpose of evaluating sources, and then the reading from the PHG so they know how to evaluate both internet and library sources.
Evaluate the source they brought to class. Have them use the information from the previous discussion to evaluate the 2 sources they brought to class.
You might have them exchange one or both of these sources to have other people evaluating them as well.
PHG, "Claims," pp. 434-438
PHG, "Interviewing" and "Writing Questionnaires," pp.241-243
Bring (2) new and CREDIBLE articles on your issue, each representing a different position. Make sure you've evaluated these sources based on today's discussion
Based on what we did today in class, 2 copies of a typed 1-page description of your context that includes your issue phrased as a question, your probable purpose in writing on the issue, and the audience you think you'll be writing to.