Analytical Writing Class Forum

Class Description
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5
Week 6
Week 7
Week 8
Week 9
Week 10
Week 11
Week 12
Class Description

Analytical Writing

Writers use rhetorical devices, techniques and language to build arguments. We’ll analyze and practice writing analytical/argumentative essays to share and argue. First science-based essays, then topics/issues students choose. 







Week 1

Week 1 Notes from your fearless leader

Notes from Week 1 – feel free to add something I missed or post a question or concern in the comments below.

 

What is a first week without an icebreaker?  Building a strong community of learners is an essential value in all I do, so we will continue to work toward getting to knowing each other every week.

 

Another critical element of any worthwhile course are the questions that lead us to learning.  Our first question: Why bother using weak words? If strong ones work for us on so many levels, let’s use them boldly.  We put strong words into practice by choosing from a list of famous quotes and from a list of strong words as signal phrases.  In this exercise, we boldly want to introduce quotes and dabble in our best explanations and understanding of the implied message.

 

Example: The children's writer, Dr. Suess admonishes us not to cry “because it’s over.” Implying that all good things come to an end, he encourages us to celebrate and “smile because it happened” because we now have a fond memory to carry with us.

 

Finishing up four sentences was assigned as homework.  I encourage you to experiment with new words while the assignment is simply practice.

 

Next up was an introduction (a review for some) of persuasive techniques often used in propaganda, commercial advertising and speeches, especially political ones.  Ah, the power of words that lead us to think as the puppet masters want us to think and give up our money and votes.  The list includes what we are likely to find on a list of logical fallacies, leading us to infer that someone may well be testing our intelligence and ability to tease out logic from nonsense.  Fallacies can certainly be found in our own arguments: “I don’t trust his parents, so I’m surely not going to trust their kid to influence you to do your best! Stay away from him.”  And plenty of children’s pleas for permission or forgiveness:  “But everyone is going to the movie, mom!”  We’ll cover spotting logical fallacies in a bit more detail later in the course. 

In the meantime, here and here are a couple more you tube videos like the one we watched in class.


Just to underscore the persuasion happening in our daily lives, we paired up to practice and perform skits involving persuading someone to allow you to do something – take public transportation for the first time, attending a concert, etc.  They were roughly done, but I hope they made the intended point that our efforts could be improved upon.  Beware parents, your teens will be improving their argument skills with this course!

 

Finally, I have asked you to do a couple of things to prepare for next week:

1. Already mentioned: complete at least four sentences using strong verbs to discuss quotes. 

2.  Rewatch the video from class, or since I’m not sure if I can find that link again, watch one of the new ones in the links above.

3. Read, reread and annotate “Let There Be Dark.”  Annotate means to fill the margins of the document with notes!

4.  Create a persuasive “poster” using any media you choose.

Note: this is not a “right answer” type of assignment, though it’d be cool if you thought about how to use the various persuasive techniques pointed out in class.  (That includes Ethos, Pathos, and Logos if you know them).

I suggested using Canva.com (on the web) or AdobeSpark (an app) to build your “poster” because learning new tech apps influences all the lives of this era, but use what you feel comfortable with. 

You may be asking,  “What ever do you mean by a poster?”  This is an opportunity to create your own version of persuasive image and text.  Where might we find such a thing?  A magazine ad for a product or service uses this combination to convince you to part with your money.  What would you need to see and read to be convinced to spend your dollars on this instead of that?  An image + text can also be used to raise awareness of an idea and to persuade you to think x and not y.  What kind of image would it take to change someone's mind?  What words would inspire you to change?  Color is required.  Consider carefully your image and text font to make the most impact!

 

Oh, one last thing.  Hopefully, you’re reading this because you have already made a free membership on the Homeroomeducation.com website.  Leave me a comment to let me know you found it!

 

 

Week 2

Why did you post that?

We discussed Paul Bogard's essay "Let There Be Dark" . Each student contributed to our understanding then we went through the essay again, highlighting and defining rhetorical devices.  I was impressed by the amount of margin notes I saw, and I'll be looking forward to reading the annotation once we complete an outline and perhaps a written analysis on Bogard's essay.  Though you all seem to have annotation skills, here's a video in case you want a review of this important skill.


We focused first on Bogard's essay, reviewing it twice- once with each person taking a part, and once again pointing out anything missing from the first round.  Several terms came up: Diction, Alliteration, Allusion, and Anecdote.  We identified Logos, Ethos, and Pathos in the essay since those are critical ideas of persuasive.  Please review your notes for what each of these entails. I'm working on whittling down a rhetorical terms list of 135 terms which I hope to have on Sept 26th. We began the process of an outline, but I elected (with student support) to postpone until Sept 26th.  


Finally, we dove into our question of the day: exploring the use of social media as a rhetorical effort.  Spurred on by a research project found on the web, I selected a list of questions for students to consider.  I've shared a rough draft of the lesson with students through gdocs.  We created a board chart of a post on a social media site with the following: intended audience (who they hoped would see it); choice of site; image, text, or both; why the post was posted (hoped to achieve); who they hoped would not see it, if anyone.  There's so much more to explore with social media, and I encourage students to review the shared gdoc ("What did you post that?") and to analyze their social media use.  We will touch on this topic, Bogard, and Anthony in the next class.  Happy reading and writing!


