Today was our penultimate day of English 101. Students’ argument/persuasion essays are due tomorrow, and they turned in their required outlines at the end of last week. I really wanted to do something fun yet instructional today, so I had them read “A Modest Proposal” over the weekend. For the first hour of class, we walked through the essay, looking at its structure, how he presents his “counterargument,” how he reels the reader in by convincing them of his reasonableness before introducing his shocking solution in paragraph 9.
It was a good class. Of course, we spent a lot of time discussing his use of irony and the use of satire to make a point or an argument. We also stopped here and there so I could answer a student’s question about the meaning of a word, or about certain unclear parts, such as why “getting rid of the Papists” would be considered a benefit of the proposal.
For the second half of class, I passed out a sheet of paper with bits and pieces of students’ outlines—their thesis statements, some topic sentences, and some examples of evidence that they’d planned to use. As a class, we looked at each item and discussed whether it “worked” as a thesis statement, a topic sentence, or evidence—whichever it was purported to be. In the outlines I reviewed over the weekend, students seemed to have trouble differentiating between “evidence” and “opinion,” and I think we cleared that up by looking at the actual student examples.
Tomorrow is the last day of class. I’m going to have them fill out a class evaluation, which I’m crafting now. This class has been a good one; the students were engaged and enthusiastic, and there were several writers with promise.
I’m excited about not having to plan any lessons tonight. I’ll spend some time polishing my syllabus for English 102 (which begins Wednesday). If I have time, I’ll whip up a batch of cookies for my English 101 students.