Day 1 (Tuesday, August 25th)
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), and ask for any help you need (the lecturers are here for you!). Also, review your notes on examples and images of green rhetoric. Be sure you have familiarized yourself with how “green” is being rhetorically constructed. Be sure you have reviewed the rhetorical triangle for today. Write out your own lesson plan.
Materials (be sure to bring materials for each of your classes)
Some students may have prepared for class today by buying the textbooks. 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. You will also be establishing a foundation about green rhetoric, the course theme, around which the entire semester will revolve.
If you arrive a few minutes early to class, you might write the “agenda” on the board. A brief list of today’s activities could go something like: Course Introduction/ Getting to Know You / Writing as Conversation/ WTL / Rhetoric of Green/ Homework
Introduce yourself and the course (2-3 minutes)
Before class begins, write your name, the course number, section, and title on the board. Once all (or most) students have arrived, take a moment to introduce yourself--tell students what you would like them to call you, and consider what else you'd like them to know about you. Make sure everyone is in the right place—have students check their schedules to be sure that they're really in your section.
Attendance (3-5 minutes)
Use your roster to call names and make note of anyone who is absent. After you have called all the names on your list, make a general statement that if a student isn’t on the roster to see you after class. Possible reasons why the student isn't on your roster include (in order of likelihood):
Distribute and review your syllabus (10-15 minutes)
Spend time looking at the document with your students. Discuss the course description, your contact information, your grading system, and key course policies. You might not discuss every single thing in detail; if you don't (and even if you do), remind students to reread the document before the next class and to email you with any questions or concerns.
Distribute and explain yellow slips about CO150 drop policy (2 min)
Student introductions (10-15 minutes)
Choose one of the introduction activities below, or use another that accomplishes the goal of allowing students to make connections with each other and setting precedents about participation and community.
Option 1: 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 larger):
Option 2: 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. Feel free to answer the questions yourself.
Option 3: In this activity, you begin to get the students exploring his/her beliefs about writing. Students have been writing for some time now, and as such have considerable prior knowledge, so it is good to reexamine beliefs to determine if those beliefs are accurate or helpful. Until they do this, any new learning in the subject can be limited. Tell students to form groups of 3-4 to discuss their writing beliefs. Here are instructions you can put on an overhead.
From the list below, agree or disagree with each statement and provide and explanation of why.
Introduce the Idea of Writing as a Conversation Model (5 minutes)
Explain the ways in which writing is similar to conversation. Here’s a sample explanation:
Like a conversation, writing involves exchanges of ideas that help us shape our own ideas and opinions. It would be foolish to open your mouth the moment you join a group of people engaged in conversation—instead, you listen for a few moments to understand what’s being discussed. Then, when you find that you have something to offer, you wait until an appropriate moment to contribute. We all know what happens to people who make off-topic, insensitive, or otherwise ill-considered remarks in a conversation.
The following is a visual representation of the way in which this course is designed around the writing as conversation metaphor. Before explaining, present it to students on an overhead, or draw it on the board:
Once the students can see the image, explain:
Right now, we are at the first stage: reading what others have written. That is, we are listening in on the conversation. Later in the semester, we will conduct research to form our own opinions and add to the conversation.
An important part of academic inquiry is being able to set aside one’s own biases and preconceived ideas and really listen to what others are saying about the issue. This isn’t to say that readers don’t have reactions and responses but that it’s essential to be able to distinguish between subjective reactions to what the writer has said and an objective understanding of what the writer has said.
Stress the importance of remaining open-minded as we look at parts of the conversation going on about “green.” At this point in our inquiry, we are most concerned with the writer’s purpose, audience, and the context of what is being said, and less concerned with agreeing/disagreeing with the content.
Assign a Write-to-Learn (WTL) (5-10 minutes)
Briefly explain what a WTL is and why/when we do them in this course. Put an overhead of this WTL up for students (and remember to collect these when the students are done):
Spend a few minutes and write a definition of “green”. Then write a definition of “rhetoric”. Finally, do some freewriting to jot down everything you can think of related to the rhetoric of green.
Conduct a Class Discussion (10 minutes)
Ask some students to volunteer their WTL responses. Get them thinking about their responses to the WTL by asking questions such as “What definitions do you find most persuasive or interesting?” As students offer answers, encourage them to talk to each other by rephrasing their comments as you understood them and asking another student if he or she agrees, or asking “Who had a different reaction?” Don’t hesitate to ask for clarification. Use the board to record discussion ideas.
When looking at the various definitions of green, have the students think of the various ways they’ve observed green rhetoric in their lives. List some of these examples on the board and connect the examples to the following aspects of the rhetorical situation.
Example: On the bottom of my Chaco flip-flop, there is a sentence about the flip-flop being made from recycled material. What is the writer’s purpose of this instance of rhetoric? Who is the audience? Fill in the context of the situation.
Introduce examples of The Rhetoric of Green (15 minutes)
Show a “slideshow” of green ads/commercials/news clippings etc…to show how “green” has hit mainstream and everyone is talking about it! In other words, we are listening to the conversation. The purpose of this activity is to look at ways the rhetoric of green manifests in daily life.
Introduce and discuss Thesis Statements (5 minutes)
Briefly define “thesis statement” so the students can try to identify the thesis in tonight’s homework assignment. There are many ways of defining this term; for our purposes a definition such as the overall idea that the writer wants to communicate to readers works well. You might ask students what other words they’ve associated with “thesis,” such as “central claim,” “main argument,” etc…
Brainstorm a variety of ideas of how a reader can find or locate a thesis statement.
Assign Homework for Thursday (2-3 minutes)
Put the homework on an overhead transparency, explain it, and allow students time to copy it down. If you plan on using the calendar function on writing studio to post homework, encourage students to find it there.
Conclude Class (1 minute)
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 meeting you all today; I’m looking forward to discussing the readings with you on Thursday as we continue our exploration into the conversation about green rhetoric. On Thursday we’ll begin looking closely at a text and summarize the content and analyze the rhetorical situation.
Connection to Next Class
Today you've taken care of a lot of "business" and you've introduced the course theme: “The Rhetoric of Green.” You also introduced students to some fundamental course concepts. Quite a busy “first” day, but necessary to start the course off on the right foot. Take time to read over today’s homework to assess students’ prior knowledge of and opinions about the topic, to casually assess their writing abilities. On Thursday, you will continue with concepts you introduced today. You’ll move into identifying an author’s thesis and summarizing the argument as well as analyzing it in a rhetorical context.
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.