- To help students begin to narrow their Inquiry Essay issues
to the ones they'll actually focus on in their essays.
- Keep working and prewriting toward a clear, relevant focus
for your Inquiry Essay.
- Once you have your focus, make a new synthesis grid for just
that point, and add your point-of-view to those of the authors
(on handout). Have this ready to use in class next time.
- Daily prompt.
- New synth. grids to hand out.
- Start with the following Daily prompt: (5 min)
Your main task for today is to take the broad synthesis you've already written
and use it as a starting point to find a focus for your own Inquiry Essay.
Start by thinking about the following:
1. First, paraphrase the theme you're most interested in writing about for
your Inquiry Essay.
2. Second, spend a few minutes writing about why you're interested in writing
about that theme. What makes that theme interesting or important to you?
- When you bring your class together, put a quick chart on the
board that looks like this:
- Get a few student responses to this from the Daily and write
them down in the chart. Generally, the material in the "why"
column will turn out to be personal reasons--aspects of the students'
lives that are affected by that theme. Use these ideas to show
your students how they can narrow their own foci by adding a personal
connection to the broad theme, and then focusing on that connection.
For instance, if a student wants to deal with the relationship
between language and power, and his/her reason is that she's noticed
this relationship in her classes, you can suggest that she focus
on the relationship between language and power specifically in
terms of power dynamics in college classrooms, etc.
- Another method you can have your students use to find a focus
is to flag back to the word lists they generated at the beginning
of the Summary/Response sequence. Have them look back at those
lists and apply them to the syntheses they wrote for homework.
Are there any words on the list that connect with the synthesis
in some way? For instance, if a student wrote a broad synthesis
on the "language and community" theme, and one of the
words on his is "family," you can suggest that he focus
his essay language and community specifically as it relates to
interactions within a family--even his own family.
- Be sure to give your students lots of examples of potential
connections. (10-15 min. to here).
- When you're done with the above discussion, take one of the
potential connections you generated and, in a full-class discussion,
do a sample synthesis grid on the board which shows how at least
three of the in-class authors approach it. (If your class moves
slowly as a large group, you can break this into a small-group
- Finally, spend the remaining time doing one of two things:
- Option 1: If you feel your students just need to get
going and practice looking for foci of their own, actually ask
your class about the steps they need to take to get from where
they are now to an actual draft of the Inquiry Essay (things like
solidifying the focus, looking back at the articles, outlining,
etc.) Have them write down the list you generate on the board,
and simply say something like "Well, you know what you need
to do--go for it!" Give the assignment and let them spend
the rest of the class working.
- Option 2: If you feel that your students need more
explanation or structured practice, end the class with an activity
geared toward helping them find foci for their Inquiry Essays.
It can be something as simple as a q/a session or some structured
practice. Or, you can structure it as groupwork in which students
share their potential ideas and help each other while you circulate
with help and encouragement. Give the assignment at the end of