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Overview of Weeks 3-5  (Essay 2)


Throughout the remaining weeks and in the Essay 2 assignment, we are working toward all four Unit 1 goals, including two not emphasized until this point:  moving students from more familiar, personal responses to more academic approaches for writing in a new context; and teaching principles of accurate and objective academic summary as part of responding to the assignment context.   Shaping their writing to fit the expectations and needs of a specific target reader and situation (the first-year seminar) is new to most students and therefore challenges them to learn to write within a more complicated, academic context.  In terms of critical reading, textual analysis becomes crucial here; in order to meet the context, students must carefully consider a text’s claim(s), evidence, organization, style/tone, as well as the underlying assumptions and implications of a writer’s argument.  Each of these features or aspects of a text becomes a possible criterion for evaluation that is open to students in choosing a text and making a recommendation.  Also important is ongoing audience analysis.  Through reading, writing, and group activities that involve analyzing the rhetorical situation for the assigned readings and Essay 2, as well as generating and revising possible criteria for evaluation and writing practice analyses/responses, students learn the new context and community they are being asked to write to for this second assignment.  Most importantly, though, they learn how the specific rhetorical situation for Essay 2 creates and shapes new audience expectations, as well as choices for how they can respond to that context.  In these activities, then, we aim to teach students to develop their own questions to provide direction for their writing.  In doing so, we remind students continuously that this process is how writers have to learn to think to write, rather than receiving directions from an instructor.