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Class Plan -- Unit Three, Day 33
Goals Assignment for Day 34
  1. Evaluate the sources you have found so far, using the criteria we developed today. Which of your sources are particularly sound in terms of these criteria? Are there any of your sources which might need to be replaced with other sources? Based on your evaluation, which of your sources might be most central to your argument, and which might be useful only in very limited or peripheral ways? (Put your sources in a hierarchy from "best" to "worst" or from "most useful" to "least useful.")
  2. Begin responding to the Audience Analysis questions in preparation for compiling your Arguing Proposal Packet. Activities: I'VE SEEN THE FOLLOWING ACTIVITY DONE WITH BOTH CHOCOLATE SAMPLES AND CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES, BUT ANY TYPE OF FOOD IS LIKELY TO BE A HIT WITH YOUR PERPETUALLY STARVED UNDERGRADS.


Daily - Take just a few minutes to come up with a list of the five most important criteria you use when determining what really good chocolate is. These criteria should be specific, testable criteria, as opposed to vague categories.

[You will probably want to give a couple of examples of specific, testable criteria like "must be so rich that you have to chase it with a glass of milk" or "must not have any nuts in it"--then let them go to town with it. (They often get ridiculously descriptive with this activity.)]

Discuss Daily to identify criteria - The ultimate aims of this discussion are:

  1. using students' responses to the daily to demonstrate to them what criteria are and how we use them in the process of evaluating,
  2. showing them the importance of using criteria that can be measured,
  3. Showing them the importance of using criteria to evaluate to begin with ("Not every source is a good source.")] Get one student to volunteer his or her criteria to be listed on the board. Then repeat this process with two other students, preferably ones who consider themselves to have somewhat different criteria from the first student. [Oftentimes, I go back through all three lists and ask each students to put the criteria in a hierarchy from most to least important.] Hand out pieces of chocolate only to these three students, then ask them to evaluate what they have been given, using their own criteria. Then pass the bags of chocolate around the room for the rest of the class.

Move into the next section by asking questions like the following: Does any old chocolate do? (Clearly not, given the exercise. Although you might notice that they're all eating their chocolate rather uncritically when the time comes to do so!) Likewise, is any source a good source? [You might discuss the fact that we are often taught to think that any source is a good source early in our schooling, but that at the university level, we must be very selective when choosing sources to help build our arguments.]

Generate criteria for a good source - From their reading and from their understanding of what they personally value in a source, have them generate a list of working criteria (which they will use in their homework, so remind them to write the criteria down as they are recorded on the board). The list might include quite a few criteria, but you will want to make sure that all of the following are included:

Practice applying these criteria - To let students practice using the criteria they've come up with (as they will have to do for homework), I give them a real-life, current rhetorical situation surrounding an issue like the following (which was currently in debate a year ago). [YOU MIGHT WANT TO SELECT A SIMILAR ISSUE, BUT MORE CURRENT. IT HELPS TO USE AN ISSUE THAT IS NEW IN CERTAIN WAYS, BUT AN OFFSHOOT OF AN OLD ISSUE IN ESSENCE.]:

Your position: You are writing an essay about legalized abortion. You are taking an anti-abortion stance, and you are writing specifically in support of recent legislation to forbid D&X, third trimester abortions.

Your audience: You are addressing a middle of the road pro-choice, female audience who are in support of D&X abortion in cases where a woman's health or life is threatened.

You can then pass out your sample text; in this case, two or three pages of an article entitled "Perverse Observations on Abortion" from a 1970's issue of Catholic World (See appendix). [Make sure your students know where and when the article was published.] Have students read or skim the article quickly, then go through the list of criteria in discussion, deciding in what ways it is a useful source for this rhetorical situation, and in what ways it isn't. Make an overall assessment of the usefulness of the source (likely, that it shouldn't be used for this purpose), but then be sure to ask the following questions:

Explain assignment, particularly Audience Analysis - In the time remaining, take a couple of minutes to explain the Source Evaluation assignment for next time, and as much time as possible to explain the Audience Analysis portion of the Arguing Proposal Packet assignment and its relevance to the overall proposal they will be turning in on Monday. You might read through some of the questions, commenting on the importance (to the arguments they will make) of these ways of understanding their audience and the needs/expectations/biases of that audience.