This syllabus serves as a general model that can be adapted by CO130 instructors to meet their students' needs. Please note that this sample was drafted when our semesters were only 15 weeks long. You can see a more detailed syllabus under the Teaching Materials link.
Week 1: Writing processes, writing rituals, and prewriting strategies
What processes help writers get started and keep going as they write? Do all writers use the same strategies? Class Activities: Discuss writing myths, rituals and processes. Present and practice prewriting/collecting strategies. Assignments: Informal writing about preferred writing processes and rituals. Personal narrative (audience = writer and classmates) about an experience with education (or the class topic).
Weeks 2-3: Reading strategies
How are reading and writing connected? How does reading for learning differ from reading for other purposes? How is reading a prewriting strategy? Class Activities: Discuss reading techniques and how reading might help students with their own writing. Class reading of an essay with a subject similar to the personal essay from last week (for example, if the class is using an education theme, something like Russell Baker would be a good example). Discuss what makes writing interesting and effective--develop the class's own rhetorical terminology. Informal peer workshop for students to read each other's essays; prompt students to come up with questions for the writers as well as ideas for their own essays. Assignments: Begin revision plan for personal essay.
Week 4: Audience awareness; revising to meet audience needs
Who are potential audiences in the university? How do audiences differ? Who might find your narrative useful and how would you revise it to meet their needs and interests? Class Activities: Continue looking at readings and developing rhetorical terminology, with particular attention to the question of audience (look at some academic and some non-academic pieces on the subject of education). Then, have students look at their own piece and imagine a specific audience that would find it useful (whether academic or not). Students then revise their pieces to meet the needs of that audience. Assignments: Audience analysis of readings/reactions to readings. Revise the narrative into a more audience-aware form for the portfolio.
Week 5: Summarizing
Why is summarizing a valuable learning tool? When might a summary be useful or required?
What are the features of effective summaries? Why should summaries be objective? Class Activities: Discuss the purpose of summary and when students have done this in the past.
Allow students to practice summary both in and out of class, with texts of increasing complexity.
The goal for this week should simply be reading accurately and condensing information appropriately. Assignments: Writing in response to readings--summaries.
Week 6: More work with summary--linking personal experience with academic context
How do readers use their personal experience to make sense of new information? What academic reading/writing assignments draw mainly on personal experience? Class Activities: This week should introduce a focus on ideas rather than events in summary--the notion that even essays which are strictly narrative have a purpose beyond conveying the experience itself. Students should practice identifying and then responding to the ideas in the essay, rather than the experiences themselves. Assignments: Writing in response to readings--summaries and responses.
Week 7: Focusing, developing and organizing ideas
What techniques can help writers communicate effectively with readers? Why do readers need detail? How do writers organize material to present it efficiently to readers? (Backwards outlines) Why do readers expect these organizational patterns? How do the patterns make reading more efficient? How can writers revise their texts to make the patterns more helpful to readers? Class Activities: Students begin applying some of the rhetorical terminology they've been developing to their own writing. Students will develop appropriate criteria for the summary/personal response, considering all that they've learned so far about an academic audience (including the idea that personal experience should have a point and be clearly relevant to the essay's topic). Then they'll look at sample essays to consider how effective those drafts are, develop a revision plan as a class, and revise aspects of a sample essay in groups. Assignments: Drafting summary/responses.
Week 8: Revising to meet audience needs. Workshopping. Preparing Portfolio 1.
What techniques help writers revise? When might writers prewrite as they revise? How do audience and purpose shape revising strategies? How can outside readers help with revising?
Where does proofreading fit into the writing process? How can readers help writers with final revisions and proofreading? Class Activities: Now students will help each other apply the criteria developed in Week 6 to their own essays, through peer review workshops. They'll also learn about specific common grammatical/usage errors and (in groups) teach a particular concept to the class, using their own writing as examples. Assignments: Revising essays for Portfolio 1
Week 9: Revising strategies. Collect Portfolio 1. Introduce Portfolio 2--other forms of academic writing.
What academic reading/writing tasks draw less on personal experience? When do writers use other sources to supplement their personal experience and insights? What kinds of data supplement personal experience? What do readers expect from writing based on data? How can writers help readers understand new concepts? What mixture of personal experience and data works well in academic papers? Class Activities: Return to some of the essays we've read previously on the class topic, specifically to look at the mixture of personal experience and data used. Practice discourse/source analysis with a class reading. Use this practice source analysis as a way for students to begin coming up with their own criteria for what makes a good "academic" source. Students join research groups based on topic interests. Assignments: Proofreading essays for Portfolio 1.
Week 10: Introduction to library research
What resources in the library are available to help writers find information? How do writers document their sources? Class Activities: The class will spend at least one day this week in the library, learning and practicing fundamental library and Internet research methods. Research groups will find a collection of source materials on their common topic, and each member will complete a source analysis worksheet on one of those materials. Then, students will write a draft of their source analysis paper. Assignments: Library work on thematic topics. Research process. Work on source analysis.
Week 11: Organizational strategies revisited; source analysis
How do writers organize data for readers? How does the context affect choices of content and organization strategies? What are typical ways that writers blend personal experience and data for readers? Class Activities: Students will workshop each other's source analysis papers. They will discuss how the second response assignment differs from the first and how those differences will affect content, organization, and evidence. Assignments: Begin drafting for Portfolio 2 (Response Using Sources). Select "primary" text (the one they'll respond to), focus, and supporting texts (the ones they'll use for evidence).
Week 12: Drafting a paper that uses sources: focus and development
How do writers maintain their own focus while using source material? How do writers use source material to support their own ideas? How do writers know when they have included enough source material? Class Activities: Class this week will center on helping students maintain focus when supporting their agreement and disagreement with other texts. The class may return to some of the sample essays to look at how other authors use source material to support their own ideas. Assignments: Continue drafting Response Using Sources.
Week 13: Revising strategies revisited. Workshopping.
How do audience and purpose shape revising strategies? What revising strategies help writers who use outside source materials? How can writers use workshop peers to be sure they have included enough information and organized it clearly? Class Activities: This week the class should complete several workshops on their drafts, focusing on specific elements like focus, support, and organization. Assignments: Revise Portfolio 2.
Week 14: Preparing Portfolio 2. Portfolio 2 due. Class Activities: Continue/complete workshopping Portfolio 2 assignments, including an "editing" workshop on how to incorporate source material correctly. Assignments: Proofread and prepare Portfolio 2.
Week 15: Catch-up (if necessary) and reflection Class activities: The class activities this week should lead students (in large- and small-group discussion) through a reflection on what they've learned about academic writing and how their own writing has developed through the semester. Discuss through a sample how to complete the course postscript. Assignment: Course postscript analyzing the effectiveness of one piece of their own writing from the semester in terms of its purpose and intended audience, and discussing possibilities for future revision.