Day 1 (Tuesday, August 21)
Connection to Course Goals
Today's class begins a process of academic inquiry.
Connection to Students’ Own Writing
Introducing students to each other and to the question-at-issue lays the groundwork for the Phase 1 writing assignments.
After orientation last week, you're well prepared to teach your first class (even if you feel like you're not!). To get ready for day 1, reread the syllabus introduction, revisit the first few readings you'll assign, prepare your materials (see the list below), ask for any advice, help, etc. you need (the lecturers are here for you!), and write out your own lesson plan (do this even if you plan to follow this one 100%--the act of writing it out in your own words and in a format that makes the most sense to you will give you confidence and will help you remember what you want to do, and why).
Class roster (as up to date as possible)
20 copies of your syllabus (if Writing Studio instructions aren't on your syllabus, prepare an extra handout with those)
Yellow handouts about the CO150 drop policy
Instructions for student introductions
Your notes about the readings for the first unit
List of questions/prompts for class discussion
Some students may have prepared for class today by buying the textbook. Also some may have set up Writing Studio accounts. Today is unique because it's a fresh start. Your students will come in with few ideas about what the class will be about, what the atmosphere will feel like, etc. One of your primary tasks for today is to establish a classroom culture that will work for you and your students, and to give students a fair idea of what they can expect for the rest of the semester.
Transition It's important to articulate a connection between each activity so that your classes feel well-planned and organized and, even more importantly, so that your students understand the purposes of the activities you ask them to do. Over time, you'll get good at transitioning without thinking about it. You may already be good at this; one way to ensure that you use transitions, and to help you speed to transition-use stardom, is to write them out in your lesson plan. Over time, you can scale this back, but at first it's a really good idea to think through transitions ahead of time. Here, you can simply say something like: now that we know who is here, let's take a look at what this class will be about.
Transition Here you might say, we'll be doing a lot of work together in this course so let's start to get to know each other now.
In this activity, students pair up and interview each other; then they introduce each other to the rest of the class. Here are instructions which you can put on an overhead (be sure to enlarge the font to 16pt or higher):
Pair up with someone seated near you (preferably someone you don't already know).
Take a few minutes to find out interesting things about your partner---you can ask the typical questions (name, major, hometown, etc.) but also try to find out something unusual, unique, silly, amazing, etc. so that we can start to learn about each other.
In a few minutes, I'll ask you to introduce your partner to the class, so be sure to jot down notes.
In this activity, you generate a handful of questions with the class and then go around the room and allow each student time to answer the questions. You can start out with the obvious--write "What's your name?" on the board. Ask the students what else they'd like to know about each other. Give them time--if nobody suggests anything, make another suggestion. Something like "What's your major?" works and might get them going with more suggestions. Once you have four or five questions listed, end with one of your own---something like "what did you have for dinner last night?" or "what's your favorite food?" can help connect this activity to our question-at-issue. Feel free to answer the questions yourself, too, if you'd like.
No matter the option you choose, keep track of time--it's easy for some students to get carried away. You need about 15 minutes (or more) after this activity to finish up with class. If you're running out of time, cut the activity short and finish it on Thursday.
Transition If you've talked about food in the introductions, a transition here will be pretty easy to come up with on the spot. If not, try something such as, you'll be getting to know each other more in the next few weeks as we read and discuss issues about food in the U.S.
Here's a sample explanation:
In the first few weeks of CO150, we're going to be inquiring into questions about food ethics. We'll read a number of magazine and newspaper articles written about food issues, and we'll focus in on one writer in particular. Michael Pollan is a professional writer and journalism professor who writes for the New York Times. He has written a lot of articles that address the question "what should we eat?" His research extends into many different fields--agriculture, food science, history, economics, philosophy, etc. and his writing appeals to many people. We're going to look at the ways in which he has inquired into this question and at the ways in which his writing appeals to readers, how well he argues his points, and how he goes about accomplishing his goals in writing. This will be interesting in and of itself, because Pollan's work is controversial, and just about everyone can connect to it in some way, but that's not the only reason we'll be doing this work. Later on this semester, you'll do an inquiry of your own; after having looked so closely at Pollan's inquiry you'll be well prepared to make your own choices as you research and write.
Transition Perhaps you'll say, since we'll be discussing this question quite a bit in the next few weeks, let's take some time to gather initial ideas now.
Prepare an overhead transparency with instructions:
On a sheet you can turn in, please write for a few minutes in response to the following questions:
If you've got a bit of time left, ask students to share some of their answers to the WTL questions. Have your own list of questions handy, too, so you can facilitate discussion as needed.
Some students may not be finished; tell them that they can turn in what they have and that you're not grading this (if you will be keeping track of WTLs and other small assignments, though, be sure students understand how you'll be doing this).
Perhaps: You'll get a chance to share more of your ideas on Thursday, when we'll discuss a series of short essays that I'm assigning for homework.
Homework for Thursday
*These directions represent one method of making articles available to students: putting copies of them in the File Folder of your Writing Studio class page. Students may also retrieve articles from www.michaelpollan.com or through Morgan Library databases. See appendix for a student-ready handout with directions for retrieving articles from library databases.
Wrap up today's class and point students forward to Thursday's class.
Be sure to always conclude class, even if you are pressed for time. Here you might say, it was great to meet all of you today; I'm looking forward to discussing the reading with you on Thursday.
Connection to Next Class
Today you've taken care of a lot of "business" and you've prepared students for what they can expect next time. On Thursday, you'll continue discussing the question-at-issue while introducing students to some fundamental course concepts.
You might take a moment to reflect on today's class, to assess what went well and what could have gone better (and go easy on yourself--you're probably way more aware of what you did or didn't say/do than your students are!), and to make notes about anything you need to remember for next time. Be sure to check email now and then before Thursday so that you can help students out with questions, Writing Studio issues, etc.
Also, take time to read over today's WTLs to assess students' prior knowledge of and opinions about the question-at-issue, to casually assess their writing abilities, and to begin generating a list of terms and questions for discussion and further inquiry.