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Session 1: Welcome. 9.30: Intro to RWS200 and the lower division writing program TA Introductions; photo session ( program of assimilation and mind control revealed). Overview of RWS200. 10.00: Overview of RWS200: The Rhetoric of Written Argument in Context

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session 1 welcome
Session 1: Welcome
  • 9.30: Intro to RWS200 and the lower division writing program
  • TA Introductions; photo session(program of assimilation and mind control revealed)
overview of rws200
Overview of RWS200
  • 10.00: Overview of RWS200: The Rhetoric of Written Argument in Context
  • The program, RWS200, ITC, Fall students, expectations, assignments, and options.
rws 200 and the lower division writing program
RWS 200 and the lower division writing program
  • See the handout for contact info
  • A lot of material on the wiki (let us know if you need help finding)
  • We ask students to interpret, analyze, evaluate and produce written arguments, because this is central to academic literacy, critical thinking, and civic life- Lasch: “argument is the essence of education,” and “central to democratic culture”;- Norgaard: Universities are “houses of argument.” - Graff: “Argument literacy” is key to higher education.
why we fight 4 your right to write argue analyze well
Why We Fight!(4 your right to write, argue & analyze well)
  • The ability to interpret arguments, locate claims and evidence, analyze moves and strategies, and evaluate strengths and weaknesses are crucial skills.
  • They are central to business, law, professional life, and to academic study (including graduate school).
  • Students tested for these skills in the WPA, the LSAT, GMAT, and GRE – all the gateways to professional life.
  • Consider the LSAT…
sample lsat question
Sample LSAT Question
  • FIND THE MAIN CLAIMPediatrician: “Some parents have decided not to have their children receive the MMR vaccine because they fear that it may cause autism. They cite a study that found a possible link between the vaccine and the disease. However, two other much larger studies have found no link between the MMR vaccine and autism. These parents have, therefore, willfully put their own children and many others at risk of catching measles, mumps, and rubella, while failing to do anything to prevent their children from becoming autistic.” Which most accurately expresses the main claim of the pediatrician’s argument?(A) Parents should not pay attention to medical studies because they can’t understand them; instead, they should get advice from their pediatricians.(B) The study that found a link between autism and the MMR vaccine was unsound because the doctor who conducted it was being paid by a group of trial lawyers who wanted him to find a connection so they could carry out a lawsuit.(C) Public health needs require that parents have their kids vaccinated regardless of their fears about the procedure.(D) Parents’ refusal to have their kids take the vaccine is both medically unjustified and dangerous, because the vaccine has known disease-preventing benefits and refusing it will have no effect on whether their kids become autistic.(E) Despite the results of the two large studies, there is still some possibility that the MMR vaccine might cause autism.
analytical writing tasks
Analytical Writing Tasks
  • Present Your Views on an Issue (45 minutes, choice of 2 topics)
  • Analyze an Argument (30 minutes)
  • Each essay is scored on a 0-6 scale using holistic scoring
    • Two scores for each essay
  • GRE Website presents directions, actual topics, scoring guide, and sample essays for both the Issue and Argument tasks (
argumentation justification
  • In Wolfe’s 2010 study, assignments from a broad range of disciplines were collected and examined. Results? Argumentation is valued across the curriculum.“Argument is the keyword for good writing and the absence of argument constitutes the centralproblem in students’ written work” (Wolfe, p. 50).
  • Richard Arum and JosipaRoksa’sAcademically Adrift, a comprehensive review of undergraduate education – argument is key.
  • The Common Core State Standards – argument is key.
  • The WPA exam students will take after RWS 200
  • These aren’t so much “justifications” of our approach as points you may want to share with students, future employers, other academics who sometimes think teaching writing = comma placement.
you will not be assimilated
You will (not) be assimilated…
  • You need to work within the course framework and assignment sequence, but you can be creative and adapt it – we’re interested in hearing your ideas (esp. for the start and end of the semester).
  • RWS200 represents just one way to design a writing course – many others are possible (genre, critical literacy, cultural studies, expressivism, etc.)
  • But even so, your experience in this program will be valuable as a) it’s an influential model, b) the trend is toward aligning k-12 and higher ed. around argument, c) SDSU’s program is regionally influential, d) CSU-wide articulation efforts shaped by SDSU.
  • Our program is fairly “mainstream.” Our mission statement and learning outcomes are similar to WPA and NCTE statements on teaching writing.
RWS 100: Rhetorical analysis of argument
  • RWS 200: Contextually-sensitive analysis, plus more attention to evaluation of strengths and weaknesses.
  • Some Ways Into Contextual Analysis
  • Learn about the author
  • Examine the setting (time & place)
  • Consider the audience
  • Study the “larger conversation”
itc expectations
ITC: Expectations
  • ITC = an important part of your work. You are expected to attend. You get credit for it. Wednesdays @ 1.00 – 1.50in SH126
  • More importantly, it’s part of collaboration, professional development, andnetworking.
  • Modest home work is assigned but it’s all to prepare for your class. Meetings are 50 minutes.
  • Your contribution is important and most welcome. We provide a lot of support, but you are welcome to adapt & remix, or add your own materials. TA contributions have improved coursesa lot – many TA ideas are on the wiki.
teaching in challenging times
Teaching in challenging times…
  • Class sizes lower, but still big – 25.
  • We will be teaching 4 major assignments this semester – an increase from the past.
  • We may want to “jigsaw” the work of preparing class plans, etc.
  • You will likely teach RWS200 again next semester. Use ITC to prepare and find collaborators.
meet your audience
Meet your audience
  • Spring 200 students are often quite well prepared. Some may be fairly sophisticated writers, but you’ll be presenting them with a new, challenging way of approaching texts
  • You may have some 3rd semester students who have come through 92a and 92b. They tend be weaker writers; some will be ESL.
  • You may have some ESL/international students. You can refer them to LING200 if you think they’ll struggle.
main texts
Main Texts
  • Haydar/Nussbaum, Wallace, texts on Inequality (on wiki)
  • RWS 200 Collection of Handouts and Teaching Materials (you have print copy, and also on wiki)
  • Ede, The Academic Writer (piloting this)
  • Graff et al. They Say/I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writingand Little Seagull Handbook (most students should have).
  • Short texts on wiki: Kristof, Rifkin, Parry, etc. You can select your own. Use to introduce the course/key concepts
  • Texts for unit 3 and 4–you can use ones on wiki, have students select their own, or assign new ones.

