Connection to Course Goals
Students learn more about rhetorical situations as they “walk in someone else’s shoes” as they read drafts. Workshopping encourages students to engage in the writing process as well as in peer-to-peer communication.
Connection to Students’ Own Writing
Workshops enable students to get feedback on almost final drafts. Peer response requires reading texts as a reader and as a writer, so it helps students get ideas for revising their own papers.
You don’t have a whole lot of prep to do for today! You might decide that a different version of workshop would work better for your class; if so, plan it carefully so that students give feedback that relates to the assignment but that doesn’t require them to evaluate or “pre-grade” papers.
Sample essay for practice workshop (make copies OR ask students to print this off and bring it to class with them)
Workshop instructions (use handouts so students can take the work home with them)
In an ideal world, each one of your students has drafted a letter for today’s class and has printed three copies of it. The likelihood of this happening corresponds with the strictness of your workshop policy, and is complicated by any number of factors outside of your control. Expect a few students to come to class with no draft, with partial drafts, or with only one copy of a draft. You might have an absence or two as well. For these reasons, it may be best to arrange groups during today’s class. Students may come to class today unsure of their writing and of workshop (though the summary workshop should have helped with this, as should the practice workshop today).
Activities Attendance and introduction (2-3 minutes)
You might begin class today by asking about your students’ drafting processes. Take a few minutes to allow everyone to arrive, and then ask to collect workshop drafts (which you’ll redistribute in a bit).
Collect workshop drafts and organize workshop groups (5-7 minutes)
There’s potential for mayhem here, but if you ask each student to write his/her name on all three drafts and to paperclip them together, you should be fine. Decide ahead of time what you will do with incomplete drafts: will you allow them to be workshopped? If you do, try to distribute them throughout the room so that one group doesn’t have three incomplete drafts to read.
You can allow students to choose workshop groups (aim for groups of 3), you can have them count off, or you can assign them—whatever will work best for your students.
Explain workshop procedure and conduct a practice workshop (15-20 minutes)
Remind students of the goal of a workshop, and explain the setup of today’s workshop: groups will read drafts written by three other class members, will make their own notes on the drafts and then will discuss their ideas to write revision suggestions for the writer.
Practicing the workshop first will enable students to understand the process 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 essay.
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.
Note: As groups are working, you can organize the drafts for the groups (make sure you don’t give a paper to its writer’s group).
Once groups finish, 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. . .”
Distribute workshop drafts and allow time for workshop (40+ minutes)
Students should be ready to go after having done the practice workshop. They can take their time today, as they’ll have time on Thursday to finish. You can require that for homework students finish reading and making individual comments on the drafts they don’t finish today (this can be motivation for groups to stay on task).
Assign homework and conclude class (2-3 minutes)
Conclude class by explaining that you will give groups time to finish workshopping on Thursday. Try to get a sense of how far along groups are, and determine whether or not they’ll need to work on commenting for homework. Also, assign the following:
Homework for Thursday
Read about the writing process on pages 34-48 of the PHG. Please bring your book to class with you.
Be sure to be on time to class on Thursday, and to have with you all of your peers’ drafts.
Remind students how essential it is to be in class on Thursday with their peers’ drafts.
Connection to Next Class
Thursday’s class is a continuation of today’s class: students will finish workshopping, will have an opportunity to review the feedback and to make revision plans. Also, you can define “revision” and explain how it fits in to the writing process.