Day 3 . Friday, August 29th

Tuesday, August 31:  Activity Ideas

WTL on Summary Writing

Reviewing the WSM and Cohen's Article

Context and Summarizing

Quoting and Paraphrasing


Discussing Krugman's and Frank's Articles

Introducing Responding

Introducing the New York Times

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.  You might say something like:  Today we're going to review summary and the Writing Situation Model.  We'll also work on some revision strategies for summary writing.  Hopefully this will help you with some of the challenges you may have experienced in writing your summary of Cohen's article.

WTL on Summary Writing (10 minutes total)

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WTL (3-5 minutes)

On an overhead, instruct students to reflect on the process of writing their summaries for Cohen's article.  What did they find most difficult or challenging?  What did they find easy or more accessible?  What previous skills did they draw on?  What skills do they feel they'd like to improve?

Discuss WTL responses (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.  As you discuss, be sure to highlight the concepts of summarizing from the PHG.  You might put these on the board or on an overhead as a point of orientation.

Sample Transition to Next Activity

Consider using a transition such as the following: Now that we've reviewed the process and concepts of summary, let's expand on those by looking at the Writing Situation Model again.

Reviewing the WSM and Cohen's Article (5 minutes)

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You may wish to review this section carefully since you have probably already applied the writing situation model to Cohen in the last class, but use this opportunity to cover any points you didn’t get to, to quickly review past points relating to the Writing Situation Model’s application to Cohen, or to enlarge upon the points with the substance provided below. 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, you might draw the Writing Situation Model on the board or put your overhead up (the same one you introduced on Day 2).

·      One final time: Can you describe Cohen's text?

·      When was this text was written and where did it appear?

·      Who was Cohen's intended audience for the article?  For her book?

·      What were her purposes for writing this text? What was she trying to accomplish?

·      To what cultural phenomena or larger cultural trends, currents, or pressures is Cohen's criticism a response? (Possible answers might include: issues like identity and material status, effects of consumption on the environment, effects of advertising on consumers--e.g. childhood obesity--affluence in America, taxation, "democratic" spending, etc.)

  • To what extent is the controversy over consumption in America a part of Cohen’s readers' cultural environment or experience? How might this affect the way they read and respond to Cohen’s article?

·      What assumptions might Cohen have made about her readers’ needs or interests? What did she think they needed?

·      Was she right to assume these things? Why/why not?

·      Given whom her readers are and what she was trying to accomplish, how effective is Cohen's article?

Sample Transition to Next Activity

Consider using a transition like the following:  Looking at the responses we've just compiled, why is it important to think critically about a text's writing situation?  Why is it especially helpful to do so before writing an academic summary and response to an author's text (like you'll do in Portfolio 1)?

Context and Summarizing (3-5 minutes total)

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Discuss the importance of purpose, audience, readers, and context for writing summary/response essays by using student responses to your transition questions

    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 don't know what Cohen is talking about--what I buy doesn't affect anyone but me!"

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 to what it is responding)

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 - this should be clearer once you've discussed quoting and paraphrasing in more detail).

Sample Transition to Next Activity

When we summarize, it's not enough to merely list key points or string quotes together.  We need to explain how key points and evidence support the author's main idea.  We also need to quote and paraphrase the author's ideas accurately.

Quoting and Paraphrasing (15 minutes total)

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Discuss effective use of paraphrasing and quoting (10 minutes)

Design an activity where you model effective and ineffective use of paraphrasing and quoting. You might prepare examples beforehand OR have students help generate ideas using Cohen’s article.  Cover the following points (Use page 194 in the PHG as a guide):

1. Discuss when it is necessary to use author tags and how students should attribute other writers' words (as a rule of thumb the PHG indicates that we should attribute anything we did not know prior to research, etc.).  Also discuss the concept of paraphrasing in detail.  Paraphrasing is NOT using the thesaurus to change every other word of another writer's sentence, it is restating the author's ideas in your own words.

2. Discuss where and how often students should use paraphrasing and quoting in their summaries. (For example: It is ineffective to string together several quotes, as this infringes on the writer's voice and can become what is known as a "quotation quilt" [see PHG for more explanation of this notion]; but it is also ineffective to paraphrase too often, as ideas need to be supported with textual evidence).

