Tuesday October 17th

Day 17 - Tuesday October 17th

Lesson Objectives

To discuss P2B issues; to identify questions about students' issues. To address students' concerns about writing their Inquiry Essay; to discuss the structure of the Inquiry Essay.

Connection to Course Goals

Reviewing the Inquiry Essay assignment and conducting the Issue Interview in class will help students focus and shape their essays; by the same token, looking critically at the sample Inquiry Essay will provide students with a model for their own essays. Discussing transitions and hooks at this stage is important for building students' awareness of their readers' needs, which reinforces the importance of paying attention to rhetorical situations.

Introduce Today's Class (3 minutes)

You might begin today's class by asking a few students how Reading Days went and whether they accomplished everything in their work plan. Students could also report back to their partners from the work plan activity about what they accomplished.

Transition: Develop a transition here.

Issue Interview (25 minutes)

The issue interview is designed to get students to articulate their thinking about their P2B issues at this point in time and to give them some preliminary feedback. Divide the class into pairs, hand out copies of the questions listed below, and let the students know that they'll have about ten minutes each to find out as much as they possibly can about their partner's context and current thinking on their issue. Tell them to make sure to take notes as they're conducting the interview.

Issue Interview Questions:

Part 1

  1. What issue have you chosen to research and write about?
  2. Explain why this issue is current, debatable, and complex.
  3. Who is interested in this issue? Why are those individuals/groups interested in this issue?

Part 2

  1. How have you narrowed the focus of your research so that you're looking at a specific issue in public discourse and not an umbrella topic?
  2. Note: "Umbrella topics" are those large-scale topics that are too big to tackle in this class. For instance, "the war in Iraq" is an umbrella topic because it is impossible to effectively research and write about all aspects of the war in Iraq in time we have in this class. A specific issue in public discourse might be to look why there have been difficulties implementing a new Iraqi government, or how recent events have influenced presidential approval ratings.
  3. What is your tentative claim?
  4. Why do you think it's important to discuss your issue right now? What makes your issue part of current public discourse?

Part 3

Consider why you take the position you do-not so much your logic or reasoning but the contextual influences that may have shaped your position.

  1. Where did you grow up? Describe your neighborhood, school, hometown? How might your local community have influenced the way you view this issue?
  2. Describe your values and beliefs, your convictions and/or where you get your morals or your sense of right and wrong. What helps you to define what's right and wrong? Where do you think your sense of values came from? How might these values, beliefs, convictions, and morals affect your views of the issue you're writing about?
  3. What people have been most influential in shaping your views? How do they influence your ideas? How might they influence the way you view this particular issue?
  4. Describe any biases that you have that may influence how you view this issue. Do you have something to gain personally from taking the position you do? If so, what is it?
  5. Can you think of any specific personal experiences (event, story, film, book) that may have influenced the way you view this issue?
  6. How might your education affect your position on this issue? How were you schooled-at home, or in a public, private, religious, charter, or alternative institution? Have you received formal education or training from work or service-related affiliations? Has your education extended beyond the classroom-via travel or unique circumstances? How might your education-in and out of school-have influenced your views on this issue?
  7. How has the research you have done thus far on your issue affected your position? Explain. What values, beliefs, purposes or concerns do you share with the sources you have found? Where do your values or beliefs diverge from your sources?

Transition: Develop a transition here.

Issue Interview Response (10 minutes)

Have students conduct a WTL that addresses the following prompt (or one that you write):

Now, on a separate piece of paper, draft a paragraph that describes your partner's issue, research focus, and contextual reasons for choosing that issue. The point here is articulate back to your partner their current thinking on their issue as fully as possible so that they can see where they might need to continue thinking about/exploring that issue. You can use your interview notes, but no fair cheating back to that person. Remember to be polite and respectful, and always to give as good as you want to get back. You might consider including a few comments at the end of your paragraph regarding suggestions for further research, or questions the writer will need to consider.

Finally, have students give the paragraphs they've just written to their partners. Tell the class that they should use the feedback they just received to help them draft their Inquiry Essay in preparation for workshop on Thursday.

Transition: Develop a transition here.

Develop Criteria for the Inquiry Essay (5 - 10 minutes)

To help students visualize the components of an effective inquiry, construct some criteria on the board. You might ask: What will an effective Inquiry Essay look like? Then, list criteria (of course, you have to be careful to ward off any incorrect ideas here. Otherwise, the class may become confused about the goals and requirements for the essay). Also, you may want to prepare your own list of criteria to refer to just in case students forget to include essential points.

Sample Transition: "Now that we've constructed some criteria for this essay, let's consider how well the sample essay you read for today addresses these criteria."

Discuss the Sample Essay and its Effectiveness (15 minutes)

First, give students a few minutes to read or skim back over the student sample essay they brought in for today. Then, discuss the ways in which the essay effectively addresses the assignment criteria. Also, discuss areas in which the essay could improve.

You may find that this is an opportune time to discuss essay organization. Ask students to generate ideas on how to logically organize their Inquiry Essay. Then, if there's time, you might ask students to draft out an outline for their own paper.

Transition: Develop a transition here.

Discuss the Importance of Transitions and Hooks (10 minutes)

Since the Inquiry Essay guides readers through the writer's process of thinking and research, it is essential that students learn how to write clear transitions. Transitions and hooks will help a student's paper read more coherently. Use pages 342 - 343 in the PHG to develop a lesson on transitions and hooks. Once teaching these concepts, you might ask students to identify the transitions and hooks used in the sample essay.


  1. Keeping in mind the feedback you received in class today as well as our discussion of essay structure and transitions, draft your Inquiry Essay, and bring two copies to class for workshop on Thursday. Don't forget to include your P2B sources in a bibliography.