Tag Archive for Argument Analysis

Week in Review: Good Magazine

           Friday Dialogue from                What does Emily say?

                                      Your Two Favorite Educators 

As Emily and Aubrey look back over the week they use their razor sharp wit to analyze the nature of what truly is good.  Angelina Jolie or Parks and Rec?  

1.  Is it difficult to teach students to be global citizens?

Emily:  I think you are correct in your post this week when you say that we expect a lot out of students.  I know I was not even remotely as globally aware What does Emily say?as the students are now.  However, I think there is also something to be said for the relatively quiet period in which I grew up.  The only major thing that happened when I was growing up was the Gulf War.  Then, a bit later, was the Bill Clinton scandal, which, let’s be honest, most adults didn’t even fully understand at the time because of the semantic firestorm.  Maybe it is also because I was raised in a Republican household (go Mitt!).  Also, technology has made knowledge so much more accessible and relevant to students.  One of my favorite things this week was having students tell me they were reading tweets while watching the State of the Union….yeah, that’s a good sign for education!

Aubrey: I think that I wasn’t aware because nobody held me accountable for that type of knowledge.  While I do think technology makes it easier for students to access information I would disagree that this makes them more knowledgeable.  They know more then I did at their age, but not by much.  Unless of course we’re talking about cable television programming.  They seem to know quite a bit about that.  

2. Do you believe it’s important  tests like the SAT and AP expect students to marshal knowledge from a variety of sources?

Emily:  Yes.  But what frustrates me is that it seems as though the evidence they are looking for now isn’t literary or historical examples.  I know that using Angelina Jolie as an example for philanthropy is great, but c’mon.  Angie?  Whatever happened to Rockefeller?
Is Aubrey right?
Aubrey:
This actually doesn’t bother me.  Don’t get me wrong I would prefer Ida B. Wells or Kate Chopin as examples.  However, I have read some very thoughtful essays that discuss reality television stars and how their behavior reflects social norms.  Okay so I made up the “social norms” bit but they did “sort of” talk about cultural significance.  

3.  In Tuesday’s post the lesson focused on having students define the idea of “good” in a variety of ways.  Identify what you consider to be “good.”  Explain whether or not you think individuals have the responsibility to do good.

Emily:  I think it is pivotal for students to understand “good” humor.  For example, I am funny.  Parks and Recreation is funny.  Wearing brightly colored shoes without tying the laces is funny. Boys wearing skinny jeans are funny, not cool.  This is an important lesson for them to learn to better the lives of those who have to look at them.

Aubrey:I like that you’ve skipped answering the heavy “does the individual need to do good” bit of the question.  If I were grading your response it would be a 4.5 out of nine for only answering half the prompt.  And now, after my rebuke, I would like to not answer the question by saying the following:  it is important for students to understand what is NOT good.  Racer back tank tops in January with no cardigan/hoodie, band-aid skirts and telling me how this “is the worst book [they’ve] ever read.”  As if.

Good Magazine: Writing Prompt

Persuasive writing often demands that students consider a series of moral/ethical dilemmas.  In the past, the AP Language and Composition test has asked students to determine the valueof Peter Singer’s argument about

Posing moral or ethical dilemmas to students requires scaffolding.

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donating all money not used for necessities to global charities, examine the ethics of incentives for charitable giving and consider the implications of a buy nothing day.  The SAT prompts from December 2011 ask students to consider the role of small groups in creating lasting societal change and whether or not idealists can be successful.  As I said yesterday, students have opinions about these topics but frequently struggle to marshal specific evidence when they answer these questions.  That’s where Good Media Company and Magazine come into play.

Before jumping into the variety of resources Good Magazine has to offer, it seems appropriate to offer students a bit of background.  Interviewed in 2007 on NPR’s Weekend Edition, Ben Goldhirsh discusses the purpose of the company itself.  The story seems very much like Andrew Carnegie’s Gospel of Wealth. Child of well-to do parents with philanthropic tendencies receives trust fund and the responsibility of a foundation that funds brain cancer research.  Trust fund can only be used to create start-up business.  Child launches a magazine for “people who give a damn.”

It’s an interesting concept.  Have students start with the concept of good itself.   Treat them to an “impromptu” version of a persuasive essay.  I’m sure they’ll love it.

Example: As a member of society, do individuals have the responsibility to do “good” works?

Have students construct written responses to the questions below or use them to scaffold the beginning of a larger essay.

  • Define the concept of good.

This is easy enough to do in broad clichéd terms.  Have them think smaller.   So start with categories like:

  • List three ingredients necessary for good food.
  • What makes good music?
  • What action qualify as doing good?

Give specific examples from your own extensive experience and knowledge. 

