Cuyamaca Week 6 They Say I Say by Celeste Headlee TED Talk Response Read They Say/I Say “Introduction – 1” Once you have read this first section of They S

Cuyamaca Week 6 They Say I Say by Celeste Headlee TED Talk Response Read They Say/I Say “Introduction – 1”

Once you have read this first section of They Say/I Say, watch the TED Talk by Celeste Headlee.

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Once you have watched the TED talk and read They Say/I Say answer the following question in this discussion post by hitting reply.

Question: If what They Say/I Say suggests is true that we become better writers when we are in a conversation with others, what suggestions from the TED Talk and from the text can you use in your writing?


To receive full credit you must use four, specific examples (two from They Say/I Say and two from the video) and respond to two classmates. Your intial response to the question should be 330-500 words in total to receive full credit. Your response to your fellow classmates should be 150-200 words each. FOURTH EDITION
The Moves That Matter
in Academic Writing
both of the University of Illinois at Chicago
w. w. norton & company
new york | london
Demystifying Academic Conversation
Experienced writing instructors have long recognized
that writing well means entering into conversation with others.
Academic writing in particular calls upon writers not simply to
express their own ideas, but to do so as a response to what others
have said. The first-year writing program at our own university,
according to its mission statement, asks “students to participate in ongoing conversations about vitally important academic
and public issues.” A similar statement by another program
holds that “intellectual writing is almost always composed in
response to others’ texts.” These statements echo the ideas
of rhetorical theorists like Kenneth Burke, Mikhail Bakhtin,
and Wayne Booth as well as recent composition scholars like
David Bartholomae, John Bean, Patricia Bizzell, Irene Clark,
Greg Colomb, Lisa Ede, Peter Elbow, Joseph Harris, Andrea
Lunsford, Elaine Maimon, Gary Olson, Mike Rose, John Swales
and Christine Feak, Tilly Warnock, and others who argue that
writing well means engaging the voices of others and letting
them in turn engage us.
Yet despite this growing consensus that writing is a social,
conversational act, helping student writers actually participate in these conversations remains a formidable challenge.
This book aims to meet that challenge. Its goal is to demystify academic writing by isolating its basic moves, explaining
them clearly, and representing them in the form of templates.
In this way, we hope to help students become active participants in the important conversations of the academic world
and the wider public sphere.
Shows that writing well means entering a conversation, summarizing others (“they say”) to set up one’s own argument
(“I say”).
Demystifies academic writing, showing students “the moves
that matter” in language they can readily apply.
Provides user-friendly templates to help writers make those
moves in their own writing.
Shows that reading is a way of entering a conversation—not just
of passively absorbing information but of understanding and
actively entering dialogues and debates.
how this book came to be
The original idea for this book grew out of our shared interest in democratizing academic culture. First, it grew out of
arguments that Gerald Graff has been making throughout his
career that schools and colleges need to invite students into
the conversations and debates that surround them. More specifically, it is a practical, hands-on companion to his recent
book Clueless in Academe: How Schooling Obscures the Life of the
Mind, in which he looks at academic conversations from the
perspective of those who find them mysterious and proposes
ways in which such mystification can be overcome. Second,
Demystifying Academic Conversation
this book grew out of writing templates that Cathy Birkenstein
developed in the 1990s for use in writing and literature courses
she was teaching. Many students, she found, could readily grasp
what it meant to support a thesis with evidence, to entertain
a counter­argument, to identify a textual contradiction, and
ultimately to summarize and respond to challenging arguments,
but they often had trouble putting these concepts into practice
in their own writing. When Cathy sketched out templates on
the board, however, giving her students some of the language
and patterns that these sophisticated moves require, their
writing—and even their quality of thought—significantly
This book began, then, when we put our ideas together and
realized that these templates might have the potential to open
up and clarify academic conversation. We proceeded from the
premise that all writers rely on certain stock formulas that they
themselves didn’t invent—and that many of these formulas
are so commonly used that they can be represented in model
templates that students can use to structure and even generate
what they want to say.
