March 20 - Syntax (paraphrase the notes in your notebook and complete the assignment below)
- “Syntax refers to the way words are arranged within sentences. How writers control and manipulate the sentence is a strong determiner of voice and imparts personality to the writing.” -Nancy Dean
- Some of the elements of syntax are word order, sentence length, and punctuation. Punctuation can reinforce meaning, create a particular effect, and express the writer’s voice. Look at the purpose of three stylistic techniques that manipulate syntax for effect:
- Simple sentences can create dramatic contrasts with longer sentences and can convey information in tones that vary from blunt to simplistic.
- The dash marks a sudden change in thought or tone, sets off a brief summary, or sets off a parenthetical part of the sentence. A dash often conveys a casual tone.
- The ellipsis usually represents words omitted from a quote or a pause.
- A Polysyndeton is a series with a conjunction after every term.
- Ex: “There were frowzy fields, and cow-houses, and dunghills, and dustheaps, and ditches, and gardens, and summer-houses, and carpet-beating grounds, at the very door of the Railway. Little tumuli of oyster shells in the oyster season, and of lobster shells in the lobster season, and of broken crockery and faded cabbage leaves in all seasons, encroached upon its high places.” --Dombey and Son (By Charles Dickens)
Reread Robert Fulghum’s text "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten," this time annotating it for stylistic choices—his syntax and punctuation, in particular—that you find particularly effective. Look for: imperative sentence, compound sentence, parallel structure, dash, ellipsis, polysyndeton
Complete this graphic organizer and edit your credo from yesterday. Syntax Graphic Organizer
March 19 - Read the credo "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten," by Robert Fulghum and consider what the precepts have in common and highlight those that most appeal to you personally.
1.) What are your reactions to Fulghum’s credo? What precepts seem to make the most/least sense to you personally, and why?
2.) If a personal credo can be considered a literary genre, what are some conventions that would characterize this genre (based on Fulghum’s example)?
3.) Writing Prompt (1/2 Page): Emulating Fulghum’s structure and conventions, draft a personal credo that asserts your precepts about the basic values that contribute to a meaningful life. The credo might begin with your perception of life, identify where you learned important precepts and what they are, and close with reflective commentary and a related call to action. Be sure to:
- Use the genre conventions you defined above.
- Establish an appropriate tone through your syntax and diction.
- End with a call to action like Fulghum’s.
March 18 - Hudson River School Painters
Complete this graphic organizer for each of the two paintings.
Overview: Take a first look at the artwork, noticing the subject. Brainstorm some questions about it.
Parts: Look closely at the artwork, making note of important elements and details. Consider composition, lighting, framing, etc.
Title: Pay attention to the title and any captions.
Interrelationships: Look for connections between and among the title, caption, and the parts of the art.
Conclusion: Form a conclusion about the meaning of the artwork. Remember the questions you asked when you first examined it: How does the painting evoke or express Transcendentalism? Be prepared to support your conclusion with evidence.
Based on these two examples, if Hudson River landscape paintings are considered an artistic genre, what are some genre conventions you would expect other texts of this genre to display? In other words, what are some characteristics they both share that other paintings of this school would also likely share, both in terms of their style and their content?
Writing Prompt: Which painting better reflects the beliefs of the Transcendental movement, Durand’s or Cole’s? Write a paragraph that answers this question, using details from the painting and specific information about the movement. Be sure to:
- Introduce a precise claim with a topic sentence that clarifies your position.
- Support your claim with references to the genre conventions you have defined.
- Vividly describe the painting and the details that reflect the Transcendental movement.
March 15 - Read the three poems: "In the Depths of Solitude", "Remember", and "A Light Exist in Spring".
1.) What conventions characterize poetry as a broad literary genre?
2.) How does Tupac Shakur use these conventions with “In the Depths of Solitude”?
3.) In the poem "Remember", A.) Who’s speaking to whom?
B.) What is the effect of the imperative mood (commands/intructions)?
C.) What the degree of authority does the speaker have?
4.) How do the following three poems relate to the core tenets of Transcendentalism?
5.) Creative/Reflective Writing Prompt: Write an original poem exploring your beliefs about the pursuit of happiness, emulating one of the three poems explored in this unit: use Tupac’s alternating rhyme scheme, Harjo’s imperative mood, or Dickinson’s lyric approach. Be sure to:
- Link to at least one of the Transcendental ideals you’ve identified in this unit.
- Consider the criteria you have identified with your classmates as you craft your text.
- Incorporate the genre conventions of the model you emulate.
March 14 - Transcendentalism
To deepen your understanding of Transcendentalism, you will work with group members to create a paper depicting Transcendentalism's key beliefs. Consider the framing questions below, you may revise, cut, or add to the list of questions based on your initial work with Emerson and Thoreau.
- What is their view of God?
- What are their values?
- How do they define truth?
- Do they have an optimistic or pessimistic view of life?
- What are their views of work and worldly success?
- What is their view of society?
- Who is their authority?
- What is their view of education?
- Do they view man as inherently good, evil, or somewhere in between?
As a group, construct a paper synthesizing your research. Incorporate common information into your paper. Find specific quotes from sources that best articulate this information. Compare your information. Revise your definition of Transcendentalism to reflect your research and information sharing with peers.
March 13 - Read the exceprt "Where I live and What I Lived For" from Walden by Henry David Thoreau. Answer the questions below:
1.) In paragraphs 3 and 4, Thoreau describes the importance of morning. Pick two or three phrases or sentences that show he is talking about more than the literal morning; rather, he is expressing the significance of morning as it relates to leading a full life. Explain Thoreau’s thinking.
