Wednesday, August 24th
Wednesday, August 24: Daily Class Outline
To introduce the key concepts for the course. Explain writing as a situated activity (a series of choices made for a specific audience and purpose within a given context). Discuss WTLs from Day 1 and homework done for today.
Connection to Course Goals
The review of course concepts establishes familiarity with ideas that will be returned to and developed throughout the course. The homework discussion builds off the concepts reviewed in class on Day I (Purpose, Audience, and Context) by inviting students to consider what influences them as writers. Addressing their responses to the NBC and Katz articles lays the foundation for the theme of the first unit: alcohol consumption on college campuses.
Introduce Class and Take Attendance (5 minutes)
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 on the board and connect these activities to the class, week, portfolio and course goals. Or you might just use a statement that loops back to the previous class, (i.e. Last time we …. And today we'll…). Introductions let students know what to expect so they can begin to connect past and future classes and can see plainly what you have in mind for the day.
Remind students who you are/introduce yourself for those who missed the previous class session or just added the course.
Call out names and record attendance on your roll sheet or using the note cards you received during the previous class session. Once you've gotten through your roll, ask if there is anyone you missed. Some students may have added your class. Take down their names and check to see if they are on your class roll on the computer in the English Department Office.
Remember to bring CO150 Policy Statement and class materials to hand out to new students. At this time, you can also a note card for students to fill out if you are doing so. You may want to ask new students to stay a moment after class so that they can do this as well.
Introduce Key Course Concepts (20 minutes)
First, introduce the terms: purpose, audience and context. Explain to students that experienced writers often think actively about their purpose, audience and context and that this is something we hope they will get into the habit of doing.
Cover these points in any order that feels right for you. You may choose to write this information on the board or present it on an overhead.
At this point, you might ask students to think about their own purposes for writing. You could ask them questions like:
- Purpose - Writer's have purposes. Maybe their purpose is to simply inform. Or perhaps they want to convince readers to agree with their ideas. Or, they may just want to entertain. There are many purposes for writing.
What is your purpose when you write an e-mail to a friend?
What is your purpose when you send your parents a letter during the first week of school?
What is your purpose when you write a paper for a composition class?
Ask students to think about how audience might play a role in meeting their own purposes. For example, you could say:
- Audience - Writers think about their audience so they can successfully achieve their purpose. First, they need to determine who their audience is and what they are like. Then they might ask: What does this audience know about my subject? How will they feel about my ideas? What can I do to make them view me as credible and trustworthy?
Let's say that your purpose is to convince your parents to give you their car for the weekend. What do you need to know about this audience (your parents)? How will you shape your argument to fit their needs and expectations?
How might this argument look differently if you changed your audience? Let's say you were asking your best friend to borrow their car. What might you say to them that you wouldn't say to your parents?
Have students consider how context influences their writing:
- Context -In addition to audience, writers need to think about their context. Here, context refers to the situation or circumstance that surrounds a piece of writing. Context includes things like: the time a text was written, the place it was written, the place it was published, and the cultural events that were occurring at that time (i.e. Something written during the Civil War is attached to a particular historical context. If we know little about that time period, it's likely we won't fully understand the text).
Our context involves a college writing classroom during the first week of school in the year 2005. How might this context affect the way we write in here? How might this writing look different than the kinds of writing that were produced in college classrooms fifty years ago?
How does your writing change in other contexts (i.e. When you're writing for a science class? When you're writing an email to a friend?)
Writing as Conversation. Once students are comfortable with purpose, audience and context, tell them there is one more basic concept you'd like to cover today: Writing as Conversation. You may explain this concept in whatever way feels most natural.
Here's our explanation: Writers who think about purpose, audience and context are usually involved in what we (and many other rhetoricians) refer to as a conversation. They write as a way to participate in an ongoing dialogue on an issue. Unlike the writing we often do for school (which can sometimes feel forced or detached) this kind of writing is very purpose driven. We call it a conversation because like a conversation the exchange of ideas continues to build until writers arrive at some answer or truth.
In order to participate in a conversation, writers need to know what has already been "said" and where the conversation is currently headed. They don't want to risk seeming naïve or uninformed by repeating what others have already pointed out (i.e. "Save the rainforest." Or, "The media has a liberal bias!") Rather than reinventing the wheel, writers would do better to research what's already been said about an issue and then build off it by adding something new to the conversation (i.e. "The media's perceived liberal bias may affect the way people currently view the war in Iraq").
