Monday, August 31

Day 4 (Monday, August 31st)

Lesson Objectives

Students will


Decide how you will prefer to keep your attendance record from here on out (you shouldn’t have any more roster changes), and prepare what you need in order to do so. Also, decide how you will hold students accountable for reading—quizzes? WTLs?  Collect homework? another strategy? Review critical reading strategies (PHG 153-156.) Make sure you have notes about critical reading strategies.



For today’s class, students have read “Green, Greener, Greenest,” and they have drafted summaries (remember to collect these in order to hold students accountable). They are expecting to discuss their summary choices, including why they chose when to use direct quotes and when to summarize.


Agenda (before class begins)

Write the agenda on the board if that’s what you’ll prefer to do throughout the semester. 

Attendance (2 minutes)

After today’s class you should not have any roster changes, so you can begin to take attendance in the same way you’ll take attendance throughout the semester.  Be sure to keep an accurate record so that you can apply your attendance policy fairly.  Keeping accurate attendance records is essential. 

Introduce class (2 minutes)

Introduce today’s class by linking back to last week (last week, we began to inquire and to learn about summary writing for example).  Preview the activities you’ll do today.

WTL  (5-8 minutes)

You might use today’s reading for meaning overhead to get students warmed up for critical reading.

WTL: Please use your own paper to provide brief answers to the following prompts:


Summary review and self-workshop (10-12 minutes)

Present the following summary criteria on an overhead and use it to review with students what is expected in an academic summary.


When we write academic summaries we want to consider the following:

Purpose/Audience: You want to convince your audience that you have read the article closely and understand its argument. We show this by accurately representing the author's central claim and key supporting points.

Objectivity: You must be sure your summary reports the argument objectively, avoiding anything subjective (such as personal reactions or judgments).

Attribution: Your summary should cite the article’s author, title, place and date of publication. Use author tags so that it remains clear whenever you report the author's ideas and words.

Quotes/Paraphrases: Your summary should contain a mix of paraphrases and quotations. The paraphrased and quoted passages should be chosen appropriately and integrated well into your summary.


Present the following prompts on an overhead transparency, and ask students to work through them with their own summaries (anyone without a summary can work on drafting one now).  Explain how they reflect the criteria you just reviewed so that students don’t think of them simply as a checklist.

Summary Self Workshop (10-12 minutes)

This workshop will help you determine how well you have accomplished the goals of representing the participants’ arguments both accurately and objectively. 

Now, look over your paper.  You should have an underlined sentence or two, three circles, a few stars, and a few boxes.  If any of those things are missing, make a note to yourself that you need to add them in revision.  If you have anything in brackets, be sure to remove them in revision.

Review close reading and writing as a conversation (3-5 minutes)

To transition students into critical reading, spend a few minutes reviewing what it means to read closely.  Students have this knowledge now, so you can rely on them to explain it to each other.  Get them started with a question like, “What does it mean to read closely?” and record their answers on the board.  Leave some room to one side so that, in a few moments, you can compare critical reading with close reading.

Remind students of the writing as conversation metaphor.  If they seemed to pick up on this well last week, you can ask “in what ways is writing similar to conversation?” or you can explain it again.  Have the conversation model overhead handy so you can remind them that the class is designed with this metaphor in mind.  Right now we’re still in stage 1 (reading what others have written), but we’re no longer reading only to understand the writer’s argument.

Introduce critical reading and the rhetorical situation (5-10 minutes)

Ask for student ideas regarding the concept of critical reading.  If students get caught up in “criticism” and “criticizing,” present them with the alternative phrase “active” reading.  What does it mean to read actively?  What can you do to/with a text beyond reading closely?

List student ideas on the board next to your “close reading” list.  There will be some overlap, since it’s impossible to read critically if you’re not also reading closely.  Let students come to this realization on their own; if they don’t, be sure to point it out.  Here is the language that the PHG uses to describe critical reading: “Critical reading simply means questioning what you read.  You may end up liking or praising certain features of a text, but you begin by asking questions, by resisting the text, and by demanding that the text be clear, logical, reliable, thoughtful, and honest.”  Students will read more about critical reading for homework, so it is not essential that you cover all of the ground now. 

Observe the lists you’ve made on the board, and ask students to point out similarities and differences.  The major difference is that close reading involves finding out what a writer is saying, and critical reading involves evaluating how (and how well) a writer has composed his/her text.

During this discussion, you may also want to talk about the role of critical reading in academic inquiry to help students understand why we do it.  For example, understanding how an author addresses his or her purpose, audience, and context can help us evaluate the quality of information and arguments.

To begin looking at how the text is composed, readers need to ask questions about the rhetorical situation.  Your students likely have never heard of “rhetorical situation” (though they may have heard the same concept referred to as the “writing situation”), so this will be new to students.  Introduce the key terms and relationships with the Rhetorical Situation graphic on the overhead.

rhetorical triangle

Next, show students questions they can ask to find out about the rhetorical situation (see pages 153-156 of the PHG). 

Discuss “Green, Greener. Greenest” (10-15 minutes)

To guide your discussion on the reading use these Questions for Understanding the Rhetorical Situation

Writer and Purpose



Thesis and Main Ideas

Organization and Evidence

Language and Style

Once a reader has answered these questions, he/she can go on to respond and evaluate, asking questions like: “Is the overall purpose clear?” and “Does the writer misjudge the readers?” and “Did the tone support or distract from the writer’s purpose or meaning?”

Assign homework (2-3 minutes)

Today you can begin to assign homework in the way you will do so throughout the rest of the semester. If you plan to post homework to the Writing Studio, it is fine to remind students of that and simply talk through the homework assignment. You might continue to put the homework on the overhead and/or create handouts, but be aware that your students might come to rely on that and ignore the Writing Studio calendar. Some teachers choose to write the homework on the board with the agenda. Whatever you choose to do, today is the day to start the routine.

Homework for Wednesday

Conclude Class
You might conclude class today by handing out Assignment 1. Alternatively, some teachers leave most of the printing to their students. You might consider using the Assignments function on your Writing Studio page and have students print these out themselves.

Connection to Next Class
Today you’ve emphasized the importance of both close & critical reading. You’ve gotten students familiar with questions that describe what they are reading critically. Now you will move them into responding to their critical observations.