2.) What is the connection between Emerson’s ideas of ‘self-reliance’ and Thoreau’s idea of living in the woods? Use a quote from each in formulating your answer.
3.) Based on his description of the value of communication and news, how do you think Thoreau would feel about the role of the Internet and social media in modern life?
4.) Thoreau uses several key metaphors in paragraph 9. What does each of these metaphors suggest about the importance of living a reflective life? How does this type of life contrast to the one described in the paragraph above?
5.) Writing Prompt (1/2 page): Summarize Thoreau’s criticisms of society. Consider especially paragraphs 6 and 7. Then identify a facet of modern society that Thoreau would object to, and explain why he would find it objectionable. Be sure to:
- Focus on Thoreau’s general ideas, not his specific details, by using a few key quotes to capture his voice and major claims.
- Present his ideas with an objective tone.
March 12 - Read the passage from Emerson’s essay, “Self Reliance,” highlight one sentence in each paragraph that seems to best express the main idea of the paragraph. Then, paraphrase the highlighted phrases in the margins of the article.
Answer the following questions:
1.) In the first two paragraphs, Emerson contrasts the image of the individual as a farmer with that of being a shareholder. What is he attempting to establish through these analogies?
2.) What is Emerson's criticism of consistency?
3.) What can you infer is necessary to pursuing happiness in life, according to Emerson?
4.) Choose two or three lines from the “Self-Reliance” excerpt that state a strong opinion. Write a personal response (1/2 page) to these lines, reflecting on how they compare with your own beliefs.
Be sure to:
• Demonstrate your understanding of the text by summarizing at least one quote from Emerson in your reflection.
• Support your response with details and examples from personal experience.
• Embed your quotation using correct conventions.
March 11 - Preview new unit.
- 1. What does it mean to pursue happiness?
- 2. How can a writer use/manipulate genre conventions for effect?
- Genre Conventions
Define each vocabulary word, identify a synonym and antonym, and use each word in a sentence that reveals the meaning.
March 8 - Satire Assessment Essays are DUE beginning of period.
Class assignment: Research sports articles on the current Chino Hills Boys Basketball Team. After 10-15 minutes of research, write your own 1 page "sports report" on the state championship game tonight at 8pm. Discuss players, the team, and predict and explain who will win.
March 6 - No Class: Good Luck on SAT's
March 4/5/7 - Assessment due Friday March 8th at the beginning of the period.
- You have been studying how opinions are expressed and perceived in a democratic society through a variety of rhetorical formats including satire. Your assignment is to develop a satirical piece critiquing some aspect of our society.
- 2 PAGES double-spaced; MLA format
Planning and Prewriting: Take time to create a plan for choosing a topic and audience.
• What has guided your choice of topics? Do you have the information to sustain a satiric treatment?
• Will your piece be more Horatian or Juvenalian? What techniques of satire apply well to that form (hyperbole, parody, irony, ridicule, etc.)?
• If you use parody, what typical conventions of the format do you plan to use as part of the satire? • To whom will you address your satire and why? What is your satirical purpose— what effect do you hope to have on this audience?
Drafting: Decide how you will incorporate elements of satire.
• How will you demonstrate the flaws or foibles of your satire’s subject?
• As you draft your esssay, how will you stick to the conventions that you identified for your satire in your prewriting?
• What sort of tone is appropriate for the audience and purpose you identified?
Evaluating and Revising: Create opportunities to review and revise.
• How can you revise to add additonal satirical language elements (loose and cumulative sentences, irony, hyperbole, and litotes)?
• What sort of strategies could you and a peer use to provide each other with feedback (e.g., evaluate with the Scoring Guide, use the SOAPSTone strategy)?
Checking and Editing for Publication: Be sure your work is the best it can be.
• How will you check for grammatical and technical accuracy?
• What sort of outside resources can help you to check your draft (e.g., a format guide, a dictionary, etc.)?
March 1 - Writing a Satire
The first task of writing a satire is to choose a topic you are informed and passionate about. Think of some of the topics written about in this unit: advice, football, war, poisoning the earth, and gambling.
Imagine that your school has a persistent problem with students being late to class. Evaluate how the steps below can get you started on a satirical piece of writing.
Step 1: Identify the topic: Students being late to class (tardiness)
Step 2: State the problem in hyperbolic terms: The staggering lack of students at the beginning of class leaves teachers paralyzed. (The diction overstates the severity of the problem: “paralyzed” and “staggering.”)
Step 3: Propose an ironic solution: If students are late, they must stand outside the door for 20 minutes. (This action does not solve the problem of students not being in class to learn.) 1st offense: Students will carry around a 40-lb clock for the remainder of the day. 2nd offense: Students will receive jail time. (The punishment does not fit the “crime.”)
Step 4: Use wit (wordplay, clever language, or rhetorical analogy): Punishment will be doled out in a timely manner. (Word play) This problem is a ticking time bomb! (Rhetorical analogy)
Step 5: Downplay the severity of the punishment using litotes: Missing class and being ridiculed is a small price to pay to promote punctuality.
Sample paragraph using the above process: It has come to my attention that students have been late to class at an alarming level. The staggering lack of students at the beginning of class leaves teachers paralyzed. To address this problem, we are adopting a new tardy policy. Following the first offense, students will carry around a 40-lb clock for the remainder of the day. Following the second offense, students will receive a night in jail, during which time they will be able to think about what they have done wrong. We promise to dole out this punishment in a timely manner as we have identified this issue as a ticking time bomb!
