Lesson Plan: Introducing Critical Writing
Lesson objective(s): The ability to apply the critical reading tools discussed in class (summary, analysis, evaluation) to writing
Total estimated time: 110 minutes
Course work or assignment underway: Analytical narrative
Work and/or reading completed before class: Students will have read Didion’s “Why I Write” and Tharp’s “I Walk into a White Room” as models of creativity narratives. They will also have had practice summarizing (relaying details), analyzing (asking questions of details) and evaluating (arriving at an evaluative conclusion of a text based on summary and analysis)
Sequence of Classroom Activities
1. Discuss readings, reinforcing earlier lessons on summary, analysis and evaluation.
2. Didion spends a portion of her essay discussing academic areas where she is not skilled before turning to the subject of writing, for which she had a natural inclination. Following this model, ask students to choose a specific moment when they realized they were not interested, skilled or equipped in a certain subject/task (a math class, trying to fix a bike, etc.) and to write a few sentences describing that moment. Ask for volunteers to share their experiences.
3. In order to paint a picture of that moment with the kind of detail that Didion provides, ask students now to turn to “real time” in describing that moment. Students will write one paragraph about that moment in present tense, as if it were happening now, writing the details as they unfold (Example: I am sitting in math class. My teacher is working on an equation on the board. The girl next to me is texting under her desk.). Tell them they should be careful to include those details that demonstrate their boredom, frustration, etc., with their task. Ask for volunteers to share their stories.
4. Now, ask students to look over their stories and to replace at least three nouns with more specific descriptions and to insert at least three adverbs to more accurately describe their actions (“Math class” may become “eleventh-grade trigonometry class” and “the girl” may become “Julie Jones”; “sitting” may become “impatiently sitting” and “texting” may become “secretively texting.”). Ask for volunteers to relay their replacements. Explain that they have now written a careful summary of their experience.
5. After discussing the ways that Didion summarizes her experiences in order to arrive at an analytical conclusion about herself, ask the students to continue their paragraphs, providing a few sentences of analysis of their experiences. Ex: Why were you sitting impatiently? What does it convey about you that you were watching the girl texting rather than your teacher?
6. Ask students now to arrive at an evaluation. Looking over their summaries and analyses, ask them arrive at an evaluative conclusion to their experience, like, “This was the moment when I learned I was….”
7. Finally, students will revise their work into one fluid paragraph to be handed in. They will begin their paragraphs with their evaluative statement that begins, “I remember the moment when I learned…,” followed by a detailed summary (now written in past tense) of their moment, interspersed with moments of analysis that demonstrate how their summaries illustrate their evaluative opening sentences. Ask for volunteers to share their paragraphs.
8. Distribute assignment for Paper 1 (Analytical Narrative), discussing how they will adapt the strategies employed in this exercise to their papers.
Download: Creativity_Predraft2_CriticalWriting (doc)