Day 6 . Monday, September 8th

Thursday, September 9:  Activity Ideas

Discussing NYT News Clippings

Wrapping Up Interpretive/Reflective Concepts

Mini-Workshop for Interpretive/Reflective Concepts

Brooks' and Krugman's Articles

Introducing Analytical/Evaluative Response

Outlining Analytical/Evaluative 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 (5-8 minutes)

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Create an activity that allows students to share topics/articles they've been following and reading about in the NYT

You might make this sharing or writing about topics a standard way to start classes from here on out.  You can vary the activity as much or as little as you please; just keep in mind that repetitiveness or activities without reward can squash student motivation.

Create a Transition to the Next Activity

Wrap Up Interpretive/Reflective Concepts (5 minutes)

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Recapitulate or finish discussing any foggy points from the previous class session

You might have students compile the aspects of the Interpretive/Reflective Response on the board if you feel the class has a good grasp of the strategies involved.


You might have students do a WTL of one thing they understand and one thing they have a question about regarding the Interpretive/Reflective Response.


You might just need to finish an activity from the previous class session if you ran out of time.

You can show students the sample Interpretive/Reflective Response from the Appendix here as well.

Create a Transition to the Next Activity

Mini-Workshop for Interpretive Reflective Response (10 minutes total)

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Review essential aspects of workshop etiquette, etc. if needed
Break students into workshop partners* and have them add their own question to your workshop questions.

Some questions you might use for this workshop include:

  • What is the writer's claim?  Circle the claim.
  • How effectively does the claim reflect our purpose (to interpret/reflect on the article)?  Explain what the writer might do to make this more effective.
  • What assumption(s) or implication(s) is the writer examining?  If the assumptions/implications are not clear, indicate what the writer could do to strengthen them.
  • How effectively has the writer developed the supporting evidence for whether the assumption or implication is accurate or problematic?

    *If you'd like to provide students with more than one other set of eyes for workshop, you can have each student bring two copies of h/er work so that more than one person can look at the draft, or have students rotate drafts in small groups (3 usually works) in a round-robin fashion, or set up workshop forums through the Writing Studio.

Create a Transition to the Next Activity

Discuss Brooks' and Krugman's Articles (10 minutes)

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Apply the WSM and solidify the main idea and key points from each article

Now that students have read a significant amount of articles on the issue of consumerism and consumption in America, you can work on fleshing out the finer points in these last two articles.  You might also return to the previous articles in a general summary form and begin to make comparisons between all of the articles.

Split the board or an overhead in half, compile the main idea and key points from each article.


Divide the class into groups and split the groups in half, assigning each half either Brooks' or Krugman's article.  Have the groups compile the main idea/key points on an overhead to present to the class.

Create a Transition to the Next Activity

Introduce Analytical Evaluative Response (25-30 minutes total)

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Introduce the purpose and concepts of the Analytical/Evaluative Response
(3-5 minutes)

You might return to your previous overhead or create a new one:

The three ways we can respond are by:

Agreeing/Disagreeing with the main idea or key points in a text

Interpreting/Reflecting on the ideas, assumptions or implications in the text

Analyzing/Evaluating the text's effectiveness

  • The goal of an Agree/Disagree Response is to emphasize one important idea from a writer's text and support or refute that idea using reasons and evidence. Here, you want to convince a reader that your position is a favorable one.
  • The goal of an Interpretive/Reflective Response is to look critically at an argument in order to explain what it fully means. Looking critically at a text requires you to inquire beyond what the text actually says. One way to do this is to locate the assumptions that inform a writer's argument and find out what the writer's argument implies. Along the way, you may find yourself agreeing with or refuting the writer's ideas and the assumptions and implications that are tied to these ideas.
  • The goal of an Analytical/Evaluative response is to determine a text's effectiveness by examining its parts. You might look at the purpose, the intended audience, the thesis, the main ideas, the organization and evidence, and the language and style. Here, your aim is to point out an essay's strong points and/or where it falls short. Analyzing the text's effectiveness allows you to make more informed decisions about the usefulness and credibility of a writer's argument.
Discuss the concepts underlying analysis and evaluation (10-12 minutes)

The PHG tells us that analysis is breaking a thing into its parts so that we can closely examine those parts.  The parts themselves are then measured against criteria (a standard of shared judgment) and our goal is to make a convincing argument out of the value judgment we make on the parts of the subject we're analyzing.

Create an activity that gets students analyzing something they are familiar with.  Two examples that have worked well in the past are:

Buying a Car Scenario

What things do we look for when buying a used car?  (list the responses on the board; responses should include things like cost, safety belts/airbags, good tires, low-mileage, radio, clean interior, little damage on exterior, power windows/A/C/sunroof, etc.) 

Be sure students reach a consensus about how they will judge these things (what makes something "good"?).

Match the list on the board with a few hypothetical cars (1. a 1998 VW Jetta GL with 70,000 miles, excellent body condition, tape deck, new tires, synthetic interior, A/C:  $3800) 2. a 2002 Audi A4, with Bose stereo system, leather seats, power everything including sunroof, 120,000 miles:  $10,000--you can add an excessively "beater" car or an excessively "perfect" car, too).

Have students walk through the process of evaluating:  which car will they buy based on their value judgments?

Evaluating Art Scenario

Find 4-5 works of art from a similar movement (realism, impressionism, self-portraits, still-lifes, etc.) that you can share with the class.

Divide the class into groups.  Establish the criteria you will use to evaluate how well the art would fit into a particular exhibit at the Denver Art Museum. 

Have each group present its rationale to the rest of the class with a claim, clear criteria and reasons and evidence as support.

You can create similar activities to these using movies, music, etc.


Generate a discussion on what parts of writing we have discussed so far (purpose, audience, focus/claim, reasons, evidence).

Ask students what other aspects of writing are important to consider for effectiveness (tone, style, level of language, voice, ability to generate interest and/or discussion, organization, relevancy to readers' lives, etc.)

You might put these on an overhead so that you can apply them to Brooks' and Krugman's articles the next class session.

Practice Evaluating a Text (12-15 minutes)

Evaluating a Brief Article, Short Story or Political Cartoon for a University Class

Select a short article or story that can be read in class or a political cartoon.  Have students evaluate how effective the article, story or cartoon would be for a university class (you make up the class theme, etc.).  Be sure students determine clear criteria based on the text's appropriateness to the course. 

There are a number of effective, relative short articles in the PHG you can use for this activity.  Robert Zoellner's "I'm Okay, But You're Not," Emily Prager's "Our Barbies, Ourselves," and Elizabeth Wong's "The Struggle to be an All-American Girl" are a few options.


Evaluate either Brooks' or Krugman's article as a class.  Establish criteria as a class and then outline reasons to support why the article is effective or not.  You could do this on an overhead or break students into groups and have them present their outlines.  Be aware that having students present takes a while, so be sure to plan ahead.

Create a transition to the next activity

Outlining Analytical/Evaluative Response (10 minutes)

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Create an activity that allows students time to outline the claim and criteria they will use in their Analytical/Evaluative Response.  You should remind them to think of their claim as a map and to clarify the criteria against which they will be measuring Brooks' or Krugman's article. 

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 use to write their Interpretive/Reflective Responses.  Remind students where they can access their homework and the student samples in particular.