After going over some business that is always present upon return from a vacation (including mapping out the next couple weeks, which will include reading a few of these sports pieces and doing some peer review work on their final essays), we will do some pre-reading activity as we enter into a mini-unit on the world of sports while reviewing rhetorical analysis for their AP exam next week.
As in past thematic units that are featured in our textbook, The Language of Composition 2e, we will begin by reading the introduction out loud (pg. 591) to establish a set of essential questions, including what role sports plays in our society, and more importantly, whether that role is a good thing. After reading, the students will complete a free-write for about ten or fifteen minutes in which they address two specific questions:
--what role does sports play in our society? What do you think about this role?
--what role does sports play in your own life?
The writing serves a couple of purposes; first, routine writing is simply good practice, and in this case also has them thinking on their feet about a specific question--something they do on standardized tests. It also allows everyone to really think about the topics so they can participate in class discussion--in essence it helps practice the skill of preparing themselves to participate in discourse.
After they’ve written, I will have students do a quick share with a partner for a few minutes; I like to have students talk with a partner for a few minutes so I can get a sense of what students wrote about and what their opinions are, and if they are strong opinions (in other words, if they are invested in the topic). This gives me a sense of where the conversation will go, and also perhaps which pair to have share first as a start of a conversation.
The final thirty minutes or so of class will be dedicated to a discussion of their writing. My sense from the "Bowling Alone" discussion (Day 6 of the students teaching lessons) of a week ago was that they are very interested in the topic. Additionally, we’ve had so many academic conversations over the course of the year that the students have become very good at participating in academic discourse. There isn’t any specific agenda here, accept to get students thinking about the deeply set role sports plays in our culture, and their own connection to it, so they can think more deeply about the readings as they review rhetorical analysis.