As we developed a working draft of this book, we began using
it in first-year writing courses that we teach at UIC. In classroom exercises and writing assignments, we found that students
who otherwise struggled to organize their thoughts, or even to
think of something to say, did much better when we provided
them with templates like the following.
j In discussions of
, a controversial issue is whether
. While some argue that
j This is not to say that
, others contend
One virtue of such templates, we found, is that they focus
writers’ attention not just on what is being said, but on the
forms that structure what is being said. In other words, they
make students more conscious of the rhetorical patterns that
are key to academic success but often pass under the classroom
the centrality of “they say / i say”
The central rhetorical move that we focus on in this book is the
“they say / I say” template that gives our book its title. In our
view, this template represents the deep, underlying structure,
the internal DNA as it were, of all effective argument. Effective
persuasive writers do more than make well-supported claims
(“I say”); they also map those claims relative to the claims of
others (“they say”).
Here, for example, the “they say / I say” pattern structures
a passage from an essay by the media and technology critic
Steven Johnson.
For decades, we’ve worked under the assumption that mass culture follows a path declining steadily toward lowest-commondenominator standards, presumably because the “masses” want
dumb, simple pleasures and big media companies try to give the
masses what they want. But . . . the exact opposite is happening:
the culture is getting more cognitively demanding, not less.
Steven Johnson, “Watching TV Makes You Smarter”
In generating his own argument from something “they say,”
Johnson suggests why he needs to say what he is saying: to
correct a popular misconception.
Demystifying Academic Conversation
Even when writers do not explicitly identify the views they
are responding to, as Johnson does, an implicit “they say” can
often be discerned, as in the following passage by Zora Neale
I remember the day I became colored.
Zora Neale Hurston, “How It Feels to Be Colored Me”
In order to grasp Hurston’s point here, we need to be able to
reconstruct the implicit view she is responding to and questioning: that racial identity is an innate quality we are simply born
with. On the contrary, Hurston suggests, our race is imposed
on us by society—something we “become” by virtue of how
we are treated.
As these examples suggest, the “they say / I say” model can
improve not just student writing, but student reading comprehension as well. Since reading and writing are deeply reciprocal activities, students who learn to make the rhetorical moves
represented by the templates in this book figure to become more
adept at identifying these same moves in the texts they read. And
if we are right that effective arguments are always in dialogue
with other arguments, then it follows that in order to understand
the types of challenging texts assigned in college, students need
to identify the views to which those texts are responding.
Working with the “they say / I say” model can also help
with invention, finding something to say. In our experience,
students best discover what they want to say not by thinking
about a subject in an isolation booth, but by reading texts,
listening closely to what other writers say, and looking for an
opening through which they can enter the conversation. In
other words, listening closely to others and summarizing what
they have to say can help writers generate their own ideas.
the usefulness of templates
Our templates also have a generative quality, prompting students to make moves in their writing that they might not otherwise make or even know they should make. The templates
in this book can be particularly helpful for students who are
unsure about what to say, or who have trouble finding enough
to say, often because they consider their own beliefs so
self-evident that they need not be argued for. Students like this
are often helped, we’ve found, when we give them a simple template like the following one for entertaining a counterargument
(or planting a naysayer, as we call it in Chapter 6).
j Of course some might object that
, I still maintain that
. Although I concede
What this particular template helps students do is make the
seemingly counterintuitive move of questioning their own
beliefs, of looking at them from the perspective of those who
disagree. In so doing, templates can bring out aspects of students’ thoughts that, as they themselves sometimes remark,
they didn’t even realize were there.
Other templates in this book help students make a host of
sophisticated moves that they might not otherwise make: summarizing what someone else says, framing a quotation in one’s
own words, indicating the view that the writer is responding to,
marking the shift from a source’s view to the writer’s own view,
offering evidence for that view, entertaining and answering
counterarguments, and explaining what is at stake in the first
place. In showing students how to make such moves, templates
do more than organize students’ ideas; they help bring those
ideas into existence.
