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Unit 2, Day 16:  Thursday, October 11


What you’ll do today in class:


·        Practice “reading” a TV show to generate other claims

·        Discuss viewing strategies for analyzing TV shows to find evidence for substantiating claims

·        Generate audiences and exigencies for new claims

·        Assign pre-writing focus activity for Essay 3


Connection to course goals: The practice in critically viewing and analyzing an actual TV show is exactly the process students will need to go through on their own in finding a focus for their Essay 3.  Also, we practice generating other claims to show that these texts can be “read” in different ways—just as Durbin and Zeisler read Ally McBeal differently—to show students the choices open to them in writing their analysis in Essay 3.  The last activities are meant to set students up for the next step in this process: finding and using evidence to support the claims they are generating.





1.      Practice viewing a TV show to generate new claims (30 minutes):  For this activity you can use a clip of Ally McBeal and contrast it to the claims Durbin and Zeisler make about the messages and implications of the show.  However, feel free to use a clip from any other show that you think would work well for this activity. Whatever you decide, you’ll need a 5-7 minute segment of the show that lends itself to the type of analysis we’re asking students to do (ie: one that can be seen as reproducing and challenging a few shared cultural beliefs). 


A.     Have students view the show segment once just to see what’s happening and get initial reactions for their focus.  (5-7 minutes)


B.     Once they’ve watched the segment, generate a list of possible shared cultural beliefs that the show addresses on the board.  (5 minutes)


C.     After you have a list of 2-3 cultural beliefs on the board, divide the class into 4 groups.  Have the groups write a claim about how the show reproduces and challenges a particular cultural belief from the list.  Have each group choose ONE cultural belief from the board.  Give each group an overhead and pen to write their claims.  (10 minutes)


D.     Once the groups have finished writing their claims, have them share them with the rest of the class on the OH.  While each group offers their respective claims, record each on the board because you’ll be using some of the claims later in class.

(5-7 minutes)


2.      Discuss strategies for what aspects of the show to consider for finding evidence (5-7 minutes): Emphasize that there are several types of potential “textual evidence” available to students beyond more obvious ones such as dialogue.  While dialogue is certainly often very useful, it should not be the only type of evidence from the show they use to support their claim.  The more they can show how different aspects of the show substantiate the claim they’re making, the stronger the analysis and paper will be.


·        What analytical “tools” or “strategies” are suggested in RC for examining daytime talk TV shows?  How might they be applied to analysis of other TV genres (sit-coms, “reality” shows, family shows, etc.)?

·        Why should we bother to focus closely on these aspects of the show?  How might they be important to the overall message(s) a show puts forth?

·         How can these parts of the show contribute to what a viewer sees?

·        What, specifically, could you focus on in the show if you were looking at each of these parts?  (For example, if you were focusing on spatial arrangement, what would you actually be paying attention to in the show?)


3.      Assign each of the 4 groups one aspect of the show to focus on this time when viewing: content/dialogue; characters; set design; spatial arrangement; camera space/angles

(2-3 minutes)


4.      While groups view the segment, have them write down as many details as possible about their assigned aspect of the show (5-7 minutes):  Tell students not to worry about how it relates yet.  Just have every person in the group make as many observations as they can about that aspect assigned to the group. 


5.      Have groups compile their list of details and make a new group list to record on an OH (5-7 minutes)


6.      Have groups present their list of details for their aspect and record these details on the board (5-7 minutes):   Get students to write down the list of details themselves to give them ideas later for kinds of evidence they might use in their own analyses.


7.      Practice using these textual details as support for a claim (10 minutes):  Using one of the claims the groups came up with that you wrote on the board earlier, ask the class to look for details they could use from the board to support that claim.


·        What evidence from the show segment have we identified that might support this claim?

·        What audience might you write to with this claim?

·        Which forms of evidence (of the ones we identified) would work best to support this claim for audience and exigence?




8.      Explain the forum—if you haven’t already used it in Unit 2  (5 minutes):  Use the SyllaBase instruction sheet included in the appendix.


9.      Introduce the Forum Assignment—pre-writing focus activity (5 minutes):  Explain to students the purpose of this assignment, specific expectations for what they’ll write, and due dates.  See the appendix for the Forum Pre-writing Focus Activity assignment sheet.


Assignment for Day 17: 

-         Complete the Pre-writing Focus Activity on the forum for the TV show you’ve chosen to write on for your Essay.  Also, read and respond to 2 other students’ postings.