We just finished a sequence of exercises to practice using language and to treat argument as an informed conversation. The main idea was to consider any argument as a response to an issue someone had already raised. In essence, all arguments are response oriented–they don’t arise spontaneously.
With that in mind, we responded to Emerson’s quote about life experience, Dan Pink’s RSA Animate talk on motivation, and then analyzed the Atlantic article, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” The culmination of those practice exercises was the synthesis essay you wrote, addressing the issue of technology in education, using sources to discuss and argue the factors which should be considered when implementing technology.
The next step is to practice this skill on a larger scale using 50 Essays to complete a more in depth exploration of the importance of literacy, reading, and writing. We will read 4 essays in the next week and a half, and then you will be asked to develop a position on the importance of literacy based on your understanding of the authors’ claims about literacy in the 4 essays and your own experiences with it.
The 4 essays, in the order in which they were written are:
- Frederick Douglass, Learning To Read and Write (page 118)
- Malcolm X, Learning to Read (page 273)
- Sherman Alexie, The Joy of Reading and Writing: Superman and Me (page 15)
- Stephen King, Reading to Write (page 221)
Respond to each essay in your notebook in the following format:
- First, complete a brief S.O.A.P. on each essay: (Speaker, Occasion, Audience, Purpose).
- Based on the SOAP, write a brief response to: What is the author’s position on the importance of literacy? Use strong verbs to introduce the authors’ assertions.
- Then, record key words, phrases, sentences, or passages that identify the author’s position. Ideally these will be used in your final essay.
- Finally, provide a brief response using your own background knowledge and experience. Use transition language to establish the relationship between the author’s view and your own.
*Organization is paramount in this sequence.
Keeping your notes organized (date, title, author) & accessible (sequenced with page #’s & in your table of contents) will make writing the final essay much easier, and will also insure you receive the homework points, which will be awarded for thoughtful completion.