Day 6 . Monday, September 8th

Thursday, September 2:  Activity Ideas

Discussing NYT News Clippings

Reviewing Responding

Discussing Agree/Disagree Responses

Creating Claims

Developing Responses

Revising Agree/Disagree Responses

Mini-Workshop on Agree/Disagree Responses

Concluding and Assigning Homework

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Introduce the Class Session and take roll (1-2 minutes)

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By referring to your agenda on the board or by previewing the day's goals/objectives, introduce the class session for your students.  Today, write your own introduction.

Discussing NYT News Clippings (10 minutes)

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WTL on NYT Articles

Open class today with a WTL engaging students on three clippings from the NYT.  Have them write a summary (for about 5 minutes) of one of the articles they’ve brought today as a news clipping. Discuss one or two of their issues for about 5 minutes, perhaps focusing on one student and his or her clippings. You might also create a Discussion Forum for the occasional posting of article summaries and issue clarifications. Have them turn in all the clippings they brought to class today so that you can skim through the issue ideas and give them verbal (whole class) feedback next time.


Put students in small groups to discuss what they've read so far (you can do this for about 3-5 minutes).  Then reconvene as a class so that students can share what topics were discussed (and so you can hold students accountable for staying on task).

Sample Transition to Next Activity

You might say something like:  Now that we've shared topics we have read in the NYT let's review the different ways we can respond so we can also share our Agree/Disagree Responses.

Reviewing Responding (3-5 minutes)

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Spend a few minutes reviewing the purposes for responding and the expectations that accompany responding within an academic context (you can refer back to the overhead you used previously). 

If a student found an editorial to share with the class or you can find one to bring in, you can also discuss the similarities and differences between an editorial response (where the claim or main point is found, the amount of evidence used, tone, etc.) and the response students will write for their first major essay.

Sample Transition to Next Activity

So how did we respond to Krugman's or Frank's articles?

Discussing Agree/Disagree Responses (5-8 minutes)

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Discuss students' Agree/Disagree Responses to articles

Since we are dealing with the Agree/Disagree response, create questions that enable students to share whether or not they agree with the points raised in any of the articles we have read so far.


Ask students to get into small groups or partners (or use the ones you already created) and share the responses they wrote to an article.  Try to group them with people from across the room, perhaps sorting them by birth month, shoe size, or distance from home. (The goal of this informal exchange is to both "hook" students and to develop community.) In order to encourage them to think more critically about issues, it is useful to start with their ideas. Hearing from classmates they don’t yet know also extends the knowledge base of students, who may assume that their own experience with media and consumption--or other issues for that matter--is universal. Students will experience the RISK of stepping out of their own shoes and instead of having their opinions RATIFIED may find their suppositions CHALLENGED by their peers. This is far more likely to happen if they meet with classmates they don’t know. Mix things up routinely and you’ll have a classroom that becomes a community where students trust and depend upon one another for not only support but for challenge to one another as well.

Sample Transition to Next Activity

You might say something like:  Now that we've discussed the articles and our agree/disagree responses to them, let's take a look at what makes a written response most effective.

Creating Claims (10-12 minutes)

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Map Activity (3 minutes)

Have students count off by three's.  Place the following on the board or an overhead:

According to your number, draw the following:

1. a map of the United States

2. a map of Colorado

3. a map that takes us from our classroom to where you live

Once 3 minutes is up, have students look at the different maps around them  (2 minutes)

Then ask the following questions (2-4 minutes)

On the map of the United States , who can find my hometown of....(use your hometown or a rather obscure location in the U.S. )?  Students won't be able to find it.

On the map of Colorado , who can find...(again, use a rather obscure location in CO--the Brass Ass Casino in Cripple Creek is usually a good one)?  Students won't be able to find this either.

Now look at the map that takes us from our classroom to where someone lives; would we be able to get there?  Most students will say "yes."

Draw a parallel between this activity and how claims function in writing (3 minutes)

If we lack a clear map in our writing, the text will be vague and hard to follow like maps #1 and #2.  The #3 map is more specific and therefore more effective. Also in the #3 map, we had a clear purpose (take us from the classroom to where you live).  Just like the #3 map, claims should reflect our purpose when we write so that we can support them most effectively.

Sample Transition to Next Activity

In our responses, we must have a claim.  We'll need to support that claim with reasons and evidence.  Most of us understand what evidence is. But often, writers mistake evidence for reasons. They think that if they simply tell readers why they make a claim, it is enough to support that claim. However, most readers need REASONS and EVIDENCE to feel convinced. In addition to telling readers what you think, you need to show them WHY you think it. Let's look at an example…

Developing Responses (10 minutes)

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Show students how to develop a response with reasons and evidence
(5 minutes)

Discuss the types of evidence on page 163 in the PHG.

