should use transitions as opportunities to connect activities
for your students; your students will benefit from knowing how
the activities build on each other. 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 transitions
into the natural flow of conversation during the class session.
You should NOT, however, feel that we are asking you to read the
suggested transitions here like a script in your classes.
You should use the transitions in this syllabus to the extent
that works best for you and then ultimately construct your own
transitions either before class or in an impromptu fashion.
You will become more comfortable with writing your own transitions
when you fully understand the course and its sequencing. We have
provided sample introductions, transitions, and conclusions as
examples of what a teacher might say during class. Again, we encourage
you to start composing your own transitions as early in the semester
as possible, but 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.
realize that transitioning from logistics to content can sometimes
be tricky so use those moments as opportunities to refer to your
marker board agenda (see Heads Up below). One strategy is to put
a check mark next to the item you just completed and to then introduce
the next item.
Yourself and the Course (7-10 minutes total)
Up: For each class you teach, you should write an Introduction. 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
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.
the course and yourself (2 minutes)
sure everyone is in the right course and section by putting your
name, the course number, title, and section number on the board.
This helps students who have wandered into the wrong room and
gives you a point of reference for the day's first activity.
Expect students to arrive late
on the first day—many are getting used to a new campus.
you introduce yourself, clarify what you would like your students
to call you. Recall our discussion of professionalism/formality
from training: how formal you are regarding your name plays
a role in the tone you set for your classroom from this day on.
Be prepared, though, for students to make mistakes and call you
the incorrect name or default to calling you "Professor"
or "Mr./Mrs." out of habit or lack of comfortableness.
out the orange Add/Drop sheet given to you in your mailbox.
roll (5-7 minutes)
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. Once you've gotten through your roll, ask if there is anyone
Ask unlisted students who say they're positive they're
registered and in the right place 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—that
will be set to give you current rosters for your sections.)
not promise any extra students that they will be able to enroll
or "override." Firstly, the English department
works hard to keep our writing courses capped at low numbers.
Overriding extra students into sections jeopardizes this and
also creates extra work for you. Secondly, even if someone
is on your roll but isn't in the class the first day, the add/drop
policy requires only students who don't attend the first TWO
classes to be automatically dropped (you will receive a note
from the department administrative assistants regarding automatically
dropping "no shows" by the end of the week). Thus,
you might have students who don't come the first day but show
up for the second class. Suggest that students who wish
to get into your section that they are welcome to stay for class
but dialing in through RamWeb (the online student enrollment
process) provides the best chance to enroll.
Also emphasize that students cannot drop the course
after the date on the orange add/drop sheet you handed out--no
if's, and's or but's. 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.
A good way to get to know students and to take attendance in
subsequent classes is to have them fill out a note card on the
first day of class that provides you with their full name/nickname,
year in school, major, email address, local phone number (for
emergency contact), any previous composition or English classes
taken, and any special needs they might have.
Also, the English Department provides yellow grade books in
which you can keep track of student work and attendance (see
Sue Russell in the English office). We suggest waiting
until the end of the first week before you put your roster in
a difficult-to-change medium, however, since you may have students
adding/dropping until then. Be extra careful not to lose
track of whatever method you use to take attendance during the
first week, though.
transition to next activity
that before you present the class with your expectations for the
course, that you'd like to find out what the students expect. You
might say: Before I present you with my expectations for the course,
I'd like to see what you expect from it. Please take out
a sheet of paper and write freely for the next 5 minutes about
what you expect from CO150.
Up: A "Write-to-Learn" (WTL) is a pedagogical tool
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.)
and have students do a Write to Learn (WTL) (5 minutes)
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.
Briefly discuss WTLs
Collect WTLs when you
are finished discussing them.
Transition to Next Activity
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
and explain policy statement and course nuts and bolts
the course policy statement, emphasizing the policies that you
consider most important. Be sure to explain at least the following
(for major assignments and overall class)
for homework assignments
Special Needs (make it clear from the beginning of class that
you are more than willing to accommodate students with special
needs such as learning disabilities, physical impairments, etc. but
that it is the students' responsibility to let you know of these
before problems occur. Taking an "an ounce of prevention
is worth a pound of cure" approach to special needs is
most effective for both you and your students.)
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.