BUT - in a sense the “central” text in the class = the students’ texts. (Your fabulous teaching performance vs. their written performance)

  • Student writing is the key text, and teaching them how to read their own writing practices (reflexivity) is important
  • “The ability to reflect on what is being written seems to be the essence of the difference between able and not so able writers from their initial writing experience onward”(Yancey 4)
assignment sequence
Assignment Sequence
  • 1. Construct an account of an argument and identify elements of context embedded in it (Haydar/Nussbaum)2. “Lens” assignment - use concepts and arguments from one text as a context for understanding and writing about another (Wallace/Demagoguery) 3. Map (or synthesize) major points of similarity, difference, contrast and connection between texts that address an issue. (Inequality readings)4. Synthesize and evaluate texts in order to “enter the conversation” and advance your own claims. (Inequality readings)
assignment options
Assignment Options
  • 1. Portfolio/Journal: Students do small writing assignments over the semester. Useful if you want to make adjustments as you go.Can give students an aggregate grade for the completed portfolio.
  • 2. Reflection essays– have students reflect on the writing work they have done, what they have learned, the way they approach writing, the things they still need to work on, etc.
syllabi and schedules
Syllabi and Schedules
  • Sample syllabi, schedules and assignment sequences are on the wiki
  • There will be a workshop tomorrow at 2.30 in SHW106 to go over syllabi and schedules.
12.30-1.00 Admin
  • 1.00 – 1.30 LUNCH
1.30 The First Week(s):
  • The first day: crashers, scheduling, class management (Jamie)
  • Overview of common classroom activities
  • Introducing rhetoric, the course,and working with short texts
common class activities patterns see p 3 of handout
Common Class Activities & Patterns [See p. 3 of handout]
  • Pre-reading and “pre-discussion” work (questionnaires to get at assumptions, surveys, etc.)
  • “Jig saw” work (students share researching key parts of text and share in class)
  • “Quick writes” and freewriting to help jump start discussion
  • Class discussion, group work
  • Critical reading/rhetorical reading – posing questions, interrogating assumptions, reading actively and critically (modeling qns to ask)
  • Charting – what is the text doing; what/how/why moves are made
  • PACES (project, argument, claims, evidence, strategies)
  • Pre-writing exercises + templates, rhetorical precis, metadiscourse, transitions, quotations, mechanics
  • Evaluation of strengths and weaknesses
  • Drafting, peer review, student “read alouds,” conferencing
  • Assessment and response
  • Analysis (single argument, relationship between texts, strategies, “lens” work, evaluation of arguments) and presentation of student arguments
  • Reflection and reflective practice (applying concepts to students own writing – e.g. charting, analyzing students’ moves and strategies, etc.)
example pre reading exercises
Example: pre-reading exercises
  • 1. In Class test
  • “Careful, you might run out of planet: SUVs and the
  • exploitation of the American myth,” by Goewey.
  • Questions:
  • Is Goewey critical or complimentary of SUVs?
  • Does the author believe that there is time to make a change?
  • Does the author put more emphasis on car quality or social issues in assessing the value of SUVs?
  • Is the author likely to be a supporter of major oil companies?
  • Was this essay written in 1979, 1989, or 1999?
pre reading

