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Class Plan -- Unit Two, Day 28


Assignment for Day 29
Fill out your workshop sheet on your own as soon as possible, then arrange for a time to meet briefly with your workshop partner over the weekend. Using suggestions made by your partner, revise your Text Analysis Report to turn in. [Again, you might provide a checklist of process materials you will want them to include in their folders.]

Related Handouts


Do Setup for Take-Home Workshop. Ask students to pair up with someone who is writing a slightly different essay than they are. (In other words, with a student who is doing a different comparison in his or her essay.) Find out what texts students are using by asking for a show of hands, then try to make sure that, as much as possible, students are paired up correctly. Once they are in pairs, hand out the workshop sheet, ask them to fill out the "writer" section, and have them exchange essays and workshop sheets. Then explain the logistics of the workshop, making it clear that they are expected to do the workshop, meet with their partner, AND do the necessary revisions on their own essays by Monday. [One alternative to this is to let them meet to discuss their essays during part of Monday's class, then to turn the essay in on Wednesday, but keep in mind that time spent on revision will dig into the time they have to do their library assignment for Wednesday.] Give workshop pairs a few minutes to put together a game plan.

Introduction to Written Argument - You might begin this discussion by asking students what "argument" means in an academic sense. What does it mean to "argue" in school/on paper? After you have a working definition of written argument provided by your class [taking and supporting your position on an issue, for instance], you can go on to explain how writing an argument is a complicated process of deciding what is out there that CAN be argued (in other words, investigating the academic discussions that are already being conducted, and what positions can be taken), then adding one's own voice (position) into that discussion. Too often, when students go off to conduct research, they think only about whether a source supports or opposes their own position on an issue (discreet and isolated categories). But the way we will be approaching argument will be quite different, as students will be expected not just to place sources in two categories--pro or con--but to investigate the specific roles that a variety arguments/positions (including their own) play in an academic discussion. Argument, then, is a process of investigating an academic discussion and formulating a position within that discussion. Some of the questions we will be concerned with are:

When put this way, these questions obviously echo a process entirely familiar to students by now--Text Analysis. In order to be able to present an intelligent argument on an issue, students MUST understand the context of their own position. They have to know a great deal about the discussion they are participating in (who's talking, why, and how) in order to participate fully themselves. The skill of rhetorical analysis will be invaluable in the research process (adding to their ability to read, choose, and understand their sources better).

Discussion of Audience Analysis - In this unit on Written Argument, students will be analyzing not only other texts, but also the audience they themselves (the students) are addressing in their arguments. You might ask students why it is important to know your audience well when you are making an argument. Then reinforce the answer to this question [something like "so you are able to put together a convincing argument"] by doing one or both of the following activities.

Activity 1 - Pass out a letter to the editor from a liberal journal like the Nation(see Appendix 20). Without telling the students that it came from a liberal journal, try to get them to imagine the type of response it would get if the author were attempting to publish it in American Rifleman. What are the readers and editorial board of American Rifleman like? Are they likely to accept this argument? What assumptions about its audience does the letter make? [At this point, you might inform them that the letter was actually published in a liberal journal.] Are there ways the author could argue the same main point, but in a way that would be better accepted by its audience (American Rifleman)?

Activity 2 - [You might do this activity in addition to the other one, if you have time.] Put students in groups and ask them to work on the following argument which they are going to present to you: "We should be let out of class early one day in the upcoming week." Tell them that they should come up with various reasons why you should let them out of class, but that they need to spend at least 5 minutes thinking about their audience (you!), what kind of person you are, what motivates you, and what reasons you are likely to accept. [Tell them that you won't eavesdrop on them during this discussion, to reassure them.] When they are finished, ask the groups to report their best reason and to explain why they decided on that reason (based on what they know about their audience). [If you do this activity, be sure to follow it up by actually letting the class out early one day in the upcoming week. If you are able to do it today, that's ideal.]

If time permits, you might give the Arguing Essay Proposal Packet assignment (see Appendix 21), or you might allow your class to leave early (if you used the "talk me into getting out of class early" activity today)