Week 8: Monday, October 13th - Friday, October 17th

Week 10: Activity Ideas

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The suggested activities for this week include:



Contexts of Portfolio 3



As always, remember to introduce and conclude your lessons with previews and reviews. Use transitions to maintain a connection between daily classroom activities, assignments, and portfolio and course goals.


Postscript (5-7 minutes)

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Facilitate a postscript for reflection on Portfolio 2

In this postscript you might have students reflect on the research and analysis process and also point them forward to how their work in Portfolio 2 will help them in Portfolio 3 and beyond CO150.

Questions you might ask include:

What was the most difficult part of Portfolio 2?

What was the easiest?

What aspects of the research process do you foresee yourself taking to other classes here at CSU?

What aspects of the research and/or analysis process do you think will help you write your argument for Portfolio 3?

If you had more time, on what aspect of Portfolio 2 would you continue to work?


Transitioning (create activities and allot time as you see fit)

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Review The Writing Situation Model

Key points from the Writing Situation Model: Be sure to cover the following points (in whatever order feels right for you):

·      Writers have purposes for writing

·      These purposes usually emerge from the writer's cultural or social context (something happens outside the writer that creates a need to write - something to respond to)

·      Writes make choices based on the context they are writing for (writing a letter home to your parents asking for money is a different than writing a letter to an organization to ask for contributions for a good cause). Therefore, different contexts will pose different requirements, limitations, and opportunities for a writer.

·      In addition to context, writers also need to think about readers.

·      Readers have various needs and interests, which are likewise determined by their contexts (their background, environment and experience).

·      In order to communicate effectively, a writer must anticipate what their readers' needs and interests are.

·      Cultural and social contexts shape the writing situation, acting on both writers and readers. Key elements of cultural context include language/media, government, shared values and beliefs, historical events. Key elements of social context include organizations, universities, schools, churches, businesses, environmental groups; family, friends, and neighbors; local events and traditions; community concerns (such as planning for growth along the Front Range).



Introduce The "Great Circle of Writing"

This model helps students see the shift in their roles as writers that takes place as they join, learn about, and now contribute to a conversation about a publicly debated issue.

Points to bring up about the Great Circle of Writing Model:

  • We begin as readers who encounter texts as a way to learn
  • and explore what is happing culturally and socially. (Portfolio 1)
  • Then, we become informed readers - drawn to certain specific
  • issues that we want to learn more about. That is, we became accountable members of the conversation. (Portfolio 2)
  • We read and research various texts to locate the "conversation" that surrounds the issue we're interested in (find out what groups or individuals, who are active in writing about the issue, are saying). (Portfolio 2)
  • Then, we analyze these texts to figure out how they are shaped by cultural and social influences. And in turn, we consider how the texts that get produced are shaping society and culture. (Portfolio 2)
  • Once we've critically examined the existing viewpoints on an issue, we become critical thinkers and informed writers. We then use our observations and critical thinking skills to construct new arguments. (Portfolio 3)
  • We write our own arguments for public discourse (a specific group of readers in society) in the hope that our opinions and views will influence society and culture. (Portfolio 3)
  • Through this process, we become active participants in society and culture. (Portfolio 3)



Discuss the Contexts of Portfolio 3 (create activities and allot time as you see fit)

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There are 2 arguments students will write for Portfolio 3.  At the start of the second context, you should compare/contrast the two contexts in detail.  For now, it is important to look closely at the first context (arguing for an academic audience).  Have students read closely over the guidelines for the first context and discuss logistics and answer any questions students have.

The reading in Chapter 10 of the PHG support the context of arguing for an academic audience particularly well, so try to incorporate as much of the chapter as you can during this part of the portfolio.  Ultimately, since we want to reinforce the course goal that writing is a series of choices, you might create an activity that covers the following questions:

What does an academic audience expect in terms of an argument in general?  (credibility, fairness, relevancy, interesting style, etc.)

What does an academic audience expect specifically in terms of a claim? (something unique and new, believable and feasible)

In terms of evidence?  (current, scholarly, accurate, well-cited, etc.)

Also discuss what academic arguments students have encountered in their careers as students.  You can also tie in the arguments we read from the NYT in Portfolio 1 with a bit of compare and contrast (the readers of the NYT are educated, but since the arguments appear in a newspaper, they have different expectations and limitations than students' arguments will have).


Claims (create activities and allot time as you see fit)

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Sample Brainstorming Activity for Developing Claims and Arguments

Discuss the types of claims described in the PHG:  value, solution/policy, fact, cause-effect.  Try to put each claim into a writing situation (when would you use a claim of fact?  A claim of value?). 

You might also create an overhead of different claims than the PHG uses and have students identify the type of claim each one is.

Generating Claims for the Academic Context Argument

The goal of this activity is to help students formulate possible arguments and claims for their issue. This activity takes place in front of the class using the white board. Lead students through one of the following strategies.

Strategy 1: Answer the question that you explored in Portfolio II to form an argument for Portfolio 3. For example:

If your research question for Portfolio II was:

Who is responsible for intervening when child abuse is suspected?

Your argumentative claim for Portfolio III might be:

The government needs to impose stricter laws to deter child abuse.


Teachers need to play a more active role in preventing child abuse.

Strategy 2: Brainstorm possible arguments by describing which parts of your issue you feel most strongly about. Then, imagine that you were involved in a conversation surrounding these aspects with some friends; what viewpoints might you offer? Which positions would you agree/disagree with? What overall arguments would you make?

Connect the activity above to the types of claims students come up with when they answer their research question.

Unpacking Claims for Argument

Using the claims from the PHG or ones you create yourself, have students unpack claims and outline development for the claims.

For example, "exams do not accurately measure a student's intelligence; therefore, portfolios should be used instead" may work well because there are implied claims of value and fact in the solution/policy claim:

1. the criteria for intelligence (value)

2. exams fail at measuring these criteria (fact)

3. portfolios will do a better job of meeting the criteria (fact)

Development for this claim would need address 1-3 above:  what is the criteria for intelligence?  how do exams fail at measuring these?  how will portfolios do a better job of measuring?

Workshop Claims in Class

After students write their own claims, do a mini-workshop where more than one student provides another with feedback on the effectiveness of the claim (what type of claim is this?  what evidence will be needed to support it?  how will readers react to the claim?).  You can also have students answer workshop questions for their own claims.


Review the day’s activities (3 minutes)

Remember to conclude each class session.  When you or a student does this, take special care to make clear their connection to both Portfolio 2 and larger course goals. Take care to provide some sort of conclusion to each class.