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Unit 1, Day 10:  Thursday, September 20


What you'll do today in class:


-         Practice workshopping using the sample essay

-         Analyze contextual strengths and weaknesses of the sample Essay 2

-         Conduct a mini-workshop (claims and evidence)


Connection to course goals:  The activities from today's class emphasize the importance of revision in the writing process.  Practicing a workshop with the sample Essay 2 asks students to evaluate how well a text meets a writing context, while at the same time developing their critiquing skills in preparation for helping each other revise on Tuesday.  It also reminds students that judgment of writing depends on context.  The final activity asks them to consider how the choices they made in their introduction set up expectations for their essay and provide practice for the main workshop on Tuesday.




1.      Assign WTL on Essay 2 sample (5-7 minutes):  Ask students to take a couple minutes to skim over the sample essay again and then respond to these questions:

·        How well does this essay meet the context for Essay 2?

·        What aspects of the essay work well in meeting that context and why? What parts of the essay don't meet the context as well and why?


2.      Discuss Essay 2 sample (10-15 minutes):  In this activity we're trying to get students thinking of the sample essay in terms of the context of the assignment rather than as a "model" for them to follow or avoid. Hopefully students will raise issues of focus and development, but if not make sure you ask them to consider these aspects of the sample essay. These are the two most important parts of writing we're trying to teach them with the Essay 2 assignment, so try to focus on them as much as possible.  Other concerns such as style, grammar, tone, etc., can certainly be brought up and discussed, but emphasize that these are less important in the overall scheme of this essay than focus and development.


A.     Discuss WTLs:

·        Which parts of the sample essay worked well for our context?  Why?

·        Which parts didn't work as well?  Why?


B.     Generate a list of these CONTEXTUAL strengths and weaknesses on the board.


C.     Discuss the sample in terms of Essay 2 evaluation criteria:


·        Is the overall claim clear and appropriate to the context?

·        Are the modes of development appropriate to explaining the reasons behind the overall claim?

·        Are there any parts of the essay that don't seem to connect to the overall claim?

·        What are some examples of effective evidence in the essay?

·        Are there areas where the audience might want more examples or development? If so, where and why?


Transition:  “Now that we've decided where this essay works well and where it needs more work, let's practice providing constructive feedback that could help this writer improve.”


3.      Discuss workshopping (5-7 minutes):


-         Ask students about past experiences with peer response:

·        What are your experiences with workshopping/peer critique?

·         Have you done any peer critiquing of any sort in the past?


-         Generate a list of "what helps" and "what doesn't help" in regard to workshopping and getting feedback on your work.

·        Be HONEST but tactful.

·        Point to specifics.

·        Make suggestions.

·        Don't take over the paper.

·        Note both strengths and weaknesses.

·        Concentrate on larger issues (e.g. focus, purpose, support) rather than style and editing


Transition:  “Let's put these strategies into practice on the sample essay you read for today.”


4.      Group activity on Essay 2 sample (10 minutes):  Give each group an OH and pen and have them complete the following.:

·        In groups of 2 or 3, look at the list of strengths and weaknesses.

·        On your overhead, write the author a brief letter which provides constructive feedback that will help him revise and improve his essay. Be sure to consider the list we came up with earlier.


5.      Present critiques (10 minutes):  As the groups present their letters, ask the class to evaluate how helpful the feedback would be.  Be sure to emphasize strengths and weaknesses in each example. Groups will probably all have some helpful feedback as well as critiques that could be more useful.  Remind students that you're all trying to become better critics. At this point it's not important who has the best letter; it's important that students learn what feedback will be most constructive so they can help each other improve.


Transition: “Now that we've practiced workshopping and giving constructive feedback, let's turn to your essays and try to provide each other with helpful suggestions for writing the draft for Thursday.  We’ll start by focusing on introductions.”


6.      Discuss PHG reading on Introductions (5 minutes):


·        According to PHG, what are the goals of an introduction?

-         get the reader's attention (“lead-in”)

-         introduce and focus on your overall claim

-         set up expectations for what you'll cover in the rest of the essay ("essay map")

·        What are some different options for “lead-ins”?

-         personal example

-         description of a person or place

-         example from a case study

-         startling fact or statistic

-         statement from a book

-         striking question or questions

-         a common error or mistaken judgement


7.      Focus and intro workshop (15-20 minutes):  The aim of this activity is to have students offer each other some initial feedback based on the introduction they drafted for homework.  We want them to see how important their introduction will be in setting up the focus, purpose and expectations readers will have for the entire paper.


A.     Ask students to get into groups of 3-4 and then exchange their intros.  Tell them that the goal is to have 2 people in their group respond to their intro.  Have them write responses to the following questions on a separate sheet of paper. Put these questions on an OH for students to use as a guide:

·        How effective is the lead-in? Will it get the reader’s attention? What other possibilities would you suggest for a lead-in and why?

·        Looking at the intro, underline what you take to be the thesis of the essay.

·        Based on the introduction, what do you think the rest of the essay will address? What points will the author make as part of the evaluation?  Write a BRIEF outline of what you expect the rest of the essay to look like based on the expectations set up in this introduction.


B.     After at least two people have read each intro, have students return their responses and the intros to their owners. Each person should end up with his or her intro and at least two responses. Then have students look over their responses and consider the following questions:

·        Are the responses you received from your group members consistent with what you identified as your thesis?  Was there any confusion about your claim? 

·        Are the outlines your group members projected for the rest of your essay consistent with what you plan to do later in your essay?

·        If the answer to either of the above questions is "no," think about why they weren't consistent and how you might clear up the thesis and/or expectations. A "no" is a pretty good sign that you're not clearly communicating what you need to get across.  



C.     If time, have students complete a WTL to make a plan for what they should do next:

·        Based on the feedback you received, make a quick list of what you'll want to keep in mind when revising the introduction and writing the rest of the draft





Assignment for Day 11:


-         Write a completed draft of your Essay 2 for our full workshop on Tuesday.