In the spirit of sharing and togetherness and free internet whatnot I am posting the handout I made for class the other day. I wish I had come up with this assignment right when we finished our sample readings for the semester, but now that I have it, I will re-use it all the time:
Get in groups of two. You will need paper, but you can mark up this handout as well.
Choose three of the essays we have read this semester (I have a list up on the board, or see your syllabus) and look at their introductions and conclusions. Answering the following questions, as well as using your own judgments, write a comparison of these introductions and conclusions, first analyzing what they do and then evaluating how well they do it. You will probably want to divide this into two paragraphs. (Note: you are looking at how they use the strategies, not the topic or the content of the essays at all.)
Discuss and take notes before writing up your findings. You will turn this in at the end of class.
· How long are their introductions/conclusions? (note to self: this one confused them. I'm not sure if it was the wording or the seeming lack of a point to the question. Rephrase?)
· What specific strategies do they use? (thinking back to Monday on conclusion styles)
· Do their introductions resemble the typical “funnel” introduction I have been teaching you? Why would they choose to use/not use this format?
· Compare the three essays against each other --- what different strategies do they use? What similar strategies do they share?
· Which strategies seem most persuasive or successful? Why is this?
· Which introduction and conclusion strategies do you like the best and why? Which ones do you dislike and why?
(In case you were interested: I center all of my class sessions around producing writing, pretty much. Even a good full-class discussion means that only a portion of the students are actually speaking and engaged (remember, I usually have 28 in a classroom) and having small groups discuss and answer questions means I can go around and push people to stay on task/take it further/work harder/answer questions while everyone is thinking and talking. But any group larger than 3, in my experience, has someone slacking. Two people have to discuss things and come to consensus and make decisions and do a fairly equal amount of work in writing a paragraph, and I usually force people to alternate being the scribe from one day's exercise to the next. I read over peoples' shoulders or ask them (especially if they are off topic) to read what they have to me so that I check on their progress instead of really do much more than glance over the pile when it gets turned in, so it doesn't add to my out-of-class grading.)