Friday, April 25, 2008

Writing What We Teach

For the Writing What We Teach assignment I turned in a packet of five drafts.  Two drafts were of one article, and three drafts were of another.  I chose to stop the first draft because I was arguing the issue and not looking at the argument in a way that assessed the author's argument style.  So, I switched articles.  However, all is not lost.  I think I will use the first two drafts to show my students what it looks like to argue the issue instead of assess the argument. 

Since I had several students miss the point completely last semester and argue against the article's issue, this semester I think I will SHOW them the difference.  When I switched from the first article to the second article, I actually switched media.  For the second textual analysis I did was a short analysis of Super Size Me.  I have both classes watch this movie each semester, so I needed a little bit of a closer look at the "text" anyway.  Plus, I really don't think Spurlock does a great job of making a convincing argument.  In fact, I see his work as full of fallacies.  I thought that since I do a whole week on argument fallacies, perhaps I can work that in too.

I would give all the drafts to the students as a copied packet and go over the packet essay by essay.  I would have an overhead of each essay, so I can underline and point out certain parts of the essays and have the students follow along.  I feel like this is the most effective way to get the information to the students.   

Also new for this semester, I added leading-up exercises and a list of questions (and LOTS of practice) for my students to think about when reading their articles.  I did several discussion exercises throughout the semester where I asked students to analyze an argument verbally and as a class.  On a few occasions I directly opposed an author or blatantly pointed out downfalls of an author's argument even if it was in the form of a question (So, is a classroom a radio station?  Is the classroom under the rules of the FCC?) in order to show the students how to point out argument flaws.  

With the questions to think about when reading an argument that I added for this semester, I felt that I helped direct my students a little more than last semester.  I think that the textual analysis is the hardest thing we ask out 110 classes to do, so I waited until the end of the semester to assign it.  This way, I could possibly prepare the students more before I "threw them to the lions" and said "OK, here, now analyze this."

I think that in changing the assignment and giving my students a packet of drafts from me to show my process (and that writing isn't always easy or fast for me either) and show where I went wrong and how to redirect my writing I will be giving them a good example of what to do and what not to do.  

I will get my rough drafts on Monday the 28th, so I am excited to see if my plan worked.  I'll post again on Monday or Tuesday to talk about how it all went.