CLASS ASSIGNMENT: Select a topic that you are passionate about and draft a satirical paragraph. Be sure to:
• Clearly identify the topic.
• State the problem in hyperbolic terms.
• Propose an ironic solution.
• Use wit and have fun with words.
Feb. 27/28 - Read"Gambling in Schools" and "How to Poison the Earth" and annotate the text for for words, phrases, and images that contribute to the satiric tone and purpose of each essay. Answer the questions below:
"Gambling in Schools"
1.) Notice the bracketed section at the beginning. How does it set the satire in motion?
2.) Identify and explain one element of irony in the text.
3.) Choose one tone word that characterizes the entire piece. In other words, what do you think the writer’s attitude or moral view is toward the subject? Justify your choice in two or three sentences.
"How to Poison the Earth"
4.) The author presents this information in a very logical, step-by-step, unemotional, “how-to” format. How does the tone of this piece contribute to its effectiveness?
5.) Choose one tone word that characterizes the entire piece. In other words, what do you think the writer’s attitude or moral view is toward the subject? Justify your choice in two or three sentences.
6.) Where (if at all) does the tone of the piece shift?
7.) Identify and explain one element of irony in the text.
8.) Which essay makes its point more effectively and why?
Feb. 26 - Read "The War Prayer" by Mark Twain and annotate the text for elements of satire. After reading, conduct a comparative SOAPSTone, looking at the different ways in which Twain treats these drastically different topics. Fold your paper lengthwise, use the first column to complete a SOAPSTone on “Advice to Youth” and the second column for “The War Prayer.” Be prepared to discuss your responses.
Feb. 25 - Read "Advice to Youth" by Mark Twain and answer the following questions.
1.) Paragraphs 1–3 include a comic twist on clichéd pieces of advice using a loose sentence pattern. Write down three pieces of advice.
2.) How does Twain use hyperbole in his long piece of advice on the art of lying?
3.) Twain’s advice on firearms is genuine, but still he goes against the reader's expectations. How?
4.) In a graphic organizer, identify at least five pieces of advice Twain renders to his audience. Write the main clause in column 1, the main or modifying phrase or clause in column 2, and explain the effect of this loose sentence pattern in column 3. In some cases, Twain may add multiple modifying clauses, so beware!
- Example: Main Clause Main Clause 2 or modifying Phrase/Clause Effect on Meaning
Always obey your parents... when they are present Makes the advice conditional,
Feb. 21/22 - Writing Prompt: Write a parody (2 PAGES) of some aspect of TV programming. Choose a partner and a subject (a genre like soap operas, sports broadcasts, reality shows, children’s television programs; or a specific show like Oprah or CSI or 60 Minutes, etc.). Next, write your parody, using the format of a script. Use the following questions as a basis for planning your parody.
Details: What images should you include? What images should you avoid? Put your subject in the middle of a circle, and then brainstorm a list of conventions and features that might be good parody material. Think about what things in the show are just a little annoying.
Tone/purpose: How critical should you be? Is it time for brutal sarcasm or playful wit? Is the show an offense to good taste or just a silly waste of time? Are you out to destroy or merely to tease?
Audience: How familiar is your audience with the show? What is their attitude toward the show? How will these answers affect what you should and should not do in your script? How will the use of irony, overt sarcasm, or ridicule affect your audience’s response to your parody? You will present your script to your classmates in a reader’s theater, so keep that audience in mind.
Organization: Focusing on the formulas of your subject, how should you start, develop, and end your script? Diction: What patterns of speech can you identify that would be easy to parody? How stupid or cliché do you want to make your characters/personalities appear?
Syntax: What about the pacing of the script? Where should it read the most quickly? Where should the reader hang on every word? How can you accomplish this?
Feb. 20 - Read the parody, "In Depth, but Shallowly" by Dave Barry and annotate the text for specific aspects of the news show that the author is parodying.
1. Based on your discussion of this definition, brainstorm a list of parodies you’re familiar with. Think of popular music, television, movies, print sources, etc.
2. As you watch the news excerpt provided by your teacher, make a list of things in the show that might be ripe for parody. Think about the people you see, the show’s style, the graphics used, the stories reported, etc., that are typical of this show and of news broadcasts in general.
3. Barry says that “news means anything that you can take a picture of, especially if a local TV News Personality can stand in front of it.” Although this is an exaggeration, how is there a kernel of truth in the hyperbole?
4. Dave Barry uses characters’ dialogue to paint a satirical picture of those characters. Given the picture he paints, what does Dave Barry seem to be saying about local TV news personalities?
5. Barry uses the video footage to contrast with what the reporter is saying (“their mood is troubled”). What is the effect of that contradiction?
6. How is the editorial delivered by Basil Holp a parody?
7. Rank Barry’s satirical intent on the scale below. Explain your ranking.
1----- 2----- 3----- 4----- 5---- 6----- 7------ 8------ 9------ 10
Just Plain Silly (Horatian) Biting Sarcasm/Criticism (Juvenalian)
Feb. 19 - Read the satire, "Girl Moved to Tears by Of Mice and Men Cliff Notes" and annotate the text for elements of satire.
Writing Prompt: Write an analysis of the author’s use of the techniques of satire in the piece (refer to terms on webpage). ½ PAGE. Be sure to:
- State the purpose of the satire. What is the author criticizing?
- Identify the other techniques of satire the writer uses.
- Identify the use of parody by citing specific genre conventions of a news article.
