Monday, August 28th

Day 4 - Monday, August 28th

Lesson Objectives

To continue discussing the issues brought up in the readings; to once again highlight how purpose, audience, and context influence a text. Also, to continue discussing how context shapes writing situations; to reflect on writing summaries and gain feedback for revision.

Connection to Course Goals

Reflecting on summaries and gaining feedback through peer review encourages students to revise their writing (a central goal of CO150). Discussing the differences in genre conventions for Anderson Cooper’s blog and Wilson’s article helps reinforce the idea that writing is a series of conscious choices shaped by our rhetorical contexts.

Take Attendance and Introduce Class (3 - 5 minutes)

After taking roll, you may want to remind students that we will be workshopping their P1A essay one week from today. Remind students that you are available during office hours to meet with them if they have questions about their writing. Also, remind them that the Writing Center (in Eddy room 6) is a great resource.

Transition: Develop a transition here to move into the next activity.

Conduct a WTL and Discussion on Cooper & Wilson (15 minutes)

Ask students to pull out their copies of both texts. Ask them to spend a few minutes (perhaps 5) freewriting about their responses to these two texts. You might put a few questions on the board or an overhead to elicit their opinions on the two texts. Don't ask them to analyze the articles yet - just focus on getting them to articulate their personal responses to the articles.

Once students have had a chance to write about their reactions to the articles, ask them to share their ideas. You might note their responses on the board, or ask follow-up questions like "Why do you think Wilson's ideas appealed to you?" or "Why were you confused by the range of comments in response to Cooper's blog?" The point of this activity is to get students used to sharing their responses to texts in class, as well as to acknowledge and value those subjective responses before beginning to look at the two articles more objectively.

Sample Transition: Now that we've had a chance to discuss our reactions to these two articles, let's see if we can look at them more closely in terms of purpose, audience, and context.

Compare the Rhetorical Contexts of Cooper and Wilson (15 min)

You might begin by putting the terms purpose, audience, and context up on the board and asking students to remember back to your previous discussions and explain what they mean. Try asking students to first identify what the purpose of each article was, then the intended audience, and then pause and let them know that you'll be looking into the context of the articles a little more deeply.

You might draw a chart on the board and start collecting as much information on the context of both articles as you can, like this:

Cooper Wilson
  • blog on CNN. com
  • Cooper is a political commentator on CNN
  • blog was posted on 2/27/06
  • ETC.
  • article in the National Review
  • Wilson is a professor of public policy at Pepperdine University
  • article was published 12/19/05
  • ETC.

Make sure to ask students follow-up questions, like:

The goal of this discussion is to highlight the differences in the contexts between the two articles, and to discuss how both Wilson's and Cooper's contexts influenced the choices they made as writers. At this point in the semester, this discussion may not get incredibly detailed, but if students can recognize that Cooper and Wilson are working with very different contexts, their understanding of rhetorical situations will take a big step forward.

Sample Transition: Now that we've had a chance to look at the rhetorical context of these two texts in more detail, let's turn to your summaries of Wilson.

Complete and Discuss Write to Learn (5 minutes)

Ask students to briefly reflect on writing their summaries. What came easily? What part of their summary do they think was most successful? What was more challenging? What questions or concerns do they still have about writing academic summaries?

You may want to put these questions (or questions like these) on an overhead.

Then, discuss their responses. Call on students or invite them to participate. Calling on students after they've had ample time to think/write about something alleviates putting them on the spot. It's also a good way for you to practice learning their names.

Sample Transition: Now that you've voiced your concerns, let's take an opportunity to get some feedback from your peers.

Conduct a Peer Review Activity (15 minutes)

First, remind students of the guidelines for summary (refer them to the appropriate pages in the PHG or put these guidelines on an overhead). Then, tell them what peer review is: an opportunity to get some feedback from other readers/writers. Explain to them that ANY reader can provide useful feedback (not just the teacher alone) so they should value the comments they make and receive.

For this peer review activity, you might ask students to provide some general feedback (i.e. comment on 1 -2 things that are already working well in this person's summary and make 1 - 2 suggestions for improvement). Or, you might ask them to look closely at the writing and provide specific feedback (i.e. Does the paper introduce the article and include the author, date and place of publication? Where does the paper state the article's main idea or purpose? How objective is the summary? Mark places where the writer's use of language is too opinionated or subjective. Etc…). Either way, you should make these instructions clear for students before asking them to exchange papers with a peer.

Have students return the summaries back to the original writer. Remind them that they should use the feedback they received in class today to revise their summaries in preparation for turning them in to be graded on Thursday. Let them know that you will be looking at their summaries in terms of whether or not they meet the conventions of academic summary. You might point them again to the guidelines for summary in the PHG (or your overhead) and emphasize that these are the grading criteria you'll be using.

Note: Grading in a writing class can be intimidating to students because it seems, on the surface, to be less quantitative than the evaluative practices that they are used in their other courses. With this in mind, you might wish to let them know that you will be grading their work as objectively as possible, and that establishing clear criteria for each assignment is part of this process. You might also mention that we've built this small assignment (5% of their overall course grade) into the syllabus early in the semester so that they can get a sense of both your grading practices and areas in which they can work to improve their writing.


You might say: "Today we reviewed the conventions of academic summary and workshopped your drafts. Make sure to take some time to revise your summaries of Wilson in preparation for turning them in on Wednesday."


  1. Revise your summary of Wilson to turn in for a grade on Thursday.
  2. Note: Explain to students how you would like them to turn this assignment in. Should they bring a typed paper copy to class? Should they post it to the Writing Studio? Should they email it to you as an attachment?
  3. Read the following short articles available through E-reserve, using your critical reading skills:
  4. Bring these and all of the previous articles to class on Wednesday.

  5. Spend a few minutes looking up details about the context of both articles on the Web. Who is Gerald Early? What kind of publication is The Nation? What else can you discover about the context of these two texts? Take notes on the results of your searches and bring them to class on Wednesday.