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Unit One, Day 2 - Thurday

Class Goal: Introduce them to concepts of context, purpose, audience, and focus. Emphasizes that we all read from a given position and context. Begins prereading on the American dream.

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.


  1. Roll -- Who's added or dropped since Tuesday? 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.)
  2. Discussion of critical thinking and studying culture by referring to how people mentioned these as components of what they want out of the course in the WTL. If they didn't mention this, try to talk about why by asking about their experiences in other writing classes or how the reading in RA might open up new expectations for the course and for a college education.

[define "critical" and "analysis" for them. First, ask what they think "criticism" is. You'll probably get an answer about talking about why a movie stinks or something along those lines. Give them more useful and accurate definitions on the board or an OH -- the dictionary is a good source!]

Transition: 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.)

  1. 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.)

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.(10 min.)

  1. Introduce importance of purpose/audience/focus. Read the material in PHG that they read for homework to see what you want to highlight here. Emphasize that no matter what you write, there is always a purpose, a focus, context, and an audience (which might be just you). (15 min)


Ask them to generate ideas about (and put on board under lists).

Here's a grocery list example:

What is your purpose in writing ?

To remember things you need to buy. . .

What's your focus?

What you need to buy, not the cost, or what you need at ACE hardware. Focus is determined for this purpose only.

Who's the audience?

Just you.

Complicating the categories:

Do this for each category and see how purpose/focus/audience/context differ in relation to one another (for example, you would probably focus on different things to tell your parents than your friends).

Goal: Emphasize the need to keep these aspects in mind for all your writing.

  1. WTL: on a separate sheet of paper, answer the following questions in regard to your homework (Have them ready on an OH):
  1. Collect homework.
  2. Transition: Since this unit focuses on work and the American dream, start with students' ideas and expectations about them.

  3. WTL On the board or on an OH, give them a prompt that asks them to write for ten minutes about what they want to do as a profession and why (what do they expect will be the rewards of this, personally, spiritually, monetarily -- however they want to define it.) (5 min.)
  4. Share answers to generate discussion. Call for volunteers or just call on people. Put their answers on the board, then discuss as a class:

Transition: We're about to begin reading a series of essays on success and the American dream, and they've written about it for homework. Right now you would like to generate some examples of who the class would define as successful, and then you'll distribute those for the whole class to share as examples. (2 min.)

  1. Group Activity: Have them break up into groups of 3-5 and fill out their own lists:

Who exemplifies the American dream?


Eg. Michael Jordan

Talented, succeeded against odds, dedicated to his work, makes a lot of money


After they complete their group lists, have someone from each group report their lists and make a master list on the board. Collect all the group lists. Explain that you're going to compile them all for the class if not every group got to present. (10 min)

Assignment: Read in PHG "Techniques for Reading: Summary and Response", pp 1470-58; in RA, "Introduction to `Money and Success'" chapter, pp. 304-6 and the Soto essay. Write a one-page summary of Soto's main ideas according to the guidelines in PHG.

Note: For the next class period, you will type up the variety of definitions of (1) success and (2) the American dream that the class presented in their homework assignment, and compile with it the examples of success stories they generated in class today. This will become a "class text" that you can refer back to for examples in class discussions and they can use as illustrations for support in their essays.