Entering the Conversation


Birkenstein and Graff

In a comment on this post, use some piece of Gee’s “Discourse” theory to explain how using Gerald Graff’s and Cathy Birkenstein’s templates could “help your writing become more original and creative” (Graff and Birkenstein 11).  What would Gee say about how having pre-set templates empower you to be more creative as a thinker and writer? What would he say about how using these templates might help you become more fluent in the academic Discourse practice of using writing to “deeply engage in some way with other people’s views” (Graff and Birkenstein 3)?

Be sure to:

  • Briefly summarize Graff’s and Birkenstein’s overall point in “Entering the Conversation,”
  • Use one or more of the paraphrase and quotation templates from Ch. 3 to explain what “they say” and to connect what Gee says to what they say,
  • Offer your own “I say” point to close the comment.

Politics and Delpit’s Two Critiques of Gee

Remember our procedure for making text-to-text connections:

  1. Locate a passage from one text (Delpit’s Critique 1)
  2. Paraphrase it
  3. Find a related passage in another text (Gee’s discussion on p. 7 of how you can’t learn Discourses through overt instruction)
  4. Paraphrase it
  5. Use what would Author 1 say to Author 2 about a specific example drawn from the text (e.g. What does Delpit say about the Marge example?  How would Gee respond to her?  How would Delpit respond to Gee’s reponse?  Repeat as necessary.)

Notes from the Board:



Gee Difficulties, 9-13

Here’s a photo of the ideas we worked on in class today.  They come from our reading of Gee, pp. 9-13+.  We decided that we need to continue to work on the boxed ideas:

  • the idea that Primary Discourses can’t be liberating,
  • Meta-knowledge,
  • Mushfake.


Using Gee’s Keywords – T2S/T2W

In a comment on this post, introduce a high school student to the concept of Discourse and use it and at least one of the other terms in “the Discourse family” to explain something about your own Discourses or Discourses you see in the world.

Feel free to build on and revise the paragraphs you wrote summarizing Gee.

Be sure to:

  • Assume that your reader has no prior knowledge of Discourse,
  • Write introductory topic sentences that provide your reader with context: describe Gee’s overall purpose in introducing the term Discourse to literacy studies, and the specific role Discourse plays in his argument (paraphrase the gist of his first paragraph),
  • Define “Discourse” (in more than one sentence), provide and explain illustrative examples that would make sense to your high school reader.
  • Explain the ways we acquire or “get” primary and secondary Discourses,
  • Use at least two passages from Gee: one should be paraphrased, the other directly quoted.
  • “Frame” all paraphrased and quoted passages (see the example on pp. 47-8 of They Say/I Say) by
    • Using a signal phrase (Little Seagull pp. 103-5, also They Say/I Say pp. 39-40, 46) to introduce ideas and passages that you paraphrase and quote,
    • Providing your reader with the context for this passage: describe Gee’s purpose for the passage, and your purpose for introducing the passage into this paragraph,
    • Signaling your purpose in bringing forward the passage as you enter the quote or paraphrase
    • Providing a parenthetical page reference for each paraphrased or quoted passage,
    • Explaining significant parts of the quote or paraphrase through pointing back to keywords (analysis), and using concrete examples drawn from your experience to help your reader understand it (explanation/translation),
    • Making a clear point about the significance or utility of the passage,
  • Draw a conclusion/make a point about  how Discourse can help us understand something specific about the world.
  • Use one or more of the most important words in your paragraph to write a topic sentence for a well-connected paragraph that could follow the one you just wrote.

Metacognitive Reading Tools

Everyone gets stuck once-in-a-while when reading something new or complicated.  What matters is how you work to resolve difficulties in reading comprehension.  Readers who take a metacognitive approach to reading difficulties ultimately understand more and can do more with their reading.  Here are two tools from Schoenbach, Greenleaf, and Murphy’s Reading Apprenticeship approach that can help students know what to do when they get stuck.

Use these strategies when words are the source of your challenge.

Use these strategies when words are the source of your challenge.


Use these stems to help you read actively and work through challenging readings