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Unit 1, Day 4:  Thursday, August 30


What you'll do today in class:


-         Practice finding main ideas and focusing reactions

-         Practice developing a reaction with specific personal evidence (using Wong)

-         Mini-workshop on practice reactions from homework


Connection to course goals:  Once again, practicing finding main ideas is a skill

necessary to meet the writing context they've been given in Essay 1.  The activity on

development moves to another skill necessary to meet this writing context; in order to

meet it effectively (i.e. make goods choices as a writer), students will have to develop their points with specific personal experiences that they explain for readers.  The mini-workshop emphasizes again the importance of ongoing revision in the writing process and shows the value of peer feedback in the revision process.


INTRODUCTION: Using the goals and activities above, devise a brief introduction that

explains what they'll be doing today in class and why.


1.      Group activity on ideas and evidence in Wong (10 minutes):  Divide the class into four groups. Each group should respond to the following questions:


·        What are the main ideas of Wong’s essay?  Point to specific parts of the text that show these main ideas (provide page numbers).

·        Find two examples of places in the text where Wong uses detailed personal evidence effectively to support her points.  Mark the places and be ready to explain why those examples are effective. 


2.      Discuss main ideas of the Wong essay (15-20 minutes). Generate a list of the main ideas on the board based on the groups’ responses.  Be sure to push students to articulate what the thesis or controlling idea is in her essay. 


Main ideas of Wong’s “The Struggle to be an All-American Girl”


·        Pressures of the dominant (American) culture moved Wong to cast aside her Chinese heritage.

·        The idea of “cultural divorce” is connected to assimilating the dominant culture, which often involves some kind of loss.

·        Being “American” is connected to things such as language, smells, types of knowledge, perceptions, etc.


Discussion questions for Wong


·        Which school did Wong prefer and why?

·        Why does Wong make such an effort to favor “American” scents or “multicultural” holidays and foods?

·        What kind of pressures does Wong face?  Who wants her to do what and why?

·        What does she mean by the term “cultural divorce”?

·        How does Wong ultimately feel about the decision she made?  (What might she have lost?)


Transition: “We've fleshed out Wong's main points, so now let's take a look at how she develops her experiences with detail to support those points.”


3.      Have each group give an example of an effective piece of personal evidence in the Wong essay (10 minutes):  Ask the following questions to get students thinking about what makes personal experience effective as evidence.


·        Why is this example effective?

·        What does Wong do to make the point clearer to the reader?  How does she help the reader understand her experiences?  How does she "show" the events here? 


4.      Discuss homework reactions (15 minutes):  Your goal in this discussion is to get students to begin thinking about how to support their reactions. Try to push students beyond "reasons" to actual evidence. Remember that reasons are telling why they reacted the way they did (I think Chapkis is wrong because I haven't been treated differently based on my attire at work), while evidence is specific support showing why they reacted that way (expanding on the aforementioned reason by specifically describing for the reader their attire at work and how they were treated).


-         Solicit a few sample reactions from students that you can put on the board.

-         Explain the difference between reason and evidence.

-         Talk out an example to make the distinction clear.

-         Ask students what type of evidence would be useful in supporting these reactions (i.e. evidence to show why they had this reaction).

-         Chart their responses on the board on a 3-column grid:



Transition:  “You've had a chance to write an initial reaction to 3 of the 4 texts we've read, so the next step is to choose which one you'll develop into your Essay 1. To help you with that decision, now we're going to get feedback from your classmates.”


5.      Mini-workshop on focus and development (20 minutes): Provide the following directions for students on an OH.


-         Have students exchange their three reactions with a classmate.

-         Ask students to read the 3 reactions they get, and then respond to these questions wherever

      there is room on the paper (or make a handout that students can use as a guide):


1.)    Summarize in your own words the writer's reaction, including the main idea she or he is  reacting to.

2.)    Where in this text do you see room for more development?  Where do examples need more detail?  Where could the writer do more "showing" to the reader?

3.)    What other types of examples or experiences do you think might be

useful as evidence for their reaction?

4.)    Which of these reactions would you recommend the writer use for Essay 1

and why?  


CONCLUSION: Summarize, or perhaps ask a few students to summarize, the main

concepts from today's class. What did they learn? How does it relate to their assignment?  Be sure to re-emphasize a focused reaction and evidence supporting that reaction.


Assignment for Day 5:


-         Write/revise Essay 1 to hand in Tuesday. 

-         Read “Evaluating” in PHG (320-322) and “Summary” in PHG (154-55) to prepare for discussion Tuesday.