Cultural Identity Pre-Draft: Shaping a Thesis

Lesson Plan: Shaping a Thesis

Lesson objective: To begin to identify a thesis for a memoir on cultural identity and memory.

Total estimated time: 60-75 minutes.

Additional outcomes: Brainstorming evidence and main points for memoir.

Course work or assignment underway: This is a lesson for Essay #1: Memoir, from Overview 1: “Analyze what role your memories have played in shaping your cultural identity to help you theorize about the connection between the two.”

Work and/or reading completed before class: 1) defining components of cultural identity, 2) “previewing” articles – the difference and intersections between scholarly and literary writing 3) practice in detail and description, 4) reflection as a rhetorical strategy

Sequence of classroom activities:

After reading the assignment for Essay 1, glance through some of the previous journals you’ve written in this class when you’ve been asked to write on various elements of your identity.  Make a list of those elements, writing each term across the top of a page.  (For inspiration, look to Judith Ortiz Cofer’s “The Story of My Body” in which she creates sub-headings such as “skin”, “color”, “size”, and “looks”.)  Add to your list any that you think need to be included in defining yourself.  Freewrite (on a separate page) for 15 minutes on any elements you just added.

Now work on your chart: under each column heading, briefly jot down the details, memories, or anecdotes your could use to define that element.  (Feel free to choose these details, memories or anecdotes from your freewrite and/or previous journals.) (10 minutes)

Show your chart to a partner, and explain it to him or her as a means of explaining how it represents your cultural identity.  Then take note, again in a brief freewrite, of what you find interesting or problematic about this task of explaining your own chart, especially in terms of memory, forgetting, and/or imagination.  When you’re done, try writing a thesis statement for your essay #1 which is neither too narrow nor too broad in explaining the cultural elements of your childhood, and their connection to memory, forgetting and/or imagination. (30 minutes)

Reflection on lesson’s success or alternative approaches: Volunteers can be asked to present their chart, and to offer their attempt at a thesis statement.  (15 minutes) Students can post this journal online, complete with freewrite, chart, and thesis statement.  It might act as a sort of rough proposal; students can have time to work on it by the next class, after which time the professor will read it and briefly comment with encouragement and/or suggestions.

Download: CulturalIdentity_PreDraft1_ShapingAThesis (doc)

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