Irony: A mode of expression that uses words (verbal irony) or events (situational irony) to convey a reality different from and usually opposite to appearance or expectation. The surprise recognition by the audience often produces a comic effect. When a text intended to be ironic is not seen as such, the effect can be disastrous. To be an effective piece of sustained irony, there must be some sort of audience tip-off through style, tone, use of clear exaggeration, or other device.
Hyperbole: Deliberate exaggeration to achieve an effect; overstatement
Litotes: A form of understatement that involves making an affirmative point by denying its opposite. Example: “The grave’s a fine and private place, / But none, I think, do there embrace.” Andrew Marvell, “To His Coy Mistress.”
Caricature: An exaggeration or other distortion of an individual’s prominent features or characteristics to the point of making that individual appear ridiculous. The term is applied more often to graphic representations than to literary ones.
Wit: Most commonly understood as clever expression—whether aggressive or harmless, that is, with or without derogatory intent toward someone or something in particular. We also tend to think of wit as being characterized by a mocking or paradoxical quality, evoking laughter through apt phrasing.
Sarcasm: Intentional derision, generally directed at another person and intended to hurt. The term comes from a Greek word meaning “to tear flesh like dogs” and signifies a cutting remark. Sarcasm usually involves obvious verbal irony, achieving its effect by jeeringly stating the opposite of what is meant so as to heighten the insult.
Ridicule: Words intended to belittle a person or idea and arouse contemptuous laughter. The goal is to condemn or criticize by making the thing, idea, or person seem laughable and ridiculous.
Parody: An imitation of a work or of an author with the idea of ridiculing the author, ideas, or work. The parodist exploits the peculiarities of an author’s expression— his or her propensity to use too many parentheses, certain favorite words, or other elements of the author’s style.
Invective: Speech or writing that abuses, denounces, or attacks. It can be directed against a person, cause, idea, or system. It employs a heavy use of negative emotive language. Example: “I cannot but conclude the bulk of your natives to be the most pernicious race of little odious vermin that nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth.” (Swift, Gulliver’s Travels)
Horatian satire: pokes fun at human foibles and folly with a witty, gentle, and even indulgent tone.
Juvenalian satire: denounces, sometimes harshly, human vice and error in dignified and solemn tones.
Feb. 15 - Watch CNN Student News and record 10 notes (Rally Schedule)
Feb. 14 - Read "Let's Hear it for the Cheerleaders" and annotate the text for humorous passages. Complete the graphic organizer below.
Feb. 13 - Essential Questions
1. How do news outlets impact public opinion or public perception?
2. How does a writer use tone to advance an opinion?
Your next assessment is to develop a satirical piece critiquing some aspect of our society.
In your own words, summarize what you will need to know to complete this assessment successfully. Create a check-list (requirements) to represent the skills and knowledge you will need to complete the tasks identified in the assessment.
Feb. 7,8,12 - Assessment: creating an op-ed news project
Working in groups, your assignment is to plan, develop, write, revise, and present an informational article on a timely and debatable issue of significance to your school community, local community, or national audience. After your group completes its article, you will individually develop a variety of editorial products that reflect your point of view (agreement, alternative, or opposing) on the topic. Be creative with your editorial products and include three additional pieces: an editorial, letter to the editor, and an editorial cartoon/photos.
Groups of 4 students: 4 areas of need
- Informational Article- 1 page w/ title
- Editorial- 1 page w/ title
- Letter to the Editor- 1 page w/ title
- Editorial Cartoon- cover page w/group names, and topic
*DUE Wednesday (Feb.13 , START OF PERIOD (printed)*
Feb. 6 - Learning Targets:
• Analyze fallacious logic, appeals, and rhetoric by studying examples and paraphrasing definitions.
• Use logical fallacies and create the fallacies of others with written examples.
Notes: Fallacies are false and misleading arguments
- TASK 1: In your notes, record each fallacy by paraphrasing the definition/example
- TASK 2: On a separate sheet paper, create and describe 11 examples (different from the notes) for each fallacy. You can work in groups. Turn in assignment at end of period.
Types of Fallacies
Logical Fallacies: Errors in Reasoning
- Hasty generalization: The leap to a generalized conclusion based on only a few instances. For example, on a trip to Paris you meet several rude Parisians, leading you to conclude that French people are rude.
- Post hoc: Literally meaning “after this,” it’s a causal fallacy in which a person assumes one thing caused another simply because it happened prior to the other. For instance, the high school soccer team loses an important game the day after they start wearing new uniforms. The coach blames the loss on the new uniforms.
Emotive Fallacies: Replacing Logic With Emotional Manipulation
- Ad populum: Literally meaning “argument” from popularity; refers to a variety of appeals that play on the association of a person or subject with values that are held by members of a target group (think of images of the flag in ads playing on patriotism) or the suggestion that “everybody knows” that something is true (as with bandwagoning).
- “Argument” from outrage: Aristotle said that if you understand what makes a man angry, you can use that anger to persuade him to accept a position without critically evaluating it. This fallacy is the backbone of talk radio and of political rhetoric on both extremes of the political spectrum. It often employs loaded language and labels. It also includes scapegoating—blaming a certain group of people or even a single person.
- Ad misericordiam, or appeal to pity: If you have ever asked a teacher to give you a better grade or a second chance because things have been tough recently or because you worked SO hard, you’re guilty of this one! It refers to an attempt to use compassion or pity to replace a logical argument.
- Ad baculum, or scare tactics: An appeal to fear in place of logic. If a candidate for office says “electing my opponent will open the door for new terrorist attacks,” it represents an attempt to scare people into rejecting the person, despite providing no evidence to justify the claim.
