How to Succeed in a Job Interview: Close Reading and Analysis of the Credibility of a Text

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SWBAT analyze the credibility of a text by evaluating the evidence and its connection to audience and purpose.

Big Idea

Need some advice on getting your first job? Students evaluate an article on why Americans struggle to find employment. How credible is this advice?

Let's Get Started: Reviewing Reading Strategies

10 minutes

The opener today is a review the strategies for analyzing an essay that we discussed yesterday. The directions and the steps are listed on the first two slides of the Unemployment High Evaluation powerpoint. The goal is for studetns to see the usefulness in close readings of informational texts.  Hopefully the steps will become a natural part of their reading process this year. For now, they will use their notes to review the strategies and answer the questions. I take volunteers to share their answers with the class step by step.

I ask, "What is the first step when understanding and evaluating a text?"  I followed with that question with how to annotate a text as someone reads. We start with the basics, underline the thesis/claim.  Put a check mark next to evidence to support the thesis, put a question mark next to sections you do not understand, define challenging vocabulary in the margins, etc.  (RI 9-10. 1). The shift to the Common Core emphasizes students working from text-dependent questions and basing their answers and discussions on textual evidence. Their individual opinions on a subject are deemphasized in favor of inferences based on textual evidence. 

When I get to step five, evaluate the evidence, I followed up with, "How does annotating the text help you evaluate evidence?"  I am looking for them to say that it helps them identify evidence that supports the claim or potentially when an write fails to support his/her claim.

From here, we move onto evaluating their use of these reading strategies on their homework.

Applying Knowledge: Why is unemployment high?

35 minutes

My plans for today focus on the students working independently.  I ask them to get out their homework and a sheet of paper.  The annotated essay and the answers to their homework questions will help them complete the class activites.

First I take volunteers to identify the thesis statement or claim.  I remind them that a thesis statement or claim is a subject plus a supportable opinion about a subject. After identifying the claim, we write it on the board.  Next I ask them to use the front of the paper to draw this chart. The question above the chart is "What evidence did you find to connect to the thesis? The chart has three sections: support, reason it supports the thesis, and what is the source of the support (RI 9-10.2). 

Once they complete their chart, I will call on one person from each table to give me one piece of evidence s/he wrote and I will write it on a master list on powerpoint slide five.  

Next, I ask the students to turn over the paper and answer the next two questions on the back.

1) žExplain your answer. Use examples from the text to support your response. (RI.9-10.1)
2) What inference can you make about how this article may help people find jobs? (RI.9-10.1)



Building Knowledge: Audience, Context, Purpose

30 minutes

Next, I ask students to draw the Rhetorical Triangle on their paper and label it with information from this article.  

The had to identify purpose and audience for this article on their homework.  I advise them to review their notes for context.  I want the students to realize that this is not a credible article.  The students who are stronger evaluators of the evidence (RI 9-10. 8) will already be suspicious.  However, they usually lack the confidence and/or evidence to say anything so I encourage them to do so by reviewing their notes.  

Next we go over each section of the triangle beginning with purpose. I have already taught the students a generic formula for writing a purpose statement. Author's name wants to (fill in verb of purpose) (find in audience) about (fill in message/claim) (Ri 9-10. 6) and we use this formula today.

This article has no identified author. Hopefully, more students are growing suspicious. My goal is for every student to realize this article is inaccurate through this step-by-step evaluation of evidence. 

The next question asks them:  How credible is the evidence? Explain your answer and use examples from the text to support your answer. I tell them to use their chart on the other side of the paper for support.  This is the chart they just completed. I want the to assess whether the reasoning is valid and the evidence is relevant and sufficient (RI 9-10. 8).

At some point during the evaluation of evidence, most students will catch on that the article is the fraudulent.  I will let the class carry on the debate on the credibility of the article reminding them to use evidence.   I will occasionally chime in with a clarifying question to keep the debate focused on how the evidence unfolds and the connection between the evidence and the evidence and claim (RI 9-10.3).




Closing: The Big Reveal

10 minutes

As the debate concludes, I share with them the origin of the article.  It is an article from the Onion. We identify the Onion as a satirical magazine/web site.  I chose an article from The Onion because the writers are masters at sounding credible without actually being credible. Once the students realize it is satire, they can parse out the evidence. Next I ask the students to list what clues they missed that should have told them to question the credibility of the article.

No author, no listed magazine, non specific government agency, odd Obama quote, etc.

Now if I give them something, say, from the New York Times, they hopefully will be more willing to investigate the validity and quality of the evidence instead of accepting it based solely on the reputation of the publisher (RI 9-10. 1). 

Some students will be a little angry that I would give them a fake news article and make them spend time analyzing it.  I will tell them not to assume that anyone is always credible source and they should always evaluate the evidence especially from internet sources.  

For homework, I ask them to check out Vine and Instagram and learn how to make a video since we will be using these skills in our next lesson.