Lessons

  • Analysis of “The Language in Question”

    Written by young Mexican-American poet Benjamin Garcia, “The Language in Question” is the perfect poem to open discussion on language prejudice. The poem’s political commentary begins with its title; the “language in question” is English because, as the speaker goes on to suggest, no matter the context, English is never not in question. English is, as the…

  • Finding & Writing from a New Lead

    One of the most important insights from “Shitty 1st Drafts” is the generative potential of experimenting with new leads. Students will be able to locate several potential leads in this student draft and see how writing with a different focus adds richness to the material.

  • Reflexive Phrases/Appositives  

    You can sell this activity to your students as “How to strengthen your ethos.” Together, look at page 108-109 of Everything is an Argument (or the slideshow “Everything is an Argument“) to see how Swarthmore professor Timothy Burke used reflexive statements to underscore his right to speak on a particular topic. Then divide the class…

  • Rhetorical Analysis of “Snowy Day” Nike Ad

    Materials: Questions to Ask When Conducting a Rhetorical Analysis, list of cognitive biases. YouTube video. With the whole class, watch the first three minutes of the video, which show the Nike ad without the analysis.  Ask them how the commercial makes them feel before you begin analysis of how these feelings are created. Pass out dialectical notebook…

  • Rhetorical Analysis of “The World is Yours”

     Materials: Official music video of Nas’s “The World is Yours,” slideshow “The World is Yours.”  The slideshow will give students essential backstory on this video, including the fact that “the world is yours,” is a recurring refrain of Tony Montana, the violent protagonist of the movie Scarface, who was willing to attain power and privilege by…

  • Reverse Outlines

    While outlining before writing can stifle writing efforts, the reverse outline may help students make existing material much stronger. The “reverse” outline resembles a regular outline, which glosses or summarizes each paragraph’s main ideas. However, students make a reverse outline not to organize their future writing but to organize and expand upon writing they have…

  • List as Composition

    Understanding lists as compositions can help students better understand the shaping process we engage as we compose. I recommend doing exercises of this sort as you’re discussing effective paragraph usage. It can be grouped with Says/Does exercises, which demonstrate that most paragraphs either say or do only one thing. Use it to demonstrate that each…

  • Introducing the University

    Materials: Slideshow “Welcome to College,” sticky notes Play Peter Elbow’s believing and doubting game. Divide students into two groups—one that “doubts” and one that “believes” the statement “Higher education empowers us.” Make 3 columns on the board—one for “doubt,” one for “believe,” and one for “both.” Have students write their believing or doubting statements on…

  • Sondra Perl’s “Felt Sense”

    Sondra Perl built a student writing practice around the work of psychologist Eugene Gendlin’s “Felt Sense,” described as “a bodily awareness of a situation or person or event. An internal aura that encompasses everything you feel and know about the given subject at a given time—encompasses it and communicates it to you all at once…