Connection to Course Goals. Students practice engaging rhetorical situation through their roles as critical readers of their peers’ drafts, which in turn helps them develop strategies to apply to their own revision efforts.
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 “reader-based” feedback relating to the assignment criteria but that doesn’t require them to “pre-grade” papers.
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 take the work home with them)
Students may come to class today unsure of their writing and of workshop (though the Academic Summary workshop should have helped with this, as should the practice workshop today). In an ideal world, each one of your students has drafted a letter, printed three copies of it, and stapled a freshly-revised Audience Analysis to the front of each one. The likelihood of this happening corresponds with the effectiveness of your workshop policy and is complicated by any number of factors outside of your control.
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 transition to organizing workshop groups.
Organize workshop groups (5-7 minutes)
Tip. Expect some students with no draft, partial drafts, or 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.
Tip. Decide ahead of time what you’ll do with partial drafts and students who haven’t yet started.
As with last time, aim to form groups based on the supplemental articles students have chosen to talk about, since this will permit their group members to offer more helpful and critical feedback. When organizing by supplemental articles isn’t possible, try to group students according to their chosen audiences—i.e., Specter, Friedman, or Komanoff.
Explain workshop procedures and conduct a practice workshop (15-20 minutes)
Remind students of the goal of a workshop, and explain the setup of today’s workshop: Group members should distribute their drafts to one another (keeping one for themselves), read their partners’ drafts, and write their own comments and questions on the drafts. When all in the group are done reading and writing comments, each member’s draft comes “up” for a turn, during which the group discusses the rhetorical situation and revision suggestions for that draft before continuing to the next group member’s draft.
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.
Tip. Practicing the workshop first will enable students to understand the process and to see how to make the most useful comments.
Tip. As groups are working on the practice workshop, float around to be sure students are focusing.
Writing a Letter Workshop
In this workshop, you’ll work in a group of three to generate critical feedback for each other.
Distribute your draft to your partners, retaining a copy for yourself. Each group member should then silently read the Audience Analyses and Letter drafts of his or her partners, writing comments and questions in the margins:
Reader responses—pretend to be 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 might have questions, and where he may otherwise object to the tone, claims, or logic of the Letter’s argument. Explain your reactions as much as possible.
Revision suggestions—using the grading rubric (on the assignment sheet) as a guideline, make a note at the end of the draft explaining 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 each draft, one at a time. Share your reader responses and your revision suggestions first, and then give the draft’s writer an opportunity to ask questions. Come to a consensus about a few revision suggestions for each draft before moving on to the next one.
Tip. You might generate a list with the students describing effective comments: “Effective comments are... specific… focused on assignment…”, etc.
Once groups finish responding to the sample Letter, allow them to share their end comments. Along the way, point out especially specific or otherwise effective comments.
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. Or 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 (or that you expect them to finish for homework). 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 bring your workshop drafts with comment written on them.
Remind students how essential it is to be in class on Thursday with their workshop 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 they receive and to make revision plans. Also, you can define “revision” and explain how it fits in to the writing process.