Tuesday, September 26th

Day 11 - Tuesday, September 26th

Lesson Objectives

To reflect on Portfolio 1 and introduce Portfolio 2. To help students understand the goal and definition of inquiry.

Connection to Course Goals

The process of inquiry promotes critical thinking. By teaching students to seek truthful answers to difficult research questions, we invite them to think in complex ways about debatable issues and how writers address these issues.

Remind students that Thursday's class will meet in Morgan Library.

Complete a Postscript for Portfolio 1B (7-10 minutes)

While you take attendance, have students complete a postscript for Portfolio 1B. They might comment on the most successful part of their portfolio and the areas that could still use improvement. What did they learn from completing this portfolio? Which assignments or class discussions were most helpful? How did they try to overcome the challenges they faced with this portfolio? You might also refer to pgs. 213-214 in the PHG for other postscript ideas. Collect P1B.

Introduce Portfolio 2 (5 - 10 minutes)

Begin your introduction by explaining that Portfolios 2 and 3 are complimentary. In Portfolio 2, students will inquire into their issue. They will seek out debatable topics, choose one topic for their focus, pose a research question, and seek credible answers to their question. Through this process, they'll develop their own position on their issue. Then, in Portfolio 3, students will argue for their position. Essentially, the work students do in Portfolio 2 will prepare them to write their argument essays in Portfolio 3.

After giving a brief introduction, define what inquiry means. Explain that in order to understand the assignments for Portfolio 2, students need to know what is meant by "inquiry".

Transition: Develop a transition here.

Review the Assignment Sheets (10 minutes)

Distribute assignment sheets. Ask students to read them over. Highlight important ideas along the way and address student questions. Also, discuss how the Inquiry Essay builds on previous skills. What skills will students likely utilize from earlier portfolios?

Transition: Develop a transition here.

Inquiry Activity (15 - 20 minutes)

In groups, or as a class, generate a list of current, debatable issues. What topics/issues seem to be most controversial in our society today? Then discuss: How might we inquire into each one of these issues? What questions might we ask? List ideas on the board.

Emphasize the importance of finding the right issues and the right questions. If students choose issues they care about and ask questions they genuinely want to seek answers to, they are likely to have a productive inquiry process. If they don't care about their topics or questions, they probably won't enjoy the research process.

Transition: Develop a transition here.

Examine Sample Inquiry Essay (20 minutes)

Usually, we don't examine sample essays immediately after introducing an assignment; but because this essay is so atypical, it helps to provide a sample so students understand what they're working toward. Use one of the samples provided in the summer section Writing Studio page (make sure to remove the writer's name). After students read the sample, discuss how this essay differs from those they've previously written for this class. Be sure to emphasize the importance of process - the Inquiry Essay traces the process of research and thinking, thus they need to carefully document how their ideas take shape as they complete their research. How has the writer of the sample essay traced their own inquiry process? What was their research question? How did their sources shape their thinking? What claim did they finally arrive at?


  1. Begin to work on your P2A Annotated Bibliography by finding 2 articles on debatable issues that interest you. Articles should come from the publications listed under the Web Links button. If you find articles online (especially through a publication that is updated daily), be sure to print them off immediately - otherwise they will likely disappear within a few hours.
  2. Read the articles and annotate them by addressing the following questions in 1 - 2 paragraphs: Briefly summarize the article. What issue does it address? How or why is this issue debatable? What is the article's purpose? What are its main points? Then, explain why the article interests you and whether you agree or disagree with its main points.
  3. Remember that Thursday's class will meet in Morgan Library.