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Unit 1, Day 4:  Monday, August 27


What you'll do today in class:


-         Discuss Ideas vs. Events

-         Practice finding main ideas

-         Group activity to discuss main ideas in Chapkis and practice reacting


Connection to course goals:  Today’s activities emphasize finding and focusing on the main ideas of a text.  Also, students gain practice in offering personal reactions to the main ideas of a text in order to respond to the Essay 1 context.


INTRODUCTION: “Today we'll work with skills necessary to meet the expectations of the context of Essay 1. Given what you're trying to do in that assignment, we'll work on finding main ideas in a text and practice reacting to those ideas, both of which will be expected to meet the context effectively.”


1.      WTL (5 minutes):  Have students take about 4-5 minutes to summarize a recent TV show or movie they’ve seen.


2.      Discuss the WTL in terms of Ideas vs. Events (10 minutes):  See what shows or movies the students summarized and choose the most popular one.  Then. . .


-         Write the summary of that popular show/movie on the board.

-          Explain 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.  (For example, you might illustrate how the key events in the movie Saving Private Ryan about the Normandy invasion—a group of soldiers find Private Ryan but he won't leave his comrades so they all decide to stay and fight and most of them die—also convey ideas about how war is terrible and the effects war has on an individual, etc.)

-          Explain why we focus on ideas in an academic context (i.e. in a personal context, we'd summarize the events of a movie or TV show because we're just trying to tell our audience what happened in the movie.  But in an academic context we 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.  You might want to have students discuss why academic context might value main ideas over events.)


Transition: “For the first essay you'll need to find the main ideas of a text before reacting to be sure you're accurately and fairly representing the author's points.”


3.      Group ActivityPractice finding the main ideas of a text (10 minutes): 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 #5 to help them along if groups are stuck.  It also helps to sometimes point groups to specific places in the text they should consider.


-         Divide the class into 4 groups.

-         Remind students as they start that all of the texts we're reading are concerned with the overall issue of cultural influences and how we're affected by context, and to keep those overall ideas in mind when looking at this essay.

-         Ask each group to accomplish the following tasks:

·        Make a list of the main ideas of the text on your OH. Include by each main idea a page number where you find that idea suggested or expressed.

·        If time permits, begin to react to those main ideas. Do you agree or disagree with the author? Jot down any personal experiences that you've had that relate.


4.      Have each group present their findings on an OH (15 minutes):  Make sure students are providing an accurate representation of the main ideas of the text.  You might want to encourage students to take notes so they can have a list of the main ideas in the essay. Be prepared to deal with readings that may be inaccurate. It's probably best to try and head these readings off by checking with groups during the work time. However, if students do have misreadings in their presentations, one helpful suggestion for how to deal with misreadings would be to have students refer to the page numbers they've listed so everyone can read the main idea directly. Then see if everyone agrees with the group’s reading of that section in the text.  Or 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 students 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.


-         Try to generate the following list from the discussion:


Main ideas of Chapkis’ “Dress as Success:  Joolz”


·        The environment you're in will make demands about how to dress (biker gang, punks, "normal" society).

·        There are differing societal expectations for how concerned men and women should be about their looks (and perhaps 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 (Joolz 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).


5.      Discuss the reading (10 minutes): Begin discussing the details of Chapkis’ essay and students’ reactions to it.  Use the following questions to get students to articulate their reactions.


Discussion questions for Chapkis


·        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 Metallica t-shirt, and a hat? Would I be treated as a teacher?

·        Is Joolz successful in making a statement? Why or why not?

·        What personal experiences have you had in terms of fashion that relate to what Joolz is suggesting?


-         Summarize this activity:  Remind students that Essay 1 asks them to focus on a main idea and explain their personal reaction to it. 


CONCLUSION:   “Today we started making some distinctions between summarizing main ideas instead of events.  You’ll need to be able to focus on a main idea for your reaction in Essay 1.  Wednesday we’ll look more closely at how to support your reaction with personal evidence, which is going to be important for responding to the context for this assignment.”


Assignment for Day 5:


-         Read Wong’s “The Struggle to be an All-American Girl” in PHG (26-28).

-         Write a list of the main ideas in Wong’s essay and a 1-page reaction that includes the main idea you’re responding to, your reaction, and some explanation of why you think you react that way.