Tag Archive for rhetorical analysis

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

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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: Overview

Books Don’t Take You Anywhere” is one my favorite articles from The Onion for classroom use.  Under 400 words, it is tiny in comparison to the heft of All

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the King’s Men or The Grapes of Wrath.  It can be used to teach satire, SOAPSTone, and argument.  I also use it as a warm-up before using the AP Language and Composition’s 2005 rhetorical analysis taken from The Onion and have students use it to construct AP argument and rhetorical analysis prompts.

What isn’t there to love about a text that argues our reading never physically transports us to “evil witches, messianic lions or closet portals to other universes”?  Hah.  Even fifteen years later it holds up.  This is not the moment where I make the argument that this is a more important text or where I suggest that students will actually laugh out loud while reading it.  But it is where I argue that small texts are important classroom supplements.

As we enter mid January 2012, it seems appropriate that we deal with a series of small and unusual “texts” that make arguments about… well, texts.  Why?  Text, in all of its various forms, drives us to teach.  Sometimes, too, it’s nice to be reminded in the “bleak mid-winter” that small texts can be just as powerful and meaningful.  This week we will help remind you of just that with lessons highlighting Tiny Stories, book artists and phantoms, and Google Doodles.  Our hope is that somewhere during these “darker” days you finding something meaningful in something small.

Writing & Voice: Day Four

 

The National Day on Writing has arrived!  Here is our technology driven post on voice.

Ultimately, improving student voice takes practice and modeling.  Nothing is better than having them mix their own voices with that of their peers to create a new and distinctive voice.

Have students complete a style analysis of themselves in order identify their style as authors by using the catchy checklist below or come up with your own.

Checkout the example below:

Stylewatch: It’s a Personal Thing

Be specific and detailed in your responses to the questions below. Your answers must be meaningful.  You can’t just say, “I’m not sure—umm—dashes?”

What types of punctuation marks do you favor in your writing?  Why?
What types of sentences define your voice? Long and involved?  Short and concise? What is the purpose of this sentence structure for you?
What level of language do you use in your writing?  Formal/Informal?   What purpose does this serve?
If you had to emulate one author from this year who would it be and why?  WRITE YOUR RESPONE IN THE STYLE OF THAT AUTHOR.  

Discuss as a class what this means about them, their writing style, etc.  Sort students into groups of three based upon varying style characteristics.  You will want to make sure that your small groups have three different types of student “voices.”

Now, the next step depends on what applications you already use in the classroom. You could use Edmodo or Wallwisher and modify the assignment for use in those programs.  I personally like Schoology the best.  Its resemblance to Facebook is a selling point for students and it’s so neat and tidy in organization that it makes it easy to construct separate discussion threads within the program.  This will take some outside of classroom time to set up this exercise.

Create a schoology account for yourself and have your students sign up for their own, as well.  For each class you create the program will create a code.  When students are creating their accounts they will need that “code” in order to sign up for our class.  When you’ve done all of the grunt work you/your students should see this:

You’ll want to click the discussion thread and create a discussion thread group for each group of three.  This means in each class you’ll probably have 10-15 discussion groups.  You will be given the choice for each group to upload directions as well.

The sky’s the limit.  If you teach AP students, use this exercise for voice in their AP analysis.  If you’re teaching the personal essay, give them a topic and then have them construct the response reply by reply by reply.  Of course, you won’t want to do this for the entirety of any essay, so choose an intro paragraph, a body paragraph, a conclusion, anything.

Since Schoology’s format is similar to the Facebook “wall” function, you can students in small groups reply to each other’s writing.   Have them consider that they can’t alter the line coming before theirs, they simply have to “add” to the previous line using their own writing style to inform the creation of this assignment.  When finished, have students type their replies into a new post for that discussion thread.  See the “dummy” example below.

 

Exercises like this focus on having student collaborate, write, examine each other’s voices and construct a final copy.  Less grading for you, better writing experiences for them.

Weekend Tech: Steve Jobs

There were three apples that changed the world: Eve's, Newton's and Steve's.

Yesterday we talked about Steve Jobs and how to use public outpourings of grief as a way to teach everything from argument to media literacy.  Today we continue by looking at some other choices.  I know that the below link don’t do justice to what exists. They do however provide varied points of view.  Click around and let us know if you have other resources/ideas.

Mourning Steve Jobs: The Purpose of Public Grief

Leave it to The New Yorker.  While I profiled their Back Issues Blog yesterday, the quality of their articles is undeniable.  Today we look at an article from the News Desk.  It’s perfect for student use in class.  They can practice annotating for SOAPSTone and evaluating O’Rourke’s argument.  What’s useful about this article is that it also includes links to other memorials which means a “multi-layered” media literacy strand.  Read more