Lesson: Entering the Conversation

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Entering the Conversation Activity

I. In class discussion, we choose a sample “hot’ controversial research topic, such as abortion (easy to demonstrate), and then brainstorm terms to use for searching for sources. Then, we look at common terms that come up during a simple Google search of “abortion.’ Motherhood, person, moral, freedom, murder, etc.

2. Then, we brainstorm different stakeholders, their stance, and what their biases may be. We also try to come up with some terms each may use in this particular conversation. Often, I demonstrate how to find these things using Google and Google scholar when the group recognizes that they lack some of this information.

3. Next, we talk about how each faction or camp seems to adapt common terms and rhetoric. I demonstrate this with a less controversial topic, scholarship on masculinity in the early modern period, and we look at trends and patterns in terminology, etc.

4. Lastly, we brainstorm in groups how each student can do this for their own topics, with students occasionally using the computer as needed. At this point, they have done little research, so this is a good opportunity for them to bounce ideas off each other and get feedback and guidance as they set out on their research project. I try to get everyone to a basic place of rhetorical awareness on their chosen conversation before they leave class that day.

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