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.
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
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.
ASSIGNMENT FOR STUDENTS UNABLE TO ATTEND TODAY'S SESSION
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.