Examining Titles Carefully: Chua

- Chua’s article “A World on the Edge” is part of her book

World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds

Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability.

Consider the Source: “A Variety of Religious Experience” is a

chapter from a book titled The Meaning of Sports: Why Americans

Watch Baseball, Football, and Basketball, and What They See When

They Do

Haydar, “Veiled Intentions: Don’t Judge a Muslim Girl by Her

Covering,” in Body Outlaws: Rewriting the Rules of Beauty and Body


surveys questionnaires
  • ■ Diamond asks why Eurasian peoples, rather than peoples of other
  • continents, conquered much of the world. What factors do you think are
  • relevant - how would you rank
  • Geography, Culture, Natural resources, Intelligence, Institutions, Religion?
  • ■ Why did the Spanish come to invade and take over South America, rather than the other way around? What were the key factors that allowed a relatively small group of Spanish soldiers to do this?
  • ■ Do you agree with the statement that regarding a civilization’s ability to gain power, wealth, and strength, “...what’s far more important is the hand that people have been dealt, the raw materials they’ve had at their disposal.” Why or Why not? Always, or at certain points in history?
  • ■ Etc.

Modeling close reading strategies – annotating, posing questions, reading actively and critically.

unit 1 common activities cont
Unit 1: Common Activities cont.
  • Charting – what is the text doing (what, how, why moves are made).
Students chart their own and their peers’ writing

An important part of Ehrenreich’s argument is that the poor are invisible to affluent people. She suggests that the affluent “are less and less likely to share public spaces and services with the poor,” that political parties are unwilling to “acknowledge that low-wage work doesn’t lift people out of poverty” (217) and that media attention focuses more on “occasional success stories” than on the rising numbers of poor and hungry people (218). The fact that the poor are invisible contributes to the lack of attention that the problem of low wages is getting.

Writer telling reader one piece of E.’s argument, one claim.

Showing that this claim really is in the text, and why E. makes it.

Explaining why the “invisibility claim” is significant

common activities cont
Common Activities cont.
  • PACES (project, argument, claims, evidence, strategies)

Identifying claims – a good rule of thumb is to look for the following cues:

- question/answer pattern

- problem/solutionpattern

- self-identification(“my point here is that…”)

- emphasis/repetition (“it must be stressed that…”)

- approval(“Olson makes some important and long overdue amendments to work on …”)

- metalanguagethat explicitly uses the language of argument (“My argument consists of three main claims. First, that…”)

common activities cont1
Common Activities cont.
  • Drafting: models, outlines, templates, rhetorical precis; metadiscourse, quotations
  • Drafting: peer review, workshops, review plans, student “read-alouds,” conferencing
  • Assessment and response
  • Reflection and reflective practice (applying concepts to students own writing – e.g. charting, analyzing students’ moves and strategies, etc.)

