Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Magazine articles...and Criteria-Based Feedback

Today I asked each of you to bring in a copy of an article from the type of magazine you could envision publishing the popular version of your research essay. Today in small groups, I want you to spend some time looking at these articles, reading them not so much for content but for the way in which they are written. Toward that end, I'd like you to take a moment to skim all the articles your group brought in: rather than reading these articles closely, I want to skim for the main point or idea (thesis) you think the article is trying to communicate along with the reasons why (argument) you should agree with this point.

After these various articles have made their way around your group, allowing everyone a chance to skim them, spend some time looking at each one in more detail, asking and answering among your groupmates the following Criteria-Based questions from today's reading in Writing With Power (pp. 252 - 254):

What is the quality of the content of the writing in this article: the ideas, the perceptions, the point of view?
  • Is the article's basic idea or insight a good one, and is it supported by evidence and examples?
  • Is the piece fitted to its audience? Has the writer understood their needs and point of view?
How well is the writing organized?
  • Is there a beginning? Does it start off in a way that allows youto get comfortably started?
  • Is there a middle? A body, some girth or solidity, some sense of meat and potatoes, sufficiency? Or does it turn around and say goodbye almost as soon as it has said hello?
  • Is there an ending? Does it give you a sense of closure or completion?
How effective is the language?
  • Are the sentences clear and readable?
  • Is it succinct enough for the purpose and audience?
Are there mistakes or inappropriate choices in usage?
  • Are there mistakes in grammar, usages, spelling or typing?
  • Is it neat and easy to read on the page?

Once you have spent about five minutes critiquing each of the magazine articles your group brought in, I want you to (as a group) sort them into two piles. In one pile, place the articles you think effectively communicated their point (thesis) and backed this point up with reasons and evidence (argument). In the other pile, place the articles which didn't fit this criterion, either because they were confusing, poorly organized, ill-supported, or had other flaws.

When you're done sorting, we'll talk as a large group about your findings.


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