Class Goal: Introduce writing strategies by looking at ones they already employ (perhaps unconsciously) through a discussion of myths and rituals. Begin to study culture through an analysis of the culture of this classroom.
Connection to Course Goals: Establishes that cultural analysis is a useful activity and integral to the project of this course, reading from a specific position (and being able to step outside of that), and the importance of context and rhetorical situations for reading, writing, and conversing -- any form of communication.
- Roll -- Who's added or dropped since Monday? If you have room, you can sign an add form for anyone on your waiting list, and if someone has missed both classes you can dis-enroll them through the form you were given with your roster. (2-5 min.)
Transition: You're going to begin examining the larger culture (the United States in terms of working, the media, and education) by examining the culture of this classroom in this next activity.
- Interview activity. Have students pair up and ask each other questions about one another and record their answers so they can report back. (10 min.)
- Report results of interviews by having students introduce each other. As they do so, put their questions on the board. Generate a list of categories (20 min.)
- What types of things did everyone ask (Age? Hometown? Major?)
- What wasn't asked and why do you think that is?
- Why are these things people will ask and will tell?
- What does this say about our expectations of social interaction? of a composition classroom and what can be said there?
Context and rhetorical situations define what we can say and how we can say them. Our context and rhetorical situation here is a college composition classroom.
- How would our questions have differed if you were interviewing your instructor? Why?
- How would your questions and answers have differed if you were talking to someone you met at a fraternity or dorm party? Why?
- How would your questions and answers have differed if you were just meeting your host family for a semester in a foreign country? Why?
Transition: Throughout the course, you'll be analyzing other aspects of US culture beyond composition classrooms. In the first unit, you'll be concentrating on work and the American dream, what we expect from work, how we define success, and if there are contradictions between the myths and realities. The readings in the first unit will all deal with those issues, and critical reading is a necessary component of critical thinking, two of the skills you'll be developing this semester.
Just as context and rhetorical situation determine how we communicate, our background determines what we bring to a text we are reading.
- What makes up someone's background or identity? (age, gender, ethnicity, regionality, experiences, etc.)
- Discuss their homework answers about the poem. Get a variety of people's responses, and you may want to have someone put those on the board. (10 min.)
- What different ways did people understand the poem?
- What were some of the different reactions?
- How would our backgrounds in part determine our responses?
- Do you think an Hispanic person would respond differently than someone outside that culture? (They'd at least understand the Spanish passages!)
- Would a classroom "overachiever" read this differently than someone who didn't care about school?
- Did men and women seem to read the poem differently?
- Did anyone think this didn't even look like a poem? Why not?
Transition: Remind them that while we all come to a text with certain expectations, in order to read critically, we must be able to step out of that position to recognize the author's position.
- Discuss last night's reading on critical thinking and reading.
- How would they define critical thinking?
- How does RA define it? (You can turn them to page 5 for an exact discussion, or to generate discussion if it falls flat by highlighting passages).
- How do they define critical reading?
- How does RA (see pages 10-12)?
- How similar are these definitions to how they have read texts in the past?
- How are they different?
Assignment for next class: Read in PHG "Purpose and Audience", pp. 20-6; "Remembering", pp. 100-6; and "Writing Process", pp. 124-33. Write about how you define "Success" and the "American dream", since we'll be reading about these topics throughout this unit. Let's start with their ideas!
If there is extra time: Ask them to share their writing myths and where they think they got them.