The Graff & B Template

One of our templates

There are handouts, class exercises, and class plans based on each of these key activities (see wiki or Blackboard).
introducing rhetoric
Introducing rhetoric
  • We ask that you tell students that RWS 100 is a rhetoric class. Some may base their expectations on high school English classes/literary analysis. Emphasize that the interpretation, analysis and production of argument is central, that they will be reading non-fiction texts, doing a lot of analysis.
  • You may find “Content is king” - locate, remember and deliver content. You may encounter a “textbook mentality” in the reading practices of many of your students, and an “information processor” model of writing.
  • Textbooks are often “anti-rhetorical” - presenting knowledge in terms of a decontextualized, disembodied voice of authority, a “view from nowhere,” and of knowledge as “settled,” unified and authoritative
  • The contested, contingent, contextual, community-centered, argument-driven…in short, the RHETORICAL dimensions of knowledge – of academic discourse, are largely absent.
nudging students toward a rhetorical stance
Nudging students toward a rhetorical stance…
  • We want to move students from a focus on what texts say (content) to what they do and how they do it (rhetoric). Rhetorical self consciousness = achieving a kind of double vision – of looking “at” as well as through language.
  • Rhetorical self consciousness – understanding what texts do - is an important skill for students. Revealing the rhetorical moves that writers make, the strategies they draw on, is part of achieving academic literacy, and of acculturation into disciplinary communities. When you recognize the moves you not only understand the disciplinary conversation better, you are better equipped to join it.
  • In the first week of class we’d like you to introduce key conceptsthrough the analysis of some short texts. There is a folder on Blackboard to help you with this.
  • Focusing on strategies and what texts do = good ways of introducing rhetoric.
basic rhetorical strategies
Basic Rhetorical Strategies
  • How do texts position readers?
  • What point of view do they adopt?
  • From what perspective do they invite us to view the world?Consider these chewing gum ads:
rhetoric is everywhere an everyday thing
Rhetoric Is “Everywhere” & an “Everyday” Thing
  • When a politician tries to get you to vote for them, they are using rhetoric.
  • When a lawyer tries to move a jury, they are using rhetoric.
  • When a government produces propaganda, they are using rhetoric.
  • When an advertisement tries to get you to buy something, it is using rhetoric.
  • When the president gives a speech, he is using rhetoric.

But rhetoric can be much subtler (and quite positive) as well:

