backReturn to Unit 2:TR

Unit 2, Day 17:  Tuesday, October 16


What you’ll do today in class:


·        Workshop prewriting focus assignment in small groups

·        Practice “unpacking” sample claims

·        Have students write a claim, unpack it in groups, and generate textual evidence for support


Connection to course goals:  These activities are moving students toward the writing processes and activities they’ll need to go through as they develop their own papers.  The mini-workshop also reminds students of the importance of seeking peer response as part of the revision process.  Additionally, unpacking sample theses shows students how to support the claims they are generating for their own papers.  The prospectus asks students to begin to outline their Essay 3 as they consider contextual concerns such as their exigence, audience, purpose, focus, and the expectations of the assignment.




1.      Remind students who missed last Tuesday to sign up for conferences for Day 18


2.      Workshop prewriting focus assignment in groups (5-7 minutes):


-         Have students work in groups of 3 (with the 2 other students whose prewriting they responded to on the forum for homework).

-         Ask the students to take a few minutes to talk through their responses.  This is a good opportunity to have students clarify any of the comments/suggestions readers offered on what was posted.


3.      List an Audience, Purpose, and Focus for your analysis (5 minutes):  Have your students use the feedback they received and their own preferences to choose a tentative exigence, audience, and focus.  Remind them that they won’t be held to these choices, but they need to choose so we can move on to developing claims.


Transition:  Create a transition that explains to students how the next activity can help them make sure the focus and audience they choose for their analysis is appropriate to their exigence.


4.      Assign WTL (5 minutes):  Have students look at their audience (the audience they’ll most likely address) and respond to the following questions: 


·        What will this audience already know about the show?  That is, what would any viewer who sits and watches this show already be consciously aware of?

·        What messages will they be able to see fairly easily? 

·        What will they know about the aspect of the show that you’ll be focusing on?

·        What do you think you can add to what they know about the show?

·        Why does this audience need to know about this cultural message?  How will their knowledge fulfill a social need (i.e. your exigence)? 


5.      Have students use the WTL to clarify their focus (5 minutes):  Ask students to look back at their focus so that in writing their claim they’re dealing with messages that wouldn’t already be clear to the reader.


Transition:  Write a transition that explains the relationship of evidence to a claim.


6.      Discuss what an effective claim should do (5 minutes):  Here we’re working on focusing students’ paper with a clear and concise claim.  Ask students to generate a list of what the thesis for this paper should do (e.g. what a reader would need to know in terms of what the essay is trying to accomplish).


·        the shared cultural belief that you see the show addressing or dealing with

·        what the TV show does with that belief (reproduce and challenge) through the cultural message it offers 

·        some sense of exigence—the claim might include a sub-claim about the implications (for viewers and culture) of what the show is doing with that cultural belief


7.      Have students write a claim (1-3 sentences) for their paper using their updated information on focus, audience and purpose  (10 minutes):  Encourage them to include a reason the audience needs to consider their analysis. 


Transition:  Write a transition that explains to students how the next activity models the type of process they’ll need to go through in making sure they are effectively supporting their claims.  


8.      Practice “unpacking” claims with sample theses (15 minutes):  The main goal of this activity is to show students how any claim typically implies sub-claims that must also be proven.   Students need to be able to analyze their overall claim to see everything it implies that readers would expect to be addressed or supported.  Put the following overall claims on an overhead and “unpack” them one by one as a class.


·        Peanut butter sandwiches are healthier than turkey sandwiches because they have a higher fat content.

-         (Implied claims to prove:  PB has more fat than turkey; more fat is healthier than less fat)


·        ER responds to the dominant cultural belief that our health care system is in a state of crisis by offering viewers mixed messages about that concern.  That is, while the program acknowledges this belief by showing that doctors are fallible, overall ER works to rebuild public confidence in our health care system.

-         (Implied claims:  Many viewers today are anxious about the current health care crisis and what it means for the quality of patient care.  ER partly reinforces this cultural belief that health care is in a state of crisis but also challenges this belief by giving viewers competent, caring doctors.)


·        The Brady Bunch appealed to traditional family values but ironically did so through a non-traditional family.  Thus, the show could have potentially worked against some prevailing social norms for family life in 1960s and 1970s to show that other types of families can also function successfully but instead ultimately reproduced those traditional norms by not addressing real tensions brought on by the fusion of two separate families.

-         (Implied claims:  People in the 1960s and 1970s were concerned about the changing structure of the American family.  The Brady family conforms and doesn’t conform to the traditional representation of a family. The way the show portrays the Brady family should be viewed as problematic because it is “unrealistic”; the show ignores or glosses over problems that would come about with step-children and parents, etc.  )


·        Create one of your own examples that includes an overall claim about another TV show and implied claims for that main claim.



9.      Small group activity to workshop claims (15 minutes):  After they’ve practiced unpacking claims, have students write their tentative overall claim at the top of two half-sheets of paper.  Then have them exchange those sheets with two classmates, and unpack each others’ claims.


A.  Have group members offer feedback:

·        What implied claims are there here?  What sub-claims would the writer have to prove?

·        Based on those claims, what would you expect in terms of evidence?  What types of evidence will the writer need to have in order to support each sub-claim?


B.     Once students have unpacked each others’ claims, have them return the sheets to the writers and have everyone in the group look at the feedback they received.  Encourage students to make notes on the sheets they get back for what they need to consider as they develop reasons and evidence for their thesis.


10.  Give Essay 3 Prospectus assignment (5-7 minutes):  Explain to students that the purpose of this prospectus assignment is to get them to begin outlining their context, audience, purpose, thesis and support for their Essay 3. Go over what you’ll require in the prospectus, whether you give students oral instructions or a handout that clarifies your expectations.   For instance, be sure to let students know that based on what they decided in class today for their exigence, audience, and focus, they should go back to REVISE and expand the prewriting focus activity they posted on the forum.  In addition, remind students that they’ll need to access their posting in the forum you’ve designated and “edit” it to make and save their changes.  (See the SyllaBase forum instruction sheet in the appendix.) 


Students should post their prospectus by Thursday at 8:00 am.  Remind them that you’ll  be reading over these new postings before they come to conference.


Some suggestions for what to have students include in their prospectus:


1)      a description of the TV show they’ll write on

2)      a brief description of their focus (i.e. the cultural message they’ve chosen)

3)      an explanation for why this cultural message needs to be written about (i.e. their exigence)

4)      an explanation of their audience and purpose in writing to that audience

5)      an explanation of their tentative thesis (overall claim) that indicates the shared cultural belief they’re centering the analysis on, how they see the show reproducing and challenging that belief, and what implications this has for viewers and culture

6)      a list of all the evidence (textual examples and any relevant “outside” evidence) they can think of that could support their tentative thesis (and sub-claims) they’ve identified.  Also provide some explanation for how each piece of evidence would substantiate their overall claim

7)      a brief explanation of why they think their audience, purpose and focus “fit together” or are coherent with one another



Assignment for Day 18:

·        Post Prospectus (revised focus assignment) to forum

·        Come to conference Thursday with a printed copy of your prospectus, outline and rough draft (or at least questions/concerns or problems in drafting)

·        Read “Paragraph Transitions and Hooks” in PHG (301-303) for Day 19

·        Read the Essay 3 samples (see appendix) for Day 19

·        Draft Essay 3 for Day 19


Important Reminders (in preparation for conferences)--

1)      Remind students that class is cancelled on Thursday for conferences.

2)      Remind them that coming to conference counts as their attendance for class that day—missing conference constitutes an absence.

3)      Remind students of what they should bring and how they should prepare for conference.