Wednesday, October 19th

Wednesday, October 19th

Lesson Objectives:

To narrow research topics into possible issues, and to begin considering how individuals respond to these questions.

Connection to Course Goals:

The objectives for today’s class continue to connect to the goals of collaboration and helping students make effective choices with their writing. By narrowing and focusing their topics, students begin to see how to effectively enter the conversation on their particular topic and issue.

Review the Topics and the Research Groups (5 minutes)

Make sure that all the selected topics are still workable and that everyone has a topic that works for him or her.

Discuss Narrowing Topics into Issues (20 minutes)

Now that the students have selected their topics, you need to discuss how to narrow these topics into issues. Inform students that topics are too broad for the issue analysis and that they'll need to narrow their topics to issues in order to focus their writing for Portfolios II and III. Use the grid below (or one you develop) to illustrate the differences between topics and issues. Clarify that issues are often defined in the form of a debatable question.





Nuclear Waste

Where should we store it?



How should we transport it across the country?

Should we continue to use nuclear energy when we don't have a reliable solution for storing its waste?

School Violence

What is the cause of school violence?



What should teachers' role be in managing school violence?

Should we implement counseling programs in schools to reduce violence?

WTL - Practice Narrowing Topics Down to Issues (20 minutes)

Have students list one or two topics that they might be interested in researching (of the five that you voted on). Then, have them narrow these topics into 3 - 4 specific related issues. Ask them to form these issues as research questions. Since you've already modeled this activity as a class, you probably won't need to thoroughly explain it. Verbal instructions or instructions on an overhead should be sufficient.

If you have time, ask students to share their WTL responses with the class.


1.) Choose the topic you want to work with for Portfolios II and III (it should be one of the five issues voted on in class). Once you’ve chosen a topic, post your choice to the class Writing Studio forum. (**Note to GTAs – create a forum for this posting or ask students to email you their topic choice. This will allow you to create topic groups in advance).

2.) Research your topic to find out more about its origins and background. Also, find out who is talking about this issue and what they’re saying. Find at least two sources to print off and read (you may want to use the library databases to be sure your sources are credible). Then, annotate two of your sources for your Inquiry Journal by addressing the following questions in 1 – 2 paragraphs: What does this article say about your topic? What’s its purpose? What important issues or questions does it raise? What is your response to this article? Do you agree/disagree with the ideas it promotes? Do you find the article credible? Why or why not? Bring your articles and journal to class.