Rhetorical Fallacies: Sidestepping Logic with Language
- Straw man: Erecting a distorted or exaggerated representation of a position that is easily refuted. For example, Schroth says, “But, you say, if high schools drop football it will deprive colleges and the pros of their feeder system,” an argument that is, of course, a ridiculous attempt to justify high school football— and one that is thus easy to refute.
- Ad hominem/genetic fallacy: Literally meaning “to the man,” ad hominem refers to attacks against a person him- or herself rather than the ideas the person presents. This is a dominant feature in political campaigns, where sound-bite 30-second advertisements attack a candidate’s character, often with mere innuendo, instead of his or her policy positions. When this extends to criticizing or rejecting a general type of something simply because it belongs to or was generated by that type, it is a genetic fallacy. For example, to say an idea comes from the “media elite” makes it sound like it should be rejected—but who are the media elite?
- Red herring/smokescreen: Answering the question by changing the subject. For example, when pulled over for speeding, a person might respond to the officer’s question, “Why were you speeding?” by saying, “The school no longer offers driver’s education classes.”
- Slippery slope: Half appeal to fear and half a causal fallacy, a person uses a slippery slope when they suggest one action will lead to an inevitable and undesirable outcome. To say legalizing voluntary euthanasia paves the way for forced euthanasia is a slippery slope argument.
- Either/or (or false dilemma): This is a conclusion that oversimplifies the argument by suggesting that there are only two possible sides or choices. It is very common in debates of policy, where issues are always complex but which politicians reduce to simplistic binaries (either/or) for rhetorical purposes.
Feb. 5 - Editorial Cartoons - Read "An Inside Look at Editorial Cartoons" and answer the questions based off the reading in the packet and pictures in link below.
1.) Why is caricature the starting point for political cartoon criticism?
2.) The author alludes to an iconic political (snake) cartoon. How did this cartoon fit Brennan’s five basic features?
3.) Because there is so little space for an editorial cartoonist to make his or her point, the cartoonist often uses symbols and allusions as shorthand for the meaning of the cartoon. Examine each of the cartoons your teacher supplies (see above link) and identify the symbols and allusions. Why might the cartoonist have chosen these symbols or allusions?
4.) Most editorial cartoons present a specific political perspective. Do the cartoons you are examining have a specific point of view? How does the cartoonist demonstrate these perspectives?
5.) Editorial cartoons are designed to evoke emotion—humor, anger, or outrage, for example. How do the cartoonists do this? Refer to a specific cartoon from the link above.
6.) Based on these other questions, what does the message of one of the cartoon's seem to be, and what can you infer about its intended purpose? From the link above, identify the cartoon in your answer.
7.) Now that you have had some experience reading and analyzing political cartoons, try to create some of your own on a 1/2 page of paper.
• Brainstorm topic ideas by thinking about current events in your school, your hometown, or the world. List a few ideas below.
• Choose one of your ideas and describe a point that you might want to make about that event. Perhaps you agree and want to show your support or perhaps you would like to ridicule those who might feel differently.
• What symbols, sayings, pop culture allusions, or other easily recognizable references might be appropriate for this topic?
• Sketch a very rough draft of what your cartoon might look like.
Feb. 4 - Read "Why I Hate Cell Phones" by Sarah Reihani (literature packet) and write a letter (1/2 page) of your own to the editor in response to the editorial. Use the steps outlined in "How to Write a Letter to the Editor" to guide your writing.
Feb. 1 - Take notes on "How to Write a Letter to the Editor" in your notebook below and then complete the graphic organizer (seperate paper) examining the editorials and letters to the editor from the OC Register (see link).
*Which letter to the editor was the strongest? Explain why (answer on same page as graphic organizer).
How To Write a Letter to the Editor
Letters that are intended for publication should be drafted carefully. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Make one point (or at most two) in your letter. Be sure to identify the topic of your letter. State the point clearly, ideally in the first sentence.
- Make your letter timely. If you are not addressing a specific article, editorial, or letter that recently appeared in the paper you are writing to, try to tie the issue you want to write about to a recent event.
- Familiarize yourself with the coverage and editorial position of the paper to which you are writing. Refute or support specific statements, address relevant facts that are ignored, offer a completely different perspective on the issue, but avoid blanket attacks on the media in general or the newspaper in particular.
- Consider your audience (the newspaper’s editors and readers): What does your audience currently believe about the issue? Why? How will they respond to you? Why? What can you do to persuade them to change their minds? How will using slanted language affect your credibility and persuasiveness?
- Check the letter specifications of the newspaper to which you are writing. Length and format requirements vary from paper to paper. (Generally, roughly two short paragraphs are ideal.) You also must include your name, signature, address, and phone number.
- Look at the letters that appear in your paper. Is a certain type of letter usually printed?
- Support your facts. If the topic you address is controversial, consider sending documentation along with your letter. But don’t overload the editors with too much information.
- Keep your letter brief. Type and spell check it. Have a peer edit it.
- When possible, find others in the community to write letters to show concern about the issue. If your letter doesn’t get published, perhaps someone else’s on the same topic will.
- If your letter has not appeared within a week or two, follow up with a call to the newspaper’s editorial department.
Jan. 31 - Take notes on the 6 types of evidence in your notebook and then examine a newspaper or online editorial and complete the chart on the link below.
6 Types of Evidence
Illustrative Examples (Personal Experience/Anecdotal/Media Example). They add reality to the claim, but may not be generalizable.
Hypothetical Cases. They challenge the reader to consider possible circumstances or outcomes, but there’s no reason they will definitely happen.
