Week Two - Thursday, September 1st

Thursday, September 1:  Daily Class Outline

Lesson Objectives

To continue discussing the issue of alcohol consumption on college campuses. To introduce and practice using the formal elements of response/argument (claims, reasons and evidence).

Connection to Course Goals

The discussion of homework articles is connected to our goal of helping students become accountable for the conversations they wish to participate in. Introducing the formal elements of response (claims, reasons and evidence) will help students transform their unstructured essays into more thoughtful and convincing responses.

Take Attendance and Introduce Class (3 - 4 minutes)

After taking roll, you may want to announce that the first portfolio is due in one week from today. Additionally, let them know that on Wednesday (Monday is Labor Day and there will not be class) they'll need a draft of their portfolio one essay for class workshop. Remind students that you are available during office hours to meet with them if they have questions about their writing. Also, remind them that the Writing Center (in Eddy room 6) is a great resource for help with their essays.

Discuss Homework Articles (10 minutes)

The goal of this discussion is to help students see how all three articles fit into the conversation regarding alcohol consumption on college campuses.

Begin by encouraging students to articulate the context (when it was written and where it was published), audience, and purpose for each article. You might draw a grid on the board to help guide this discussion:

  Context Audience Purpose
Olsen's article Ask: Where and when was this article published? What else do we know about the context that could help us better understand this article? Ask: Who was the article written for? How does this audience differ from us? How is the article still relevant to us? Ask: What was the author's purpose? What were they trying to accomplish?
Elmasry's article (same as above) (same as above) (same as above)
Martin's article (same as above) (same as above) (same as above)

Sample Transition: Now that we have a clearer sense of where these articles are coming from and how they fit into the larger conversation, let's discuss your reactions to Elmasry.

Discuss Homework Responses (10 minutes)

In groups or as a whole class, ask students to share their responses to Elmasry. Did they agree with him? If so, why? Did they disagree? If so, why? Also, how did they support their own opinions?

Transition: Explain to students that their homework responses may have been unstructured or informal and that this is okay because a first draft is meant for generating ideas. Now, we want them to take these ideas and shape them into a thoughtful and structured response because readers tend to take these responses more seriously.

Discuss How to Develop a Structured Response (10 minutes)

Tell students that in order to structure their responses, they need to consider their purpose, claim reasons and evidence. Define/reinforce these terms and have students apply them to their homework responses to Elmasry.

Purpose - What the writer is trying to accomplish. This is the writer's goal. (i.e. I want to agree with Elmasry. Or, I want to show how the issue of alcohol consumption is more complicated than Elmasry thinks).

Ask students to write out their purpose for responding to Elmasry (perhaps on the back side of their homework).

Claim - A claim is a debatable statement which summarizes the argument or response. The claim should directly reflect the purpose. (i.e. If my purpose is to disagree with Elmasry, my claim would be: I disagree with Elmasry). Claims are typically stated near the beginning of a writer's response. This lets the reader know where the essay is headed.

Ask students to see if their homework responses already include a claim. If they do have a claim, they should underline it. If they do not have a claim, they should write one out beneath their purpose.

Reasons - These are statements that support the claim. They answer the question: Why? (i.e. My claim is: I disagree with Elmasry. My reason is: Because he wrongly assumes that most college students abuse alcohol). Reasons often immediately follow the claim. They sometimes provide a "map" for the essay, letting readers know which points the paper will address and in what order. For shorter essays (like the ones we write in CO150) students should limit their reasons to no more than 3 to maintain a clear focus.

Have students think about the reasons they gave to support their response to Elmasry. They should label these in their paper "reasons." If they cannot find any reasons, tell them to list out one or two reasons that would support their claim.

Evidence - Evidence supports the writer's reasons. While reasons explain or tell why the claim may be true, evidence shows why it is true. Evidence may come in the form of personal experience, cultural observations, outside texts/research, or the text itself. Evidence is what makes a writer's opinions credible. Without evidence, a response is no more than a reaction or a rant.

Ask students to find any evidence they may gave included in their responses and to label it "evidence." If they didn't include evidence, tell them to list out what kinds of evidence they might look for to support their points.

Present Claims, Reasons and Evidence on the Board (10 minutes)

The aim of this activity is to examine possible responses to Elmasry's argument. Ask two students to put their claim, reason(s) and evidence on the board. See if anyone will volunteer (If they're hesitant to volunteer, tell them that it's like getting free "expert" assistance with their writing for the first paper).

Once the sample arguments are outlined on the board, ask other students if they would find these arguments convincing. Also, what suggestions might they have for making these arguments more convincing? Is there additional evidence for instance that they would advise using?

During this discussion, you might also reinforce what counts as evidence and where student's can find evidence. Also, explain that their responses should be focused and cohesive. They need to limit their essays to just one or two clear points. Similarly, their claims, reasons and evidence should all be connected. The reasons should logically follow from the claim and the evidence should logically follow from the reasons.

Review the Portfolio I Assignment Sheet (10 minutes)

Have students take out and read their assignment sheet for Portfolio I. Ask them if they have any new questions/concerns. Tell them that they have now gained the tools to successfully complete this assignment and highlight any important requirements. You may also choose to review all Portfolio I materials that you plan to collect so students can start to organize their work and prepare to turn it in. If you have a workshop policy (i.e. paper grade is lowered for missed workshops), remind them of this as well.

Conclude Class and Assign Homework (2 minutes)

Write a conclusion for class. For example, you might conclude class by previewing what you will do in class on Monday.

By now students should be checking their assignments on The Writing Studio, but you may still choose to put the assignment on an overhead if you wish.


  1. Read about subject, purpose and thesis on pg. 24 of your PHG text.

  2. Print off and read the sample Portfolio I - Part A paper. Note in the margins what you think this essay is doing well and where you think it could be improved.

  3. Write a draft of your Portfolio I - Part A paper and bring a clean copy to class for workshop.

** Note to GTAs: The Portfolio I - Part A Sample Essay is located in your appendix. You should decide ahead of time whether you want students to access this online through The Writing Studio (copy and paste it from its electronic form) or, whether you want students to access it through E-reserve at Morgan Library. Use photocopies only if you cannot make other arrangements (remember that your photocopies are limited).