To help students understand where they are going, use transitions to explain the goal for an activity and why it is important.
For example: "In this second unit, you'll be concentrating on how cultural contexts shape texts. What influences a writer's perspective on an issue? Why does the writer approach this issue from a particular angle? Investigating the writer's context is important because it will help you read and think critically (two skills you'll develop this semester). Let's practice some critical reading by analyzing the context for the essay you've just read. I'd like you to break into five groups..."