Week 5: Monday, September 22nd - Friday, September 26th

Week 13: Activity Ideas

backReturn to Overview


The suggested activities for this week include:


Introducing Arguing for a Public Audience

Introducing Visual Rhetoric

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.



Back to Top 

Decide how you want to conduct the workshop for students' academic audience arguments.  You may conduct a full in-class workshop as we did for Portfolio 1.  If you are running short on class time, you can create an out-of-class workshop to be done on a forum, via email, or even using the Chat Room feature in the Writing Studio.

See the Appendix for workshop questions and guidelines.

Backwards Outline Workshop

Similar to the analysis activity offered in Week 11, you can engage Students in a Backwards Outline Workshop; students can apply this to their own writing or to a partner's:

On a sheet of paper, write down your or the author's main claim or the controlling idea in the essay. Divide the rest of the paper into three columns. Then complete the following tasks, one by one.

In the left-hand column, write a brief summary of the content and purpose of each paragraph (e.g. Suzy Q example to support argument about body image). If there are two distinct ideas or purposes in the paragraph, write a brief phrase for each.

In the middle column, write a sentence that explains the connection between what this paragraph says/does and the overall claim at the top. If you don't know or it isn't clear, write a question mark.

In the third column, write a sentence that explains the connection between the paragraphs (i.e. paragraph one and paragraph two; paragraph two and paragraph three, and so on). If there is no clear connection, put a question mark in the third column.

What changes need to be made to improve the focus, development or organization of the argument?  Does the body clearly develop what the claim promises?  Does the claim need to be revised?  Where there are question marks, how will you improve the transitions?


Introduce Arguing for a Public Audience

Back to Top

Have students read over the guidelines for the public audience argument.  Highlight the concept of revision (you can connect this back to Portfolio 1) and the new expectations and limitations that accompany their new writing situation.

Explain that the analysis of a publication will serve as a foundation for the choices they will make when they revise their academic audience arguments for their public ones.

Generate Public Contexts

Discuss Audience and Context for Arguments.  Use this activity to model approaches to choosing a publication and audience. Ask two or three students to put their claims up on the board (ask for volunteers - try pitching it as "free help" with their essay). Then, check to see if these claims are narrow and debatable (you may not have had time to look over the academic audience arguments yet). If they aren't, have students revise them to meet this criterion. If they are, use them as models for argumentation. Ask the class to brainstorm a list of possible audiences for each claim.

Use these points as a guide for this discussion:

  • Look at the claim and ask - who needs to hear this argument?
  • Who would be most interested in this argument?
  • Who would be the most realistic audience to target (those who would actually read it and be affected by it)?

Discuss how the argument would look differently based on each group of readers and their various needs and interests.

  • Where might these different readers encounter this argument? Where would they be likely to read about it?
  • What is the best way to reach this audience (web or print form)?

*If students have difficulty generating specific contexts, tell them they'll need to do more research in this area to find out which contexts are available. One way to do learn about contexts is to look back at the journals they encountered when researching their issues in Portfolio 2. Also, tell them to do some topic searches to find out where their issue is being talked about.

The goal in this activity is to set students up for finding a good publication with which to work and to prepare them for the Context Comparison they will do next week.


Introducing Visual Rhetoric

Back to Top

Return to the discussions you have been having about the use of visual rhetoric in the NYT and bring in a few examples (from the NYT, magazines or Web sites) to illustrate how some writers use illustrations to support their arguments. Pass these around in class:

  • Images (photos, drawings, animations, video, audio)
  • Tables
  • Lists
  • Charts and Graphs

Ask students to bring in examples from the NYT that they've collected, plus other examples of graphics. Refer to the PHG intro-to-chapter pages and discuss their possible meanings/interpretations.

You can also create an overhead or handout that covers some of the concepts and practical explanations located at bedfordresearcher.com (go to "Manuals" then "Using Your Word Processor"--or http://www.bedfordresearcher.com/manuals/wp/).  There is also a general guide on Writing@CSU located at:  https://writing.colostate.edu/guides/index.cfm?guides_active=graphics

Overall, remember that our primary goal is to see the revision choices students make with their words, but since we live in such a visually-oriented society, we also want them to be aware of and try their hands at incorporating visual rhetoric in their work. 

Be sure to spend time explaining how students can use the basic functions in Word like inserting text boxes.  You can use the following as the most reductive instruction:

Creating Text Boxes

If you want to create a text box with writing in it or insert a picture/image into a text box to place within your writing, be sure your "drawing" tool bar is open in Word (this is the one that has auto shapes and a paint can on it). Then click on the icon that looks like piece of paper with typing on it around the letter 'A.' This should allow you to choose the type of text box you want (in older versions of Word, your cursor will turn into a + that you size however you want by holding down the left button on your mouse). Once you create the box, you can type call out quotes in it or copy/paste images. If you right click on the box's outline, a new menu should appear. In this menu, choose "format text box" and you'll get a whole new set of choices for wrapping text, bringing text "forward" (over the text box), coloring the text box, etc.

We recommend telling students to play around with this WITH A SAVED DOCUMENT until they figure out to what extent they want to use this feature.


Key Points

Key points to cover in as you introduce this concept include:

How does the visual (whether it's a graph, photo, chart, icon or cartoon) further the written argument?

How does the placement of the visual relate to the written material?

Describe how the visual augments the argument's strength.

When might visuals be distracting?

As you discuss visual rhetoric, be sure to CSOW.  Ask students to brainstorm options for incorporating visual elements into their papers. How might students use visual rhetoric to further their arguments for a public audience?  They might think of something as complex as creating a table to display data or something as simple as a bulleted list to simplify a complex set of solutions, for instance, for a reader.   Let them know, too, that the type of visual rhetoric they choose should resemble the visual rhetoric used in the publication they are analyzing.

Possible Publications

Broaden students' knowledge of possible publications they could choose to use to some of the magazines (beyond more general-audience magazines such as People, Newsweek and U.S. News and World Report) that may offer articles on important current issues:


The Independent

Atlantic Monthly

The Economist

New Republic

The Nation

National Review

Progressive Farmer

Parents or Parenting Magazine

The Chronicle of Higher Education

The Progressive

The Weekly Standard

Earth Island Journal


Business Week

Utne Reader

The Christian Science Monitor

The Humanist

Scientific American

New York Times Magazine

*Note that this list is by no means comprehensive and that students can peruse online journals as well as those found in hard copy.


Review the day’s activities (3 minutes)

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.