INTRODUCTION Unit 2 gives you the opportunity to get to know other students in English 255 and exchange ideas with them about course readings and public issues. You will participate in a series of THREE online discussion forum sessions in Moodle. You do not have to be online at the same time as your group mates for the discussions to take place. Each discussion group will have three to five student members. Only you, your group members, and authorized AU staff will be able to access your sessions. You can sign up for a group, which will meet every two weeks for a discussion period of approximately four and a half weeks, through the “Assignment 2: Group Sign Up” page. NOTE While participation in the discussions is mandatory, rare exceptions can be made in certain circumstances. Please contact your tutor if you feel your case warrants an alternative evaluation mechanism. Your tutor will forward your case to the course coordinator if he or she feels it is appropriate to do so. LEARNING OBJECTIVES When you have finished Unit 2, you should be able to read critically. keep your reader in mind as you write. summarize a debate. define rhetorical analysis. demonstrate your ability to rhetorically analyze a text. evaluate the ideas of others and respond to them fairly, respectfully, and ethically. REQUIRED READING In the course textbook, Acting on Words (AOW), read the following: The textbook segment called “Reader Awareness” in the chapter called “What is Writing” “Critical Analysis and Evaluation” “Rhetorical Analysis” “Argumentation” Use the index at the back of the book to help you find specific page numbers. Each of the learning activities listed below will help you practice and improve aspects of writing necessary for success in this unit and beyond. Follow these steps before beginning the assignment for this unit. Do the required reading. Read Joyce Miller’s essay “Night Fades” (PDF). Next, follow along as we model an example of a process for critical reading. Critical Reading Questions for “Night Fades” My first step was reading Miller’s essay to get a general sense of it. As I read the essay for a second and third time, I began to ask myself questions to help generate my thinking and prepare for writing a rhetorical analysis. In many ways, critical reading is nothing more and nothing less than asking and answering questions of a text. Read the following questions, and for each one, pause and briefly reflect on what your answer might be before clicking on the [Answer] link. An answer will then appear below the question. You should not think that mine are the only possible questions or the only possible answers. What is my initial reaction to the words “Night fades”? Do the words evoke negative or positive emotions? Where did that quote come from and what does it mean? [Answer] Moving on to the next paragraph, after having read every word, and pondered every sentence, I wondered why the narrator likes the dark.In next paragraph, I asked myself how Miller further justified her like of darkness. What is most notable in the next part of the text is that the paragraphs are getting a lot longer. I wondered if that could mean something. Is the narrator getting older, talking more maturely, or is she simply more clearly looking back at that particular time in her life rather than speaking as if in it? Is there also a change in what the narrator is talking about or is there simply further support for her appreciation of night The rabbit paragraph is short. Does that mean anything? What does the paragraph add to the overall essay? The deer mouse paragraph is another short paragraph. Why would the writer bring up this mouse? What is the importance of the fact that she never saw it again after rabbit feeding happened in the light of day? The next paragraph is very different from the ones before. What are those differencesWhat is the author doing in the next paragraph? What is the importance of the valleys being filled in and the trees being cut down? Why does the author mention hugging the trees? Isn’t it a bit overly dramatic that the author claims she has actual nightmares about the place where she lives? Could it be that she is setting up the remainder of the essay towards a description of the present? Next, the author skips quickly over her time living in a village. Why? [Answer] What is the main point of the paragraph about her return to her childhood home in the country? [Answer] Why does the author say she is hypocritical? [Answer] Is the final paragraph contradictory? How does it make sense to say that there is no more need for her nightmare? Read the sample paragraphs that model what you have to write for Session 2 of the discussion forum. Sample Student Summary of a Public Debate Little Cat Feet TOOL TIP finger pointing at purple highlighted text Mouse over the highlighted text to view commentary from the course author. Whether cats should be allowed to roam, at least in urban communities, has been a heated public issue for the past ten years in Edmonton. When City Hall first proposed a bylaw restricting cats to their owners’ properties, a groundswell protest resulted. Gina Davis, president of a citizens’ action group for animals’ rights, argues that a cat’s independent nature requires the freedom to roam, to fulfill its hunting instincts and to function within cat society, one that has its own rules and structure. She acknowledges that some owners inconsiderately allow their cats to sully the yards of neighbors, but that cats provide companionship to children, seniors, and the infirm—values that mean far more to communities than pristine flower beds. She points out that mothballs and other such tactics effectively discourage undesired feline visitors. On the other hand, Ruth Melnyk of the Edmonton Pound reports that homeless, injured, and distressed cats vastly outnumber homeless, injured, and distressed dogs. She believes this is because the city regulates dogs but leaves cats to the whims of cars, coyotes, falls, and incensed neighbors. A cat in the city is no longer in a natural world, she says, so alternative ways of providing them access to the outdoors and of countering indoor boredom need to be found. She says that regulating cats would make overly casual owners think harder before acquiring one. The city recently began providing live capture traps in hopes of appeasing citizens who simply cannot tolerate cat intruders, and some citizens have taken up the initiative and carted captured cats to the city pound, but the only consequence of this is harm. While people on both sides of this debate have valid arguments, it is the welfare of the cats that should be our primary concern, and it is in their best interest to be restricted to their owners’ properties. Alejandra Works Cited Davis, Gina. Personal Interview. 