Students were all given the task of reading all of the other pieces in preparation for today’s presentations so they have a better context and can learn from each other (which will also benefit them on the AP exam—these students are motivated by this, so I won’t do any other accountability measure; in a non-AP class I may integrate an assessment based on all of the pieces). Today, each group will present their maps to the class.
To do this, I will have a group pin their map to my bulletin board so they can easily reference and explain (one group did a three-dimensional map, so they will put it on a table). Before a group presents, I will ask the class to take five minutes to review the essay to be presented (this allows the class to be more engaged because the essay is fresh in their memory, making it a stronger learning experience for everyone rather than just for the people presenting). When the presentation starts, I will ask each group to first summarize their essay and state the central ideas so we all have a context before they give us a “tour” of their rhetorical city, explaining not only the rhetorical devices used, but how they connect and why they chose to show their function visually the way they did. They were also asked to be prepared with quotes they can point the class to as examples they are drawing from.
Because the main goal of this activity is learning to be more attentive to the rhetorical strategies and organization of a text, the presentations will continue to act in that vein. As students are presenting, I may pause to ask follow-up questions to deepen their thinking, add to their explanation with more detail, and ask their classmates to participate in the conversation.
A note on assessment: while I put point totals on the initial assignment page, I’ve decided to score these holistically; the students had some great conversations regarding rhetorical strategies as they debated and collaborated on how to represent them over the last few days—they demonstrated skills and learning that are not necessarily represented well in the point totals (i.e.-I don’t think they should be penalized because they only have one example of a certain element, perhaps because they spent a lot of time debating devices in another area). I will explain this to them and why I made the decision—when I have done this in the past, students are almost always thrilled because they know the points will be positive, while at the same time it de-emphasizes point totals, focusing more on the learning, which is always a good thing.
Next Steps: I’m a true believer in reflection as a means for learning, so I will ask the students at the end to write about how they are feeling regarding their understanding of how a writer uses rhetorical strategies, and also ask them if they thought this activity helped them deepen their understanding, as well as ask for feedback on the activity itself. I anticipate that the presentations will take almost all of the period, so I will send them home with this task tonight.