3. Explain that quotes need to logically fit into the sentence structure. For example (feel free to revise and add your own examples):

Ineffective and Ungrammatical:  Cohen reports that the Macy's Annual Report "for 1955 called "middle income groups" explicitly distanced themselves from consumers deemed undesirable because they were too poor, black, or young and unruly."

More Effective:  Cohen reiterates the 1955 Macy's Annual Report's indication that "'middle income groups' explicitly distances themselves from consumers deemed undesirable because they were too poor, black, or young and unruly."

Ineffective Quotation Quilt:  Cohen says that "a lack of encouragement" for "public transportation" for the "low-paid, urban workers who now dominate shopping center sales forces" is causing inequality.

More Effective: Cohen indicates that a lack of support for public transportation provided to underpaid, commuting mall-workers contributes to social inequality.

       Review any other points on quoting and paraphrasing mentioned in the PHG or that you feel are important here at the beginning.

Example of how to summarize key points and evidence and incorporate quotes and paraphrases (5 minutes)

You can use the example provided here (and revise it as you see fit) or one of your students' own summaries to illustrate this.  If you use a student's writing in class, try to clear it with h/er before you show it to the rest of the class. Also introduce the piece as having been written by a peer.  Doing so can avoid any inappropriate comments and also make the showing of student work a goal or privilege to which students can aspire.

For example:

Cohen makes an argument about the detriments of consumption on equality in America.  She is responding to the government's and businesses' call to "spend more" after 9/11 to help boost our economy.  Cohen's goal is to show that consumption, as it is currently, is problematic and that we, as consumers in America, need to think more carefully about it. 

According to Cohen, the problem is historical and dates back to the recovery from the Depression in the 1930's.  Then, as now, the government and business leaders and workers called for more spending and increased consumer credit to enable this.  As a result, a pseudo-democratic idea that spending more would create more equality among classes in the U.S. was born.  "Citizens, living better than before, would be on equal footing with their prospering neighbors" (Cohen).  Cohen does not believe spending more creates more inequality.  In fact, she argues just the opposite and cites many examples of the negative effects increased shopping and malls have had on society, and she concludes by saying, "So before we praise consumer spending too lavishly this holiday season, it is worth recognizing that totaling up the dollars spent is not enough" (Cohen).  Cohen wants us to think about some of the less tangible effects our holiday shopping and make a change.

Sample Transition to Next Activity

Revision is an essential part of the writing process and one of the goals of our course.  Now that we've discussed summary in more detail, let's talk about how you revise your summaries to be as effective as they can be.

Revision (5 minutes)

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Revision Activity

In small groups or in a WTL, have students make notes about how they will revise their summaries for homework.  Facilitate the application of the prior activity as they are doing this.

Sample Transition to Next Activity

Revision is an essential part of the writing process and one of the goals of our course.  Now that we've discussed summary in more detail, let's talk about how you revise your summaries to be as effective as they can be.

Discussing Krugman's and Frank's Articles (15-20 minutes total)

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Generating the main idea and key points (3-5 minutes)

Begin by outlining the application of the WSM to each article. Then, on an overhead or on the board (you can use a student scribe for this activity if you'd like), have students compile the article's main idea and key points. 

Creating a summary from the main idea and key points (5-8 minutes)

Have students get into groups of three or four, split the groups down the middle and assign either Krugman's or Frank's article to each half. Have each group create a summary of its assigned article from the points listed on the board on an overhead. 

Presenting group summaries (5 minutes)

Have each group put its summary on the overhead projector and read it to the rest of the class. You should facilitate a brief discussion of what each summary does well/could improve upon after each group presents.


Sample Transition to Next Activity

Let's shift our focus now from summarizing to responding. For homework today, I asked you to read about the different types of responses, given on pages 162- 163 in the PHG. If you recall, your audience for Portfolio 1 will be open and interested in your response. So it's important that we start thinking about the different types of response we can provide.

Introducing Responding (5 minutes)

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Introduce the concept of responding

The goal of this discussion is to briefly introduce students to all three ways can respond to a text: agreeing/disagreeing with the text's ideas, interpreting/reflecting on the text's implications or assumptions, analyzing/evaluating what makes the text effective or ineffective. Review the points on page 163 in the PHG, highlighting important concepts and phrases, and check out the teaching guide on Types of Summary and Response ( You may want to make an overhead like the following:

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.

