Tuesday, September 11th

Day 7 (Tuesday, September 11)

Lesson Objectives
Students will

Connection to Course Goals
Discussing the role of the writer furthers students’ understanding of rhetorical situations both as they read and as they write.

Connection to Students’ Own Writing
The discussion of Michael Pollan will give students another way to discuss a text in the letter they will be drafting soon.  Brainstorming letter strategies gets students thinking about their letters.

For today’s class, spend time on Pollan’s website so that you can add to the information students bring to class.  Reread “The Modern Hunter-Gatherer.”  Finish grading the summaries so you can return them at the end of class.

Inquiry list
All 6 Pollan articles
Notes from you research on Pollan's web site
Overhead transparencies:
            Rhetorical situation
            Blank transparencies for small groups (optional)
Overhead pens (optional)
Graded summaries to return

Students have researched Michael Pollan and read one more piece—“The Modern Hunter-Gatherer.”  They’ve practiced more critical reading as well.  Hopefully, each student has remembered to bring all six Pollan articles to class today.

Attendance and introduction (2-3 minutes)
Take attendance and introduce class as usual.

Conduct a general discussion of the homework (8-10 minutes)
Ask for reactions to “The Modern Hunter-Gatherer.”  Having read the piece critically, students should have more to say than “I liked it” or “I didn’t like it.”  They can talk about the ways in which it appealed to them (or not) and the questions it raised for them. 

Check in with students about the critical reading work—be sure they understand that they need one double entry log and one critical reading guide in their portfolios.  Now that students have had a chance to practice both, they can discuss which they prefer, and why.

Transition write a transition here that will connect this activity to the next.

Discuss the rhetorical situation, focusing on the writer (5-8 minutes)
Show the rhetorical situation model once more, and explain why it’s important to consider the writer as you read (so that you can evaluate a text’s credibility and authority, so you can understand why a writer says what he/she says, so you can make better decisions about how the text fits into the conversation, etc.).  Also, explain how you can consider the writer as you read (research him/her, use the text to infer things about the writer’s experiences, values and beliefs, etc.).

Transition write a transition here that will connect this activity to the next.

Share Michael Pollan research (20-25 minutes)
Gather student research on the board by giving students a moment to look through what they brought from Pollan’s website and to choose a few pieces of information to share.  Ask students to think of ways in which the information they have found illuminates the text in some way.  Knowing that Pollan is a journalist, for example, explains why his writing appears frequently in periodicals. 

Go around the room, asking each student to contribute something that hasn’t already been said.  Write their ideas on the board.  When you finish, assess what you’ve learned.  You can probably make some general statements about Pollan as a writer, and how and why he makes the rhetorical choices he makes.  You may have lingering questions about him, too—generate questions and then see if anyone’s research can help answer them.

Transition write a transition here that will connect this activity to the next.

Small group discussions (15-18 minutes)
In five or six small groups, ask students to consider one of the Pollan texts in light of what they’ve just learned about Michael Pollan.  Ask them to answer the questions:

What does Pollan know about his subject?
How does his frame of reference affect how he views his subject?
How does Pollan’s frame of reference affect his choice of audience, context, and genre?
So what?  That is, what conclusions can you draw about the text, given what you know about Pollan, his frame of reference and his rhetorical choices?

To do this, students need to see the board, so you might provide the questions as a handout.  Alternatively, you could give each group an overhead transparency with the questions already written out.  Give students about 10 minutes to discuss and jot down answers to the questions, and then ask each group to present their findings.

Transition write a transition here that will connect this activity to the next.

Letter strategies (3-5 minutes)
Remind students of the assignment at hand, and ask for ideas about how they could use what they’ve just done as they write a letter to an individual. 

“Plan B”
Think through and write down your “if time” and “if I run out of time” ideas here.

Transition write a transition here that will connect this activity to the next.

Assign homework and conclude class (2-3 minutes)
Assign the following for homework, and wrap up today’s class.

Homework for Thursday
Reread the assignment sheet and decide which of the three texts (“An Animal’s Place,” “Power Steer” or “The Modern Hunter-Gatherer”) you will use for your letter.  Choose your audience as well, and write a description of that person as a reader: describe your reader’s knowledge about the subject, and describe your reader’s frame of reference as best you can.  Explain what about the essay you have chosen will interest this reader, and why.  Explain what your reader will need to know in order to understand your letter.  Bring your audience description to class with you on Thursday.

You might begin drafting your letter; a complete draft is due on Tuesday of next week.

Return summaries (2-3 minutes)
Before you hand graded work back, it’s important to explain to students how to read your feedback.  For the summary, tell students about how you commented, where they can find the grade, etc.  Remind them that this is a small assignment and that you’re available to talk about the summary with them.  Many instructors have a “24-hour rule” which requires students to wait a day before contacting the teacher about the paper.  Some instructors more casually ask students to take a day to read over the comments and the summary.  The point is you don’t want to discuss the summaries right away for many reasons, the most rhetorical of which is that students need to take time to read and understand your comments before they can discuss them. 

Also remind students of any relevant policies (such as revision), and explain the ways that the summary connects to the new assignment.

Connection to Next Class
Today, students have been thinking about what they read rhetorically.  They’ll need to do that as they write their letters.  Thursday’s class will focus on the student’s drafting plans.