Lesson Objectives: To introduce the course, yourself, your policies, the course texts, and your students to one another. Begin to address writing as a “situated,” rhetorical activity (a series of choices made for a specific audience and purpose within a given context).
Connection to Course Goals: The interview activity establishes communication necessary for peer reviews and classroom discussions. This activity, along with the introduction to course goals, also introduces the idea of how contexts influence our actions.
<![if !supportLists]>1. <![endif]>Take attendance and introduce yourself and the course
<![if !supportLists]>2. <![endif]>Review your policy and everyday expectations (in terms of homework and other assignments, class discussions). Hand out your policy statement and a timeline for at least the first portfolio.
<![if !supportLists]>3. <![endif]>Introduce the course goals and skills students will develop.
<![if !supportLists]>4. <![endif]>Obtain a small writing sample as well as a sense of their expectations for the course.
<![if !supportLists]>5. <![endif]>Have students learn each other's names during an interview activity
<![if !supportLists]>6. <![endif]>Begin discussing the role of context in influencing rhetorical choices
<![if !supportLists]>7. <![endif]>Give a first reading and writing assignment—leave at least 5 minutes for this at the end
Write an Introduction to Each Class. It is important to establish in students’ minds what the goals for each class meeting are. You can provide an overview or forecast of the day’s activities and connect these activities to the class, week, portfolio and course goals. If you do so, students will know what to expect, can begin to connect past and future classes, and can see plainly what you have in mind for the day. There are any number of ways to do this. To start with, you might provide a title or theme and then list the activities you have planned for the day on one of the sides of your marker board, leaving room for other purposes you might have for the board including use of the overhead projector. You can put a check by each item as you accomplish it, or you can just proceed through the list. Doing a forecast can help both you and your students stay on track. Another advantage of this technique, especially in the first few days of class is that your writing on the board provides something purposeful for you to do as students arrive at class. Your materials will already be organized and ready on the table. Writing on the board, you will appear to your students to be in charge and to have a plan! Then be sure to stop your board writing at the correct start time of class. Doing this will establish right up front that you start class right on time and expect them to be there at the beginning, too.
Introduce the course and yourself (2 minutes): Make sure everyone is in the right course and section. Putting the course number, name, and section number on the board to helps identify students who have wandered into the wrong room. Expect students to arrive late on the first day—many are getting used to a new campus.
Introduce yourself and take roll (5 minutes): Write your name on the board so that they can see it. Call out names and record attendance on your roll sheet. Also write on the roll sheet any nicknames as well as 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.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Ask unlisted students to stay after class. 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.)
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>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.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Also emphasize that they cannot drop the course after the date on the add/drop sheet. They also cannot withdraw from CO150, as they might from other courses. If they want out, they must do it by the drop date, which is generally the end of the first week of classes.
Write to Learn (WTL) (5 minutes): Have students take out a piece of paper and write for five minutes or so about their expectations for CO150 and also what they hope to contribute. You can put this prompt on the board or on an overhead. However, whenever possible, use the marker board or blackboard to cut down on unnecessary duplicating. Be sure to review these short writing samples later, noting any especially worrisome problems that you see. Also, be sure to give feedback on any and all work that they do in class—if only a sentence or two at the next class meeting as you return items to students.
Collect their writing and explain WTL (5 minutes): WTL stands for “Write-to-Learn” and is a pedagogical tool that is strongly believed in here at CSU. You might think of the WTL as your first tool in the Activity Bank, an idea that can be use in any number of ways, and can be performed in a low-tech pen and paper method or online, if you are teaching in a computer classroom. Tell students they can expect to frequently do some in-class writing like this to help them collect their thoughts, to jump-start a discussion, to reflect on a text they read for homework, or to generate ideas for their papers. Let students know that you'll discuss their answers today if there is time or next time if there’s not time today. Then make sure that you do address that work at some time! They will quickly catch on if you don’t collect or discuss their WTLs; they will cease to participate or will work on other “homework” during the WTL time. Also, let them know whether you will always collect their WTLs on a daily basis or if you will collect it at some later point (at the end of each week or with their portfolios, for instance). (See the “Collecting Homework” section in the introduction to the syllabus.)
Sample Transition to Next Activity: Consider using a transition such as the following: “The course syllabus and policy statement will help you understand the expectations for this course. Hopefully, these will address some of the concerns you brought up in your writing about your expectations for the course.”
Transitioning from logistics to content can sometimes be tricky so here’s an opportunity to use your marker board agenda to get class moving into content. Refer to the list you have on the board for the day’s goals and activities and then move right into it.
Note: Use these suggested sample transitions as opportunities to connect activities for your students. Your students will benefit from knowing how the activities build on each other. You should construct your own transitions - either before class or in an impromptu fashion - rather than reading a script prepared by someone else. Most teachers write down a few notes on their lesson plans to remind themselves of what they want to say between activities and then weave the transition into the natural flow of conversation during the class session. You will become more comfortable with writing your own transitions when you fully understand the course and its sequencing. We have provided sample intro-ductions, transitions, and conclusions, not because we want you to read them aloud but rather as examples of what a teacher might say during class. We encourage you to start composing your own transitions as early in the semester as possible. By week three you will be responsible for making these transitions on your own. The best way to prepare for your independence is to fully understand the course goals and syllabus.
