Discourse Discussion

Desired Outcomes

  1. understand how discourse communities, genres and modes influence our writing and communication choices
  2. reflect on the different discourse communities, genres and modes we used and experienced in this module

INTRODUCTION  Watch this YouTube video and discuss why the student’s communication seems out of place, as well as in which discourse communities the student’s language would be appropriate. I. Define genre on the board (a category based on form, style, content, subject matter)

  1. divide the class into three groups
  2. give each group a dry erase marker to write ideas on the board
  3. assign each group a category from below (the bullet points represent some of the ideas generated by one of my classes)

What genres have we used in this class already?

  • Academic Paper
  • The Blog (multimodal)
  • email to an instructor–Chase (multimodal if you send her an emoticon)
  • In-Class Writing

What genres have we looked at in this class?

  • TedTalks (multimodal)
  • Advertisements (multimodal)
  • Comedy Central News (multimodal)
  • YouTube
  • Powerpoint

What genres are you using outside of this class (academic, social, civil)?  In the future (professional, social, civil)?

  • Cover Letter and Resume
  • Lab report (multimodal–might include graph or chart)
  • Tweets
  • FB posts
  • email to a more intimidating professor
  • work performance evaluations
  • course evaluations
  • Prezi
  • Presentation
  • Job Interview

II. Define discourse community on the board (a group of people who share a way of communicating/similarities in writing and speech)

  1. FREE WRITE: Ask students to make a list of all the discourse communities they belong to. Share!
  2. DISCUSS TABOOS: Ask students to describe some taboos of those discourse communities (things to avoid in one community but might be okay in another)
  3. Break into groups again and assign each  group one of the following discourses: class discussions, blog posts, academic papers
  4. Have students generate a list of words to describe each discourse (compare and contrast on the board)

2 thoughts on “Discourse Discussion

  1. I love how this lesson takes something that a lot of us want to teach our 105 students (how and why to compose an appropriately professional email to a college professor) and expands that into an actual lesson. Instead of an aside (“P.S. emails like this are a pain to get and you shouldn’t send them”), the video is used as an example to further examine the author/audience/purpose aspect of the rhetorical analysis unit through the terms more common in academia (genre and discourse community). What would you do to provide a sense of closure to this lesson, and how do you eventually assess it?


    • Hi Dayne! In all honesty, I stumbled through the closure for this lesson plan. I’m glad you asked about it! In the future, I think will end with a few minutes of In Class Writing and ask students to think about discourse communities they intend to join in the future and to come up with one question they have about that discourse community. Then, I’ll collect the questions and look into the answers for the next class period.


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