Day 4 - Wednesday, September 4th
What You’ll Do in Class Today
· WTL - have students reflect on writing a summary for Singer's essay
· Apply the writing situation model to Singer's essay
· Discuss the importance of purpose, audience and context for writing summaries
Connection to Course Goals
Applying the writing situation model to Singer's essay will help students think more critically and objectively about his argument. By understanding a writer's purpose and context for writing, students are more likely to represent the writer's key points rather than their own interpretation of these points. Introducing types of response aims to meet the goal of responding critically to a text for Essay 1.
1. WTL (5 minutes): Type up instructions on an overhead, asking students to reflect on the process of writing their summaries for Singer's essay. What did they find most difficult or challenging? What did they find easy or more accessible?
2. Discuss WTL responses in groups (5 - 7 minutes): Have students get into groups of three or four and ask them to discuss their responses to the WTL. Then, open the discussion up for the entire class.
3. Model Introduction: "Today we're going to review the guidelines for summary in the PHG. Then, we'll use the writing situation model to expand these guidelines. Hopefully, this will help you with some of the difficulties you may have experienced when writing your academic summary for today. At the end of class, we'll begin discussing the different ways you can respond to a text after you've successfully summarized it."
4. Review the guidelines from the PHG page 160 (5-7 minutes): Review these with students and check for understanding along the way by asking them to rephrase some of the points in their own words. Highlight important concepts like "objectivity" and "accuracy".
Model Transition to Next Activity: Now that you know the basic guidelines for summary, let’s expand on those guidelines by considering the writing situation. To do this, we'll turn one last time to Singer, applying the writing situation model to his argument.
5. Apply the writing situation model to Singer's essay (15-20 minutes): Promise students that today will be the last day you discuss Singer (they're probably sick of him by now). The goal for this activity is to help students learn to summarize by considering an author's purpose, audience, readers, and context. The PHG suggests that an academic summary should include the main points from a text, but students often have trouble locating these. Sometimes their attempts at representing main ideas result in incoherent summaries that read more like a "list of semi-related ideas". We find that students represent arguments with much more accuracy when they address the writer's purpose (the main points seem to emerge from this).
For this activity then, draw the writing situation model on the board (the same one you introduced on Day 2). Be sure to include texts, readers, writers, and context.
You don't need to worry about limitations, requirements, or opportunities since it will be difficult here to speculate around these things. Ask students the following questions and connect their responses to the writing situation model. Note: possible responses and prompts are listed in parenthesis following the questions.
· Can you describe Singer's text? (an essay, an argument, a magazine article …)
· When do you think this text was written and where did it appear? (New York Times Magazine - probably late 90's)
· Who was Singer writing this for? Who were his intended readers? (Consider the context where it was found - most likely well-educated New Yorkers)
· What was his purpose for writing this text? What was he trying to accomplish?
· What cultural characteristic is Singer's essay a response to? (The problem of world hunger that exists beyond our immediate cultural context). To what extent is world hunger a part of his readers' cultural environment or experience? How might this affect the way they read and respond to Singer's essay?
· What assumptions might Singer have made about his readers’ needs or interests? What did he think they needed? Why might he have chosen his audience?
· Was he right to assume these things? Why/why not?
· Given whom his readers are and what he was trying to accomplish, how effective is Singer's essay? Please explain.
6. Discuss the importance of purpose, audience, readers, and context for writing summary/response essays (15 minutes): Look back at the list of responses on the board and ask students why it might be important to think critically about the writing situation for a particular text. Why might it be especially helpful to do this before completing an academic summary of and response to an author's argument?
Some possible responses:
· It is important for us to understand the writer's situation in order to treat his/her text accurately and fairly.
· It helps us maintain greater objectivity and represent the writer's key points rather than our own interpretation of these points.
· Thinking about purpose and audience helps us find the main ideas and key points in a text.
· Understanding an author's context (his/her relationship to a topic and the cultural need to write about it) helps ward off emotional reactions such as, "I bet Singer doesn't give to overseas charities! Why should I?"
Then ask students if there is any information listed on the board that they should include in their academic summaries:
· context and audience (where/when it was written and for whom)
· purpose for writing (why the writer has produced this text and what it is responding to)
** Be sure to emphasize purpose. Tell students that knowing a writer's purpose will help them locate key points and evidence (you might even have them add "State the writer's purpose" to the criteria in the PHG). Also, tell them that it is not enough to just list key points and evidence when summarizing. They should explain how key points and evidence function in the text (or how they help serve the writer's purpose - See the example below).
Example of how to summarize key points and evidence: (You may want to have this on an overhead)
1. Singer uses Unger's hypothetical scenario about Bob as an example of his argument.
2. Singer uses Unger's hypothetical scenario about Bob to present readers with their own moral dilemma. He states, "If you still think it was very wrong of Bob not to throw the switch that would have diverted the train and saved the child's life, then it is hard to see how you could deny that it is very wrong not to send money to one of the organizations listed above."
Ask students which example is more effective and why. You might also use this opportunity to discuss using quotes effectively to support ideas in an essay.
7. Model Conclusion: "Today we reviewed the guidelines for summary and discussed how thinking about purpose, audience and context can help you write a stronger summary/response essay. Next time, we'll continue discussing summary, using a more complicated essay, and introduce the concept of response."
Read about responding in the PHG on pgs. 162 - 163. Read Peter Schrag's essay, "High Stakes are for Tomatoes" (http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/2000/08/schrag.htm). Type a paragraph where you describe Schrag's writing situation (focus on his purpose for writing, but also mention his audience and context). Then type out a list of main ideas/key points from Schrag's article (be sure to accurately describe whose ideas they are - not all of the key points are Schrag's own ideas). Post your paragraph and list in a message to the SyllaBase Class Discussion Forum. Bring a hard copy of your homework to class.