12 Sept. 2002. Melnyk, Ruth. Personal Interview. 14 Sept. 2002. Sample Student Response to a Summary of a Public Debate Alejandra: I was three when my family moved to Canada; in my earliest memory of life on Canadian soil, I am kneeling beside my big sister as we watch a mother cat and her kittens beneath the neighbours’ porch. My mother explained that in the small village we had left behind in China, people did not keep cats as pets. Today, my big sister Alice is a veterinarian; being just a zoology major myself (with hopes of becoming an ethologist, like Roger Fouts), I asked her about the issues summarized in your paragraph. She made a number of interesting comments, adding to the complexity of this subject. First, she agreed with the concerns raised by Ms. Melnyk. In her work, my sister treats far too many injured cats, many of them hurt by passing cars. However, she also observes that the average life span of feral cats is much shorter than that of domestic ones, even factoring in the road deaths. Veterinary care almost doubles the life span of the average domestic cat over that of its feral brother or sister. So, in a way, the roaming issue includes the broader issue of how we use science and various other initiatives to extend life, sometimes at all costs. That outdoor mother cat we watched under the porch might not have lived half as long as my 20-year-old Rascal—but does that mean her life was half as meaningful as Rascal’s? Read the sample paragraphs below that model what you have to write for Session 3 of the discussion forum. Sample Student Rhetorical Analysis Paragraph In her article, “In Schools, Self-Esteem Boosting is Losing Favor to Rigor, Finer-Tuned Praise,” education reporter Michael Alison Chandler discusses the failure of self-esteem based schooling and presents an alternative style based on rewarding progress as opposed to blind praise for any effort. Geared towards teachers, parents, and those with an interest in the future of education, Chandler presents an appeal to guide the collective educational wheel in a new direction. One way she supports her thesis is through a heartwarming narrative. [Here, you would add two or so sentences that include details of the narrative.] Chandler also supports her thesis by including interesting and applicable facts about neurological processes and brain functioning. [Here, you would add two or so sentences that include details of the facts.] In a third method that helps Chandler get her point across, she adds experts’ opinions and statistics. [Here, you would add two or so sentences that include details of the expert opinions and statistics. After that, you would add a sentence of conclusion that is non-repetitive but instead speaks to the overall impact of the article.] Bob Sample Student Response to a Paragraph of Rhetorical Analysis Bob: Your analysis has made me reconsider a number of important concerns. Chandler’s information raises good questions, not the least of which is whether parents are coddling their children too much and creating a generation who won’t be able to manage. One key point deserves deeper consideration: the problem of parents pressuring teachers to praise their children, no matter what, and to inflate grades because they “need” that grade to move on to the next level or because they “need” that grade to get into university. As a mother and part-time youth worker, I am continually struck by increasingly entitled young people who don›t understand hard work and commitment. Increasingly, parents are not letting their children take responsibility for their own inaction. School boards have responded, and now, students are being allowed to submit assignments far past deadlines, making those deadlines meaningless. In other words, we are not doing our children any favors by promoting praise over progress. Chandler’s proposal gets good marks from me for responding to the oversights of our current educational system. Taken together, your three discussion sessions count toward 15% of your final mark in this course. The marks will be distributed as follows: Session 1 Introductory Paragraphs Post on or before midnight of the first day of the session. 10 marks Session 2 Summary of Public Debate Post on or before midnight of the first day of the session. 25 marks Session 3 Rhetorical Analysis of Course Reading Post on or before midnight of the first day of the session. 25 marks (All Sessions) Responses to the Others Post as soon as possible but by midnight on the last day of each session. 40 marks NOTE The success of the forum depends on group members posting on time, so late postings will have marks deducted. You will be deducted 5 marks for each late contribution. You will be deducted 2 marks for each late response. FORUMS LINKS? Once you have signed up for a group, the links for the three forum sessions will appear on your course home page. Instructions STEP ONE: Sign Up for a Group Make sure you have received your Unit 1 assignment back from your tutor. Do not proceed unless you have. Sign up for a discussion group by clicking on the sign-up link. Select the group you wish to belong to. Click on the sign-up link shaded in blue to place yourself in the group. Note: if you do not see a sign-up link, no groups are available. Do not worry. More groups become available every week. After you have signed up, click the link “ENGL255 (Rev. C7)” on the top left-hand side of the page to return to the home page. Scroll down to the end of Unit 2 to see your discussion sessions on the page. Sign Up for a Discussion Forum NOTE Do not wait until all three sessions are complete to move on to your next unit. STEP TWO: Familiarize yourself with your tasks for all three sessions by reviewing the information below. Activities to Complete for the First Session Review your tutor’s comments and corrections on your Unit 1 assignment paragraphs. Make any further revisions you think are necessary. Post your paragraphs on or before midnight of the first day of Session 1. You cannot upload your assignment document. Simply cut/paste your work into the text box. Respond to all group member postings in paragraphs of at least 6 sentences as soon as possible but before midnight on the last day of your session. In your responses, reply to the content of the paragraphs. Simply converse with your fellow students in an attempt to demonstrate that you have read their paragraphs carefully and are pleased to get to know them. Activities to Complete for the Second Session In one paragraph of 9-12 sentences, summarize a controversy taking place in your community or region, ideally a topic you know personally or through close observation. Note: This is practice for the opening paragraph of your Unit 5 argumentative essay assignment. Follow these steps: Include a topic sentence in which you describe the context surrounding the debate and establish that the debate has merit. Stay completely neutral and provide information on one side of the debate. Use an appropriate transitional word, phrase, or sentence, and then, while staying completely neutral, provide information on the opposing side of the debate. Sometimes, there are more than two sides, and when this is the case, add another transition and then a third argument that opposes the others. Conclude neutrally, or practice what you will have to do for the argumentative essay (Unit 5), and add your considered opinion (thesis). If you do the latter, just make sure to use an academic tone, which means you must not use “I think” or “I believe” and the like. Post your summary of the controversy on or before midnight of the first day of Session 2. You cannot upload your assignment document. Simply cut/paste your work into the text box. Announce the textbook essay you are going to analyze for Session 3 so your group members can read it in advance. It is a good idea to do so right in your posting. Just leave a few spaces and add your announcement. Respond to the postings of your group members in paragraphs of at least 6 sentences as soon as possible but before midnight on the last day of your session. In your responses, reply to the content of the paragraphs, responding critically and thoughtfully to the issues each student brings up. Demonstrate your understanding of and reaction to each debate. Activities to Complete for the Third Session TOP Prepare a rhetorical analysis paragraph of 9 to 12 sentences on the essay you announced to your group members. Follow the samples to create your own rhetorical analysis paragraph. Note: This is practice for the rhetorical analysis essay you will write for the Unit 6 assignment. Post your paragraph on or before midnight of the first day of Session 3. You cannot upload your assignment document. Simply cut/paste your work into the text box. Read the essays announced by your group members. Respond to the postings of your group members in paragraphs of at least 6 sentences as soon as possible but before midnight on the last day of the session. Read each student’s essay choice carefully and then in your responses, reply to the content of the paragraphs, demonstrating your understanding of the essays themselves as well as the students’ rhetorical analyses. Offer further points of analysis. STEP THREE: Familiarize yourself with how to post and respond to your group mates. How to Post: Find the link to the session you wish to enter. It will be at the end of Unit 2. Click on it. Click on “Add new discussion topic.” Give the posting a name such as “Session 1 Paragraphs” or “Rhetorical Analysis of xxx.” Copy and paste your work into the bigger text box. The text box has some style and editing features you can use after you have inserted (or pasted) your work in there, but remember to keep things simple and straightforward. If all else fails, you may have to re-type your work to have it fit the text box’s format. Once you are happy with how your text reads and looks, go to the bottom of the page and press the “Post to Forum” button. This will make your writing visible to the other members of your group and, eventually, to your instructor. How to Read a Post: Once you have entered a session, if someone else has already posted to your group, you will see the username of your fellow group member and the title of his or her posting. To read the post, simply click on the title of the posting and it will appear on your screen. Any responses to this post will also become visible at this time. If you are not ready to respond or if you want to read another post, you can leave the current post by clicking on the blue link at the top of the page just before the title of the post you are reading. How to Respond to a Post: Once you have read what someone else has posted, you can click on “Reply” at the bottom of the text to give your response to what your fellow student has written. If you need a little more time to consider your response, you can move away from the website and compose the response at your leisure in your usual word processor. Copy and paste will once again do the trick of transferring your writing into the response box. Once you are ready, press the “Post to Forum” button, and your response will become visible to the other members of your group. NOTE When all three sessions are complete, contact your tutor by clicking the ‘Notification of Completion’ link on the course home page. If you follow the instructions there, your tutor will know to mark your assignment.