The goal of this activity is to help students distinguish between reasons and evidence. Another objective is to help them see how reasons and evidence connect back to a writer's response. (Often students interpret evidence as "any personal experience that relates to my topic" which leads to stories and experiences that stray from their original point). See if students can draw connections between the evidence and the main idea from the sample (to reinforce the need for focus in a response). Also, warn them that phrases such as "this reminds me of" can lead to ideas that don't qualify as support.

In a nutshell, a reason tells why and evidence shows how or why To illustrate this, you might do a brief role playing activity.  Have one student play the role of a parent and another play the role of a teenager who just received h/er license. 

Teen:  Mom/Dad, can I use the Escalade to pick up my friends for the movie tonight?

Mom/Dad:  No.

Stop the "actors" here and ask the rest of the class what the teen is going to say next.  They should respond with "Why not?"  Then have the actors pick up again.

Teen:  Why not?

Mom/Dad:  give reasons like: you don't have enough experience to take the car on your own yet; you're not responsible enough; when your sister took the car for the first time she scratched it; you shouldn't drive after dark yet, etc.

Stop the actors again to discuss the scenario:  The parent here has provided the teen with reasons why s/he can't take the car out.  So, just like the scenario, our reasons in our responses should answer the reader's initial "Why" questions.  But it's not enough to stop there. 

Further the scenario by illustrating what would happen if the parent did not have any evidence/proof as to why the teen wasn't experienced enough or responsible enough or what the sister's scratching of the car has to do with the teen h/erself, etc. 

Connect the previous activity to your students' own writing by showing a written example  (5 minutes)

You might do the following:

For this activity, use the sample below or create your own. Put the example on an overhead and read over it with the students. Then, highlight the differences between reasons and evidence and ask students to draw connections between the evidence, the reasons, the response, and the main idea. Pose questions like, "Is the focus effective? Does the writer come back to their main point? Where? Could the focus be improved?" You might use an overhead pen to illustrate these responses. You may also want to spend a few minutes discussing how reasons and evidence might look different for other types of response (analytic or reflective).

One key point from Frank's article:  Frank states that "because kids are not thought to be capable of acting in their own interest, the state justifies protective policies, such as the restricting [of] advertising aimed at them."

Reaction and Reason


I agree with Frank's solution of a "progressive consumption tax" to an extent.  I think taxing people who spend excessive amounts on unnecessary items may help reduce the overspending in America and this would benefit everyone.  However, I don't think a mere tax is enough--it won't change the effect of advertising on on consumers and Frank needs to deal with this in order for his solution to work. 

Personal Evidence to Support Reaction


I believe Frank's solution isn't enough because it's hard to be 9 years old.  When I was 9, I was insecure about just about everything from my glasses and clothes to the cars my family drove ("Dad, please don't pick me up in the Plymouth !" I'd say).  But I was also obsessed with Barbie.  I watched Barbie cartoons and memorized all the Barbie commercials. My friend, Emily, had the Barbie Dream House, and she was one of the coolest girls in my class.  All I wanted was the Barbie Dream House because in Barbie's house, everything was pink, sparkly and perfect, so if I had it, maybe I would be, too.

On Christmas morning when I was 9, I woke up before everyone else.  I just knew my parents had bought me the Barbie Dream House; it was number one on my list and I had been very good that year.  I crept down the hall to the living room with Barbie clutched in my right hand.  My eyes scanned the presents spread around the tree...there was no Barbie Dream House.  I rubbed my eyes and straightened my glasses.  I must be missing it , I thought.  I looked harder.  Still no Barbie Dream House.  There was just this doll bed--it wasn't even the Barbie Dream Bed!  Just this doll bed with a pink canopy.  I went back to bed until my parents woke up.

This may seem like a minor point in the grand scheme of life, but I'll never forget how disappointed I was that Christmas (and now how I can't escape feeling guilty for acting so selfishly toward my parents).  And I was only 9 years old.  The sad thing is that this phenomenon happens to all the time to adults, too.  While there are many commercials and ads aimed at children, adults make up a huge part of the advertising target audience.  Why else would Super Bowl Comerical spots sell for millions of dollars?  They are bombarded with ads that say they must have the two-story house instead of the one-story, the Lexus instead of the Saturn; they must eat at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse instead of Country Buffet.  Frank hasn't addressed the major social forces like advertising that play a role in our consumption of things in America (although he does mention the Tim-Robbins'-Range-Rover-effect) and a tax won't change this.  In short, I disagree that a tax would fix our problem.