Then ask students to review the actual About page for Good Magazine.  Consider asking them a range of questions about the purpose of this type of mission statement.   Areas of focus could include rhetorical analysis and argument analysis.

Possible choices

  • In the context of Good’s mission statement what might “give a damn” include?  Why is this the way in which they choose to phrase their argument?
  • Examine informal language, sentence fragments and listing.  What effect does this style have on the company’s argument about itself?
  • What do they imply about modern society?  What do they imply about you if you landed on their about page?
  • Is what the company stands for possible? Would it be possible for any company?  Explain.

Now, this might be as far as you want to take Good Magazine in your classroom and that would be okay.   However, as I hinted on Monday, Good can be used as a useful classroom tool to build knowledge.  And so, tomorrow we’ll talk The Daily Good.

Tiny Texts: Book Sculptures

How do we to define a text?  Paper and ink?  12 point Times New Roman font?  Tweets via HootSuite?  In the recent past we’ve argued that images, commercials, TED talks, and presidential holiday cards are texts.  But what about art?  Or more specifically texts turned into tiny works of art?

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In September 2011, I highlighted one of my favorite blogs, Krulwich Wonders. When I profiled them this fall, I included a series of posts to use in your classroom that included everything from Vonnegut’s understanding of story arcs to writing as a careful craft.   While Krulwich’s tag line reads “A Sciencey Blog,” I frequently find resources that are applicable for an English language classroom.  And that of course is where the tiny texts made of texts appear.

At the end of October & November, Krulwich posted about a “library phantom” who left lovely little sculptures made out of books in various libraries and museums around Edinburgh, Scotland.  Each sculpture included a note of thanks for libraries, books, words, etc.  Now Krulwich’s narrative is captivating enough for a good pick me up mid-January, but the sculptures are truly exquisite.

These tiny little texts coupled with Krulwich’s text are an easy way to teach students about media literacy, argument, tone, digital citizenship, etc.  Below are Krulwich’s blog posts, a Scottish Blog with high resolution photos and some questions you might consider posing to your students.  If you’re looking for a BYOD activity this might certainly be it.  Since students could use iPads, smartphones, or iPod Touches to view the material if you have limited computer access.

Kruliwch Wonders

“The Library Phantom Returns!”

“Who Left a Tree, Then a Coffin in the Library?”

 

High Resolution Photos

This is Central Station

 

Possible Questions for Discussion

  1. What type of argument does each book sculpture make?  Do they differ from sculpture to sculpture?
  2. Is the level of detail necessary to make the argument substantial?  Why?
  3. Are the “aesthetics” of the sculpture important in establishing its argument?
  4. What is the importance of size?
  5. Why is it important that these were left anonymously and secretly?
  6. Why might the media follow this story?  Why might this captivate an entire nation?
  7. What does it say about Scotland and their media, that ultimately they would rather keep the “phantom’s” identity anonymous?

“Best of” Lists: TED Talks 2011

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Yes, we know.  We posted about TED Talks before.   And yet, there’s no end to how many posts we could dedicate to their classroom usefulness.  From December 8th TED and The Huffington Post counted down the most important 18 TED Talks of 2011. It’s an interesting end of year “calendar” of sorts.  Its purpose: to create a “year-end journey of ideas” in order to better “shape the world in 2012.

If you had all the time in the world you could have students watch all 18 videos and talk about trends during 2011.  Instead, choose.  Below we’ve chosen our favorites and included some areas of focus for classroom examination.

Kathryn Schulz: On Regret

How many texts do we teach that deal with the idea of regret?  Let me name a few: The Scarlet Letter, All the King’s Men, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; those are just the novels I’ve taught so far this year.  Schulz’s speech is good because it is applicable to any text we teach that deals in regret, which is to say it is a supplement for anything we teach.  Think Shakespeare here or The Things They Carried.

Read more

“Best of” Lists: Photos

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It’s no secret how much we love using images to teach students about arguments.  Over the last several months we posted about image analysis, advertisements, and our favorite image resources from the National Archives and Library of Congress. While images can’t replace text, they can engage even the most reluctant students.

We would be remiss in our discussion of annual Best of 2011 lists if we didn’t show you some of the best images of the past year.   Today’s resources will give you a starting point as you look towards implementing image resources in your class

The Big Picture

As a basic classroom resource for teaching students how to annotate images, this photo blog is invaluable.  However, as 2011 comes to a close, they have assembled three different image collections all under the title The Year in Pictures.  You will have to sift through the images in each collection to find useful resources but the time you invest is well worth it.