Demystifying Academic Conversation
“ok—but templates?”
We are aware, of course, that some instructors may have reservations about templates. Some, for instance, may object that
such formulaic devices represent a return to prescriptive forms
of instruction that encourage passive learning or lead students
to put their writing on automatic pilot.
This is an understandable reaction, we think, to kinds of rote
instruction that have indeed encouraged passivity and drained
writing of its creativity and dynamic relation to the social world.
The trouble is that many students will never learn on their own
to make the key intellectual moves that our templates represent. While seasoned writers pick up these moves unconsciously
through their reading, many students do not. Consequently, we
believe, students need to see these moves represented in the
explicit ways that the templates provide.
The aim of the templates, then, is not to stifle critical
thinking but to be direct with students about the key rhetorical moves that it comprises. Since we encourage students to
modify and adapt the templates to the particularities of the
arguments they are making, using such prefabricated formulas
as learning tools need not result in writing and thinking that
are themselves formulaic. Admittedly, no teaching tool can
guarantee that students will engage in hard, rigorous thought.
Our templates do, however, provide concrete prompts that can
stimulate and shape such thought: What do “they say” about my
topic? What would a naysayer say about my argument? What
is my evidence? Do I need to qualify my point? Who cares?
In fact, templates have a long and rich history. Public orators
from ancient Greece and Rome through the European Renaissance studied rhetorical topoi or “commonplaces,” model passages
and formulas that represented the different strategies available
to public speakers. In many respects, our templates echo this
classical rhetorical tradition of imitating established models.
The journal Nature requires aspiring contributors to follow
a guideline that is like a template on the opening page of their
manuscript: “Two or three sentences explaining what the main
result [of their study] reveals in direct comparison with what was
thought to be the case previously, or how the main result adds to
previous knowledge.” In the field of education, a form designed
by the education theorist Howard Gardner asks postdoctoral
fellowship applicants to complete the following template: “Most
scholars in the field believe
. As a result of my study,
.” That these two examples are geared toward postdoctoral fellows and veteran researchers shows that it is not
only struggling undergraduates who can use help making these
key rhetorical moves, but experienced academics as well.
Templates have even been used in the teaching of personal
narrative. The literary and educational theorist Jane Tompkins
devised the following template to help student writers make the
often difficult move from telling a story to explaining what it
means: “X tells a story about
to make the point that
. My own experience with
yields a point
that is similar/different/both similar and different. What I take
away from my own experience with
. As
a result, I conclude
.” We especially like this template
because it suggests that “they say / I say” argument need not be
mechanical, impersonal, or dry, and that telling a story and making an argument are more compatible activities than many think.
why it’s okay to use “i”
But wait—doesn’t the “I” part of “they say / I say” flagrantly
encourage the use of the first-person pronoun? Aren’t we aware
Demystifying Academic Conversation
that some teachers prohibit students from using “I” or “we,”
on the grounds that these pronouns encourage ill-considered,
subjective opinions rather than objective and reasoned arguments? Yes, we are aware of this first-person prohibition, but
we think it has serious flaws. First, expressing ill-considered,
subjective opinions is not necessarily the worst sin beginning
writers can commit; it might be a starting point from which they
can move on to more reasoned, less self-indulgent perspectives.
Second, prohibiting students from using “I” is simply not an
effective way of curbing students’ subjectivity, since one can
offer poorly argued, ill-supported opinions just as easily without
it. Third and most important, prohibiting the first person tends
to hamper students’ ability not only to take strong positions but
to differentiate their own positions from those of others, as we
point out in Chapter 5. To be sure, writers can resort to various circumlocutions—“it will here be argued,” “the evidence
suggests,” “the truth is”—and these may be useful for avoiding a monotonous series of “I believe” sentences. But except
for avoiding such monotony, we see no good reason why “I”
should be set aside in persuasive writing. Rather than prohibit
“I,” then, we think a better tactic is to give students practice
at using it well and learning its use, both by supporting their
claims with evidence and by attending closely to alternative
perspectives—to what “they” are saying.
