To introduce the course, yourself, your policies, the course texts, and your
students to one another. Begin to address writing as a “situated,” rhetorical
activity (a series of choices made for a specific audience and purpose within a
Connection to Course
Goals: The interview activity establishes communication necessary for peer
reviews and classroom discussions. This activity, along with the introduction
to course goals, also introduces the idea of how contexts influence our
A Possible Sequence of Activities
attendance and introduce yourself and the course
your policy and everyday expectations (in terms of homework and other
assignments, class discussions). Hand out your policy statement and a timeline
for at least the first portfolio.
the course goals and skills students will develop.
a small writing sample as well as a sense of their expectations for the course.
students learn each other's names during an interview activity
discussing the role of context in influencing rhetorical choices
a first reading and writing assignment—leave at least 5 minutes for this at the
Write an Introduction
to Each Class. It is important to establish in students’ minds what the
goals for each class meeting are. You can provide an overview or forecast of
the day’s activities and connect these activities to the class, week, portfolio
and course goals. If you do so, students will know what to expect, can begin to
connect past and future classes, and can see plainly what you have in mind for
the day. There are any number of ways to do this. To start with, you might
provide a title or theme and then list the activities you have planned for the
day on one of the sides of your marker board, leaving room for other purposes
you might have for the board including use of the overhead projector. You can
put a check by each item as you accomplish it, or you can just proceed through
the list. Doing a forecast can help both you and your students stay on track. Another
advantage of this technique, especially in the first few days of class is that
your writing on the board provides something purposeful for you to do as
students arrive at class. Your materials will already be organized and ready on
the table. Writing on the board, you will appear to your students to be in
charge and to have a plan! Then be sure to stop your board writing at the
correct start time of class. Doing this will establish right up front that you
start class right on time and expect them to be there at the beginning, too.
Introduce the course and yourself (2 minutes):Make sure everyone is in the right
course and section. Putting the course number, name, and section number on the
board to helps identify students who have wandered into the wrong room. Expect
students to arrive late on the first day—many
are getting used to a new campus.
Introduce yourself and take roll (5 minutes):Write your name on the board so that they can see it. Call out names and record
attendance on your roll sheet. Also write on the roll sheet any nicknames as
well as phonetic pronunciations of difficult names. While you'll probably use
some other attendance-taking measure in the future (such as collecting
homework), taking the time to call roll in the first few days will help you
learn students' names.
·Ask unlisted students
to stay after class.
Because students may have added or dropped since the time your roll sheet was
generated, you will most likely have students who have registered for your
class whose names do not appear on the roll. Ask them to stay after class and
give you their names and ID numbers. Others will think they are enrolled in your section, but that must be confirmed
through the registrar. (We have a laptop computer in the main office—Eddy
359—to give you current rosters for your sections.)
·Do not promise any extra
students that they will be able to enroll. The add/drop policy requires only students who
don't attend the first TWO classes to be dropped. Thus, you might have students
who don't come the first day but show up for the second class.
·Also emphasize that they cannot drop the course after the
date on the add/drop sheet.
They also cannot withdraw from CO150, as they might from other courses. If
they want out, they must do it by the drop date, which is generally the end of
the first week of classes.
Write to Learn (WTL) (5 minutes):Have students take out a piece of paper and write
for five minutes or so about their expectations for CO150 and also what they
hope to contribute. You can put this prompt on the board or on an overhead. However,
whenever possible, use the marker board or blackboard to cut down on
unnecessary duplicating. Be sure to review these short writing samples later,
noting any especially worrisome problems that you see. Also, be sure to give
feedback on any and all work that they do in class—if only a sentence or two at
the next class meeting as you return items to students.
