I had a fantastic first day of school today!
Everything went perfectly, and here’s the activity I used (again) this year:
On the first day we have lots of comings and goings because of schedule changes, so I start with an easy activity and a game. I have the students take the first ten minutes to write down any questions they have about me or the class on 2″ by 2″ pieces of paper. They can ask anything they want and do not put their names on the slips of paper. I don’t have to answer a question, but it’s rare to get an inappropriate question. The kids drop their slips of paper into my Mariners cap and away we go.
I answer every appropriate question, even if it’s a silly one because this is how we get to know one another. I always hated the list of rules (I don’t have any rules in my classroom–never needed them) and the reading of the syllabus on the first day, and this allows me to answer their questions, making their interests the focus from day one. It’s their class after all.
This year I’m going to start my College in the High School class (American Literature) with the rhetorical triangle. We will focus on creating solid arguments which use all three appeals: emotional, logical, and ethical. Each time the students construct an essay, they will be required to map out their support (sometimes known as warrants) using these three appeals.
Sometimes I put the intended audience in the middle of the triangle to make sure the students understand that their arguments must be focused towards the intended audience. This becomes very useful when tackling a controversial or broad issue and allowing the students to see that a change in audience results in a change in arguments.
For example, after drawing this triangle on the board, I tell the students that we are going to formulate arguments within each type of appeal with the purpose of explaining why year-round school is a good idea, and local parents are the intended audience. Once we come up with valid arguments covering pathos, logos, and ethos, we stop and I draw a second triangle next to the first.
Now, the audience is the student body. As we formulate arguments for this new audience, the students will see how they must tailor their ideas for this new audience. The purpose is the same, the appeals are the same, but the arguments begin to change.
Do you use the rhetorical triangle? How do you use it? What else do you use?
I posted the following on a message board. What do you think?
I don’t understand why people think WA schools are failing. ACT and SAT scores are up (and above the national average) even with ever more students tested each year.
We still have kids entering the best schools in the nation and earning the highest of awards.
Schools are more diverse than ever, have more special education students than ever (the numbers are increasing rapidly here), and have more ELL students than ever. And still the scores climb.
Areas of affluence perform better than areas of poverty. It’s the same around the nation.
Schools reflect their communities.
Washington State’s ACT scores bested the national average again. This is all the more impressive considering that more students took the test than in previous years.
Of course, it was buried in the back of the newspaper.
A student was going around asking teachers to raise his grades from last year so he could play a varsity sport. One teacher (a coach) did it. Another (a young, new teacher) did not.
To me, this is a clearcut example of cheating, and what message did the coach send to the student by changing the grade?
How have you or your school dealt with these situations?