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Unit 1, Day 3:  Tuesday, August 28

What you’ll do today in class:


-         Discuss how to find the main ideas in a text

-         Practice reacting to the main ideas of a text

-         Prewriting activity to generate ideas for writing Essay 1


Connection to course goals:  The first two activities stress responding to the context of a writing assignment (in this case the need for an audience to understand how the students "read" the essay they will be reacting to), while the prewriting activity begins to show writing as an ongoing and recursive process.


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 be working on finding main ideas in a text and practicing reacting to those ideas, both of which would be expected to meet the context effectively. Then we'll move on to do some pre-writing for Essay 1 to help you start generating ideas and focusing for your first essay.”


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 (10-15 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, two for each text.

-         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 these essays.

-         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 each text.  You might want to encourage students to take notes so they can have a list of the main ideas of each 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 lists 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).


Main ideas of Hine’s “Goths in Tomorrowland”


·        There is an “alienation of teenagers from adult society” that Hine sees as a significant issue in our culture.

·        We do not have one “youth culture” but instead a “range of youth subcultures” defined by more than racial, ethnic or gender markers (70).

·        These “tribes” or groups such as Goths serve as places where youth often find a sense of belonging but also perhaps an “escape” (i.e. Disneyland example) (71).

·        Most youths “embrace” an “extreme” form of “individualism,” leading many to look for extreme ways to express themselves (72-3)


5.      Discuss the readings (15-20 minutes): Begin discussing the details of each essay and students’ reaction to them.  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?


Discussion questions for Hine


·        What does Hine’s opening Disneyland story suggest about the relationship between teens and adult society?

·        Why are terms such as “teenager” and “youth culture” no longer enough to represent and explain young people?  What “tribes” or groups have you noticed in high school and even in college?

·        Why do you think youths such as those who go for the Goth look often choose “extreme” forms of self-expression?  How might these types of choices influence their relationship to larger society, in your view?

·        What do you think Hine means when he writes that teens are often “caught in a paradox”?  To what extent do you agree, based on your experiences? Why?


Transition: “After reacting to the readings as a group, let's move more toward your first essay and get you started on reacting to a main idea from a text in writing.”


6.      Prewriting activity (5 minutes):  Orally, or on an OH, provide the following directions.


·        Take about 5 minutes to free-write your personal reaction to one of the main ideas from one of these authors. Pick one, and keep writing. Don't stop. Just generate any thoughts or feelings you have about what the texts are saying, experiences that might relate, any observations that seem to comment on the idea, etc.


7. “Looping” (5 minutes):  


·        Look back at your prewriting. Underline any points you think you could use as a focus for your first essay.  Underline any examples you might be able to use. Choose one point and begin a new free-write.  Or choose one example and describe it in detail and then explain how it relates to the author's point.


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.  Thursday 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 4:


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

-         Write a 1-page reaction to one of the readings you haven’t written in response to yet that includes the main idea you’re responding to, your reaction, and some explanation of why you think you react that way.  Also, bring your previous homework reactions to class for our mini-workshop on Thursday.