Analogies/Comparison. They make the unfamiliar or abstract more accessible, but they need to be more similar than different in order to be persuasive.
Expert Testimony. They provide expert support for causal claims, predictions of outcomes, or possible solutions, but they’re still just opinions—and the source needs to be checked carefully!
Statistics/Surveys. They support generalized claims and make strong logical appeals, but they must be reliable and unbiased.
Causal Relationships. They suggest possible positive or negative outcomes, but there needs to be a clear link between the cause and the effect.
Jan. 30 - Read the editorials, "Time to Raise the Bar in High Schools" and "New Michigan Graduation Requirements Shortchange Many Students" from the literature packet and complete the following graphic organizer below (link):
Jan. 29 - Compose your own brief editorial on the subject of the Eden Prairie suspensions (Associated Press article). Use the steps outlined in your notes on “How to Write an Editorial” to guide your writing. Be sure to write 1/2 - 1 page and include:
- Develop a position on the issue you have chosen.
- Provide a concise summary of what you’re going to tell the reader and include your thesis statement.
- Establish and maintain a formal style and objective tone.
Jan. 28 - How to Read an Editorial (Paraphrase each of the 8 points below in your notebook as questions)
- Examine the headline, sub-headline, and related cartoon (if it exists). What will this editorial be about? What guesses or assumptions can you make about the author’s perspective at this point?
- Look at the author’s name and affiliation, if given. What do you know about the author’s background and/or potential bias at this point?
- Read the first two to three paragraphs very carefully. What issue is the author discussing and what is his or her stance on this issue?
- Once you have determined the author’s stance on the issue, stop reading for a moment or two. What is the other side to the issue? Who might think differently? What are one or two reasons that you know that might support the other side of the author’s stance?
- Continue reading the editorial. What are two of the strongest pieces of evidence that the author uses to support his or her side of the issue? Why are they effective?
- Did the author persuade you? Did the author address or refute the main objections of the opposition? Give an example. What did he or she not address? Why might the author have chosen not to address this element? Do you think the author was fair to the other side? Why or why not?
- Go back through the editorial and circle words and phrases that are “slanted.” How do these words affect your feelings about the issue? About the author?
- If the author were standing right next to you now, what would you say to him or her?
Read "Facing Consequences at Eden Prairie High" by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Tribune and use your paraphrased questions to guide your responses to the editorial. 8 responses total. In addition, answer the following questions:
- What does the author seem to assume the audience is feeling about the issue?
- What is the tone and how does the author tailor language and argument to his or her audience?
- Does the author use slanters? If so, what is their effect?
Jan. 25 - Read "Abolish High School Football!" by Raymond A. Schroth and annotate the text for the 9 different types of slanters. On a seperate sheet of paper, select 5 passages with slanted langauge and rewrite the passages with a neutral tone.
Jan. 24 - Types of Slanters: In your notebook, write the name and paraphrase each of the 9 types of slanters
- Labeling (euphemisms and dysphemisms): The use of a highly connotative word or phrase to name or describe a subject or action; a technique also called using loaded language or question-begging epithet. When the connotations are positive (or less negative), the writer is using euphemism. For example, car dealers try to sell “pre-owned vehicles” rather than “used cars.” In the opposite case, negative connotations may be assigned to a term. Consider, for example, the differences between these terms: freedom fighter, guerrilla, rebel, and terrorist. Freedom fighter is a euphemism while terrorist is a dysphemism.
- Rhetorical analogy: The use of a figurative comparison (sometimes a simile or a metaphor) to convey a positive or negative feeling toward the subject. For example, in the 2008 presidential race, Sarah Palin suggested (via a joke) that she was like a pit bull with lipstick.
- Rhetorical definition: The use of emotionally charged language to express or elicit an attitude about something. A classic example is defining capital punishment as “government sanctioned murder.” A rhetorical definition stacks the deck either for or against the position it implies.
- Rhetorical explanation: Expressing an opinion as if it were fact, and doing so in biased language. For example, you might say someone “didn’t have the guts to fight back” when taunted by another person. This paints the person as motivated by cowardice. Or you might say the person “took the high road, instead of taking a swing.”
- Innuendo: The use of language to imply that a particular inference is justified, as if saying “go ahead and read between the lines!” In this way, the speaker doesn’t have to actually make a claim that can’t be supported; instead, the audience is led to make the leap on their own. For example, a presidential candidate might say, “Think carefully about whom you choose; you want a president who will be ready to do the job on day one.” The implication is that the opposing candidate is not ready.
- Downplayers:The use of qualifier words or phrases to make someone or something look less important or significant. Words like “mere” and “only” work this way, as does the use of quotation marks, to suggest a term is ironic or misleading. For example: “She got her ‘degree’ from a correspondence school.” Often these are linked to concessions with connectors such as nevertheless, however, still, or but.
- Hyperbole:The use of extravagant overstatement that can work to move the audience to accept the basic claim even if they reject the extremes of the word choice. Many of the other “slanters” can be hyperbolic in how they are worded; the key element is that the statement or claim is extreme. For example, in response to a dress code, a student might say “This school administration is fascist!”
- Truth surrogates:Hinting that proof exists to support a claim without actually citing that proof. For example, ads often say “studies show” and tabloids often say things like “according to an insider” or “there’s every reason to believe that . . .” If the evidence does exist, the author is doing a poor job of citing it; meanwhile, the author has not actually identified any source—or made any claim—that can be easily disproven or challenged.
