What you’ll do today in class:
- Review research, discuss key points from the readings and take additional questions
- “Mini-Debate” to show range of positions
- Practice position analysis with one article
- Introduce Position Analysis assignment
Connection to course goals: The main goal of this class is to show students the type of process they’ll need to go through to make sure they understand the background of an issue before planning and making their own argument. In addition, this class prepares students to begin defining the particular context within which they’ll be writing for their Essay 4.
1. Review research and key points from the readings (15 minutes): Plan a discussion that addresses how students can find good sources, record bibliographic information, use a research notebook/log, and cover the pros and cons of Internet research, useful Internet research sites and online databases, as well as any other points you want to emphasize. You might have a few students talk about useful resources or search strategies that helped them find the article they brought today.
2. Mini-Debate on an issue to demonstrate topic/issue/perspective/positions (35 minutes): The goal of this activity is to have students understand and practice the process they’ll need to go through in analyzing their own issue. Create an activity that gives the class practice in applying the key terms you’ve defined to a particular issue. One of the most effective ways to reach this goal is to have students generate a debate on a familiar issue. If you’re having trouble coming up with an activity or want ideas, see the sample activity in the APPENDIX that asks students to analyze the positions and values of different groups involved in the issue of the legalization of marijuana. This debate activity can really be done with any issue, but the question of whether marijuana should be legalized has worked well in the past because it lends itself to easily describable groups and some interesting alliances that help distinguish between positions. Whatever activity you plan, be sure to emphasize these key concepts:
- People take different positions because they have different values and concerns.
- There can be different positions within the general opinion of an argument (i.e. both drug dealers and parents might be against legalization, but for very different reasons).
- When we talk about positions, we’re not referring to PRO, CON, and SOMETHING IN BETWEEN. It’s much more complicated than that.
- In making an academic argument, you have to consider and address the audience’s values and concerns (possibly their opposing arguments) in order to be effective.
- We research an issue to get a sense of what positions are there (e.g. legalizing marijuana lends itself to easily distinguishable groups who would take different opinions).
- For your own issue, you’ll need to find research to show that each position you identify is actually valid.
3. 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.)
4. 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 perspectives 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 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.
Assignment for Day 24:
- Read “Narrowing and Focusing Your Subject” (552-555) and “Evaluating Sources” in PHG (569-573).
- Find at least one more article on your issue. Using the articles you’ve come up with so far, identify 3 positions that the authors takes or imply in the essay.
- Bring both articles back to class Thursday