What you’ll do today in class:
- Introduce Position Analysis assignment
- Practice position analysis with one article
- Discuss and practice evaluating sources critically
- Have students narrow their topic to a defined issue
Connection to course goals: This class prepares students to begin defining the particular context within which they’ll be writing for their Essay 4 and demonstrates the importance of evaluating sources to ensure that students are finding credible sources they can use to support their arguments effectively.
1. Introduce Position Analysis assignment (5-7 minutes): Explain to students the purpose of the Position Analysis and how it will help them effectively respond to the context for Essay 4. Emphasize the need to become well-informed on the range of positions within their issue and that students should go beyond simple pro/con views to find the more complex distinctions among the different positions. (You can find the Position Analysis assignment sheet in the front of the Unit 3 section of the syllabus.)
2. Practice position analysis (15 minutes): Have students analyze the article they brought for today in order to find different positions the author takes or that the author implies exist. Emphasize that people aren’t necessarily going to come right out and say “here is my position on the issue of….” Instead, students need to know that they’ll have to look deeper and analyze what an author is saying to really understand the different positions. For example, get students to make distinctions between opinions and positions in their article. Have students summarize the author’s position using textual evidence as well as places that she or he implies other positions. Also, ask students to identify some specific values and interests that inform the author’s position, and any other positions represented in the article. If you have time, have the students share what they found.
3. Discuss evaluating sources critically (5-7 minutes): Plan a discussion using the section students read in PHG to connect evaluating sources to expectations for making an effective written argument. Have students develop a list of criteria for evaluating print and Internet sources that the class should use. Also let students know that when they have narrowed their audience they can better define what types of sources will and will not be effective in convincing that group.
4. Have students evaluate the source they brought to class (5 minutes): In order to begin “screening” the sources they’ve already found, have students use the information and criteria from the previous discussion to evaluate the source they brought to class today.
If you have time, you might also have students exchange their source to have another student evaluate it as well.
5. Focus activity (15 minutes): Design an activity that gets students to narrow their topic to a focused issue (debatable question). You might have students respond to the question analysis found in the PHG on page 553 (or some other questions you create) to help them refine their focus issue. For example, if a student has decided she wants to focus on the issue of “whether standardized testing is effective in measuring student ability,” ask that student to narrow the issue even further, if possible. Perhaps that same student could narrow her issue to this question: “Does standardized testing at the secondary level effectively measure student ability?” Or, that same student might narrow her issue further to address a particular test at the secondary level that she finds of particular interest.
Assignment for Day 36:
- Find one more article on your issue.
- Using the articles you’ve come up with so far, identify 3 positions that the authors take or imply.
- Bring both articles back to class Friday.