What you’ll do today in class:
- Discuss and practice “critical reading”
- Discuss how context influences a writer’s purpose, audience, focus
- Introduce Essay 1
Connection to course goals: The first activity emphasizes critical reading processes students will need to learn in order to effectively read and respond to a text. Showing how purpose, audience, and focus are related helps students make good choices in writing their response in Essay 1. Finally, we analyze the context of Essay 1 to begin to generate approaches students can use to meet the assignment context.
INTRODUCTION: “Today we'll work on reading a text critically and examining how a writer’s choices are shaped by context, both of which are necessary in order to meet the context of the Essay 1 assignment effectively.”
1. Discuss and practice "critical thinking and reading" (15 minutes): This activity asks students to think about how they can become close and critical readers and practice this process. Use this activity to emphasize to students that being a critical thinker and reader is important in being able to meet our course goals and that it requires paying close attention to texts they read.
- Ask students to identify what it means to be a “critical reader.”
· What makes an effective critical reader?
· How does one become 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 you are bringing to your reading and why you react the way you do)
Consider how cultural context influences your reading (turn the critical lens inward and examine your beliefs and influences)
- Ask students to practice being a "critical reader" of the Zoellner essay using the first two suggestions in the “Reading Strategies” section from RC. Have students identify what they marked/annotated in their homeworks. (Have an OH of the Zoellner essay prepared and then annotate as a class.)
· What did you annotate, underline or mark in the margins that you see as a controlling idea or viewpoint in Zoellner’s argument that he’s trying to get across to readers?
· What parts of the text did you react strongly to or find key to his argument?
Transition: “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 in order to clarify our writing in such a way that it communicates to someone with different expectations.”
2. Introduce the importance of purpose/audience/focus (10 minutes):
- 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 his or her list to put on the board. After you put that student’s list on the board, ask how this list might change if students were writing the list for their moms 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.
- Repeat with another student's list, and provide a different context again (e.g. a roommate, a husband).
3. Purpose, Audience, Focus chart with their homework (10 minutes): The goal of this activity is to show that for any given writing context there are likely several different ways to write effectively for the context—different audiences, different purposes, etc. Now that you've shown how purpose, audience and focus are important in a simple writing task like a grocery list, discuss these three in regard to their homeworks from Wednesday 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?
4. Discuss how context influences a writer’s choices in producing a text (5 minutes): Read the material in PHG that students read for homework to see what you want to highlight here. Emphasize that no matter what anyone writes, there is always a purpose, a focus, context, and an audience (which might be just the writer). Here it would also be useful to offer students a few examples of how context would change the text. You might talk about some of the texts you have written to illustrate.
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.”
5. Introduce Essay 1 (7-10 minutes):
- Handout assignment sheet.
- Let students read over it.
- To check their understanding of the terms in general, and the essay in particular, ask students to restate the purpose, context, and audience as a class:
· What is the purpose of this essay assignment?
· Who is your audience for this essay?
· What will you have to do to meet the assignment?
- Then, move to discussing how these responses will affect their choices when writing Essay 1. Since the students are part of the audience, include them by asking what type of response they would like to read.
· Given your audience, what will readers 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?
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 the writer reacts the way he or she does
a reaction that doesn't offend the audience
CONCLUSION: “Today we examined ways to read a text critically and considered purpose, audience, and focus in terms of the Essay 1 context. On Monday we’ll begin practicing finding and reacting to the main ideas of a text, which will help you set up your focus for Essay 1.”
Assignment for Day 4:
- Read Chapkis, “Dress as Success” in RC (236-39). Also read “Techniques for Reading” in PHG (149-54).
- Write a list of the main ideas and a 1-page personal reaction to Chapkis.