Collect their writing and explain WTL (5 minutes): WTL stands for “Write-to-Learn”
and is a pedagogical tool that is strongly believed in here at CSU. You might
think of the WTL as your first tool in the Activity Bank, an idea that can be
use in any number of ways, and can be performed in a low-tech pen and paper
method or online, if you are teaching in a computer classroom. Tell students
they can expect to frequently do some in-class writing like this to help them
collect their thoughts, to jump-start a discussion, to reflect on a text they
read for homework, or to generate ideas for their papers. Let students know
that you'll discuss their answers today if there is time or next time if
there’s not time today. Then make sure that you do
address that work at some time! They will quickly catch on if you don’t collect
or discuss their WTLs; they will cease to participate or will work on other
“homework” during the WTL time. Also, let them know whether you will always
collect their WTLs on a daily basis or if you will collect it at some later
point (at the end of each week or with their portfolios, for instance). (See
the “Collecting Homework” section in the introduction to the syllabus.)
Sample Transition to Next Activity: Consider using a transition
such as the following: “The course syllabus and policy statement will help you
understand the expectations for this course. Hopefully, these will address some
of the concerns you brought up in your writing about your expectations for the
Transitioning from logistics to
content can sometimes be tricky so here’s an opportunity to use your marker
board agenda to get class moving into content. Refer to the list you have on
the board for the day’s goals and activities and then move right into it.
Note: Use these suggested sample transitions as opportunities to
connect activities for your students. Your students will benefit from knowing
how the activities build on each other. You should construct your own
transitions - either before class or in an impromptu fashion - rather than
reading a script prepared by someone else. Most teachers write down a few notes
on their lesson plans to remind themselves of what they want to say between
activities and then weave the transition into the natural flow of conversation
during the class session. You will become more comfortable with writing your
own transitions when you fully understand the course and its sequencing. We
have provided sample intro-ductions, transitions, and conclusions, not because
we want you to read them aloud but rather as examples of what a teacher might
say during class. We encourage you to start composing your own transitions as
early in the semester as possible. By week three you will be responsible for
making these transitions on your own. The best way to prepare for your
independence is to fully understand the course goals and syllabus.
Discuss syllabus and
explain policy statement (10 minutes):
·Briefly discuss how to read the
timeline aspect of your syllabus (especially if you are using a grid). For
instance, students will want to know if the assignment is DUE on the date
provided in the syllabus or if it is ASSIGNED that day. Generally speaking it
is more workable to list the DUE DATE. You may then wish to explain the types
of assignments in general terms—but by all means save specifics for later and
if a student wants more detailed information, ask him or her to meet with you
after class and after reading the syllabus. Otherwise your first day of class
could get derailed by a series of unexpected questions.
·Show/Introduce the texts used for
the course (the PHG, and the New York Times)
·Discuss the class SyllaBase page
and the CO150 Room in the Writing Studio. You'll also want to discuss access to
thematic readings (at least one will be located under “Online
Resources/Instructor Provided” on the SyllaBase class page). Tell students that
you’ll give specific instructions for logging on to SyllaBase and for locating
the CO150 Room in the Writing Studio.
·Explain that the course theme is,
"Participating in the Discourse Shaping Public Issues" and tell
students that they will be responding to current debatable issues in their
writing. Explain that the reading of a national newspaper is one way to begin
to understand not only current events and the discourse around publicly debated
issues, but also the trends and cultural contexts that these issues are part
of. Indicate that reading of the Times
should begin immediately. Free copies are available for the first week to
provide time for everyone to get to the bookstores. Explain how they are to
access their copies of the Times. Explain
how the Times subscriptions and delivery will be handled. Quickly show
them the summary on page 2 of the Times
and indicate that a quick skim of the summary is like reading a menu at the
restaurant or like viewing the directory at the mall. The summary provides a
quick overview, preview, or survey of the material in the entire newspaper and
can quickly direct one’s reading for the day. Reassure them that most people do
NOT read the entire newspaper cover to cover but that quick skimming, scanning,
and previewing can be applied to the paper right away. More techniques for
reading the paper will be introduced in upcoming class periods.
