Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Summer Session #3: Present Shock

Summer Session #3: Present Shock

If you were unable to attend today's summer session, read the summary of the class below and then complete the assignment that follows the summary.

Part Zero:
Before we started I wanted to make sure everyone understands that there are three major types of writing that are required on the AP English Language exam:
(1) rhetorical analysis essay (in which you analyze how the writing contributes to the purpose; in other words, how a writer makes an argument) 
(2)  argument essay (in which you develop and support a position on an issue by using experiences, observations, and/or prior learning)
(3) synthesis essay (in which you develop and support a claim by synthesizing ideas and information from multiple sources)

We have practiced each of these types of writing this summer. If asked could you explain how each activity you've done this summer prepares you to effectively write one or more of the essays listed above? 

Part One: working in groups to understand the parts of the argument
We split into five groups. Each group focused on one of the sections of Present Shock: "Narrative Collapse," "Digiphrenia," "Overwinding," "Fractalnoia," and "Apocalypto." Then presented three things: five major points (or claims) made in the section, a passage that the group thought was exceptionally effective in developing a claim, and a stylistically interesting sentence.

Part Two: working as a class to understand how the parts of the argument fit together
This was the longest part of class. Each group presented the major claims made in its section and how those claims were developed and supported. Then, we began to make connections between the parts of the argument by answering the question: what do the parts have to do with the concept of "present shock"? And, what do the parts in one section have to do with the parts in a different section?

We also wrote down ideas we heard during the group presentations and added them to the summaries of the argument that we did at home.

Part Three: responding to an argument that we understand
(We actually did this between parts one and two because I wanted to do it before a couple people left, but I had intended this as part three.)

We read a response by a man named David Phillips to Douglas Rushkoff's concept of "present shock". Here's the response:

I'm convinced that "present shock", like so many other unnecessary criticisms of modern information technology, is a misinterpretation of today's youth, and today's lifestyles by today's adults. People who have grown up connected generally see no problems with the changes that internet technology have brought about, and it seems that all of the counterarguments come from people who didn't experience personal development in stride with technological development. Of course there are downsides to internet culture, but downsides come with every culture. Frankly, it's patronizing for a relatively novice internet user to offer critique to other people's lives.

We discussed the validity of Phillips response and the accuracy of his understanding of Rushkoff's arguments. Then at different points throughout the morning we offered our own responses to parts of Rushkoff's argument. What parts rang true? What parts related to our own experiences? What parts did not?

Part Four*: How is style significant?
I noticed that some of you struggled to write about the style of the first two books, so I thought we'd end by practicing this a bit more.

So we started by analyzing Rushkoff's use of memorable words and phrases to summarize complex ideas: "the short forever," "digiphrenia," "fractalnoia," and "present shock" (the title itself). We were able to explain how the short phrases and made-up words (neologisms) could be broken into pieces and how those pieces could be used to explain key concepts in Rushkoff's argument.

Then we analyzed a single sentence from the book. We noticed that the sentence consisted of several key elements: (1) a statement followed by a conclusion (x therefore y), (2) several forms of punctuation that indicated pauses and turns in the sentence (commas and a dash), (3) a list offering specific examples, and (4) repetition at the end. We talked about how each aspect of the sentence style was significant.

Then we tried writing a sentence of our own--about anything we wanted--in which we used each of the four elements listed above.

Part Five:Wrapping Up
Schoolwide Summer Reading
Then, at the very end I reminded people about the schoolwide summer reading assignment. (Click here for more.) And you then reminded each other about the "summer reading ticket," which I promised to post a link to: here it is.

Rhetorical Analysis Web
I also let you know that the next assignment will something called a "rhetorical analysis web." This will be a way of assessing how well your able, first, to understand an argument made by a book and, second, to explain how aspects of the book contribute to the argument.

Soon I'll be sending more information about this assignment which will be due at the beginning of the second week of school

Late Work
Any summer work you have not yet submitted is due on or before the first day of class. Nothing turned in after the first day of school will be accepted for credit.

Additional note: any work turned in after this week will be graded without teacher comments.

1. Write a response to David Phillips that synthesizes your understanding of his comments with your careful reading of Present Shock and with your own experiences and observations of digital technology. Be thoughtful. Be persuasive. Convince me with logical development and supporting detail.

2. Write a sentence of your own that includes the four elements described above in "part four".

Post the response and the sentence in the comment box below.

Monday, August 12, 2013


Respond to the two following rhetorical analysis prompts.

#1: Persuasive Writing Style
Find three passages in the book (one from the beginning, one from the middle, and one from the end) that reveal Douglas Rushkoff's writing style. Consider some of the following: word choice (including a mix of neologisms and precise, sophisticated vocabulary--look up words if necessary), sentence structure (including a variation of simple and complex sentences), also including various kinds of listing), chapter structure (look at the beginnings and ends of chapters, consider his use of transitions), use of supporting detail (sometimes with quick references, sometimes with elaborate descriptions and explanations) and tone (one person describes the tone--the author's attitude--as "concerned": do you agree? How would you describe the tone particularly in the passages you've chosen?). Analyze how the style of language Rushkoff uses in the three passages contributes to the effectiveness of the passages in developing the argument Rushkoff is making.
2#: Supporting and Developing an Argument
This year you will be asked to support and develop observations using personal experience, observations, and study. Rushkoff supports and develops his arguments in each of these ways. Find a passage that shows Rushkoff supporting his argument using personal experience. Find another passage that shows Rushkoff supporting his argument using his direct observations of other people or phenomenon in our culture (TV, for example). Finally, find a third passage that shows Rushkoff using research to support his argument. Explain--with close attention to particular details and language choices--how the passage supports and develops Rushkoff's claims. Also, analyze the effectiveness of each passage in supporting a particular point (or points) that Rushkoff is making.

Then, respond to this multi-part argument prompt.
(1) Write an accurate and complete summary of the argument Rushkoff presents in each section of the book. (This will probably take the form of five paragraphs--probably more than 300 words.) (2) Then explain how the five sections fit together to make a coherent overall argument. (This will be another paragraph. Remember grown-up, college-level expository paragraphs tend to be at least seven sentences long.) (3) Finally, quote some part of Rushkoff's argument that you disagree with. Write an argument essay (in which you develop and support your critique of the quotation. (The argument will be about 500 words or so. Don't waste words. Make sure your support is vivid and your explanations are sharp.)
Set your responses up like this:

Your name
My name
Three Responses to Present Shock by Douglas Rushkoff
(1) Copy the rhetorical analysis prompt you are responding to here.
Put the passages you are responding to in here. Make sure you include the page numbers.
Write your (approximately 300 word) response here.
(2) Copy the second rhetorical analysis prompt you are responding to here.
Put the passages you are responding to in here. Make sure you include the page numbers.
Write your (approximately 300 word) response here.
(3) Copy the argument prompt here:
Then write your argument essay here.
*If you cannot attend the session you must (1) send an email to Mr. James Cook with the reason you cannot attend, (2)  turn in your passage responses through email, and (3) read the description of the session posted on the blog (apenglangghs2015.blogspot.com) and write a response in the comment box.