5. Discuss syllabus and explain policy statement (10 minutes):
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Briefly discuss how to read the timeline aspect of your syllabus (especially if you are using a grid). For instance, students will want to know if the assignment is DUE on the date provided in the syllabus or if it is ASSIGNED that day. Generally speaking it is more workable to list the DUE DATE. You may then wish to explain the types of assignments in general terms—but by all means save specifics for later and if a student wants more detailed information, ask him or her to meet with you after class and after reading the syllabus. Otherwise your first day of class could get derailed by a series of unexpected questions.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Show/Introduce the texts used for the course (the PHG, and the New York Times)
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Discuss the class SyllaBase page and the CO150 Room in the Writing Studio. You'll also want to discuss access to thematic readings (at least one will be located under “Online Resources/Instructor Provided” on the SyllaBase class page). Tell students that you’ll give specific instructions for logging on to SyllaBase and for locating the CO150 Room in the Writing Studio.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Explain that the course theme is, "Participating in the Discourse Shaping Public Issues" and tell students that they will be responding to current debatable issues in their writing. Explain that the reading of a national newspaper is one way to begin to understand not only current events and the discourse around publicly debated issues, but also the trends and cultural contexts that these issues are part of. Indicate that reading of the Times should begin immediately. Free copies are available for the first week to provide time for everyone to get to the bookstores. Explain how they are to access their copies of the Times. Explain how the Times subscriptions and delivery will be handled. Quickly show them the summary on page 2 of the Times and indicate that a quick skim of the summary is like reading a menu at the restaurant or like viewing the directory at the mall. The summary provides a quick overview, preview, or survey of the material in the entire newspaper and can quickly direct one’s reading for the day. Reassure them that most people do NOT read the entire newspaper cover to cover but that quick skimming, scanning, and previewing can be applied to the paper right away. More techniques for reading the paper will be introduced in upcoming class periods.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Present the course policy statement, emphasizing the policies that you consider most important. Be sure to explain at least the following policies:
<![if !supportLists]>o <![endif]>Attendance
<![if !supportLists]>o <![endif]>Grading (for major assignments and overall class)
<![if !supportLists]>o <![endif]>Grading for homework assignment
One good strategy is to have a copy of your policy statement on an overhead with essential ideas highlighted or annotated. If not on the overhead, just having your own highlighted copy can help quell those first-day jitters and prevent you from forgetting anything critical you want to convey. Or, delegate some of the responsibility by having students read sections aloud.
Sample Transition to the Next Activity: Community is important in a writing classroom (where we hold discussions, work in groups and use peer review with the writing process), so let's take some time to get to know each other.
Interview activity (5 minutes): Have students pair up and ask each other questions about one another and record their answers.
Ask students to consider what kinds of things people were willing to ask (5 minutes): Then generate a list of appropriate question categories on the board.
Discuss the interview activity (10 minutes): Your goal in this discussion is to highlight how context and rhetorical situations define what we can say and how we 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.
You can use these questions or write your own:
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>What wasn't asked and why do you think that is?
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Why are there some things that people will ask (and will respond to) while there are other things that people don’t feel comfortable asking or telling?
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>What does this analysis say about our expectations of social interaction? Of a composition classroom and what can be said there?
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>How would our questions have differed if you were interviewing your instructor? Or if you were interviewing a classmate’s grandparents? Why?
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>How would your questions and answers have differed if you were talking to someone you met at a fraternity or dorm party? Why?
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>How would your questions and answers have differed if you were just meeting your host family for a semester in a foreign country? Why?
Write a Conclusion for Each Class: Consider closing class with something along these lines: So just as social situations can influence what we say and do, different writing situations can influence what we "say" and "do" with our writing. In this class, "good" writing can only be defined in terms of how well a text responds to a particular purpose and context. We'll continue with this idea next time and connect it more directly to culture and writing.
You might refer students back to the list on the marker board as well, connecting the activities of the day to the lesson, portfolio, and course goals. It’s a good idea to establish the precedent of doing an end-of-lesson review such as this for each class. Try something like: “Let’s review what we’ve done today. Consulting your notes, tell me…” [here you can compose your own review list…try drawing it as a concept map…or just review the list on the board. The point is that offering an on-the-board forecast at the beginning of class as well as an on-the-board review list at the end is a proven method for building what learning theorists call “hierarchical learning” of course concepts]
A sample review might cover these items from today. This list includes easy specifics about the course, essential logistical information, and a brief review of concepts
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>how many portfolios we’ll have and the due date for the first one
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>the name and location of the national newspaper you’ll be reading all term
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>the name of the classmate you interviewed—perhaps establish this person as a “homework buddy” who can collect handouts, take notes, and be a point of contact in the event that you are absent.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>reasons for doing the interview (course connections)
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>the goals of the course,
Read PHG on critical reading and summary writing, pages 152-61.
Logon to the SyllaBase Class Page (https://writing.colostate.edu/syllabase/), locate the class forum (Communication Tools/Discussion Forum), and post a 250-to-500 word message that addresses the following prompts:
Note to Teachers: In addition to its obvious value as a first extended writing activity, this assignment is designed to get students up and running with the technology components of the course. You can learn about using online discussion forums in three teaching guides on Writing@CSU: Conducting Online Discussions (https://writing.colostate.edu/guides/teaching/onlinediscussions/), Integrating Technology into the Traditional CO150 Classroom (https://writing.colostate.edu/guides/teaching/olwc_guides/), and Using Student Peer Review (https://writing.colostate.edu/guides/teaching/peer/).
Note that you can hasten your students’ use of the SyllaBase discussion forum by preparing a handout with instructions for accessing and using your class page. You’ll find an example handout in the Conducting Online Discussions teaching guide.
Finally, it’s a good idea to make a list of the materials you need for each class. As you type up your lesson plan, make this materials list a header for each lesson you teach. That way you’ll generally arrive at class with everything you need.