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The Components of Commentary

Author: KQED

“Expand Your Media Literacy Skills Today With KQED Teach.” KQED Teach, teach.kqed.org/.

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Persuasive Commentary: Conversation with a Claim

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I’m the Tech Liaison for the New York City Writing Project. I… (more)

Jan 1
Paul Allison

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(Jan 01 2020 12:01PM) : What I love about the word conversation is that it implies both a backward look to what has been said before and a forward look to how your thoughts might be received. [Edited] more

This reminds me of one of Jasper Johns’ strategies for making art. He said that he put his own paintings together with the knowledge that his would be one in a “side-by-side set of loosely united matters for attention” — other paintings in a museum. The question becomes not one of how do I get my voice, my story, my opinion out there, but how do I insert my voice in a way that gets attention and fits somewhere on one of the walls in the museum. https://www.jstor.org/stable/1343616?read-now=1&refreqid=excelsior%3A13a7317eb355a78b13215ebc382f1813&seq=5#page_scan_tab_contents

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Paul Allison

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(Jan 01 2020 12:01PM) : Just asking...
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Paul Allison

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(Jan 01 2020 12:04PM) : As we work with students, it's important to keep the actual conversations -- verbal back-and-forths -- going as they are building their audio and video commentaries.
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Paul Allison

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(Jan 01 2020 12:46PM) : It does seem to me that it might be had to do all three of these: personal, evidence-based, and of public interest. more

It’s a good goal to have all three of these. I wonder what happens when we add a youth’s interests into the mix. I can almost see an XY grid where personal experience and evidence are at the ends of one of the axes and public interest and a youth’s own interests are on the other axis. It might be a good way to consult with youth around their chosen topics, inquiries or questions. It does seem important to introduce all of these elements from early in the process. So looking at the examples in this collection with an eye on how they move between evidence and personal narrative seems like a good place to start the conversation with students.

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Paul Allison

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(Jan 01 2020 12:49PM) : Wait! Aren't we still developing an issue? I guess this is useful for the analyses we are about to do, but I worry that we've jumped from finding a topic to presenting an argument pretty fast here.
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Jan 15
Kelsey DeCamillis (Jan 15 2020 5:02PM) : It does seem to jump straight to the writing here, as Paul said. more

Maybe there could be an added section for how to choose an issue? Or how personal experience is a valid form of evidence, especially when combined with further research. That might emphasize the need for students to delve into the topic, not just use their own experiences.

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Paul Allison

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(Jan 01 2020 3:30PM) : Who are the students writing for? Or am I making this a bigger deal that it is. Probably not, given the initial notions of getting youth to see their commentaries as part of a conversation. So who are they talking to? more

One of our founding principles at Youth Voices is that over time youth begin to shift their attention from writing for the teacher to writing for other youth from around the country whose writing and media they see and comment on, back and forth. But this takes time, and it needs to be nurtured with real times when youth see and talk to each other on video exchanges. NowComment is designed to have youth “talk back” to authors, video producers, and photographers and other imagemakers. So the audience is pretty direct there. Another example is a teacher in Oakland who has her students choose an audience for their work. It could be someone in power, a bystander, an ally of their cause, or someone they are opposing. All of these ways of making an audience real for youth are important, yet it has to be recognized that it’s never totally authentic when we are asking youth to do this in a school, for a grade. There is always that secondary audience too.

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Jan 4
Christina Cantrill (Jan 04 2020 11:18AM) : The audience is the voter. It might be useful therefore to include an opportunity for the youth to think about voters in their life - who are they and what do they care about?
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Jan 15
Dr. Diane Wood (Jan 15 2020 5:01PM) : Who are they talking to? more

Yep. There seems to be a step missing here.

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Paul Allison

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(Jan 01 2020 3:40PM) : Youth have to be told from the get-go that this will be part of the project. It is such a vulnerable, teachable moment to get youth to an issue that they care about, that they think is important, and that they have a personal connection to. more

Not that it’s all that difficult, but it takes time to tease out the right issue. Do we want the young man who sleeps in class because he is up gaming all night to do something about gaming? Should the young woman who was out for two weeks because her family was evicted to study eviction? Or is this too close, especially because she is more interested to look at teen depression and why youth can’t get more support in schools for this. And the young man whose father immigrated from Guatemala and his mother is from El Salvador, should he be looking at immigration in some way? What if he doesn’t want to learn more about this in his life right now? The point of all of this is that it’s takes time to find the right area of inquiry for youth, and we have to listen hard to help youth to know that we really do want them to find something that is important for them and that they can tell stories about. THEN — what if we ask them to work with others on a media project? How do these groups form? There is a lot of important, careful teaching involved.

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Paul Allison

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(Jan 01 2020 3:43PM) : Or will it? Maybe we just need there to be reasons for the claim. I'll be looking for this in the examples.
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Paul Allison

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(Jan 01 2020 3:49PM) : Strategically selected research -- selected (or approved) by whom, the teacher? I don't see any other way than to do this in community, peers and teachers, in class and in online communities. more

An ongoing project that some of us in the Youth Voices and NowComment community of teachers are doing is to have youth create collections or “text sets” of the resources they are using in their research, and to annotate it in NowComment. The main point of this it to make the selection process open for all (teachers and peers) to critique, add to, ask about. And this is a more natural (like we all do it) positive way to find reliable sources.

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Paul Allison

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(Jan 01 2020 3:51PM) : I'm with you here, and this is a helpful guide for looking at the examples. But getting to a more and more authentic call to action takes time and trial and error, and consideration.
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Jan 15
Kelsey DeCamillis (Jan 15 2020 4:53PM) : I think this helps clarify the intention - joining and adding to a conversation that is happening now and that will continue to be had.
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Paul Allison

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(Jan 15 2020 4:57PM) : I wonder how we figure out what any particular student thinks the conversation is... and/or do we point to key texts (text sets) that represent that conversation?
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Kelsey DeCamillis (Jan 15 2020 4:55PM) : Why does this issue matter to you - might be a statement that has been heard a lot by students and misunderstood. "It matters to me because I like it," I could imagine some students saying. more

Maybe adding “personally” to it?

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Paul Allison

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(Jan 15 2020 5:01PM) : That's interesting. I think it's hard for students to find an issue that comes from who they are -- their personality -- AND they are willing to share with a wider audience -- AND is important to the 2020 elections. more

I’m not saying it can’t be done, but it take careful, dialogic teaching to find the right sweet spot for each student in a class. Add to this working in groups?

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Jan 15
Dr. Diane Wood (Jan 15 2020 5:00PM) : So glad to see that the authority of lived experience matters here as what kids actually live can disrupt so much that seems "normal"/"taken-for-granted."
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DMU Timestamp: November 27, 2019 01:26

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