  • When someone writes an office memo, they are using rhetoric.
  • When a newspaper offers their depiction of what happened last night, they are using rhetoric.
  • When a scientist presents theories or results, they are using rhetoric.
  • When you write your mom or dad an email, you are using rhetoric.
  • Thought itself is rhetorical - when you think, you engage in “inner argument,” or “inner persuasion” in order to reach a decision or act.
  • Salon Magazine “Court rules against pot for sick people” 
  • New York Times: “High Court Allows Prosecution of Medical Marijuana Users”
  • San Diego Union Tribune: “Court OKs Marijuana Crackdown”
  • L.A. Times: “Justices Give Feds Last Word on Medical Marijuana”
  • Christian Science Monitor: “US Court Rules Against Pot For Sick People”
  • Christian News Source: “Medical Marijuana Laws Don\'t Shield Users From Prosecution”
telemarketing strategies script
Telemarketing Strategies Script
  • Pre-introduction: (Ask to speak to the decision-maker) Introduction: (Introduce yourself and the reason for your call) Attention Getter: (Mention the key features of the offer and qualify them for eligibility) Probing Questions: (Always ask for information that will be useful for rebuttals) Offer: (Explain the product/service and terms of commitment) Close: (ALWAYS ASK FOR THE SALE) Rebuttal (deal with objections)Sales Continuation: (Agree, use rebuttals, sell benefits, CLOSE) Up/down/cross-sell: (If there is another product of less-price this is the time to sell it.) Confirmation Close: (Review the terms of the offer to reduce buyer remorse) Final Close: (End on a positive note. Thank the customer and leave a dial free number for customer support)
Everyday words, names, definitions, categories – how they are selected or constructed = rhetorical. Consider:
  • Cash advance (vs. high interest loan)
  • Second Mortgage vs. Home equity loan
  • “War on terror,” vs. “war against Islamic extremists,” vs. “fight against Al Queda” (scope, agents involved, action)
  • “The 1%,” “job creators”
  • Military contractors, mercenaries
  • “War on drugs”’ “Axis of Evil”;
  • “Body bags” vs. “transfer tubes”
  • “Doctor assisted suicide” vs. “death with dignity”
  • “Defense of marriage” vs. “marriage equality”
  • “French Fries/Freedom fries”
  • “Death Tax/Estate Tax”
  • “Habit forming” vs. “addictive”
  • “Erectile dysfunction” vs. “impotence”
  • “Halitosis” vs. “bad breath”
  • “Male pattern baldness” vs. “losing your hair”
  • “Viagra!”
common expressions reveal rhetorical moves
Common expressions reveal rhetorical moves
  • "Parrhesia" or "sincere style.” Most common strategies:
  • False sincerity (sales pitch)
  • To establish intimacy/insider status (because we are close, I can confide in you).
  • To signal seriousness. To signal shift to serious topic – politeness or performance is being set aside in favor of frankness
  • To establish emphasis. I want to really emphasize what comes next. E.g. Obama & “look” as emphasis marker. He’ll say to audiences, “Look, the reality is…” = I’m dropping out of performance mode and speaking to you plainly and seriously.
  • Confess to potentially unpopular position, and manage “face” - may effect other’s opinion of you (status-threatening) (“To be honest, I voted for Ralph Nader in 2000; “To be honest, I thought Paradise Lost was a bore.” "To tell you the truth, I\'m not going to make the deadline."
we can read material culture rhetorically
  • “By reading…we mean something more than simply lifting information out of books and articles. To read a text or event is to do something to it, to make sense out of its signals and clues…Reading is thus not something we do to books alone. Or, to put it another way, books and other printed surfaces are not the only texts we read. Rather, a ‘text’ is anything that can be interpreted, that we can make meaning out of or assign value to. In this sense, all culture is a text and all culture can be read.” Joseph Harris and Jay Rosen.
why these choices for a memorial what strategies might they represent
Why these choices for a memorial – what strategies might they represent?
  • The Vietnam war memorial is black
  • It is made of reflective black granite. When a visitor looks at the wall, she will see the engraved names and her own reflection
  • The monument is built along a pathway that requires people to move along the small corridor of space
  • Unlike many monuments, it lists all the names of U.S. soldiers who died, and it does so in chronological rather than alphabetic order (Lin has she wanted the wall to read “‘like an epic Greek poem’ and ‘return the vets to the time frame of the war’)
  • Information about rank, unit, and decorations are not given
  • The wall is V-shaped, with one side pointing to the Lincoln Memorial and the other to the Washington Monument. Lin\'s conception was to create an opening or a wound in the earth to symbolize the gravity of the loss of the soldiers
the rise of the bum proof bench in los angeles
