Reflection: Connection to Prior Knowledge Students Teaching Rhetorical Strategies (6 Days) - Section 4: Day 3: The Rhetorical Effect of Second Person Point of View

 

This was a really interesting lesson to participate in because we hadn’t considered the second person point of view much in class, and it generated some interesting discussion and reflection.  Here is a portion of a reflection on this lesson from one of the student teachers:

“if we were to re-teach a class with the same text, I would want to maybe divide the class into two groups,  and instruct one to discuss the positive effects of Williams' use of the second person, and one to discuss the negative. As we taught our lesson it became clear to me that there were many more negative parts of using the second person than I had originally picked up on, specifically because it was about the environment. Another thing we could have done differently is to integrate other pieces along with our essay by Joy Williams, comparing how second person pronouns would work within different tones and subjects.”

The surprise of limitations of the second person point of view was echoed by the other facilitator; both of them, as creative writers, really liked the clever point of view, and hadn’t really considered the limitations regarding rhetorical value until the class brought it up.  The other facilitator noted their blinders in a reflection when she said “we could have better appealed to the class if we had thought of our piece from different perspectives.”  These reflections show the learning moments for the students during this lesson, noting that it is important to look beyond your own initial reaction sometimes to really see how a text is appealing to an audience.  This is particularly important when planning a presentation—considering the audience.  The fact that they, as teachers, had to listen and respond to these points was a great listening and speaking lesson, too, as they quickly re-evaluated the piece based on student responses (one of the student teachers mentioned during the lesson that she read it a few times in preparation, which turned out to be very valuable!).  

At one point in the discussion I mentioned that the topic was very similar to the Bill McKibben excerpt we had read from The End of Nature, and that he in fact uses a similar appeal to guilt in the audience, but does so through third and first person pronouns (in all of my teaching I am always trying to refer to other things we’ve done in class, or things students have learned in past classes, to continue modeling how learning is not in a vacuum, it is a continuous building and connecting of knowledge).  When I thought of this other piece, it made the William’s piece seem a bit more pretentious at times rather than less so.   As I said this, I kind of stepped into teacher mode for a moment by saying how comparing texts, particularly ones with similar topics, can be a good way to recognize more closely the real impact of writing choices on appeals.  I hadn’t thought of this until I participated in the activity of reading my piece and then re-writing it; the act of writing in the points of view myself and sharing in the context of considering the effect made this connection for me—I have to remember this the next time I teach point of view to students!

The other thing the students touched on, which I thought was a very good point, was the fact that toward the end the writer writes audience response as a kind of group-statement of dialogue, and that this acted as the counter-argument of the piece (I pointed this out in the video).  This was an astute observation, and got the class talking about how this was important to re-focus the reader, because five pages into the piece, the second person point of view became a bit limiting, and in fact tedious to read.  I again took the opportunity to bring up a comparison, this time to one of the sections of Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey, where he has a hypothetical dialogue with some individual visitors to Arches National Park. 

Finally (going back to the beginning of the lesson), I thought the writing and re-writing was a good activity—one that got everyone to consider the shift in point of view more closely because they had to actually do it.  In the future I will likely do something of this nature, too, to emphasize the importance of point of view (along with comparisons!).

  Considering Audience
  Connection to Prior Knowledge: Considering Audience
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Students Teaching Rhetorical Strategies (6 Days)

Unit 12: Rhetorical Review: Politics and the Environment
Lesson 5 of 5

Objective: SWBAT recognize a key rhetorical strategy utilized by an author by preparing a lesson on the particular strategy and teaching it to their peers.

Big Idea: A great way to deeply learn a topic is to prepare to teach it. . . and then teach it.

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