Class Plan -- Unit One, Day 19
Assignment for Day 20
Reading - Read sample student Inquiry Essay (handout). [ASK A LECTURER FOR A SAMPLE TO COPY FOR YOUR CLASS.]
Writing - Make a "backwards outline" of the sample essay; i.e. identify what the writing is doing in each paragraph of the essay (You can do this by simply writing in the margins of the sample essay.); Construct one 2-column log for each topic sentence; Begin drafting an informal outline for your Inquiry Essay(to be continued in class next time).Related Handouts
Classifying Activity - You might preface this activity by explaining that it is meant to help students practice one possible way (among many) of moving from the point of having lots of information to the point of knowing how (and where) to use that information. This is an activity that will help them group, classify, and organize ideas from various sources.
Then proceed by putting the following four steps on an OH transparency or two, revealing one step at a time. Or if you prefer, you could type it up as a handout, and give them the whole exercise at once. Either way, be sure to explain each step. Ask students to take out their lists of "raw material" and to begin with Step 1.
Step 1 (10 minutes)
Number each piece of information you have in front of you. On a separate piece of paper, write a quick note that corresponds with each number (each piece of information). The note should be a two to three word classification that helps you to understand what the importance or relevance of this piece of information is. It should be a shorthand way of denoting the general topic the information refers to.
[Here is an example that you might use with your students. Refer to this passage on p. 107 of the Rodriguez essay: "So they do not realize that, while one suffers a diminished sense of private individuality by being assimilated into public society, such assimilation makes possible the achievement of public individuality." Ask students to come up with an appropriate 2-3 word classification--perhaps "assimilation and power" or "public identity" or "benefits of assimilation."]
Step 2 (10 minutes)
Again, read through your list of information, this time along with the list of classifications you've come up with. As you read, make a list of any patterns you see emerging. What are some of the most frequent classifications? Do any of the classifications seem closely related enough that they should be merged under one classification? This list that you are making will more than likely become the main ideas/topic sentences of your essay, so give a lot of thought to the patterns or groupings that you are seeing as you go through your information.
Step 3 (10 minutes)
Go through this list you have just made and assign a different color to each classification. Then return to your list of information and underline or highlight each item with the appropriate color. In which category does that item best belong? Is there more than one category that it could fit into? (You might have to use more than one color.) Are there any bits of information that can be eliminated because they seem not to fit into ANY of your categories? Are there new categories that need to be made to accommodate some of the items that don't fit easily into the ones you already have established?
Step 4 (10 minutes)
Once you have everything on your list "color-coded," Read through the groupings you have devised color by color. Read everything that is marked by the same color, then see if you can draft a rough topic sentence that would represent the relationship between these ideas. This topic sentence (once it is refined) will serve to provide focus for a paragraph or set of paragraphs devoted to that main point (or category) in your essay.
BE SURE TO EMPHASIZE THAT THE AIM HERE IS NOT TO STRING TOGETHER QUOTES (THE "QUOTE QUILT" PHENOMENON) BUT TO DEVELOP ORGANIZED DISCUSSIONS OF YOUR OWN MAIN IDEAS/TOPIC SENTENCES USING EXAMPLES AND IDEAS FROM THE TEXTS AND FROM PERSONAL EXPERIENCE.
A SECOND POINT THAT YOU MIGHT WANT TO MAKE IS THAT THIS IS ADMITTEDLY A VERY LINEAR AND FORMAL WAY OF ORGANIZING. IT CAN'T HURT ANYONE TO PRACTICE IT, BUT IF PEOPLE FIND THEMSELVES STRUGGLING WITH THIS METHOD, THEY SHOULDN'T DESPAIR. OFFER THEM ALTERNATIVES LIKE 1) FREEWRITING OR CLUSTERING AFTER THEY FORM THEIR INITIAL LIST OF "RAW MATERIAL" AS A WAY OF LAUNCHING AND DIRECTING THEIR THINKING, 2) BRAINSTORMING A ROUGH OUTLINE AFTER READING THROUGH THEIR LIST OF "RAW MATERIAL" IN ORDER TO GET AN IDEA OF WHERE ALL OF THIS IS GOING BEFORE THEY CATEGORIZE INFORMATION, THEN REVISING THAT OUTLINE AS THEY GO ALONG (A MORE RECURSIVE METHOD). ALSO ENCOURAGE THEM TO ADAPT THE PROCESS THEY PRACTICED TODAY TO INCORPORATE THE STEPS OF THEIR OWN COLLECTING/ORGANIZING PROCESS IF THEY ALREADY HAVE A GOOD SYSTEM IN PLACE.
Explain 2-Column Log - Explain to students how to set up a 2-Column Log (perhaps use example in Appendix 15), and why this is a helpful method to use--because it is important for them to be sure that they can articulate clearly the relationship/connection between the small points or bits of evidence/example that they are using and the main points (topic sentences) they are setting up as the focal points of their essay. They need to be able to explain these connections to themselves before they can begin writing the actual essay.
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