The Main Event: Readings for Writing and Critical Thinking

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9780130486585: The Main Event: Readings for Writing and Critical Thinking

This reader contains twelve thematic sections, each featuring a “Main Event” reading and a companion assignment for critical thinking and writing. Each writing assignment covers a different type of writing—both academic and practical. The book discusses various preparation strategies so that its users can more effectively and efficiently put their thoughts into words—and their words onto paper. KEY TOPICS A variety of themes—Film and Television, Democracy in the Classroom, Dreams, Marriage and Divorce, American Cities, Technology, Your Body, Youth Culture, Biographies, Fairy Tales; The Justice System: and Jobs in the 21st Century—will appeal to a wide and diverse audience. For readers and writers who want to learn how to respond critically to a text, and generate responses of their own.

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A thematic reader wits integrated writing instruction.

This reader contains twelve thematic sections, each featuring a "Main Event" reading and a companion assignment for critical thinking and writing. Each writing assignment covers a different type of writingóboth academic and practical. The text discusses various preparation strategies so that you can more effectively and efficiently put your thoughts into wordsóand your words onto paper.

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In today's classroom, students are looking for relevance in the curriculum. They want to know that what they are learning has practical applications, both in their future studies and in the world beyond schooling. Facing this is the composition instructor. One tool for the instructor is a reading text that provides articles and essays that are interesting, challenging, and relevant. A composition instructor needs a text that provides practical advice and solid examples of composition. Of course, instruction on critical thinking skills is an important facet of many composition courses, so the selected text must help students learn this vital skill, too. In short, teaching composition involves the teaching of reading, writing, and critical thinking. An instructor needs a text designed for that task.

The Main Event: Readings for Writing and Critical Thinking is a thematic reader that meets the needs of freshman English and composition courses in which reading, writing, and critical thinking form the core of the instruction. The reader allows instructors to explore a particular subject of relevance to today's students. In each chapter, there is a featured essay, called the Main Event Reading. The Main Event Reading is the work on which that chapter's instruction on reading, writing, and critical thinking is based, giving all lessons a common ground. The Main Event Reading is followed by the writing assignment. The writing assignment in each chapter covers a different.type of writing, both academic and practical. In this way, instructors can build a course with confidence, knowing their students will gain experience writing for a variety of situations.

Building a course with The Main Event is easy. An advantage of the Main Event format is that instructors can choose which types of writing assignments they wish to cover and feel comfortable that the pedagogy in each chapter is tailored to suit the needs of each writing situation. The writing lessons are practical, and each chapter presents a sample essay written for each particular type of writing situation. The themes in this text meet both the academic requirements of freshman English and composition courses and the interests of many college students.

Instructors have a choice of twelve thematic chapters, with twelve different types of writing assignments. The chapters are essentially self-contained, so instructors can teach any selection of the chapters. To design a course, instructors can choose the themes they want to teach, confident that the writing lessons, assignments, and readings will provide good opportunities for learning. Because the instruction is based on the Main Event Reading, instructors and students are provided with a context for each writing lesson. Beyond each Main Event Reading, there are six to eight additional readings in each chapter. The text provides many opportunities to provide students with good reading, writing, and critical thinking instruction.

Critical thinking skills are an increasingly vital aspect of all college classrooms, and in college writing classes, these skills may be used to analyze readings and to produce written materials, such as essays and term papers. Consequently, The Main Event helps with this process by not only providing critical thinking questions for each reading in the text, but also by integrating critical thinking skills into the writing lessons. Critical thinking is not separate from but an essential element of good writing.

FEATURES OF THE MAIN EVENT

The Main Event begins with an Introduction to Reading that covers the basics of reading college-level material. Included in the introduction is instruction on reading for meaning, highlighting, separating facts and inferences, and analyzing the credibility of an author. The Introduction to Reading provides students with the thinking tools needed to succeed in critically analyzing the readings. We highly recommend instructors assign the Introduction to Reading early in the semester, if not at the very start.

Following the introduction are twelve chapters, each on a different theme. Each chapter contains the following features:

The Main Event Reading

Each chapter begins with a Main Event Reading that serves as the context for the lessons. It is also the principal reading for most of the critical thinking questions, and the sample paper is based on a response to this reading. The reading is marked with handwritten margin notes, serving as a model for students to see how to mark up a text themselves. The margin notes encourage students to consider the important questions that each Main Event Reading presents. In other words, as students are reading the text, they are thinking critically.

Preceding each reading is a list of vocabulary words with definitions. Following the reading are three sets of questions. The first questions are "What Did You Read?" questions that encourage students to read for comprehension. Questions' labeled "What Do You Think?" provoke inquiry and discussion about each reading that can also provide alternative writing contexts to the Main Event Writing Assignment questions. Lastly, "How Was It Done?" questions explore the rhetorical strategies embedded in each essay, helping students examine how professional writers choose to organize and develop their essays.

The Main Event Writing Assignment

Each chapter introduces a new writing assignment. Each assignment provides four to five different questions as options for the assignment. The questions are not only based on the issues raised directly by the Main Event Reading, but also by the theme of the chapter itself. Students do not have to be limited by the Main Event Reading if they wish to investigate other areas related to the theme. Each Main Event Writing Assignment requires a different approach and form from those found in other chapters, giving students more variety and practical experience in confronting different writing situations.

Preparation Punch List

This is a suggested list of questions that instructors and students can consider before beginning the drafting process. The Preparation Punch List guides students in thinking about their writing options, and the types of reading and research they might need to do before composing their essays. The list can also provide instructors with questions to stimulate in-class discussions. Of course, the list is only a starting point. As a prewriting exercise, the punch list can help students brainstorm their own ideas.

The Main Event Writing Lesson

Each chapter has a writing lesson that describes the tasks for the Main Event Writing Assignment, so students have an understanding of what each assignment requires. Emphasis is on practical considerations, including preparation for writing, form, audience, content, and presentation. Instruction is provided for the following aspects of writing:

  • Basic essay form
  • Definition
  • Using summary in an analysis
  • Conducting an interview
  • Audience, tone, purpose
  • Critique
  • Causal analysis
  • Critical analysis
  • Historical analysis
  • Literary analysis
  • Policy report
  • Research-based paper

Main Event Sample Essay

Each chapter includes a model paper, done on a question from the Main Event Writing Assignment, and which applies the Writing Lesson. Key parts of each sample paper are highlighted with margin notes. Each paper provides students not only with a good example of what a successful final product looks like, but, as the chapters proceed, each essay demonstrates increasing sophistication with incorporating research and documenting those materials in Modern Language Association (MLA) format.

Additional Readings

In addition to the Main Event Reading, each thematic section features six or seven more readings. These readings range from classic to contemporary. The additional readings also have vocabulary lists and sets of questions called "What Did You Read?", "What Do You Think?", and "How Was It Done?".

Appendices

After the last thematic chapter, there are two appendices. Appendix I presents the basics of the MLA documentation system, based on The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 6th edition, and Appendix II does the same for the American Psychological Association (APA) documentation system, based on the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 5th edition. Examples of both in-text documentation and bibliographic entries are included in both appendices.

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