Annual “Best of” Lists: Overview

In my experience, no matter how long winter break, the month of January is difficult.  The first day back is crowd control and everything afterwards is silent teenage resignation.  And it’s not just them.  January is just a “taste” of the most difficult months that are yet to come.  It can be tough for anyone, teacher or student, to be enthused.

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In order to beat the winter blahs, January blues, and lack of snow days, the posts this week will offer quick “mini” lessons to ring in 2012.  How?  By examining the “best” of 2011. What consumed us?  Who were we nationally and internationally?  What did we say, eat, tweet, produce, read, watch, experience and foul up?

Annual best of lists teach us more than what was hip (or not).  They are cultural snapshots, time capsules.  This week we give you our picks with the hopes that some of these lists will offer good classroom discussions and student based writing about those big picture arguments.  Trust me, you won’t have to do all the talking.

Need a bit of extra enticing?  Checkout Time Magazine’s Top 10 Everything 2011 in advance of tomorrow’s post.  There are 54 lists total.  Fair word of warning: you will lose track of time.

Weekend Pop Culture: Starbucks and Create Jobs for USA

To recap, yesterday we discussed Starbucks’ initiative Create Jobs for USA.  Yesterday’s post was all about how to use the language of the website,

infographics and video to analyze images, argument and language.   Today will be a conversation about how to use the media’s coverage to teach media literacy and practice critical thinking and writing skills through synthesis.

Pose the following synthesis question to your students:

What moral or ethical considerations should be part of a movement like Create Jobs for America when partnered with a larger corporation like Starbucks?

 

Before having them construct an persusaive paragraph or thesis statement have them review the different perspectives below.  You might even consider using QR stations with the information below if you feel so inclined!

 

WYNC Q&A with Schultz

Insightful Q&A that examines point of view and argument from Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz. .  For a more detailed discussion of how to introduce Q&A’s in class see our post about the NBA lockout.  See the excerpt below.

 

Questions to pose for discussion and/or written response:

  1. Identify Schultz’s primary argument.
  2. What is evident about Howard Schultz based on his responses?  What do you know about him as an individual, a CEO and an American?

NPR-Starbucks Hopes to Kick-Start Job Creation

NPR provides a useful overview along with several interviews from microfinanciers and economists.  It offers a perspective that is not only driven by the voice of Starbucks.

Questions to pose for discussion and/or written response:

  1. Discuss the importance of including Mark Pinksy’s point of view.  What impact does it have on the story?
  2. What is the argument identified about private corporations and responsibility to the American public?

Huffington Post-Small Businesses to Lawmakers: Give Us Some Credit!

A Pro-Create Jobs for USA piece with a distinctive voice/tone.  It’s a great piece for students in terms of identifying point of view, argument and how language contributes to tone.

Questions to pose for discussion and/or written response:

  1. Identify the tone of the author.  Identify three words that contribute to this tone and explain their role in constructing his point of view.
  2. Discuss the author’s argument?  How does informal language and “anecdotal” evidence help to strengthen his claim?

Weekend Pop Culture: Starbucks and Create Jobs for America

So I was in Starbucks this week.  Actually I’m in Starbucks every week.  It’s somewhat dismaying and comforting that the woman behind the counter sees my car pull up and starts making my drink.  Anyway, as I was waiting, I noticed that among the “freebies” was an infographic on newsprint about creating sustainable jobs.  I couldn’t help it.  I took one of the pamphlets and put it in my purse.  As a result, I’ve been engrossed by the coverage of this topic for the entirety of this week.

Create Jobs for USA is a partnership between Starbucks and the Opportunity Finance Network to create and sustain jobs.  They work with a microfinance corporation that lends to small businesses that are in need.  And while, it’s interesting that a corporation like Starbucks is donating 5 million towards this initiative and having customers donate too, but let’s get back to the marketing.

The infograhic is a remarkable source for classroom exercises.  Think: image analysis, language analysis and evaluating argument.  The good news?  If you don’t frequent Starbucks or don’t want to be seen taking the pamphlets out of the store by the “purseful” some of the best graphics are available online at the Create Jobs for USA website.  Today we’ll start by looking at the language/images of the organization itself.  Tomorrow we’ll examine the media blitz that surrounded the initiative.

For the “panels” below determine if you’ll project them or have students works individually or in small groups to examine, assess and respond. These are only two examples of what you could use check the website to find others.

Create Jobs “Infographics”

Infographic Panel-Visibly Indivisible

Questions to pose for discussion or short response:

  1. Discuss the use of the phrase “visibly indivisible.”  What is the connotation?  Why employ this “play on words” mimicking the pledge of Allegiance?
  2. Annotate the image.  Pay particular attention to the primary focus on blue/white.  Explain why the “visibly indivisible is in read and placed on top of the flag itself.
  3. Read the paragraph on the right.  Explain the effect of repeating “we.”