"One of the most common, but mind-numbing, of these deterrents is the [L.A.] Rapid Transit District’s new barrelshaped bus bench that offers a minimal surface for uncomfortable sitting, while making sleeping utterly impossible. Such ‘bumproof’ benches are being widely introduced on the periphery of Skid Row. Another the aggressive deployment of outdoor sprinklers. Several years ago the city opened a ‘Skid Row Park’ along lower Fifth Street, on a corner of Hell. To ensure that the park was not used for sleeping--that is, to guarantee that it was mainly utilized for drug dealing and prostitution--the city installed an elaborate overhead sprinkler system programmed to drench unsuspecting sleepers at random times during the night. The system was immediately copied by some local businessmen in order to drive the homeless away from adjacent public sidewalks.“Mike Davis, City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles, p. 233.The rise of the “bum-proof” bench in Los Angeles
introducing rhetoric1
Introducing rhetoric
  • You may wish to use short texts, visual texts, advertisements, op-eds and other texts that students are probably familiar with in order to introduce rhetoric.
  • Email communication is a good place to start – students are familiar with the genre, and may find it easier to recognize strategies, acts of persuasion, positioning, performance, etc.
  • This YouTube animation is a good text to start a discussion about rhetoric – about audience, purpose, persuasion, strategies, genre, ethos, rhetorical situation, etc.
Sample syllabi, schedules and assignment sequences are on the wiki.
  • Reader contains plagiarism “agreement” – should also be section covering this in syllabus.
  • Schedule some evaluation/feedback fairly early
  • Outcomes should be listed on your syllabus, and it’s useful to include them in your assignments
  • They can be used as part of student reflections, and to help prime students for evaluations.
learning outcomes what they are why they matter how to use them to your advantage
Learning Outcomes: What they are, why they matter, how to use them to your advantage.
  • If things get ugly, the outcomes and syllabus provide you with backup. In disputes, they matter.
  • Our outcomes are now explicitly framed in terms of the general education program and its “capacities” and goals (meta-outcomes)
  • This language adds a certain amount of institutional authority to your course. You can point students to the section that states how important our courses and outcomes are to the educational mission of the university (i.e. the university’s carefully researched conclusion as to what constitutes “essential undergraduate academic skills.”)
discussion participation
Discussion & Participation
  • Prime with a questionnaire, survey or questions
  • Call by name
  • Put in groups and assign responsibility
  • Jig saw work
  • “Pyramids” (alone, in pairs, 4s, etc.)
  • Freewrite (give students time to assemble thoughts, so they feel more confidant contributing
  • Wait….at least 7 seconds. Try not to get stuck in the habit of answering your own questions.
  • Have students post responses and homework to Blackboard, so you can bring to class and use to get discussion going.
Author Interview, Panel or Role-PlayingOne student assumes the role of the writer and answers question from the audience about the article’s main claim, choices regarding supporting evidence, and the writer’s view of his/her audience at the time of writing.
  • Students assigned to play role of author for 10-15 minutes. You may choose to let that student greet the class “in character,” and provide a brief summary of the argument that he/she wrote, which everyone else in class has read. After that, the exercise consists of class members asking the “writer” questions about the argument itself.
  • CAN ALSO be used with assignment 2 (sources) in which students are responsible to assume the role of different authors, and you can set up a debate with Pinker.
seth taylor s seven tips for discussion
Seth Taylor’s Seven Tips for Discussion
  • 1) Beware of cold starts. Consider directed freewriting, journaling, or the “Brain Dump” at the start of class. Quick responses can both kickstart discussions, and eventually help students question where their responses come from.
2) Be wary of asking the BIG questions first:
  • “So… what do you think about the reading?”
  • “So what’s the point of the chapter?”
active learning seven tips for discussion
Active Learning: Seven Tips for Discussion
  • 3) Let your first question be easy, possibly about their reading process:
  • “How long did it take to read this?”
  • “Where does it get interesting (or boring)?”
  • Were there any passages you found difficult, interesting or unusual?
  • 4) Open-ended questions will require students to think. Yes/No questions require very little of them, and can often shut down discussion before it starts.
active learning seven tips for discussion1
Active Learning: Seven Tips for Discussion
  • 5) Encourage students to explain, support, their responses to a text. Almost every answer can be followed up with a “Why?” question from the instructor.
active learning seven tips for discussion2
Active Learning: Seven Tips for Discussion
  • 6) Encourage students to talk to each other, rather than simply fire answers back to you:
  • Re-directing students to respond to each others ideas
  • Group breakout exercises
  • Let students teach
active learning seven tips for discussion3
Active Learning: Seven Tips for Discussion
  • 7) At the end of class, try to re-cap or summarize the ground that was covered. You do not need the discussion to come to a grand conclusion, but some sort of review
  • will help increase retention.

4.00 Surviving the First Day

  • Classroom Dynamics
  • What to do on the First Day
  • The inside scoop from your fellow TAs