To look at the rhetorical situation (context, audience, purpose) for Hanson and Hacker and to generate summary points for each article. To critically examine the effectiveness of each article. To construct evaluative claims for the Portfolio I – Part B papers.
Discussing the rhetorical situation and main points for the assigned articles will help students prepare to write their academic summaries for either Hanson or Hacker for Portfolio I – Part B. Then, the discussion or debate involving the effectiveness of each article should generate ideas for developing thoughtful responses to Hanson and Hacker. The work with claims should reinforce the earlier lesson on writing claims from Portfolio I – Part A, but here the claims will take on an evaluative focus.
The goal of this discussion is to outline each article’s purpose, audience, context and main ideas. Tell students that they should take notes on this discussion since they’ll need to write a summary for either Hanson or Hacker for Portfolio I – Part B.
You should outline the information for each article on the board in the same fashion we used for Olsen, Elmasry and Martin on Friday of week 2. Ask students to fill in a similar grid: What are the context, audience and purpose for each of these articles? What other main ideas or arguments do the authors provide?
Some of the main ideas you discuss might include:
Sample Transition: Now that we’ve established the key summary points, let’s move into response. Please take out your homework responses.
Here we are trying to get students to look at the effectiveness of each writer’s argument. We want students to begin to locate the strengths and shortfalls of each article.
Begin with a general discussion. Call on a few students and ask them what they wrote about. Which author did they find more persuasive and why? During this conversation, try not to put students on the spot by questioning or criticizing their ideas. Right now, you’re just getting a feel for how they initially reacted.
After some general discussion, you might put students into groups to share their responses and develop them further. You could create two groups for Hanson and two for Hacker and place students in groups according to how they responded. For example, if students thought Hanson was more persuasive, put them in a Hanson group and have them discuss why. Or, have them focus on why they did NOT find Hacker to be as persuasive. Do the same with those who wrote about Hacker. Encourage students to use the terminology for an evaluative response (purpose, audience, clarity of ideas, evidence, logic, tone, etc…). And require them to support their ideas with clear examples from the text. Finally, explain that one student should keep notes and the group should plan on presenting their findings to the class.
Here each group should present their ideas to the class. You might have them present formally in front of the class; or, you might lead a discussion and call on groups as your “expert groups”; or, you might engage students in a mini-debate on who was more persuasive. If you choose to have a debate, ask Hacker fans to sit on one side of the room and Hanson fans sit on the other side. Ask each side to offer a persuasive idea (from the article); then encourage the other side to refute it, using textual evidence or their own logic. However you choose to conduct this activity is fine. The goal is to encourage students to think critically about the strengths and shortfalls of each article and to support their findings with clear textual examples.
Sample Transition: Now that you’ve generated a lot of ideas for response let’s begin to construct a formal evaluative response for whichever article you choose to work with for this second portfolio.
Remind students that their claim is directly connected to their purpose. Then, ask them to jot down in a sentence or two what their purpose would be in responding to Hanson or Hacker. Although their claim can be a mix of positive and negative points, their purpose should clearly lean toward commending or criticizing the argument (don’t flip flop…”It’s good, it’s not good, it’s good…”). Feel free to share these and other sample purpose statements below:
Some sample purposes for evaluative response might include:
Once students have a clear purpose, ask them to write a claim that reflects that purpose. For example:
If their purpose is to show that Hanson’s argument is illogical and diverts a reader’s attention away from the real problem of alcohol abuse, their claim would be:
"Hanson’s argument is illogical and diverts a reader’s attention from the real problem of alcohol abuse."
Remind students that their claims should be clear, debatable, and specific. The above claim is clear, debatable and specific. From it, a reader knows that the writer plans to show where Hanson’s logic falls short and how he diverts a reader’s attention away from the problem of alcohol abuse.
The following claim is not as effective:
"Hanson’s essay is effective because it is well written."
A reader isn’t sure what is meant by well-written. This could refer to any number of things. Before finalizing this claim, the writer would need to clarify what they specifically want to address in the paper. Then, they could revise their claim to be clearer and more specific.
If you have time, ask a few students to write their claims on the board. Then, ask the rest of the class to “unpack” the claims. That is, they should discuss what they would expect the rest of the paper to look like to fulfill each claim. What would the paper need to do in order to fully support the claim? Also, how might the claim be revised or narrowed for greater clarity?
Have students take out and read their assignment sheet for Portfolio I – Part B. Ask them if they have any new questions/concerns. Tell them that they have now gained the tools to successfully complete this assignment and highlight any important requirements. You may also choose to review all portfolio materials that you plan to collect so students can start to organize their work and prepare to turn it in. If you have a workshop policy (i.e. paper grade is lowered for missed workshops), remind them of this as well.
Write a conclusion for class. You might ask students to conclude the class by summarizing what was covered for today and articulating the expectations for workshop and for Portfolio I - Part B.