Sunday, September 25, 2011

Teaching Writing

My semester is in full swing and is exhausting so far.  During the day I student teach with an 10th grade ELD teacher at Mission High School, and in the evenings I go to class at UC Berkeley.  My weekends are mostly spent doing homework and preparing lesson plans.  Luckily, I love it, or I'd have crapped out already.

Today, I'm planning for next week.  My intermediate students will be learning about thesis statements, and before I planned the details of the lesson, I wanted to make sure I was clear on where the process of developing a thesis statement and its supporting evidence fits into the larger concept of writing and learning to write. 

This is what I've come up with so far.  I drew from the canons of rhetoric described at Silva Rhetoricae (which is a fantastic site, by the way) and added my own thoughts about what fits in where.


Invention: What do I want to say?
            Thesis statements
            Supporting Points

Arrangement:  In what order will I say it?
            Logical ordering of evidence
            Placement of rhetorical devices

Style:  How will I express my ideas?
            Figures of speech

Memory:  How well do I know my topic?  Can I discuss its intricacies?  Can I extrapolate on various points?  Do I know what others think about it?  Can I present my argument in other media? Can I present my argument in other contexts?

Delivery:  How do I present my finished work?

These canons of rhetoric cannot be considered merely linearly. They inform one another and require repeated circling back.

For example, I cannot narrow down what I am going to say (invention) until I understand the topic.  Understanding the topic is an aspect of memory work.  Similarly, in determining what I am going to say, I must consider my audience, as certain arguments are more relevant to certain audiences.

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