- Have students begin defining their context
- Zero drafting on positions, exigencies and audiences
- Audience analysis
- Evaluating sources critically
Connection to course goals: Today’s class asks students to begin defining and analyzing the context for their final paper more closely, which is part of the larger process of academic argumentation. This class also demonstrates the importance of evaluating sources to ensure that students are finding credible sources they can use to support their arguments effectively.
1. Focus activity (10-15 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 she finds of particular interest.
2. Write a Zero Draft of Context (15 minutes): The aim of this activity is to have students begin to define the positions they’ve found on their issue as well as some possible exigencies and audiences for writing on that issue. A “zero draft” is much like a focused freewrite, a draft written quickly with little attention to organization or coherence. Explain to the class that the purpose of writing this zero draft is to get them thinking and writing based solely on what they know or have found so far, without any immediate concern about writing for a particular audience or developing an argument.
- Have students write their tentative focused issue in the form of a question on the top of a sheet of paper.
- Ask students to respond to these types of questions as they write a zero draft on the same sheet:
3. Workshop zero drafts (10 minutes): Have students exchange their zero draft with a classmate and then respond to these types of questions in order to provide the writers with a variety of possibilities for positions, exigencies and audiences, and also perhaps some sense of possible purposes in writing to particular readers:
4. Have students get their own zero draft back with peer responses and update what they wrote for positions and possible exigencies and audiences (5 minutes):
5. Audience analysis activity (10-15 minutes): This activity should emphasize the importance of audience analysis as students define their writing context and begin planning their argument. Design an activity that asks students to choose a tentative audience for their Essay 4 (if they didn’t decide in the previous activity) and then consider what values, concerns and interests this audience will have that they should be aware of or address in their essay. You might also have them think about possible counter-arguments the audience will offer and the writer should refute. (See the “Questions for Audience Analysis” sheet in appendix for more ideas.)
6. 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.
7. 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 2 sources they brought to class today.
If you have time, you might also have students exchange one or both of these sources to have other people evaluate them as well.
Assignment for Day 25:
- Read “Claims for Written Argument” (434-438), “Interviewing” and “Writing Questionnaires” in PHG (241-243).
- Research to find new, credible articles on your issue that represent other positions you needed to locate. Be sure that you’ve evaluated each source based on the criteria we defined today.
- Write your Position Analysis using the feedback you received today and the new sources you’ve found and evaluated. Bring 2 copies of your Position Analysis to class Tuesday.