Syd’s Session Notes – Section 3 – 1/24/2018

Hey all,


Today went okay, though it also reminded me of the difference between being “early” in the semester and being at the “end” of it.


I used a similar plan to my Week 2 plan from the Fall 2017 semester, in an attempt at seeing whether I could successfully improve upon it in the ways that I thought would work based on my previous experiences with its failings. The results were mixed.


I started off with a writing prompt where students each wrote about something they simply “found interesting.” I received a diverse array of responses, which made it a little harder for me to transition into talking about genre as response to recurring situation, but I got there eventually. I tried a broad response as a bit of an experiment, and the results showed me that a broader prompt is generally harder to control the outcome of when I plan on using it to transition into a lecture, which I’ll definitely keep in mind moving forward.


After that, I explained my experiment where I listed genre conventions of a video game review and an article about flowers in a Venn diagram. I did this for the purpose of showing students how genres often overlap in the kinds of conventions that they use.


We then began our activity for the day. I drew an empty Venn diagram and displayed it on the projector. The students were tasked with filling in. The two bubbles of the Venn diagram represented two kinds of articles – video game reviews and scientific editorials about flowers – and the students’ goal was to figure out conventions for each to be added to either bubble, then to see where those conventions could potentially overlap in the center of the diagram.


We found some interesting parallels, such as both a scientific editorial about flowers and a video game article both being usable to determine whether a consumer (of flowers or games) should “plant” or “play” the topic of discussion. We also determined that both a scientific editorial about flowers and a game review use deductive and analytical means to reach a conclusion about their topic – whether a game succeeds in its design goals, and whether a flower meets certain scientific criteria.


Afterward, I had students look up one article of their own, read through it, and jot down conventions into their journals. Afterward, they shared what they learned about their one article – though the majority of them took to summarizing their article rather than analyzing its conventions. I realize now that I probably didn’t do a good enough job of explaining what I wanted when it came to “conventions,” and this is part of what I meant by forgetting that this class is still occuring at the start of the semester.


We ultimately had a fruitful discussion, however. Summarizing the articles’ content is still important to understanding their respective genres, and it proved useful in the next segment, where students looked at each others’ genres and tried filling in both the other half of their Venn diagram and the overlap point. Many interesting parallels were found between the students’ articles, including a surprisingly detailed comparison between the ways that the brand website of painter Bob Ross and an article about Pandas both strive to “taxonomize” their subject, albeit with different intentions. This proved useful for concluding class with a reinforcement of my overlapping idea – showing how similar language and concepts can be found in genres made to respond to different yet similar situations.


Overall, I think this class was an improvement over the Fall 2017 version of it, though the activity could still do a better job of introducing ‘genre conventions’ as a concept. That, or perhaps it would work better as an activity for later in the semester. In any case, I think that I will use what I’ve learned today to craft a totally new, and hopefully successful, plan for Week 3.


  • Syd