Connection to Course Goals
Students learn more about rhetorical situations through their role as readers of sample letters.
Connection to Students’ Own Writing
Reading and responding to sample letters will not only give students practice for doing so with peers’ drafts but will also give them ideas for writing their own letters.
You don’t have a whole lot of prep to do for today! You will need to review the sample essays and make notes on them, however.
Sample essay for practice workshop (make copies OR ask students to print this off the Writing Studio and bring it to class with them)
Workshop instructions (use handouts so students can keep them for next time)
Students have begun collecting ideas for their letters and have read some samples. This moves them along in the process of drafting their own letters. While the focus is on practicing workshop techniques today, keep in mind that even practicing peer response yields one of the benefits of engaging in peer response: seeing writing from a reader's point of view.
Attendance and introduction (2-3 minutes)
You might begin class today by asking about your students’ collecting processes.
Explain workshop procedure and conduct a practice workshop (20-25 minutes)
Remind students of the goal of a workshop, and explain the setup of today’s practice workshop: groups will read drafts written by three writers, will make their own notes on the drafts and then will discuss their ideas to write revision suggestions for each writer whose draft they read. This is how we will conduct the workshop of their own drafts on Wednesday.
Practicing the workshop today will enable students to understand the process they'll engage in on Wednesday and to see how to make the most useful comments.
Distribute the workshop instructions and allow students time to read over them. Explain why you are asking them to respond as readers before they offer revision suggestions. Answer any questions that come up, and then ask groups to work through the workshop with the sample essays.
Writing a Letter Workshop
In this workshop, you’ll work in a group of three to collaborate on feedback for other writers.
As a group, decide which paper you will read first. Read (silently) the writer’s description of his/her audience, then read the letter itself and make your own notes on the draft:
Reader responses—try to place yourself in the mind of the addressee. In the margins of the draft, note where and why you imagine the addressee would agree and disagree. Note where the addressee might get confused, where he/she might have questions, and where he/she may not connect with the writer. Try to explain your reactions as much as possible.
Revision suggestions—using the grading criteria (on the assignment sheet) as a guideline, make a note at the end of the draft that includes things you’d like to see the writer not change (perhaps you find the letter’s organization to be very effective) as well as things the writer might consider changing (perhaps you couldn’t find many examples from the text and so the letter may leave its reader unconvinced).
Sign your name and provide your email address so that the writer can contact you with any questions.
When everyone in your group has finished reading and writing comments, talk as a group about the draft. Share your reader responses and your revision suggestions. Come to a consensus about a few revision suggestions. On a separate sheet, write an end comment that summarizes your discussion and revision suggestions. Each group member should sign his/her name to this end comment. Paperclip together all of the drafts and your group’s end comment and then move on to the next draft.
Once groups finish responding to the sample letters, allow them to share their end comments. Along the way, point out especially specific or otherwise effective comments. You might make a list on the board: “effective comments are. . .”
Apply results of the practice workshop (18-20 minutes)
After you have discussed how to provide effective peer response, discuss the sample essays in more detail. Guide students toward discovering what was effective in the letters they read as well as the revisions they suggested. With these ideas in mind, have students work on writing an outline for their letter or another collecting/shaping activity to move them toward drafting their letters for Wednesday.
Assign homework and conclude class (5-7 minutes)
Take extra time today to reiterate the importance of 1) being present on Wednesday and 2) being prepared with THREE copies of a complete draft (“complete” here means containing a beginning, middle, and end—it does not mean “finished”). Remind students of your workshop policies.
Homework for Wednesday
Draft your letter. Bring three copies of your draft and (revised)audience description to class on Wednesday for workshop. Remember that [add your workshop policy here].
Connection to Next Class
Today's class helped students practice peer response and collect ideas or "pre-write." Next time students will workshop the drafts they write for homework based on the collecting and shaping they did today.