Note:  While this sample clearly shows what we mean by "showing" and not just "telling" by using personal experience, it contains some deliberate problems whose improvements you can discuss with your students.
Sample Transition to Next Activity

We've discussed some important aspects of responding that you may not have included in the first draft of your Agree/Disagree Response.  One of the most important steps of writing is revision, so let's talk about how you can incorporate the new aspects of responding into your writing.

Revising Agree/Disagree Responses (15-17 minutes total)

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Review the concepts of claim, reasons and evidence from the previous class session (3-5 minutes)

What did we say was important about claims when writing?

What reasons are most effective when supporting a claim?

What makes evidence most effective?

Other points you might wish to cover:

·      What is evidence?

·      What are the different types of evidence (think back to the PHG)?

·      Where might you need to use some evidence in your summary/response essay?

·      What kind of evidence might you use in your summary?

·      How might the kind of evidence differ depending upon your response type and focus?

·      What kinds of evidence might you use in your responses?

Discuss what makes a written response effective (5 minutes)

Here, you can draw parallels between the articles students read for homework and the responses they wrote themselves.  Be sure to cover each writer's writing situation and foreground the choices the writer's made to meet the expectations of that writing situation.

Points you might wish to cover:

·      that the writer clearly made a point (agree/disagree)

·      that the writer is responding to a main idea from the original article

·      that the writer has given a sufficient reason to support h/er opinion (tell us why)

·      that the writer has provided some well-developed evidence (show us why)

·      that the reasons and evidence are focused - they connect back to the overall point the writer is trying to make

Look at a sample student Agree/Disagree Response (5-8 minutes)

Use the sample student Agree/Disagree Response provided in the appendix to discuss the similar questions as you discussed for the previous articles.  Be sure to apply the student's writing situation to h/er writing as well.

Have students read through the sample for a few minutes.  You might have them take notes or do a WTL after they read it through once so that you have a base for discussion.

Based on our previous discussions (of claims, reasons, evidence, etc.) what makes the student response effective?

What could be strengthened?

Create a Transition to the Next Activity

You might want to indicate that writing is not a solitary act and other writers' feedback can be very beneficial to our own texts.

Mini-Workshop on Agree/Disagree Responses (10 minutes total)

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Introduce the concept and etiquette of workshopping (3-5 minutes)

Since we are working on building a writing community in the classroom, it is a good idea to discuss how workshops work, what their purpose is, what makes "good etiquette" and sometimes what not to do in a workshop situation.

You might create some samples of effective or ineffective workshop scenarios like the following and discuss them:

Sample Workshop Questions and Answers

Workshop Question: How effectively does the claim act as a map for the reader? What might the writer do to make the claim more effective?

Answer: The claim is a good map. The writer should make the claim clearer.

Stronger Answer: The claim lets me know that the writer will talk about how she agrees with Krugman's argument. In the claim, she provides two reasons for why she agrees, but since the body doesn't ever talk about the second reason, the claim would be strongest if revised so it doesn't promise that.

Student Question: Does my paper flow?

Answer : Not really.

Stronger Question/Concern: Please point out to me the places where my organization is confusing. I tend to jump around sometimes.

Answer: I'm confused between paragraphs 2 and 3. What is the connection between the two?

Have students workshop each other's papers in partners or small groups (5-7 minutes)

Choose one to three questions from your class discussions and create a mini-workshop guideline on an overhead (try to avoid "yes/no" answers as much as possible).  Then have students add one question to the workshop question.

In partners or small groups, have students workshop each other's papers.  Suggest that students read through their partner's paper once without making any comments and then answer the workshop questions.

Some questions you might use include:

·      How clearly did the writer make a point (agree/disagree) in your response?

·      Is the writer clearly responding to a main idea from the article?

·      Has the writer given a sufficient reason (or reasons) to support h/er opinion (telling us why)?

·      How effectively has the writer provided well-developed evidence (showing us why)?

·      How tightly are the reasons and evidence focused?  That is, do they connect to each other and back to the overall point the writer is trying to make?

Concluding and Assigning Homework (2-3 minutes)

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Today you might have a student recapitulate the main objectives you discussed today or you might write your own conclusion.  Be sure to cover the main ideas in the articles discussed today and to highlight what aspects they'll need to revise to make their Agree/Disagree Responses most effective.  Remind students where they can access their homework.