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Teaching Coherence & Cohesion Focus on Analytical Writing and Critical Reading Workshop Series Belinda Braunstein, English Language Institute Coordinator.

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Presentation on theme: "Teaching Coherence & Cohesion Focus on Analytical Writing and Critical Reading Workshop Series Belinda Braunstein, English Language Institute Coordinator."— Presentation transcript:

1 Teaching Coherence & Cohesion Focus on Analytical Writing and Critical Reading Workshop Series Belinda Braunstein, English Language Institute Coordinator Center for Research on Teaching Excellence University of California, Merced

2 Workshop Outcomes  Be able to easily distinguish between coherence and cohesion  Be able to explain the two in a way your students can understand  Have ideas of how to present the concepts with your own material or students’ writing  Have some class activity ideas you can use to help your students practice recognizing good and poor coherence and/or cohesion My goal is that when you leave this workshop, you will…

3 Coherence

4 Coherence After the cake is served, a dance called The Money Dance begins, which is when the bride dances with all family members that are men and the groom dances with all family members that are women; right before they dance with the couple, the family members must pin a 20 dollar bill or higher to the couples’ clothing. The family members make a line waiting for their turn, usually taking 20 seconds to dance with the bride or groom. The food served usually has beans, tortillas, rice and meat, anything else added to the dish the couple wishes to serve. After the cake is served, a dance called The Money Dance begins, which is when the bride dances with all family members that are men and the groom dances with all family members that are women; right before they dance with the couple, the family members must pin a 20 dollar bill or higher to the couples’ clothing. The family members make a line waiting for their turn, usually taking 20 seconds to dance with the bride or groom. The food served usually has beans, tortillas, rice and meat, anything else added to the dish the couple wishes to serve. Which sentence does not belong? Which sentence does not belong? (The text is part of an essay about Mexican weddings.) (The text is part of an essay about Mexican weddings.) TEXT #1: Example of off-topic sentence After the cake is served, a dance called The Money Dance begins, which is when the bride dances with all family members that are men and the groom dances with all family members that are women; right before they dance with the couple, the family members must pin a 20 dollar bill or higher to the couples’ clothing. The family members make a line waiting for their turn, usually taking 20 seconds to dance with the bride or groom. The food served usually has beans, tortillas, rice and meat, anything else added to the dish the couple wishes to serve. After the cake is served, a dance called The Money Dance begins, which is when the bride dances with all family members that are men and the groom dances with all family members that are women; right before they dance with the couple, the family members must pin a 20 dollar bill or higher to the couples’ clothing. The family members make a line waiting for their turn, usually taking 20 seconds to dance with the bride or groom. The food served usually has beans, tortillas, rice and meat, anything else added to the dish the couple wishes to serve.

5 Coherence Will Rogers once said, “Advertising is the art of convincing people to spend money they don’t have for something they don’t need.” Basing my views on advertising, I really do believe that advertising does manipulate the way that the people in our society live. For that reason, I would have to say that advertising is harmful to society. It is also beneficial though I am leaning more towards seeing advertising as something that is harmful to our society. Advertising consumes our thoughts and our ability to have self- control over whether or not we need those objects in order to make us happy. Advertisements get to us, the consumers, because we are easily persuaded often to want the product when we really do not need the product. TEXT #2: Example of a related but non-supportive sentence Which sentence should be removed? Which sentence should be removed? (The text is the beginning of an argumentative essay against advertising.) (The text is the beginning of an argumentative essay against advertising.)

6 The activity in the pueblo reached a peak on the day before the Feast of San Diego, November twelfth. It was on that day, an especially brilliant day in which the winter held off and the sun shone like a flare, that Jemez became one of the fabulous cities of the world. In the preceding days the women had plastered the houses, many of them, and they were clean and beautiful like bone in the high light; the strings of chilies at the vigas had darkened a little and taken on a deeper, softer sheen; ears of colored corn were strung at the doors, and fresh cedar boughs were laid about, setting a whole, wild fragrance on the air. The women were baking bread in the outdoor ovens. Here and there men and women were at the woodpiles, chopping, taking up loads of firewood for their kitchens, for the coming feast. Year round, the artisans of Jemez, known internationally for their crafts, would create beautiful basketry, embroidery, woven cloths, exquisite stone sculpture, moccasins, and jewelry. Even the children were at work: the little boys looked after the stock, and the little girls carried babies about. There were gleaming antlers on the rooftops, and smoke arose from all the chimneys. From The Names: A Memoir, by N. Scott Momaday (with a sentence added by Richard Nordquist). Source: grammar.about.com The activity in the pueblo reached a peak on the day before the Feast of San Diego, November twelfth. It was on that day, an especially brilliant day in which the winter held off and the sun shone like a flare, that Jemez became one of the fabulous cities of the world. In the preceding days the women had plastered the houses, many of them, and they were clean and beautiful like bone in the high light; the strings of chilies at the vigas had darkened a little and taken on a deeper, softer sheen; ears of colored corn were strung at the doors, and fresh cedar boughs were laid about, setting a whole, wild fragrance on the air. The women were baking bread in the outdoor ovens. Here and there men and women were at the woodpiles, chopping, taking up loads of firewood for their kitchens, for the coming feast. Year round, the artisans of Jemez, known internationally for their crafts, would create beautiful basketry, embroidery, woven cloths, exquisite stone sculpture, moccasins, and jewelry. Even the children were at work: the little boys looked after the stock, and the little girls carried babies about. There were gleaming antlers on the rooftops, and smoke arose from all the chimneys. TEXT #3: Example of tangential sentence Coherence