Infographic Panel-9.1% of the U.S. Labor Force are Unemployed

 

Questions to pose for discussion or short response:

  1. What is implied by both the size and placement of 9.1?
  2. Examine the color scheme and image choices.  What impact do they make on the argument you identified above?
  3. In the paragraph, discuss the repetition of the word number.  Explain the impact on both purpose and audience.
Create Jobs for USA Advertisement
Similar to the “infographics” the advertisement is brief and relies primarily on graphics and succinct text.

Questions to pose for discussion or short response:

  1. Listen carefully to the music used.  What is its purpose?  When is there a shift in the soundtrack and how does it reflect the tone of the advertisement?
  2. What is the impact of no narration or dialogue?  What is the purpose in those omissions?
  3. What images, statistics or language stands out to you the most?  Explain your reasoning and describe the effect.

Weekend Tech: Occupy Wall Street

Yesterday we offered Transcendentalism and image analysis in conjunction with with the Occupy Wall Street Movement.  Today we examine All the King’s Men and satire.  See our ideas below!

Teaching All the King’s Men & Huey Long with Occupy Wall Street

Willie Stark makes multiple speeches throughout All the King’s Men, but most of them deal with being a regular, small town, average joe.  Examining Huey Long, Willie Stark’s flesh and blood counterpart, is where Occupy Wall Street comparisons become more direct.

These two clips have shades of the Occupy Wall Street Movement.  Both suggest a certain level of dissatisfaction with current government.  It would be easy to use Ezra Klein’s Wonkblog Primer about Occupy Wall Street, as well as his Q & A witth anthropologist David Graeber from 10/3/11, to give students a basis for linking Huey Long to today.  Even just using the Q&A on its own is a great way to incorporate media literacy into the classroom. See our other post on the NBA lockout and Q&As.

 

Teaching Satire with Occupy Wall Street

As I said on Saturday, The Onion has been on fire this week with humorous tweets about Occupy Wall Street.  All of them can easily be used to discuss satire, voice, diction, syntax and argument.  We like tweets and using them in the classroom as “hooks” or quick diction/syntax analysis.  See our post about tweets remembering Steve Jobs from several weeks ago.

 

The cover of The New Yorker is also a great resource for both teaching satire and image analysis.  See their recent cover on the “occupation.”

And while it isn’t satire, I would be remiss not to mention this list from what else but The New Yorker.  John Cassidy hosts the blog Rational Irrationality and his list of “Top-Ten Unlikely Occupy Wall Street Supporters” links to great arguments from big names about the movements.  It’s useful once again for point of view, voice and argument analysis.

If all of this isn’t enough for you, checkout The New York Times Learning Network’s extensive Occupy Wall Street post with classroom resources.  You can’t go wrong!

Weekend Tech: Occupy Wall Street

While I considered using Weekend Tech to discuss Zanesville, Ohio and exotic animals, I decided against it.  It was too bizarre, and even though I laughed when NPR used “Pumped Up Kicks” as background music to discuss this story, I knew it was because I’m a bad person.  The Occupy Wall Street movement seemed like a more versatile idea, especially since The Onion had some incredibly humorous tweets this week.  Everything from infographics, to image analysis, The Onion to literature tie-ins is in store this weekend.  What more could you want? Aside from some appropriate background music of course.

Occupy Wall Street Infographic

Last year The Learning Network at The New York Times created a “starter” kit for using infographics in the classroom.  It’s a valuable resource if you’re not familiar with infographics or how to implement them.  What do I like about infographics?  Well they are everywhere.  Newspapers, magazines, even The Onion creates infographics in jest for public consumption.

The website Visual.ly is a vast resource for infographics.  The infographic titled, “The State of American Discontent” is a perfect supplement when discussing this movement.  It fills the role of media literacy and still teaches argument, purpose, tone, etc.  Amending the SOAPSTone format slightly here is useful because the same categories still apply.  Use it even as an argument analysis. Analysis could include: types of data presented, organization of the information, even images used to convey the data.

Occupy Wall Street to teach Image Analysis and Transcendentalism

I’ve posted before that The New Yorker has fantastic blog resources.  What caught my eye this week was the blog Photobooth.  The series of images taken of protesters at Zucotti Park is remarkable. What makes the “slideshow” thought provoking is that each protestor in the series is photographed alone.  Their cardboard signs are the central focus of each shot.  Representing a range of ages and occupations it’s a great way to practice some of the image analysis techniques we’ve previously posted about.  It’s also a great physical representation of Transcendenalist ideals, especially Emerson’s Self-Reliance and Henry David Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience.