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Unit 5: Studying Texts of Researchers

Literary Unit: Driven Learning and Teaching in a Flat, Flipped, Mastery-Based Classroom

Autonomy.  Mastery.  Purpose.  Technology.  Differentiation.  Choice.  R.O.W.E.

Teacher as Facilitator in a Flat Classroom.

Instructional model created by Travis Macy and Chris Corbo based on Jeffco Cornerstone Genre Studies, Daniel H. Pink’s Drive: The Surprising Truth Behind What Motivates Us, the Flipped/Mastery Classroom model of Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams (http://mast.unco.edu/programs/vodcasting/), and Philippe Ernewein’s Flatter Classroom (www.rememberit.org).  More information on student/teacher roles is available in Prensky’s Teaching Digital Natives: Partnering for Real Learning.

Roles of the driven 21st-century student:

·         Researcher

·         Technology user and expert

·         Thinker and sense maker

·         World changer

·         Self-teacher

Teacher’s roles as facilitator and partner:

·         Coach and guide

·         Goal setter and questioner

·         Learning designer

·         Context provider

·         Rigor provider and quality assurer



English/Comp. 12             Sem. 2/Unit 2                                                                          Macy 2012

Comparative Summary/Synthesis Writing

This next assignment will utilize your skills of active reading, analysis (SOAPSTone), rhetorical deconstruction, and summarization, and also add the new skill of comparison writing, also known as synthesis. The following lays out your expectations for this unit of study as to what is task related and what is considered summative. A calendar of due dates, as always, will appear on your instructors website. Be mindful of completing this work on time, as always, and to the best of your ability.

Your Responsibilities:

1.       Choose a thematic study you might like to work with.

Download the two articles from the website that pertain to your choice.

2.       Actively read and note the 2 texts for SOAPSTone features, and for rhetorical appeals such as ethos, pathos and logos. (Much like we did for Scheer’s article) These notes will be handed in for a Task grade.

3.       Research and print out a third article that clearly relates to the theme you have chosen. Be sure this article is as up-to-date as possible. It should have been published within the last 5 years. This article will be used to inform your personal response writing, and evidence from it will be included in your final Comparison/Synthesis writing.

4.       Create 3 separate SOAPSTones (include the personal response piece!). Typed, of course, with proper formatting.

5.       Create a rhetorical analysis. This is a 2+ page writing that shows 3 separate paragraphs from each of the 3 articles you downloaded (9 paragraphs total), and rationalizes which appeal each paragraph uses – ethos, logos, or pathos (or a combination!). See below for assignment details and an example.

6.       Lastly, you will write a comparative/synthesis piece that objectively brings together the points made and evidence used in all 3 articles of your theme study. We will work together to understand how this writing works and is to be completed in class.




Rhetorical Analysis

A Rhetorical analysis is simply identifying a passage of text and how it works in terms of its appeal to the reader. We could identify any method a writer might use to “make his argument” which might include appeals to ethos, logos, or pathos, figurative language, slanting, analogy, and/or diction. Of course there are many other tools at a writer’s disposal. For your analysis, your task is to focus on ethos, pathos, and/or logos as appeals, and to rationalize why you believe the author is utilizing them.

An example:

From “Violence is Us”; paragraph 14:

“Take the much-discussed Beavis and Butt-Head show, which now leads the race for the lowest common denominator. When a 5 year-old in Ohio burned the family trailer to the ground, his mother blamed the show…but no one stopped to ask the obvious question: Why had that mother let her 5 year-old watch endless hours of this repulsive show”(Scheer 582)?

Rationale: This paragraph employs both pathos and logos appeals. Obviously, this passage uses pathos because it begs the question to all of us and our sensibilities as to our own allowances in the TV our kids watch. We feel sympathetic to Scheer’s point because we ask ourselves, Am I paying attention to what my kid watches? Also, Scheer employs anecdotal evidence here – a story that makes a point – which works on our reason. If this kid burned the house down, could mine? It is a real event that shows, logically, a possible consequence of violent media.

The above example illustrates your responsibilities for this aspect of the Unit. You should choose 6 paragraphs (total) – 3 from each of the 2 texts provided for you, and rationalize each one. Please type this in proper MLA format and be sure to include the proper “in-text” citation methods. No Works Cited is necessary.



Synthesis Writing           

Although at its most basic level a synthesis involves combining two or more summaries, synthesis writing is more difficult than it might at first appear because this combining must be done in a meaningful way and the final essay must generally be thesis-driven.  In composition courses, “synthesis” commonly refers to writing about printed texts, drawing together particular themes or traits that you observe in those texts and organizing the material from each text according to those themes or traits.  Sometimes you may be asked to synthesize your own ideas, theory, or research with those of the texts you have been assigned. In your other college classes you'll probably find yourself synthesizing information from graphs and tables, pieces of music, and art works as well.  The key to any kind of synthesis is the same.

Synthesis in Everyday Life

Whenever you report to a friend the things several other friends have said about a film or CD you engage in synthesis.  People synthesize information naturally to help other see the connections between things they learn; for example, you have probably stored up a mental data bank of the various things you've heard about particular teachers.  If your data bank contains several negative comments, you might synthesize that information and use it to help you decide not to take a class from that particular teacher.  Synthesis is related to but not the same as classification, division, or comparison and contrast.  Instead of attending to categories or finding similarities and differences, synthesizing sources is a matter of pulling them together into some kind of harmony.  Synthesis searches for links between materials for the purpose of constructing a thesis or theory.

Key features of a Synthesis

(1)     It accurately reports information from the sources using different phrases and sentences;

(2)  It is organized in such a way that readers can immediately see where the information from the sources overlap;
(3)  It makes sense of the sources and helps the reader understand them in greater depth.

A Thesis-driven Synthesis

Sometimes there is very little obvious difference between a background synthesis and a thesis-driven synthesis, especially if the paper answers the question "what information must we know in order to understand this topic, and why?"  The answer to that question forms the thesis of the resulting paper, but it may not be a particularly controversial thesis.  There may be some debate about what background information is required, or about why, but in most cases the papers will still seem more like a report than an argument.  The difference will be most visible in the topic sentences to each paragraph because instead of simply introducing the material for the paragraph that will follow, they will also link back to the thesis and assert that this information is essential because... 

On the other hand, all research papers are also synthesis papers in that they combine the information you have found in ways that help readers to see that information and the topic in question in a new way.  A research paper with a weak thesis (such as: "media images of women help to shape women's sense of how they should look") will organize its findings to show how this is so without having to spend much time discussing other arguments (in this case, other things that also help to shape women's sense of how they should look).  A paper with a strong thesis (such as "the media is the single most important factor in shaping women's sense of how they should look") will spend more time discussing arguments that it rejects (in this case, each paragraph will show how the media is more influential than other factors in that particular aspect of women's sense of how they should look"). 


Comparison/Synthesis Writing                                                        Macy/Corbo 2012


Your next assignment for this semester is to compare/contrast three articles. You will use the three (3) articles reflecting the theme you have chosen. You must decide what ideas or points can be compared or contrasted within the two articles. The writing of this essay should be a clear indication of what you understand about the articles and their themes. If you follow the following guidelines, you should do well.

Intro Paragraph w/directional thesis

3 body paragraphs - each comparing/contrasting 1 similar point

Conclusion: could contain opinion but certainly must conclude with a rounded statement about theme

Approximately 3 pages



v  Read your three (3) articles, again. As you read, render any sections of the essays that clearly explain or illustrate the main idea or thesis.


v  Now think about and map out how these three essays are similar or different. Where do these writer’s share similar ideas, and where do their ideas diverge? You might want to revisit the essays as well in order to be sure your information is still correct. Putting these ideas together in an orderly way that shows their connections in a graphic way is the next step. This is your MOST important step!


v  Once you have organized the multiple points from both articles in a way that makes sense visually and organized, you should decide which method of comparing you’ll use – a block method or a point-by-point method – and begin thinking about and further organizing how you might put these ideas in paragraph form that makes sense in the larger essay.


v  Remember to use transitional language like but, so, however, moreover, etc. to move between the two opinions and signal to the reader that you are shifting between these two writers and their opinions.


v  All words and phrases that are taken directly from the essay should be quoted and cited correctly.


v  Look up how to cite a work from an anthology, or a database in-text and how that work should appear in a works cited page. Follow those directions.


v  Avoid all use of 1st and 2nd person pronouns where possible, however, this essay should be a reflection of your thoughts on the theme as well. Yes, it is possible to write your opinions without saying “I”!


v  Remember to avoid using general phrasing like “this article is about.” Instead, use the author’s name and credentials: “Brooks argues that…”


v  Make sure this paper follows ALL MLA guidelines for format and documentation.



Writing Process


Step 1: Reading for Content

Presumably you have already read and noted the main ideas in these texts and how they’ve been supported. You have also commented personally about the theme and/or ideas presented in these articles.


Step 2: Developing a Plan


After choosing which method of comparison you would like to try (Block or Point by Point method), you should begin laying out the comparative points you are going to share in some form of outline. You may want to use the comparative structures illustrated in the Comparison/Contrast chapter that is on your instructor’s website, or you can develop your own outline structure so long as it is clear and understandable by others. Group points of similarity or difference in ways that make sense for your audience and you as you must join them, logically, in your final writing.


Please include a solid thesis with D1.


Step 3: Write your Rough Draft


You needn’t begin at the beginning. In this draft you can begin simply discussing the points you’ve set up in terms of how each author presents them and how they compare to each other. Remember though, this isn’t a “judgment” paper per say. You don’t have to say whether you agree or disagree – though you can if you want. Our purpose is to clearly compare what each article brings to the larger conversation about your theme.


Step 4: Consider Edits and work toward Final Drafts


Typed, complete, already edited by you.  Be prepared for a peer edit on this draft.


Step 5: Final Draft


Pay attention to the drafting/due dates on the course calendar. Have your printed final draft in class on the day its due.  Please include a complete rubric. Good Luck!











Transitional Language


“Transitions are words, phrases and sentences and even paragraphs that relate ideas. In moving from one topic to the next, a writer has to bring the reader along by showing how ideas are developing, what bearing a new thought or detail has on an earlier discussion, or why a new topic is being introduced.”


Transitions bring COHERENCE to writing. They are the glue that keeps the ideas together and the reader on the right track to understanding.


Some examples:


Transitional words that show relationship of time are: right away, later, soon, meanwhile, in a few minutes, that night, etc.


Transitional words that show proximity are: beside, close to, distant from, nearby, facing, etc.


Transitional words that show effect are: therefore, for this reason, as a result, consequently, etc.


Transitional words that show comparison are: similarly, in the same way, likewise, etc.


Transitional words that show contrast are: yet, but, nevertheless, however, despite, etc.


And some transitional words are used to simply add on ideas: besides, too, also, moreover, in addition to, second, last, in the end, etc.




Comparative Synthesis- Thesis Statement



Please tear off and include with your final paper:




Task List:

___/15 points: Noted/coded texts (3 articles)

___/45 points: Rhetorical analysis (9 quoted paragraphs, each with a brief rationale)

___/40 points: SOAPSTone – Article 1

___/40 points: SOAPSTone – Article 2

___/40 points: SOAPSTone – Article 3 (article of choice)





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