Specify the goals of
Take a few moments to
explain what CO150 is about, the course theme (Participating
in the Discourse that Shapes Public Issues), and what students
should expect/learn from it (this should be on your policy statement
in a couple of sentences). This is also a good opportunity
to hand out a syllabus for at least the first unit* and/or an
assignment overview (see Appendix) so that students can make note
of major due dates throughout the semester.
*If you are using the
Writing Studio Calendar as your day-to-day syllabus, you can explain
to students how they can access this today or during the next
session (to ensure that all the correct students are present).
Regardless, we suggest using an overhead at the end of
each class session to assign homework for the first 2-3 days of
discuss how to read the timeline aspect of your syllabus (especially
if you are using a grid)
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.
the texts used for the course
will use the PHG and the New York Times
students in the delivery of the New York Times to their
out the subscription forms supplied by our New York Times
representative. You might have a sample form filled out
on an overhead to demonstrate how students should fill out their
forms. Be sure they put down your correct name in the "professor's
name" section, their full names, how they want to pay for
delivery, and particularly that they have their correct and complete
address filled out in the "delivery address" section.*
Students should complete the form in blue or black ink
(to ensure the fax machine transmits the information clearly).
Students may choose to add the Sunday edition to their delivery,
but they must have the Monday - Friday editions
delivered for class use.
You should also point out the toll-free
number students should call regarding delivery concerns, updates,
holds and cancellations. Finally, instruct your
students that they are responsible for canceling their subscriptions
at the end of the semester!
Russell (in the English office) will be faxing the completed forms
to the New York Times regional office in Denver on Thursday
and Friday of the first week of school, so you will need to turn
your forms in as soon as possible.
prepared for some students to fail to have their address memorized
by the first day of class. If that is the case, tell students
they may take their form home, complete it, and bring it by your
office the next day or next class period.
your class page and the CO150 Room in the Writing Studio
You'll also want to
discuss access to thematic readings. If you choose, this is a
good opportunity to hand out directions for accessing and logging
into the class page (you may also do this on an overhead, but
particularly for students who are new to CSU, a hand out can eliminate
missed steps and failure to access homework--there are guidelines
posted to the Appendix). You may also wait to do this during
the next class session when attendance is more settled.
Transition to Next Activity
might say something like: Community is important in a writing
classroom (where we hold discussions, work in groups and use peer
review with the writing process), so let's take some time to get
to know each other.
students pair up and ask each other questions about one another
and record their answers.
students a 1 minute warning before you'd like to them to stop.
Up : If need be, you can extend the actual minute
after your warning to 2 minutes. Giving students a "heads
up" that is shorter than the actual amount of time you actually
allow them to complete a task can be an effective technique for
Discuss What Students
Found Out About Each Other (5 minutes)
students to consider what kinds of things people were willing
to ask.Simultaneously or after a brief sharing
session, generate a list of corresponding question categories
on the board.
the interview activity (5 minutes)
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
can use these questions or write your own:
wasn't asked and why do you think that is?
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?
does this analysis say about our expectations of social interaction?
Of a composition classroom and what can be said there?
would our questions have differed if you were interviewing your
instructor? Or if you were interviewing a classmate’s grandparents?
would your questions and answers have differed if you were talking
to someone you met at a fraternity or dorm party? Why?
would your questions and answers have differed if you were just
meeting your host family for a semester in a foreign country?
each class you teach, you should write a conclusion. Today,
consider 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."
the future (or today if you choose), 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.
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]
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):
many portfolios we’ll have and the due date for the first one
name and location of the national newspaper you’ll be reading
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 absent.
for doing the interview (course connections)
the homework due for the next class session. In
addition to its obvious value as a first extended writing activity,
this assignment is designed to get students up and running with
the technology components of the course.
an overhead is effective for assigning homework before your students
are logged in and familiar with the Calendar on the Writing Studio.
Or, if necessary, use half sheets or slips of paper. The
less copying you can make at the start of the semester, however,
the better so you don't reach your copy limits too quickly.
can hasten your students’ use of the Writing Studio discussion
forum by preparing a handout with instructions for accessing and
using your class page. You will also need to create and
title the forums you use on your class page (recall our work with
the Writing Studio during training).
it’s a good idea to get into the habit of making a list of the
materials you will 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