- Ridicule/sarcasm:The use of language that suggests the subject is worthy of scorn. The language seeks to evoke a laugh or sarcastically mock the subject.
Jan. 22/23 - Read articles from a newspaper (provided in-class) and complete a graphic organizer by labeling and identifying the following items: headline/title, target audience-why?, summary of article, your personal perspective-why?, and type of bias-why? Research 6 different articles.
Jan. 18 - Read "Facebook Photos Sting Minnesota High School Students" by the Associated Press (literature pakcet) and annotate for different types of bias. Explain each bias on the article page.
Jan. 17 - Examine the 6 types of bias found below. Paraphrase an explanation for your assigned type of bias. Generate guiding questions you can use to discern whether your assigned type of bias is present in a given text. Find examples in an online text and record your findings.
6 TYPES OF BIAS
1. BIAS THROUGH SELECTION AND OMISSION
- An editor can express a bias by choosing to use or not to use a specific news item. For example, the editor might believe that advertisers want younger readers—they spend more money. Therefore, news of specific interest to old people will be ignored.
- Within a given story, details can be ignored or included to give readers or viewers a different opinion about the events reported. If, during a speech, a few people boo, the reaction can be described as “remarks greeted by jeers.” Or the people jeering can be dismissed as “a handful of dissidents . . .” or perhaps not even be mentioned.
- Bias through the omission of stories or details is very difficult to detect. Only by comparing news reports from a wide variety of outlets can this form of bias be observed.
- Bias in local news coverage can be found by comparing reports of the same event as treated in different papers.
2. BIAS THROUGH PLACEMENT
- Readers of papers judge first page stories to be more significant than those buried in the back. Television and radio newscasts run the most important stories first and leave the less significant to later. Where a story is placed, therefore, influences what a reader or viewer thinks about its importance and suggests the editor’s evaluation of its importance.
For example, a local editor might campaign against the owning of hand guns by giving prominent space to every shooting with a hand gun and gun-related accident in his paper.
- Some murders and robberies receive front-page attention while others receive only a mention on page 20.
- Similarly, where information appears within an article may also reveal evidence of bias. Because most readers only read the first few paragraphs of any given article, burying information at the end may work to suppress a particular point of view or piece of information, while placing it at the beginning emphasizes it. The opposite might be true, though; the end could reveal the writer’s closing thought (and thus his or her personal bias) on the issue.
3. BIAS BY HEADLINE
- Many people read only the headline of a news item. In addition, most people scan nearly all the headlines in a newspaper. As a result, headlines are the most-read part of a paper. They can summarize as well as present carefully hidden biases and prejudices. They can convey excitement where little exists; they can express approval or condemnation; and they can steer public opinion.
4. BIAS BY PHOTOS, CAPTIONS, AND CAMERA ANGLES
- Some pictures flatter a person; others make the person look unpleasant. A paper can choose photos to influence opinion about, for example, a candidate for election. Television can show film or videotape that praises or condemns. The choice of which visual images to display is extremely important. Newspapers run captions that are also potential sources of bias and opinion.
5. BIAS THROUGH STATISTICS AND CROWD COUNTS
- To make a disaster seem more spectacular (and therefore worthy of reading), numbers can be inflated. “One hundred injured in train wreck” is not as powerful as “Passengers injured in train wreck.”
- Crowd counts are notoriously inaccurate and often reflect the opinion of the person doing the counting. A reporter, event sponsor, or police officer might estimate a crowd at several thousand if he or she agrees with the purpose of the assembly—or a much smaller number if he or she is critical of the crowd’s purposes or beliefs. News magazines use specific numbers to enhance believability.
6. BIAS BY SOURCE CONTROL
- To detect bias, always consider where a news item “comes from.” Is the information supplied by a reporter, by an eyewitness, by police or fire officials, by executives, by elected or appointed government officials? Each might have a particular bias that is presented in the story.
- Puff pieces are supplied to newspapers (and TV stations) by companies or public relations directors—and even sometimes by the government (directly or through press conferences). The name “puff piece” comes from the word puffery, which means overly flattering words about a topic. For example, the “Avocado Growers Association” might send a press release in the form of a news story telling of a doctor who claims that avocados are healthy and should be eaten by all. A food company might supply recipes for a newspaper’s food section that recommends use of its products in the recipes. A country’s tourist bureau will supply a glowing story, complete with pictures of a pleasant vacation. Recently, even government agencies have sometimes issued such releases.
- A pseudo-event is some event (demonstration, sit-in, ribbon cutting, speech, ceremony, ground breaking, etc.) that takes place primarily to gain news coverage.
- Similarly, the question of who is quoted in an article can point to bias. Be sure to consider who is quoted, what the quote seems to reveal or imply (negatively or positively) about the position, who is merely paraphrased, and what perspectives are unrepresented or remain silent in the article.
Jan. 16 - Read the editorial, "The Newspaper is Dying--Hooray for Democracy" and annoate the texts for concessions and refutations he uses to counter Sunstein’s article and to justify his claim that the diminished role of the newspaper is not a problem for American democracy. Record your findings in the right-hand column of the graphic organizer and answer the following questions:
1.) In a newspaper, space is at a premium. As a result, every word, and every paragraph counts. Thus said, what is the purpose of the first paragraph? What is the purpose of the second paragraph?
2.) Why might the author have felt the need to address the other side’s argument? What might this technique do for his argument?
3.) Potter presents Sunstein’s point of view. Does he do so objectively and accurately?
4.)The tone Potter employs in these next paragraphs suggests that Sunstein’s position is ridiculous. What words/images most strongly contribute to this tone?