7 Everybody got it? Take a careful look at your essay – either hard copy or online. Take a careful look at your essay – either hard copy or online. Identify the subject of every single paragraph. Write it directly on the essay, or on a separate sheet of paper. Identify the subject of every single paragraph. Write it directly on the essay, or on a separate sheet of paper. Do you go off-topic at all in any paragraph? Underline or highlight questionable sentences and get another person’s opinion about them. Do you go off-topic at all in any paragraph? Underline or highlight questionable sentences and get another person’s opinion about them. Does your essay have good coherence? Mark paragraphs that might need attention. Does your essay have good coherence? Mark paragraphs that might need attention.

8 Cohesion Par. 1 Par. 2 Par. 3 Par. 4

9 The basis of our American democracy – equal opportunity for all – is being threatened by college costs that have been rising fast for the last several years. Increases in family income have been significantly outpaced by increases in tuition at our colleges and universities during that period. Only half the children of the wealthiest families in our society will be able to afford a college education if this trend continues. Knowledge and intellectual skills, in addition to wealth, will divide us as a people, when that happens. Equal opportunity and the egalitarian basis of our democratic society could be eroded by such a divide. In the last several years, college costs have been rising so fast that they are now threatening the basis of our American democracy – equal opportunity for all. During that period, tuition has significantly outpaced increases in family income. If this trend continues, a college education will soon be affordable only by the children of the wealthiest families in our society. When that happens, we will be divided as a people not only by wealth, but by knowledge and intellectual skills. Such a divide will erode equal opportunity and the egalitarian basis of our democratic society. Cohesion Source: Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace, 9th ed., by J.M. Williams.

10 How to make text cohesive Put old information before new information (old-new, old-new, old-new) Put old information before new information (old-new, old-new, old-new) Refer back to old info with pronouns and determiners (him, this, that, these, those) Refer back to old info with pronouns and determiners (him, this, that, these, those) Connect sentences & ideas (e.g. also, on the other hand, furthermore, Because of these new policies, etc.) Connect sentences & ideas (e.g. also, on the other hand, furthermore, Because of these new policies, etc.)

11 A Bad Example: Cohesion without Coherence Source: Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace, 9th ed., by J.M. Williams. Sayner, Wisconsin, is the snowmobile capital of the world. Sayner, Wisconsin, is the snowmobile capital of the world. Sayner, Wisconsin, is the snowmobile capital of the world. The buzzing of snowmobile engines fills the air, and their tank-like tracks crisscross the snow. Sayner, Wisconsin, is the snowmobile capital of the world. The buzzing of snowmobile engines fills the air, and their tank-like tracks crisscross the snow. Sayner, Wisconsin, is the snowmobile capital of the world. The buzzing of snowmobile engines fills the air, and their tank-like tracks crisscross the snow. The snow reminds me of Mom’s mashed potatoes, covered with furrows I would draw with my fork. Her mashed potatoes usually make me sick – that’s why I play with them. I like to make a hole in the middle of the potatoes and fill it with melted butter. This behavior has been the subject of long chats between me and my analyst. Sayner, Wisconsin, is the snowmobile capital of the world. The buzzing of snowmobile engines fills the air, and their tank-like tracks crisscross the snow. The snow reminds me of Mom’s mashed potatoes, covered with furrows I would draw with my fork. Her mashed potatoes usually make me sick – that’s why I play with them. I like to make a hole in the middle of the potatoes and fill it with melted butter. This behavior has been the subject of long chats between me and my analyst. 2. The paragraph has no one sentence that states what the whole passage supports or claims. 1. The subjects of most sentences are entirely unrelated; the sentences share no common “themes” or ideas.

12 Cohesion Practice! Group A: The phone rang in the middle of the night. Please get into groups of 4-5. I’ll assign group letters and give you each a group story handout. Group B: Feeling happy and a bit drunk, Ralph left the Halloween party and stumbled into his dusty SUV. Group C: As I entered class, I noticed that the new teacher had a large parrot on his shoulder. Group D: It was a dark and stormy night.

13 What to do: 1. The original writer reads the first sentence and then adds a sentence. 2. Pass to your left (clockwise). 3. Each person adds two sentences and then passes to the left. Be sure it’s cohesive! 4. When you get your own story back, add a final two sentences to create a good ending. 5. Underline the cohesive elements of the story that you began and finished. 6. When ready, the original writers each read the whole story aloud to the group. 7. As a group, choose the best story. Explain your reasoning. Note: The focus here is on cohesion, not coherence. Unlike an essay, the story may “wander.”

14 Everybody got it? Underline all the cohesive devices in your essay. Underline all the cohesive devices in your essay. Are they all the same type, or do you use a variety? Are they all the same type, or do you use a variety? Is your essay “jumpy” at all? If so, make some changes now to give it better cohesion within paragraphs and also between paragraphs. Have a partner check your improvements. Is your essay “jumpy” at all? If so, make some changes now to give it better cohesion within paragraphs and also between paragraphs. Have a partner check your improvements.

15 May the pieces of your students’ essays come together to form a clear picture. Thank you.


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