how this book is organized
Because of its centrality, we have allowed the “they say / I say”
format to dictate the structure of this book. So while Part 1
addresses the art of listening to others, Part 2 addresses how
to offer one’s own response. Part 1 opens with a chapter on
“Starting with What Others Are Saying” that explains why it is
generally advisable to begin a text by citing others rather than
plunging directly into one’s own views. Subsequent chapters
take up the arts of summarizing and quoting what these others
have to say. Part 2 begins with a chapter on different ways of
responding, followed by chapters on marking the shift between
what “they say” and what “I say,” on introducing and answering
objections, and on answering the all-important questions: “so
what?” and “who cares?” Part 3 offers strategies for “Tying It All
Together,” beginning with a chapter on connection and coherence; followed by a chapter on academic language, encouraging
students to draw on their everyday voice as a tool for writing;
and including chapters on the art of metacommentary and using
templates to revise a text. Part 4 offers guidance for entering
conversations in specific academic contexts, with chapters on
entering class discussions, writing online, reading, and writing
in literature courses, the sciences, and social sciences. Finally,
we provide five readings and an index of templates.
what this book doesn’t do
There are some things that this book does not try to do. We do
not, for instance, cover logical principles of argument such as
syllogisms, warrants, logical fallacies, or the differences between
inductive and deductive reasoning. Although such concepts
can be useful, we believe most of us learn the ins and outs of
argumentative writing not by studying logical principles in the
abstract, but by plunging into actual discussions and debates,
trying out different patterns of response, and in this way getting
a sense of what works to persuade different audiences and what
Demystifying Academic Conversation
doesn’t. In our view, people learn more about arguing from
hearing someone say, “You miss my point. What I’m saying
is not
, but
,” or “I agree with you that
, and would even add that
,” than they do
from studying the differences between inductive and deductive
reasoning. Such formulas give students an immediate sense of
what it feels like to enter a public conversation in a way that
studying abstract warrants and logical fallacies does not.
engaging with the ideas of others
One central goal of this book is to demystify academic writing
by returning it to its social and conversational roots. Although
writing may require some degree of quiet and solitude, the “they
say / I say” model shows students that they can best develop
their arguments not just by looking inward but by doing what
they often do in a good conversation with friends and family—
by listening carefully to what others are saying and engaging
with other views.
This approach to writing therefore has an ethical dimension,
since it asks writers not simply to keep proving and reasserting
what they already believe, but to stretch what they believe by
putting it up against beliefs that differ, sometimes radically,
from their own. In an increasingly diverse, global society, this
ability to engage with the ideas of others is especially crucial
to democratic citizenship.
Gerald Graff
Cathy Birkenstein
Entering the Conversation
Think about an activity that you do particularly well:
cooking, playing the piano, shooting a basketball, even something as basic as driving a car. If you reflect on this activity, you’ll
realize that once you mastered it you no longer had to give much
conscious thought to the various moves that go into doing it.
Performing this activity, in other words, depends on your having
learned a series of complicated moves—moves that may seem
mysterious or difficult to those who haven’t yet learned them.
The same applies to writing. Often without consciously realizing it, accomplished writers routinely rely on a stock of established moves that are crucial for communicating sophisticated
ideas. What makes writers masters of their trade is not only
their ability to express interesting thoughts but their mastery
of an inventory of basic moves that they probably picked up
by reading a wide range of other accomplished writers. Less
experienced writers, by contrast, are often unfamiliar with these
basic moves and unsure how to make them in their own writing.
Hence this book, which is intended as a short, user-friendly
guide to the basic moves of academic writing.
One of our key premises is that these basic moves are so
common that they can be represented in templates that you
can use right away to structure and even generate your own
writing. Perhaps the most distinctive feature of this book is
its pre­sentation of many such templates, designed to help you
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