Independent Work to prepare for next class:

Write: Continue/complete rhetorical analysis of social media 1 - 1 ½ pages organized reflection (not necessarily a 5 paragraph essay)

Read and Annotate: Susan B. Anthony Speech 

Review/Prepare: outlining of Bogard's essay next class





Week 3

What did she mean when she said . . . ?

We started with "would you rather" questions as a way to follow up on examining how we use social media.  
We had every intention of outlining Bogard's message, but we dove into Susan B. Anthony's speech justifying her act of civil disobedience: voting in 1873.  She was tried in what is considered far from a fair trial.  She delivered speeches all over the country.  Though Susan B. Anthony is the most familiar name of suffrage, many others fought for the right to vote:  here
  (Also see: Mental Floss "10 Trail Blazing Facts About Susan B. Anthony")

As we moved through an analysis of Anthony's speech, I pointed to her use of the preamble to the constitution.  "We the people" is a phrase that Anthony cleverly uses in her argument. How could her listeners, familiar with the preamble, argue against her claims without dismissing a document so essential to our nation's history? I encourage you all to examine the preamble further here.  It is a founding document that every citizen should know.  As we moved through the analysis of her speech, we applied an acronym approach that included audience, purpose and tone. Students were asked to pinpoint her message, then post several quotes that either stood out and/or supported her argument that women should have the right to vote.  
We experimented with a possible outline analyzing Anthony's speech. For her speech, I suggest addressing audience, purpose and tone.
We closed with an outline of an analysis essay of Paul Bogard's essay "Let There Be Dark" in which we examined the devices he used to persuade us to look more closely at the impact of light on the environment.
Next class: CHSPE essay, thesis writing, discussion/analysis of articles on the question of air conditioning and the impact of coral reef death.

INDEPENDENT WORK
WRITE:
What would Anthony say to a politician on the rights of women?  Use some of her own words in a persuasive letter to a current politician or leader.

And/or Write a letter to a politician on another topic, citing a credible, reputable source. 

POST in COMMENTS (or share in drive)

Post a topic and 2 related article urls in comments

READ AND ANNOTATE:

Articles given in class related to Climate Change  




Week 4

Week 4: Write/Discuss writing

We learned/reviewed two new words today: Juxtaposition and Irony.  We will meet them again soon.  For now, take a look at the image to the left.  While the contrast of the blue and orange startle the eye (juxtaposition), leading the eye to the orange, the unexpected blue skin color is unexpected (irony) and thus, feels radical, daring, and maybe even juicy.  This dynamic image represents our two new words.  


We took a bit of time settling in and posting homework to the right places.  I believe we are still missing a few topics and urls in the comments section. Post them asap!  

Briefly we reviewed a handout providing a basic outline for a simple persuasive essay, chose a topic from a list and set out to write for 45 minutes.  After a brief break, we participated in an icebreaker (insights help build community!) and then dove into the analysis of Klinenberg's article on air conditioning and Helen Sullivan's article on coral in the Great Barrier Reef.


Independent work: 

Reread both climate articles.  Create a thesis and outline focusing on three devices the author uses to persuade his audience.  Make sure there are enough examples in the texts to produce a paragraph.  

Find two more specific articles on an area of environment that interests you and htat has been impacted by climate change or human interest.  (air pollution, removal of natural habitat, loss of national parks, melting glaciers)  

Make one clean copy of each and include MLA citation (more to be posted asap).

Read and annotate your chosen articles and be prepared to introduce/explain what you found to your peers.



Week 5

What would make it more clear?


First, we missed Hanna and Lisette!  We hope you'll both return this coming week.

Analysis requires observation among other things, so today we began with close up images to analyze.  It was a bit of fun but a good reminder that analysis requires skill and imagination. Since we were missing two writers, we'll wait until next week to review the mysterious images.

Despite the absences, we pushed on.  Seeking to replace the overused signal words: say, tell, writes, argues, claims, we wrote implies, narrates, establishes, emphasizes, questions, defines, exemplifies, asserts, distinguishes, and my favorite: demonizes.  Let's use these in our next writing assignment!

Speaking of writing, we revisited our persuasive (CHSPE type) essay to working through an important step in the writing process: self evaluation and peer feedback.  We even included Lisette and Hanna's essay in the discussion of what worked and the ways to improve the essay.  We looked for the various rhetorical strategies our peers used in their essays.  

Ready to work towards another template, this one originating from a college level writing text, we reviewed our climate articles by writing a focused summary paragraph, followed by a reflective response paragraph. I've shared a copy of the template with you.  Make a copy for yourself and be sure to share it and move it to the student work folder on Gdrive.  Finally, we wrapped up with another community building ice breaker.  Every day is a good day to get to know you better! 

Here's your work for the week:

Write on your two articles using the template. Please ensure I have access to two articles in a clean document (no ads) with a url link and your template responses. 

Watch the following videos:

Tips on writing intro paragraphs

Tips on Writing Concluding paragraphs

MLA format  (start at :31)

Analysis does not simply involve taking things apart but can be imaginative and fun.  Write introductory paragraphs on the topic (the topic for which you have found articles).  Start one with anecdote. Start another with a startling fact.  And start another with evocative imagery.

 

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Week 6

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Notes will be added within 48-hours after class. If not, please send an email to Admin@HomeroomEducation.com to request this Forum be updated. 

Week 7

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Week 8

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Week 9

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Week 10

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Week 11

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Week 12

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