Once you discuss these broadly, focus more narrowly on the agree/disagree response since they will do that for homework. Our goal here is not to show students that these types of responses exist simply as responses devoid of writing situations. You should ask students when/why they would choose to write a given response and/or provide examples of this.

You can point out that they will practice all three ways of responding through upcoming essays. For now, it's only important that they understand the differences between each type. Also, let them know that a combination of responses is possible for Portfolio 1. If they choose a combination, they simply need to be sure that their response makes an overall, focused point.

For the agree/disagree response, discuss what students feel the focus of the response will be (with what and to what extent they agree or disagree). Ask them when they've used this response (either in speech or writing) and ask them what made that response (or another agree/disagree response they've encountered) effective or not.

Sample Transition to Next Activity

Your homework for tonight will be try out your agree/disagree skills.   Before we talk more about the homework, though, by now you should be receiving the New York Times.  Your homework for tonight is to read an article that was published in the New York Times, so I want to talk a bit about how the paper is laid out and how we're going to be using it for class purposes.

Introduce the New York Times (5-7 minutes)

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Discuss the NYT

Students should be receiving the New York Times by today.  You can have them bring it to class starting today or next session.  

Tell students that they will be responding to current debatable issues in their writing. Explain that the reading of a national newspaper is one way to begin to understand not only current events and the discourse around publicly debated issues, but also the trends and cultural contexts that these issues are part of. Indicate that reading of the Times should begin immediately. Quickly show them the summary on page 2 of the Times and indicate that a quick skim of the summary is like reading a menu at the restaurant or like viewing the directory at the mall. The summary provides a quick overview, preview, or survey of the material in the entire newspaper and can quickly direct one's reading for the day. Reassure them that most people do NOT read the entire newspaper cover to cover but that quick skimming, scanning, and previewing can be applied to the paper right away.

Introduce the layout of the newspaper page (backwards 6) and the story structure (inverted triangle/pyramid) essential story components—the 5 W’s—funneling down to the detailed information so that the story can be cut where space demands.) Students should be familiar with these features of the newspaper after reading the assigned pages in the PHG.

Have everyone survey the paper for something of interest (articles, ads, anything). Review the special features of each day. Point out the editorial and Op-Ed pages and the Letters to the Editor.

Explain the notion of the News Clip Journal and how we’ll collect a minimum of 10 articles on issues of interest, actually physically clipping and pasting or taping < them to notebook paper, culminating in a topic proposal at the start of Portfolio 2, which comes in Week 5. They will submit their clippings as homework at< the start of Portfolio 2.

They should aim to collect an article a day. Point out that they will need a minimum of 10 articles and a minimum of 3 issues of interest as suggested by the newspaper by the third week of September or start of Portfolio 2.

You can have students bring their NYT to class every day, and if there’s time before class, read a section they haven’t gotten to yet.  You can also arrange to set aside 5 minutes at the start of each day for students talk about and share what they're reading with you and the rest of the class.

Concluding and Assigning Homework (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.  Remind them about where they can access their homework.  You might say something like:

·      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.

·      One of the things we hope you’ll pay attention to in these opening days and weeks of the course is the way that we are following a conversation on a topical debate, in our case, media and consumption in America. We are building our knowledge base on the issue and the ongoing discussion, debate, or conversation. As we learn more about this issue, we will discover that while most people hold different positions on the issue for varying reasons. These differing reasons are at the center of our discussions and will help us to understand how people can essentially agree (be opposed or be in support) while also holding differing positions or differing rationales for their perspectives on a topic.

·      Take note of the fact that the news article by Cohen gave us a fairly good overview of the issue and its historical prevalence. Recommend that students refer back to Cohen from time to time to ground themselves in the essential debate, to reflect upon the varying contexts of the involved parties, and to consider how their understanding of the debate has enlarged with reading.

·      Recommend that students use the articles that they’re collecting in the same manner, paying attention to not only the debate but the vested interests of the engaged parties.

·      A final point: As we develop our understanding of perspectives, we learn what it means to hold a stake in an issue, to have a vested interest, and we learn of the inevitability of perspective, or what some may call bias. We learn to account for perspectives, or approaches to arguments, rather than to fear, dismiss, or disdain them.