So, I abandoned this topic and switched to some discussion on cafeteria food.
This topic produced a few more sparks than the candy bar one. Even though I was able to get a fair amount of input, it seemed as though I was losing them when we started to combine the sources. At first, I simply thought I had failed in the delivery of the exercise, but after talking to a somewhat veteran of comp 101, I learned that when you say the word "synthesis" to the students all they hear is "Blah, Blah, Blah," like what the children heard when the adults would talk on that Charlie Brown Show.
With that, I've decided to take a slower approach to this assignment and ease the students in.
Below is an e-mail I sent out today with some general reactions about yesterday's class, and some examples of topics.
Tomorrow I will hand out the assignment sheet for the junk draft. I've decided to wait and give you the official assignment sheet for the Explanatory Synthesis until the week before the rough draft is due.
My thinking behind this decision—I don’t want you all to feel overwhelmed by this assignment. With that said, we are going to take a more process approach toward this paper to make the transition from just simply writing a summary, knowing how to paraphrase, and incorporate some quotes to actually: narrowing down a topic, researching, and finding ways to combine your sources into a cohesive whole that will explain your topic.
It is important for you all to let me know when things are not working. If telepathic abilities were apart of my genetic makeup I would be a very happy person, but they are not. A large part of what you all will get out of this class is what you put into it. So if at any time, the introductory exercises we do in class are confusing or just not helpful don’t hesitate to let me know.
Below are some working topics. Don’t feel obligated to any of them if you don’t want to. The purpose here is just to exhibit the possibilities you have with this assignment. With any topic you choose, it’s beneficial to perform a Google search or topic search at http://www.dmoz.org/.
How color determines mood in Tim Burton’s films
How the song “Fight the Power” is a motif in Spike Lee’s film Do The Right Thing
How Bob Marley’s music can be considered “Rebel” music
How sound effects the ways humans’ process information OR How classical music effects the developmental growth in infants
Explain how Salvador Dali’s art is considered surrealism
Explain how Romare Bearden’s art of collage imitates everyday life
Explain how Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man” can be categorized to be Black Classicism
How the brain processes elements of sound or smell, and allows humans the ability to connect that to memory
Explain the phenomena surrounding Stone Babies