·Present the course policy
statement, emphasizing the policies that you consider most important. Be sure
to explain at least the following policies:
(for major assignments and overall class)
for homework assignment
One good strategy is to have a copy
of your policy statement on an overhead with essential ideas highlighted or
annotated. If not on the overhead, just having your own highlighted copy can
help quell those first-day jitters and prevent you from forgetting anything
critical you want to convey. Or, delegate some of the responsibility by having
students read sections aloud.
to the Next Activity: Community is important in a
writing classroom (where we hold discussions, work in groups and use peerreview
with the writing process), so let's take some time to get to know each other.
Interview activity (5 minutes):Have students pair up and ask each other questions
about one another and record their answers.
Ask students to consider what kinds of things people were willing to
ask (5 minutes):Then
generate a list of appropriate question categories on the board.
Discuss the interview activity (10 minutes):Your goal in this discussion is to
highlight how context and rhetorical situations define what we can say and how
we say it. Our context and rhetorical situation here is a college composition
classroom and that affects how we asked questions and what questions we asked.
You can use these questions or write your
·What wasn't asked and why do you
think that is?
·Why are there some things that
people will ask (and will respond to) while there are other things that people
don’t feel comfortable asking or telling?
·What does this analysis say about
our expectations of social interaction? Of a composition classroom and what can
be said there?
·How would our questions have
differed if you were interviewing your instructor? Or if you were interviewing
a classmate’s grandparents? Why?
·How would your questions and
answers have differed if you were talking to someone you met at a fraternity or
dorm party? Why?
·How would your questions and
answers have differed if you were just meeting your host family for a semester
in a foreign country? Why?
Write a Conclusion for Each
closing class with something along these lines: So just as social situations can influence what we say and
do, different writing situations can influence what we "say" and
"do" with our writing. In this class, "good" writing can
only be defined in terms of how well a text responds to a particular purpose
and context. We'll continue with this idea next time and connect it more
directly to culture and writing.
You might refer students back to the list on the marker board
as well, connecting the activities of the day to the lesson, portfolio, and
course goals. It’s a good idea to establish the precedent of doing an
end-of-lesson review such as this for each class. Try something like: “Let’s
review what we’ve done today. Consulting your notes, tell me…” [here you can
compose your own review list…try drawing it as a concept map…or just review the
list on the board. The point is that offering an on-the-board forecast at
the beginning of class as well as an on-the-board review list at the end
is a proven method for building what learning theorists call “hierarchical
learning” of course concepts]
A sample review might cover these items from today. This list
includes easy specifics about the course, essential logistical information, and
a brief review of concepts
·how many portfolios we’ll have and the due date
for the first one
·the name and location of the national newspaper
you’ll be reading all term
·the name of the classmate you
interviewed—perhaps establish this person as a “homework buddy” who can collect
handouts, take notes, and be a point of contact in the event that you are
·reasons for doing the interview (course
·the goals of the course,
Assignment for Next Time
Read PHG on critical reading and summary writing, pages
Logon to the
SyllaBase Class Page (http://writing.colostate.edu/syllabase/),
locate the class forum (Communication Tools/Discussion Forum), and post a
250-to-500 word message that addresses the following prompts:
Part I - Describe yourself as a writer.
What kinds of writing do you most enjoy and why? What kinds of writing do
you think are most important and why?
Part II - What influences you as a
writer? What in your background or environment might shape your choices
about content (what you like to write about) and style or approach (how
you write)? When you have finished posting your message, print a hard copy
and bring it to class. Note:You
might find it useful to compose your message in a word processor and then
paste the final version of the message into the discussion forum’s compose
Note that you can hasten your students’ use of the SyllaBase
discussion forum by preparing a handout with instructions for accessing and
using your class page. You’ll find an example handout in the Conducting Online
Discussions teaching guide.
Finally, it’s a good idea to make a list of the materials you
need for each class. As you type up your lesson plan, make this materials list
a header for each lesson you teach. That way you’ll generally arrive at class
with everything you need.