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Unit 1, Day 5:  Tuesday, September 4


What you'll do today in class:


-         Essay 1 due

-         Introduce Essay 2

-         Analyze the context and audience for Essay 2

-         Look at evaluating as a way to respond in an academic context

-         Introduce academic summary as part of responding to the context for Essay 2

-         Begin to generate general criteria for evaluating a text (what makes a text effective, interesting or useful)


Connection to course goals:  The first few activities emphasize the importance of context when writing a text. By comparing Essay 1 and Essay 2, students can see the different expectations created by different contexts.  Introducing more "academic skills" is necessary to meet the new, more academic context for the second essay. Beginning to generate potential evaluation criteria also emphasizes how the context in which they'll write sets forth expectations for the text they'll produce (they can't come up with just any criteria—the criteria are determined by the context).


INTRODUCTION:  Devise a brief introduction that explains what students will be doing today in class and why.


1.      Collect Essay 1


2.      Introduce Essay 2 (5 minutes):


-         Hand out the assignment sheet.

-         Let students read it over and make annotations or jot down any questions they have.

-         Highlight due dates, logistics, etc.


3.      Analyze the context for Essay 2 by comparing it with Essay 1 to highlight the changes and implications for their writing (7-10 minutes):  Get students to discuss the following questions and put their responses on the board so they can see how the contexts differ.


·        What was the context for our first essay?

-         Explaining personal reaction to a main idea from one of the readings to the class as an audience

·        Based on the assignment sheet, how is the context for this essay different? Who is the audience? What is your purpose?

-         Audience is a freshman seminar professor:  more academic context, different expectations

-         Purpose is to evaluate a text to the professor for use in the seminar

·        What are some of the expectations a professor might have in using a text?

·        Given the change to a more formal and unknown academic audience, how do you anticipate this audience affecting your choices in writing Essay 2?  What will you do differently?

-         change in purpose

-         more formal tone

-         different types of evidence        

·        Thinking about the response you wrote for Essay 1, what would you have to change if you were writing about that same text for Essay 2?


Transition: “Since you'll be evaluating a text in a more academic context, let's look at the PHG reading as one approach to this task.”


4.      Review the "Evaluating" reading from PHG (5 minutes): 


-         Ask students to generate the main steps in the process of evaluating.

-         List these steps on one half of the board, so you can refer to the process during later activities. Be sure to save room for the expectations of academic summary (see activity #5 below).  The list should include the following aspects:

·        state overall claim

·        describe the person, place, object, TEXT, etc. being evaluated

·        clarify your criteria

·        state a judgement for each criterion

·        support each judgement with evidence

·        balance with both positive and negative judgements 


Transition:  "In many ways, this is what you're being asked to do to meet the context for

Essay 2. Let's walk through the second and third steps to begin to develop the context in which you'll be writing.”


5.      Introduce academic summary as a response to this context (second step above) (5-7 minutes):


·        Why do we summarize?

-         show we understand what we're responding to

-         set up the reader for response

-         help make sure we’re accurately representing the text

-         give credit where credit is due

·        Why would we need to summarize in terms of this specific context for Essay 2?  What does it do for your audience/purpose?

-         shows professor you understand the text

-         shows you can be fair and objective

-         sets up your evaluation


6.      Discuss the main parts of an academic summary (5 minutes):  In this discussion, you may want to emphasize again the focus on the main ideas.  Remind students that within a more academic context a reader needs to know what the text is about, not what happens in the text.  Keep this list on the board so students can use it for the next activity.


-         Generate a list of summary points from the PHG with the students.  List these on the other half of the board.

·        cite author and title of text

·        indicate the main ideas of the text

·        use direct quotes of key words, phrases, or sentences

·        include author tags

·        avoid summarizing specific examples or data

·        report the main ideas as objectively as possible


Transition:  “Now that we've seen how summary is a part of this rhetorical context, let's practice academic summary.”


7.  Practice academic summary with the Zoellner essay from PHG (10 minutes):


-         Divide the class into 4 or 5 groups.

-         Give each group an overhead and an overhead pen and assign the following task.

·        As a group, write an academic summary of the Zoellner essay.  Feel free to use the list on the board as a basis for your summary.


8.      Present summaries to the class (15 minutes):  Have groups put their summaries on the overhead, and ask the class if they meet the expectations for an academic summary that are listed on the board.  Be sure the summaries achieve each of these:


·        focus on ideas not events (especially since Zoellner is a narrative)

·        represent the main ideas accurately and objectively

·        include the author and title

·        avoid using too many quotes or including minor details


Transition: “We’ve just practiced the second step in the process of evaluating:  describing the object/text you’ll evaluate.  Because academic summary is a key part of meeting the context for the Essay 2 assignment, we'll be practicing summary more in the next few class periods.   But now let's turn to the third step of evaluating—establishing viable criteria.”


9.      Establish criteria for Essay 2 by analyzing the audience and considering their own in-class experiences (15-20 minutes):


-         Assign WTL as a way to lead into this activity:

·        Take about 5 minutes to think about the following issues:  Based on your experiences as students, what makes a text effective?  What types of texts work well? Which parts of a text are important?  What might a professor want to do with a text in class?  What are the different reasons/purposes for reading a text?


-         Discuss the WTLs to generate a class list of possible criteria for evaluating the essays for the seminar professor. Make sure to have someone keep a list of the criteria students generate so you can type it up for the next class period.  Or write it on an overhead as you discuss criteria so you have a record.  Here are some possible criteria:

·        strength of evidence

·        text keeps (or doesn't keep) reader's attention

·        text is good for starting discussion

·        text has too much jargon for intro level class

·        text makes reader think about their own views

·        text uses solid (or faulty) logic

·        text fits theme of course or will meet course goals


-         Explain to students how they can employ criteria:  Point out to students that many of these criteria could produce either a "use the text" or a "don't use the text" claim.  For example, if the evidence is strong, it might be useful to help students understand important themes or ideas the professor wants to convey.  However, if the evidence is strong but tends to dominate the text, it might cause the reader to lose interest and thus be less effective.  In short, be sure to emphasize that the criteria can probably be used in a variety of ways to meet the overall context of the Essay 2 assignment.



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?


Optional Activity (if time): After generating some potential criteria, have students “test” Wong’s text with a couple of those criteria (either for a “use the text” or “don’t use the text” recommendation).  To connect this activity back to the assignment context, have students articulate why such criteria might be useful or valuable to the seminar professor in considering Wong’s text.


Assignment for Day 6:


-         Read Molloy, “Dress for Success” in RC (252-56) and “Responding” in PHG (156-57).

-         Write an academic summary of Molloy’s text.


Optional Technology (Forum):  Some instructors have found it useful to have students generate and revise an ongoing list of potential evaluation criteria on a web forum provided in SyllaBase.  You might post the list of criteria the class generated above in #9 and assign them to add to it later, based on further class discussions.  If you’re comfortable with using this technology at this point you might consider designating part of one forum for this purpose. 

(See the appendix for a handout that provides sample instructions for how to login to SyllaBase, access the forums, and post/edit messages.)