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First Weeks & Short Texts 


Week 1 - Introducing the Course & Key Concepts



Week 2 - Applying Concepts to Short Texts

  • Powerpoint files: using rhetorical concepts to examine advertisements and short texts. File 1, and File 2.



Weeks 2-3 Using Bleich and/or Rifkin's "A Change of Heart" to Prepare for First Assignment


Other Short Texts & Materials





Unit 1:  Postman's "The Word Weavers/World Makers"


Introducing Postman


Background Material for Postman


Postman Teaching Materials


Sample Schedules and Class Plans for Unit 1


Prereading 1: thinking about definitions, metaphors and questions 

  • Powerpoint on the politics of definition - examples of race, sexuality, medical condition, etc.
  • The Daily show: "Tortured Logic" Excerpt explores the way torture has been defined
  • The Daily Shows and rhetorical questions. TDS explores news media use of leading questions, the issue of framing, agency, responsibility, etc.
  • HOW DOES OUR LANGUAGE SHAPE THE WAY WE THINK? By Lera Boroditsky, Edge, 6.12.09. This short, accesible article explores some ways language shapes thought.

  • "The Americanization of Mental Health," ETHAN WATTERS, New York Times Magazine, January 08, 2010. This fascinating magazine article explores the way different cultures have defined mental illness, and how in recent years the influence of American definitions, drug companies, and a series of other factors have led to the increasing influence of American definitions of mental health.

  • Taking Marriage private, Stephanie Coontz - New York Times article exploring different definitions of marriage over the ages. Could be used as part of a discussion of how definitions are constructed, and what marriage currently means, particularly in the current context of debates about definitions of marriage/gay marriage.  Could be paired with "The Evolution of Matrimony." This is a short, simple article by social historian Stephanie Coontz that explores the very different ways in which marriage has been understood in the past. For example, Coontz points out the most commonly approved form of marriage across the ages was polygamy, and that until the 1980s, marital rape was considered a contradiction in terms and was almost impossible to prosecute in most Western countries.



Prereading 2: Jigsaw Work, Discussion, & Group Work


The Assignment: introducing, scoring, rubrics and sample papers


Working with Postman - charting, PACES, Analysis and Strategies


Drafting & Peer Review




Unit 2 Gladwell's Outliers: the Story of Success


Outliers Background Info: reviews, interviews, and excerpts



Texts that relate to Gladwell and can be used for assignment 2


Related texts that complicate, challenge, illustrate, extend, etc.

  • Collective list of source texts to use with Gladwell from ITC - put your links and ideas here
  • "What It Takes to Make a Student," by PAUL TOUGH, New York Times Magazine, November 26, 2006. This article examines the success of "No Child Left Behind" bill, and engages in a careful review of research on the factors that lead to educational success. The article pays particular attention to research on programs that target poor and at-risk youth.  The text provides a useful counterpoint to Gladwell, as it draws on some of the same researchers as Gladwell (for example Lareau) and examines the KIPP program that is at the center of chapter 9.  Tough presents a much more complex account of the issues Gladwell examines, and does so by situating these issues in relation to a much broader range of scholarship.
  • "Social Class and the Hidden Curriculum of Work," JEAN ANYON. (First published in the Journal of Education, Vol. 162, no. 1, Fall 1980.)
  • "Schools that Beat the Odds," by Harry Brighouse. Brighouse is an educational researcher who writes on a group blog with many other scholars. The blog post considers recent work on schools that "beat the odds." It includes discussion of the KIPP program that is at the center of chapter 9 of Outliers.  The blog post is fairly accessible, and also contains a number of responses by readers.

  • "High Flying Schools, Student Disadvantage and the Logic of NCLB," by Douglas N. Harris. Published in American Journal Education (2007), Vol. 113, n. 3, pp. 367-394. The paper is skeptical of the degree to which school programs that are often celebrated (and which are mentioned by Gladwell) can  in fact have the impact claimed on poor schools. The paper's results "suggest the continued need to address home and community factors in the pursuit of educational equity."

  • "What Makes a Great Teacher?" by Amanda Ripley. Article about research studies conducted by Teach for America and others arguing that the characteristics of the teacher are most important in determining student learning. The article is somewhat lacking in statistics and concrete examples, but clearly complicates Gladwell's argument about KIPP (and, for that matter, the 10,000 hour rule).

  • "More than Just Race: Being Black and Poor in the Inner City," William Julius Wilson, Poverty & Race Research Action Council, vol 18, no. 3.

  • "Voluntary and Involuntary Minorities: A Cultural-Ecological Theory of School Performance with Some Implications for Education." John U. Ogbu and Herbert D. Simons. Anthropology & Education Quarterly, Volume 29. Issue 2. June 1998.

  • "Coming to terms: a discussion of John Ogbu’s cultural-ecological theory of minority academic achievement." Kevin Michael Foster. Intercultural Education. Vol. 15, No. 4, December 2004

  • “Ogbu’s theory of academic disengagement: its evolution and its critics.” Douglas Foley Intercultural Education, Vol. 15, No. 4, December 2004.

  • Part of an interview of Dave Chappelle by Charlie Rose, where he argues that hard work might help someone who is funny to earn a living, but that the famous comedians are innately great. Complicates Gladwell's argument by adding two levels of success. Could also be used as a research topic (i.e., DC was born in 1973, did that give him advantages others didn't have? His life bio is disclosed in his interview with Lipton in The Actor's Studio).

  • CNBC Interview with Bill Gates and Warren Buffett (Nov. 12, 2009). Bill Gates and Warren Buffett answer questions about the "role of luck" in their achievements versus the role of hard work and education. A transcript is available here (click "show entire text" and search for "luck"). A video is available here - the relevant clip is in at 35:40-39:13, though the whole interview is dynamic!

  • Gladwell interviewed by Jimmy Kimmel

  • Alain de Botton: A kinder, gentler philosophy of success. 20 minute talk at teh TED conference that discusses success in a way that overlaps and extends Gladwell. A transcript of the talk is available on the page.

  • Big list of Gladwell intereviews


Reviews that complicate, challenge, illustrate, extend, etc.



Gladwell's Outliers: Teaching Resources 



Sample Schedules and Class Plans for Unit 2


The Assignment, Grading and Rubrics


Drafting and Peer Review


Researching, Finding/Evaluating Sources, Creating an Annotated Bibliography, and Avoiding Plagiarism

  • Teaching students about research, finding and evaluating sources, creating an annotated bibliography, and avoiding plagiarism. By Emma Lee Whitworth, with editorial assistance from Michael Underwood and Julie Williams.


Possible Links to Rhetorical Analysis Paper 




The First to Worst Movie - You Can See it on YouTube

Part 1 is here - the other parts are shown on the right of the screen http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTtAdJi1AjQ&feature=related


Background on First to Worst

Teaching Materials 


Teaching the Crisis - Related Texts to Use for the Strategies Paper


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