5.) The general formula for presenting an argument involves making a claim, then following that claim with evidence, then explaining how the evidence supports the claim. Does Potter follow this model? Are all of Potter’s claims adequately supported?
Jan. 15 - Read the editorial, "How the Rise of the 'Daily Me' Threatens Democracy" by Cass Sunstein and annotate the text for reasoning and evidence to justify the claim that the diminished role of the newspaper is a problem for Americna democracy. List your support (6 examples) on a seperate sheet of paper (left-hand column) and answer the following questions.
1.) Sunstein defines his key term in the first paragraph. Why is that definition necessary for his argument?
2.) Sunstein uses a rhetorical question in paragraph 3—a technique that works in certain situations, but not in others. Does this technique work here? Explain.
3.) Does Sunstein use convincing reasoning and evidence to support his claim that the diminished role of the newspaper is a problem for American democracy? Explain.
4.) In a deductive argument, the author presents a thesis, and then attempts to support it. In an inductive argument, the model is reversed. The evidence is examined and then a conclusion is reached. A.) Which model does Sunstein employ here? B.) How do you know? c.) Why might he have structured his argument this way?
Jan. 14 - News Media Survey and Literary Terms:
1.) Rank the following media outlets in the order you would turn to them for information on a major news story. (Use 1 to indicate the outlet you would turn to most often. Write N/A to indicate you would not use that outlet.)
Local TV News
Cable News Station
Word of Mouth
2.) Rank the following media outlets for accuracy and trustworthiness in how they present information. (Rank the most trustworthy outlet 1.)
Local TV News
Cable News Station
Word of Mouth
3.) Think back on the past month. About how much time (in hours) did you spend receiving news (not entertainment) from the following media outlets?
Local TV News
Cable News Station
Word of Mouth
4.) Rank each of the following reasons that you might give for not reading the newspaper. (Write 1 next to the reason most appropriate for you. Write N/A if you disagree with the statement.)
They are boring.
They take too long to read.
They don’t have information that applies to me and my life.
They usually focus on scandals, politics, and gossip.
They are often filled with mistakes and lies.
5.) Do you feel that it is important to be knowledgeable about news? Explain.
Define each literary term and include a synonym, antonym, and example sentence:
- target audience
- secondary audience
- Horatian satire
- Juvenalian satire
- objective tone
- subjective tone
Jan. 11 - WRITING PROMPT: Think about the role of media in society today, including its limitations and its contribution to a democracy. Using details from the text, "The Role of the Media in a Democaracy", write a text that explains the importance of a free press in a democracy. Be sure to:
- Provide a coherent explanation of the role of free press in a democracy.
- Provide a concluding statement that follows from and supports the explanation presented.
- Use specific diction to maintain an objective tone throughout your writing.
1 PAGE MINIUMUM AND PROVIDE EVIDENCE FROM THE TEXT. TURN IN BASKET WHEN FINISHED- DUE BY END OF THE PERIOD.
Jan. 10 - Finish reading and annotating "The Role of the Media in a Democaracy" by George A. Krimsky and answer the following questions:
1. How important is a free press to a democratic democracy (chunk 1) ? Explain.
2. How effective is the author’s use of rhetorical questions in the text. (chunk 2-4) Give three examples and explain the author’s questions and answers.
3. Why is it important that the government is not involved with the media (chunk 3) ?
4. How does the author provide a final support of his claim, conclusion (chunk 4) ?
Jan. 9 - Each of the following terms is taken verbatim from the First Amendment. Read through the list first, and then underline each word or term as it appears in the text of the First Amendment (annotate on your packet). Next, define each term ON A SEPARATE SHEET OF PAPER. Feel free to use a dictionary or other resource as allowed or provided by your teacher.
Respecting, establishment, prohibiting, free exercise, thereof, abridge, the press, peaceably, assemble, petition, redress, grievances
Now transform the text by rewriting the First Amendment in the space below, replacing the vocabulary words with their definitions. In some cases, your definition may fit exactly; in others, you may need to rework the phrasing (ON SAME SEPARATE SHEET OF PAPER).
Read "The Role of the Media in a Democaracy" by George A. Krimsky, annotate the text for connections to the ideals reflected in the First Amendment. Use the follwoing symbols as you annotate the text.
? - a question
* - anything about which you wish to comment or
make a connection
! - anything you find surprising
Jan. 8 - ANSWER ALL OF THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS ON A SEPERATE SHEET OF PAPER AND HAND-IN BASKET AT END OF PERIOD
Based on your current knowledge, respond to the essential questions.
1. How do news outlets impact public opinion or public perception?
2. How does a writer use tone to advance an opinion?
Unpacking Embedded Assessment 1
Read the assignment below for Embedded Assessment 1: Creating an Op-Ed News Outlet.
Working in groups, your assignment is to plan, develop, write, revise, and present an informational article on a timely and debatable issue of significance to your school community, local community, or national audience. After your group completes its article, you will individually develop a variety of editorial products that reflect your point of view (agreement, alternative, or opposing) on the topic. Be creative with your editorial products and include at least two or three different pieces, such as cartoons, editorials, letters, posters, photos, and so on.
- Paraphrase the prompt in your own words and list the skills needed to be successful.
Academic Vocabulary- define the following terms from the dictionary in the classroom or your cell phone, add one synonym and one antonym for each word, and use the word in a sentence.
TURN IN THE 10 QUESTIONS/VOCABULARY TERMS IN THE BASKET. THANK YOU.
Jan. 7 - Seating Chart, Hi-Lows, New Years' Resolutions