Review expectations for the course. Begin to address 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. Introduce the concept of “Writing as Joining a Conversation.”
Connection to Course Goals
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 Boyden article lays the foundation for the theme of the first portfolio: racial and cultural issues in post-Katrina New Orleans.
Introduce the Course 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 in a brief list 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.
Take attendance in whatever manner makes sense to you. It’s a good idea to call out names for the first few class sessions to help familiarize yourself with students’ names. If you feel like you have time, you might try a short icebreaker activity, like a survey question (try something like: what has been the most surprising thing about your first week of classes so far?), to help students feel more comfortable talking in class and to help you remember their names. 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.
Hand out class materials to new students.
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:
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.
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.
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 some concepts that are central to this course. "
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.
Purpose - Writers 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.
At this point, you might ask students to think about their own purposes for writing. You could ask them questions like:
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?
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?
Ask students to think about how audience might play a role in meeting their own purposes. For example, you could say:
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?
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 author's personal background, values, experiences, etc.
the time a text was written
the place a text was written and the place it was published,
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).
Have students consider how context influences their writing:
Our context involves a college writing classroom during the first week of school in the year 2006. 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)?
You might briefly note that we will be particularly interested in the idea of context as we read the articles for P1A because our context shapes the way we react, as writers and as readers, to social and cultural issues.
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 makes the most sense to you.
Here's our explanation: Writers who think about purpose, audience and context are usually involved in what we 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 the graphic below. You could put it on an overhead or draw it on the board.
Sample Transition: "Now that we’ve had a chance to explore how purpose, audience, and context influence our writing, let’s turn our attention to the responses you wrote as part of your homework."
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.
What was your purpose for writing this homework? (To voice an opinion, to respond to the article, to appease the teacher, to identify Boyden's main point, 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 racial tensions brought forward by Hurricane Katrina?
How would you describe your context for writing (2006, college classroom, new semester, possibly new to college scene…)? How did this context affect what you wrote and how you wrote it?
Here it may be useful to remind students that their context for writing extends beyond just where and when they're located to include their background, values, cultural heritage, etc. This is a tricky concept to get across - it may be useful to talk about the idea that writing doesn't happen in a vacuum, i.e. that there are always all kinds of factors working in the background that influence the way that we read and write.
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 assessments of Boyden's article?
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, "Are racial and cultural issues really a factor in post-Katrina reconstruction?" You might also ask them to discuss what they know about the "conversation" surrounding Hurricane Katrina. For example, how much do they know about the destruction - physical and otherwise - caused by the Hurricane?
Other questions you might ask:
Did they participate in any relief efforts?
What's their perception of how the reconstruction efforts have progressed?
What should the federal government's role in reconstruction be?
Were the initial responses of the federal government to the hurricane sufficient and timely?
What do you think should be the primary focus of reconstruction efforts at this point in time?
Collecting Homework: You may decide whether or not to collect students' homework. We suggest that you ask students to hold on to their homework assignments and turn them in with each major portfolio. Then, 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.
Conclude Class and Assign Homework (3 minutes)
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 (instructions are available online under the Help button, or at http://writing.colostate.edu/help/index.cfm?helppage=studentclass). 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 (put this on an overhead):
Logon to the class Writing Studio and locate the class calendar. Spend some time familiarizing yourself with the various tools and functions of the Writing Studio.