CO150 relies heavily on reading and research so students may become informed and accountable for what's been said before joining the conversation.
You may want to present the ideas above visually by using a graphic representation. You could put it on an overhead or draw it on the board.
1.) We begin by reading what others have written on a current, debatable issue.
2.) We form our own opinions on the issue and find ways to support our ideas.
3.) We add to the conversation by writing our own arguments or texts for others to read and respond to.
Sample Transition: I've read your responses from the Write to Learn last class, and would like to take a few minutes to address your concerns.
Discuss WTLs from Day 1 (3 - 5 minutes)
Address any student concerns that didn't come up on the first day. Also, you can explain the dual focus for the class:
You may wish at this point to also address any expectations they've articulated that you believe will clearly NOT be covered by CO150 (i.e. writing poetry, reading Shakespeare, giving speeches, etc…). This helps to clarify what the course will cover.
- Writing is our primary concern, so we'll spend a lot of time emphasizing things like purpose, audience, and context. We tend not to focus on skills, such as grammar and mechanics, as much as we do on larger concepts and approaches to writing; however, we will work individually with students who face some challenges with grammar and mechanics.
- Joining public conversations is our secondary focus, so we'll also be looking at important social and political issues.
Sample Transition: Does anyone have other concerns about the course and what we'll cover (if so, address these)? Then, let's move on to discuss the homework responses you wrote for today.
Discuss Homework Responses (15 - 20 minutes)
First, apply students' work to the concepts covered in class today (Purpose, Audience, Context). You might ask the following questions. Possible responses are mentioned in parentheses.
Sample Transition: Now that we've considered how purpose, audience and context may have shaped your writing, let's talk about what you wrote. What are your initial opinions on this issue?
- What was your purpose for writing this homework? (To voice an opinion, to respond to the articles, to appease the teacher, to get a good grade in CO150…)
- What did you perceive as your audience? (Most likely the teacher). How did this affect what you wrote or how you wrote? How might your response been different if a friend has asked you to share your opinion on the issue of drinking?
- How would you describe your context for writing this (2005, college classroom, new semester, possibly new to college scene…)? How did this context affect what you wrote and how you wrote it?
You may choose to lead this discussion as a whole class, or you might ask students to get into groups of 3 - 4 and discuss what they wrote. The focus of the conversation should be on the question, "Is drinking really a problem for college students?" You might also ask them to discuss what they know about the "conversation" surrounding drinking at CSU. For example, are they aware of the deaths that occurred in the Fall of 2004? Are they familiar with the policies for drinking in the dorms and at Highs Stadium?
Other questions you might ask:
- Why do so many people think that drinking is a problem on campuses?
- Do you think the students interviewed in the NBC article represent the norm as they suggest?
- Do you agree with Francine Katz's claim that most of today's students are making responsible decisions? Do you think her "Social Norms marketing approach" would work to reduce drinking? Why or why not?
- Consider where these articles are coming from. Dateline NBC is a news source that seeks to grab viewers' attention with highly dramatized stories. Francine Katz works for Anheuser-Busch and is writing this article during Alcohol Awareness Week. How might these contexts influence what these writers are saying?
Conclude Class and Assign Homework (3 minutes)
Explain that we will use the concepts from today's class to write an academic summary and to read an article critically for next Monday. Then, in class on Friday and Monday, we'll continue addressing the discussion of alcohol on college campus.
Note: Let students know that, after this week, they should begin accessing homework via the Calendar feature on your class page on the Writing Studio. You should provide instructions for how they can do this (an instructions handout is available in the Appendix). You should also decide if you want students to create Writing Studio accounts before you enter them into your Studio Class or if you want to enter them first. If you want to enter students first, it's helpful to get their email addresses as soon as possible.
Homework for Friday (put this on an overhead)
1.) Logon to the class Writing Studio and locate the class calendar. Bring your questions to class about accessing the Writing Studio.
2) If you just joined the class, respond to the articles from Monday's assignment: Print off and read the article published by NBC titled, "College Binge Drinking: Administrators Struggle with Student Alcohol Consumption" and the article by Francine Katz titled, "Staying Sober, Being Cool." (Both articles are available through E-reserve at Morgan Library)
Collecting Homework: You should collect the homework, because you will need this homework assignment to help assess your students' writing ability in case they need assistance in the writing center or should be placed in CO130.
For later homework assignments, you can grade students' homework as process work when you look at their major papers. We recommend this approach because we urge you to spend the bulk of your evaluating time on providing feedback for the major assignments rather than on process work.