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Unit 1, Day 1:  Tuesday, August 21


What you'll do today in class:


-         Have students learn each other's names and something about their classmates

-         Introduce the long-term expectations for the semester (the course goals and skills students will develop and apply)

-         Introduce the everyday expectations of the course (in terms of homework and other assignments, class discussions)

-         Begin considering the role of context in influencing rhetorical choices and introduce the topic of cultural analysis


Connection to course goals:  The interview activity establishes communication with each other necessary for peer revision workshops and class discussions.  This activity, along with the introduction to course goals, also introduces students to concepts of context and the rhetorical situation. The interview activity further introduces the idea of how culture creates contexts that influence our actions; awareness of this situation is key to eventually being able to write within academic, cultural and civic contexts.




1.      Introductions (2 minutes):  Make sure everyone is in the right course and section.  Putting the course number, name, and section number on the board helps weed out students who have wandered into the wrong room.  Expect students to drift in late on the first day—many are getting used to a new campus and still can't find their way around yet.


2.      Introduce yourself and take roll (5 minutes):  Call names and record attendance on your roll sheet. Also write on roll sheet nicknames and even phonetic pronunciations of difficult names.  While you'll probably use some other attendance-taking measure in the future (such as collecting homework), taking the time to call roll in the first few days will help you learn students' names.


-         Because students may have added or dropped since the time your roll sheet was generated, you will most likely have students who have registered for your class whose names do not appear on the roll. Ask them to stay after class and give you their names and ID numbers. Others will THINK they are enrolled in your section, but that must be confirmed through the registrar. (We have a laptop computer in the main office—Eddy 359—to give you current rosters for your sections.)

-         DO NOT PROMISE ANY EXTRA STUDENTS THAT THEY WILL BE ABLE TO ENROLL.  The add/drop policy requires only students who don't attend the first TWO classes to be dropped.  Thus, you might have students who don't come the first day but show up for the second class.

-         Also emphasize that they CANNOT DROP after the date on the add/drop sheet.  They also cannot withdraw from CO150. If they want out, they must do it by the drop date.


3.      Write to Learn (WTL) (5 minutes):  Have students take out a piece of paper and write for five  minutes or so about what they expect out of CO150 and also what they hope to contribute. You can put this prompt on the board or on an overhead.


4.      Collect their writing and explain WTL (5 minutes):  Tell students they can expect to do some in-class writing like this to help them collect their thoughts to jump-start a discussion, remember a text they read for homework that is about to be discussed, or to generate ideas for their papers. Let students know that you'll discuss their answers today if there is time, but if not you'll address them in the next class period. Also, you may want to let them know that you won't always collect their WTLs on a daily basis but will at some point (with their portfolios).  (See the “Collecting Homework” section in the introduction to the syllabus.)


Transition to next activity (use these explanations to connect activities for students. They'll benefit from knowing how the activities build on each other):  “Now we're going to talk about the particulars about what you can expect in this course, which will address (hopefully) some of the issues you brought up in your writing.”


5.      Discuss syllabus (5 minutes): Briefly discuss how to read the assignments due (especially if you are using a grid), the types of assignments in more general terms—save specifics for later.


6.      Explain Policy Statement (7-10 minutes): Show the books used (many will have bought older editions that won't have the same readings in them).  Present the course policy statement, emphasizing the policies that you consider the most important.  Be sure to explain at least the following policies:


-         Attendance

-         Grading (for major assignments and overall class)

-         Grading for homework assignments


You'll probably also want to cover the course topic and the required materials, as well as the philosophy for our cultural theme.  One good strategy is to have a copy of your policy statement for the OH that has highlighted or annotated the essential ideas you want to convey.  If not on the OH, just having your own highlighted copy can help quell those first-day jitters and prevent you from forgetting anything really critical you want to convey.  Or you can delegate some of the responsibility by having students read sections.


Transition to next activity:  “We're going to begin examining the larger culture (the United States in terms of identity, the media, and education) by examining the culture of this classroom in this next activity.”


7.      Interview activity (5-7 minutes):  Have students pair up and ask each other questions about one another and record their answers so they can report back to the whole class.


8.      Report results of interviews by having students introduce each other (20 minutes):


9.      After students have introduced each other, ask them to consider what kinds of things people were willing to offer to a stranger (5-7 minutes):  Then generate a list of categories on the board.


10.  Discuss the interview activity (15 minutes):  Your goal in this discussion is to highlight how context and rhetorical situations define what we can say and how we can say it.  Our context and rhetorical situation here is a college composition classroom and that affects how we asked questions and what questions we asked.


·        What wasn't asked and why do you think that is?

·        Why are these things people will ask and will tell?

·        What does this say about our expectations of social interaction? of a composition classroom  and what can be said there?

·        How are these answers specific to what an American of your age (or others) might think is important?

·        How would our questions have differed if you were interviewing your instructor? Why?

·        How would your questions and answers have differed if you were talking to someone you met at a fraternity or dorm party? Why?

·        How would your questions and answers have differed if you were just meeting your host family for a semester in a foreign country? Why?


CONCLUSION: “Today we examined how context influences our actions and choices (interview activity). We'll continue with this idea on Thursday and connect this idea more directly to culture and writing.”


Optional Activity (if you have extra time): Discuss their responses to the WTL.  Generate a list on the board to show commonalities and differences between answers and how those expectations will (or will not) be met in this course.  It's okay to address issues like "I think this class will suck."  A lot of times it helps to let them express these views on the first day so they can see that you are willing to listen to (although not necessarily believe) their views.


Assignment for Day 2: 


-         Read “Introduction:  Reading Culture” in RC (1-4), “Purposes for Writing” and “Purpose and Audience” in PHG (21-26), “The Writing Process” in PHG (126-137), and Zoellner’s “I’m O.K., But You’re Not” in PHG (28-29). 

-         After reading, write a 1-page typed response that explores these related questions:  What is my cultural identity?  In what ways do I define myself?  What or who influences my sense of identity, cultural values, and ways of thinking?  How has my cultural identity changed and what has been most influential in shaping those transformations?