As I said in the pervious post I revised my lesson plan to try and make my points on how sources can be used to talk to one another in an essay more clear to the students. My revisions changed both how I lectured and the in class worksheet I gave the class. I changed the lecture so that I started out the class with a quick group exercise where I asked the students to make a list of the first 5 things they do when they are working on a writing assignment. I used their answers to illustrate how they need to do some background research on a topic before settling on their argument as well as using background research to help them become more familiar with the nuances of a topic and other subcategories that fall under the broad topics they had to choose from. (This class was given a list of ten topics they could write their papers on.) From here I then began to describe some of the source types (viewpoints, statistics, scholarly articles, and primary sources) used in Opposing Viewpoints. What I did was describe one of the source types and then gave the students five minutes fill out that sources section of the worksheet. Unlike the pervious worksheet used in the past class I had printed out a worksheet for each student and broke the tables into sections based on source type. I asked the students to find two versions of the source where one argued for the topic and one against the topic. Once I covered all four source types I then had the students do one last exercise. I asked the students to pick one source that argued for and one that argued against (they did not have to be the same source type). They then were asked how they could have two different argument types can talk to one another.
I wanted the students to see how they could start a conversation in their papers. For example how an ethical argument (perhaps a source from viewpoints) can have holes poked into it with a logical argument (a source from statistics). Over all I am a bit happier with the responses I was able to tease out of the students in this set of worksheets. I think that by breaking up the lecture and having the students work in short intervials helped kept the students focused on the topic. This helps let me know that I am on the right track with how I best teach. However I do think that my last exercise needs some work. Looking at the responses that students gave some of the students were able to grasp the conversation I was trying to get them start having. However, many of the responses were restatements from earlier parts of the worksheet.
If I get the chance to reteach this lesson plan I want to continue breaking up the lecture by having the students work for a few minutes. However, I want to rework the last exercise. I am thinking I need to reevaluate how I present the exercise. Perhaps a compare table is not the best way to do this. I might need to try and guide the students a little more in this exercise with better directions as well.
I have had the opportunity to teach three EN 101 classes on Opposing ViewPoints. Two of the classes were taught on the same day for the same instructor and within the class I had the students do an in class group worksheet. I split the class into six groups (I split them based on their rows of the classroom). Each group was given a prearranged topic picked by me and they were given access to a Google Doc where they could access the worksheet and fill out the worksheet together as a group. The topics I picked were: Advertising, Electronic Voting, Hunting, Online Music Trading, School Uniforms, and Video Games. I choose these topics because they are relatively easy topics to understand meaning that these topics would not be too complicated or have jargon heavy sources for a 10 minute class exercise where the students had not had time to prepare a pervious knowledge of the topic.
The first lesson I learned upon reflection of this experience was that I think I talked too long explaining the different types of sources the students could find in this database. I mean that I don’t think I had enough active learning during my lecture part of the class. I asked the class questions to try and keep them engaged but I lost their focus relatively quickly I think. This was later reinforced when I looked at the worksheets the groups had completed. In the worksheet I had the students find sources that made arguments for and against their assigned topic. They had to find at least one source for each argument that every part of the rhetoric triangle (Pathos, Logos, and Ethos). I then asked the students to provide me with a short explanation about why they think their source fits that portion of the triangle. I wanted the students to start thinking about how sources can talk to each other and how they could interact with the sources themselves.
Looking at what the students wrote on their worksheets I don’t think I was clear in what I wanted them to do or I did not get the right points across. The students were all able to find and identify the different types of sources, this was also made simple because Opposing Viewpoints breaks up the source types. But, in the other column where I wanted the students to think about how sources from different points of view and different arguments can talk to one another the responses where not exactly what I was looking for. I think I was not clear enough in my directions. Many of the students either simply said wether the source was Pathos, Ethos, or Logos or they gave a brief summary of what the source was about. Looking at these responses caused me to redesign the worksheet and how I wanted to teach the class.
This last Friday I was allowed the experience to teach two En 101 instruction classes. Both of these classes were taught by the same instructor and were one shot instruction classes. I used the same general lesson plan for both classes that covered the rhetoric triangle, Opposing Viewpoints Database, and how to use different types of sources to talk to one another in a review paper that utilizes at least one source that expresses a view that the student does not agree with.
I designed the lesson plan to start with a review of the rhetoric triangle were I tried to engage the students into talking about the pieces of triangle and what type of argument each part of the triangle is trying to make. I could definitely see that each class has a different dynamic in how they interact with each other and with the “instructor”. The first class did not talk too much to me, but they talked a lot with each other. I had to really probe and continuously ask leading questions in order to get the students talk to me and let me know they understand what is being covered. Where as the second class there were groups who seemed to be engaged with me when I talked. They would look at me in the eye and respond when I asked a general question to the class. I know that I cannot control how a class responds in general, because I am a guest that they only see once I don’t have a lot of authority with them. Part of this could be because the instructor did not introduce me to the students are say anything about how important this instruction lesson was. It also did not help that instructor sat at the front of the classroom looking bored and would search the internet doing other activities. These visual cues did not help me look professional or like what I had to say was important. I have no control over these aspects of a classroom; all I can do is try to work past these problems and try my best to reach those students who want to hear what I have to say.
I then moved the lesson on to the Opposing Viewpoints Database where I talked about the different source types the students can use in their papers. This part of the lesson took up the majority of classroom time. Here I did a lot of talking about what the sources are and how they can be used in a paper. I tried to ask the students questions about where they could use the sources in their paper based on the triangle we had been discussing earlier. Even with the questions I asked the class I could tell I was losing their attention. I believe that I talked to long without some kind of active learning activity to break up the lesson. I need to change this up before I use the same general idea of the lesson for a class in the up coming week. I think that what I want to do for the up coming week is to break up how long I talk. Toward the end of the class time I have the students complete a group worksheet where they find one source for each part of the rhetoric triangle for an argument for and against based on a topic I assigned each group. In order to keep their attention I think that what I want to do is after I explain a source I would have the groups focus on finding that type of source that can make an argument for and agains the topic and have them talk about where in their paper they can make use of the argument in their paper. I would want to rework the worksheet to try and allow for this more parceled out activity. In addition to this change I plan on comparing the worksheets gathered from the classes I have already taught and the one I will teach in this upcoming week and comparing the answers from the two different styles of the lesson plan to see if one type of lesson plan was able to teach the ideas better then the other. That is going to be the topic of my next blog post.