In the last class I modeled how to complete a rhetorical analysis with the students, and then students formed pairs and were given two print advertisements to establish the rhetorical situation and then to determine rhetorical appeals. Today students will continue this work by choosing one of their two ads and preparing a presentation in which they will explain their SOAPStone analysis of the advertisement and explain what rhetorical appeals they observe, with evidence for all of their claims both for the situation and the appeals.
After preparation, each group will present their findings to the class. This isn’t a summative assessment, though, but more of a teaching tool. With each presentation, I will ask lots of questions, and the class (audience) will be invited into the discussion for deeper analysis. So the “presentation” portion is really meant to have students practice developing presentations and speaking to an audience in a more formal manner, and also to raise the stakes a little—they’ve gotten comfortable in the group discussion/class sharing mode, so this kind of activity ups the ante a bit. Further, I have had students working in larger groups, so I decided to do this in pairs so they still have someone to lean on, but are accountable for more of the analysis on their own.
Finally, the nature of my questions will expand the analysis skill-set, asking students how the variety of media, and therefore variety of ideas, are working together for rhetorical purpose.
We ran out of time yesterday, so today I will give students about twenty five minutes to prepare their presentations; they talked through the analysis the class before, but need some time to regroup before choosing who will say what, the evidence they will use, etc. Putting a time limit will also keep them focused; they tend to drag their feet when they have to present because they are nervous.
So, after touching base about the long term assignments, students will get back with their partners and I will distribute their advertisements (I collected the ads just in case someone was absent. . .it always poses a problem when the group member with all the resources is not in school, and the rest of the group members sit and stare at each other!).
To give them a starting point, I'll tell the kids to first get out their notes on their ads and skim over these to reconnect with the materials. You would think this is an obvious step, but often students will just jump into the assignment without going over what they did first, then get frustrated and produce an inferior product. Therefore, even with juniors, reinforcing study skills is important.
Once the students have had a chance to review what they did yesterday and settled in with their partners, I will give them these specific instructions for the presentation:
I will also remind them that the rhetorical purpose is not simply to "sell the product," implying that they go more deeply into their analysis (this is explained more thoroughly in the instructions I posted for the students: presentation guidelines.pdf)
Since I was able to talk extensively with each of the groups, I asked one group that seemed more confident of their advertisement to go first to set a good model for the rest of them--I will often do this for presentations that are a bit less formal (and not summative assessments) because the other groups tend to mimic whatever the first group does. . . so if the first one is thorough, the others are more likely to be that way! For each presentation, I will put the advertisement on the screen using a document camera so everyone can see it. Because the SmartInk software works with the camera, students will be able to mark-up the advertisement on the Smartboard to visually annotate their advertisement as they share their analysis (before I had a Smartboard, I would project something like this on the whiteboard and write on it for visual annotation).
As each group presents, I will ask questions largely pertaining to how one element of the advertisement is working together with other aspects of the advertisement to achieve a central idea and rhetorical appeal. This is meant to deepen their thinking and model how to analyze--to look at how pieces of a text interact with each other (this speaks to a shift in reading standards 2 and 3 which specifically asks for students to be able to identify how pieces of a text interact with one another). While the presenters will have first crack at the questions, I will invite the class into the discussion as well. For example, none of the ads say on them what magazine they were from, so I may ask them what genre of magazine they think the ad was in as a way to have them apply their analysis of audience and purpose. Another example may be to ask how the facial expressions of actors in the photos create a specific tone or appeal, and how that works with or against other elements of the ad. So, each presentation will hopefully lead to rich discussion, and the added questions will create a situation where all students will participate in six or seven rhetorical analyses of ads, rather than just the one they are doing.