Language & Composition

Mr. Eure | Brewster High School

Monthly Archives: September 2012

Logical Blitzkrieg

It’s October. The elections are only five weeks away. Time to build the machine.

To the right of this post, you will see a list of resources (it mirrors the tabs at the top of the site, so you can also look there); the first link is called Logical Blitzkrieg, and you should click on it as soon as you’ve read the rest of this post. Over the next three class periods, you must use some of the tools I’ve given you there and in class to deconstruct the specious or illogical reasoning of one of the artifacts you and your group have brought in. You must also decide what form your deconstruction will take. Whatever you produce will be shared with the class using the Groups function of Google.

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About Those First Quizzes

Your first collaborative quiz consisted of one prompt:

Explain the limitations of a deductive argument; then explain the limitations of an inductive argument.

Note the word limitations, which implies a measured consideration of strengths and weaknesses; limits throw both into relief, and your answer should have made mention of what each type of argument does well. These two concepts are the bricks and mortar of logical fallacies.

Scores for this quiz will be posted online after a decision is made about curves and weight. Check the Resources page for Infinite Campus login information. The key to the quiz is below.

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Good and Bad Reasoning

That last post was the philosophical one; now we can step down from the soapbox and talk brass tacks (while mixing metaphors, obviously). The problem you are collaboratively solving is how a group of 70 teenagers in a college-level course in rhetoric takes on a deeply flawed and systemic kind of political rhetoric. To do this, you must be able to wield

  1. the basic components of logic and rational thinking; and
  2. the names and details of fallacies that occur when logic and rational thinking break down.

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The Science of Good Sense

Politics is the science of good sense applied to public affairs, and, as those are forever changing, what is wisdom to-day would be folly and perhaps ruin tomorrow. Politics is not a science so properly as a business. It cannot have fixed principles, from which a wise man would never swerve, unless the inconstancy of men’s view of interest and the capriciousness of the tempers could be fixed. [Fisher Ames (1758-1808)]

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About That Summer Work

Your summer work (it begins here, if you wish to look back) has been tabulated and converted into scores. The basic calculation:

  • +1 for each comment
  • +1 for each comment that was also a reply
  • +x for the succinctness, insight, and collegiality of each comment, where x is 1, 2, or 3

Once the tallies were in, that total was doubled and rounded up. That final value was split evenly among each of the four quarters of the school year to produce this chart:

You can add those points to any assignment that has not been explicitly made off-limits. For example, the midterm and final exam will be off-limits. There are two other rules:

  1. You may not use these points to replace a missing assignment.
  2. You may not use these points on any late assignment.

I will also distribute the chart in class. When you decided to use your points, you must let me know in writing by the end of the quarter. As always, send any questions or concerns to me by email, or speak to me outside of class.

About Those “Ordeal” Narratives

Click here for an uploaded copy of “Ordeal by Cheque,” the text you studied as a divergent thinking exercise on the third day of school. On the fourth day, you were given 39 minutes to produce, as a class, a summary of the narrative as you collectively interpreted it. I promised the winning class another bonus grade in the GRADEBOOK—another safety net as we gear up for the difficult reading, thinking, and writing demanded by the course.

On the way to declaring a victor, there were a few hiccups:

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Memory and Metacognition

You made it through your first essays. Now to find out if you made it through intact1.

Grades will be handed back on a rolling basis, which means that you may know how you did on Wednesday, but you may not know until much later. Trust that each of you will have your turn to conference and unpack your work. In the meantime, you will be given the course rubric, a guide to feedback and general revision, and a few other things to work on.

Whether you were in class on Friday or not, you must read this page on reflection and metacognition. Then, if you were absent, you must load the set of metacognitive questions given in class. Those questions are posted below.

After I’ve read and processed your work, we will decide our next step.

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Essay Prompt: Memory

Due Date: Friday, September 14
Point Value: 100

Prompt:

Using your understanding of the summer reading, create an essential question of your own that relates to memory. Answer that essential question in an argument paper of no more than a thousand words. Incorporate three, four, or five of the texts from your summer reading into the essay. You may also use evidence from your own experience and other sources (e.g., history, pop culture, additional reading) to support your paper’s position.

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Opening Salvo

Let me officially welcome you, Kinder, to the 2012-2013 school year. The next ten months are likely to be different for you, regardless of the expectations you have brought into the room, because our focus in 2012 (for however long the latter lasts) and 2013 is you—but not any fuzzy emotionality or set of nascent likes and dislikes. This year, our focus is metacognition, a term for thinking about how we think and analyzing how your mind operates as it learns new skills and internalizes new information. It is a different from reflection, which is another key component of the learning process. This year-long focus will be explained in greater detail in a future post; for now, you are probably only interested in getting your course materials and learning what will happen with your summer work. And probably not in that order.

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