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 had practice summarizing (relaying details). This exercise aims to use careful summary as a springboard to analysis (asking questions of details) and evaluation (arriving at an evaluative conclusion of a text based on summary and analysis).
Sequence of Classroom Activities
1. Read Alexie’s short “What Sacagawea Means to Me” in class. This piece will model a narrative of fandom and demonstrate the reflexive nature of celebrity.
2. Following Alexie’s model, ask students to choose a specific moment in which they realized they had a specific affinity with a particular public figure, and to write a few sentences to describe 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 Alexie 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 watching a movie. I see —‘s face on screen.). Tell them they should be careful to include those details that demonstrate their fascination, curiosity or attraction. 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 (“a movie” gets a title, for example and “watching” becomes “raptly watching.”). 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 Alexie summarizes her experiences in order to arrive at an analytical conclusion about both himself and Sacagawea, ask the students to continue their paragraphs, providing a few sentences of analysis of their experiences. Ex: Why did this person capture your attention? How did you see yourself in this person? Or vice versa?
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 ….”
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:Introducing Critical Writing (doc)