Teaching PWR

The gateway site to resources for teaching in Stanford's Program in Writing & Rhetoric

Activity of the week: Degrees of Quotation (winter quarter 2014, week 6)

[Activity by Sarah Pittock]

Note from Sarah Pittock: Last week John circulated an exercise to help students think rhetorically about their sources, Joe Bizup’s BEAM taxonomy.  This week I’m sharing a handout that makes explicit ways those sources can be represented on the page.  It also happens to come from Bizup.

Activity name: Degrees of Quotation

Class: PWR 1

Activity Brief Description:  “Degrees of Quotation” shows students that the way they quote others has rhetorical effects and that they need to be strategic when they quote.  It helps them see that paraphrasing is a way to “turn up the volume” on their own voices.  By contrast, when they quote another, they are allowing that voice to speak loudly in their writing.

Schedule: I generally teach “Degrees of Quotation” when students are drafting their TiCs, although I think it could work well as you teach the RBA too.

Activity length: about an hour

Activity goals: To help them practice paraphrase and to think about the rhetorical effects of different quoting strategies.

Activity details:

  1. I ask students to come to class with a source they’re using in their TiC.  They need to have identified a crucial point in the source, one that they are discussing in their TiCs.
  2. I begin the activity by giving students a couple of paragraphs from exemplary TiCs.  We discuss how the sources are represented on the page — how often are the writers quoting and why?  What other strategies are available to writers?  At this point, the terms paraphrase and summary often emerge; I ask my freshmen to define them.  On the board, I usually list the conventional uses of quotation, paraphrase, and summary.
  3. Then we turn to the handout to discuss the rhetorical effects of degrees of quotation.  They can usually see that as we move down the handout, attribution becomes muted and the voice of the writer more pronounced.  We talk about rhetorical situations that would demand direct attribution and quotation v rhetorical situation that don’t (scientific disciplines tend to paraphrase more than quote, e.g.).
  4. Then I have them turn to the source they brought to class and ask them to write a couple of versions of its key point — one modeled on a “degree” from the handout and another from just below or above it.  Which one do they prefer in the context of their TiC paragraphs?  Why?  For those who have chosen to paraphrase, I have them share their paraphrase with a peer.  Is it ethical?  Is the language both accurate and sufficiently independent of the source?  This usually leads into a useful discussion of the challenges of paraphrase and the dangers of inadvertent plagiarism.

The handout for this activity is also linked through Coursework (PWR Coursework> Course Materials>  Teaching Materials…> PWR 1> PWR 1 Activities> Sources and Citations)


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This entry was posted on February 10, 2014 by in Activity of the Week, pwr1, RBA, texts in conversation and tagged , , , , .
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