Writing@CSU: Composition Teaching Resources

Week 1: Monday, August 25th - Friday, August 29th

Goals for this Week

You have eight primary goals for this week:

1.     Take care of the administrative work of making sure students are enrolled in the course and have a syllabus.

2.     Introduce the overall goals of CO150 and make sure that your students understand those goals and how the sequences of activities, homework, and assignments will help them reach those goals. Clarify due dates for each portfolio so that they can record these on their master calendar.

3.     Establish your policies. Make sure to establish your policy on homework collection, attendance, late portfolios, and the revision of portfolios. These will be discussed during the orientation week and in your teaching methods course, E684.

4.     Provide students with an overview of the primary concepts that will be used in the course:

  • the writing situation model, which highlights the text, writers’ purposes, readers’ needs and interests, limitations and opportunities, and social/cultural/historical contexts
  • the notion of writing as participation in a conversation; the importance of becoming accountable to what others have written and the subsequent need to offer something new to the conversation
  • the role of public discourse in society and the obligation to understand the complexity of the writing situations shaping public discourse

5.     Introduce students to the key instructional resources they will be using during the course, including the Prentice Hall Guide, the SyllaBase course page (https://writing.colostate.edu/syllabase/), Writing@CSU (https://writing.colostate.edu), especially the bibliography and drafting functions of Writing Studio, and the New York Times national edition.

6.     Assign a homework assignment, which students will post to the Class Discussion Forum on their SyllaBase course page. You should read the work produced by your students with attention to their overall writing abilities. If you find students who have what appear to be fairly weak writing skills, pay particular attention to subsequent homework and, if appropriate, meet with them and develop a plan to enhance their writing skills. You might suggest that the student work with consultants in the Writing Center or you might set up individual meetings during your office hours.

7.     Introduce students to critical reading strategies and to the principles of summary writing. As you introduce summaries, address the concept of “objectivity” in summarizing and discuss three types of summaries: main point, key point, and outline summaries. However, it’s critical that students understand that “objectivity” in an absolute sense is difficult, if not impossible to attain, since the purposes for summarizing will vary from writer to writer. It is more appropriate, as a result, to discuss the concept of “fairness” in summarizing. Students should strive to fairly and accurately convey the ideas and information in a text that are most appropriate given their writing situations (purposes, readers, etc.). Consider, for instance, two writers who are summarizing a particular scientific report about recent advances in cloning. One writer is interested in what the study has to say about the potential for applying these advances to a commercial venture. The other is interested in the specific data discussed in the report. The two summaries, as a result, would vary significantly, even though both might be fair and accurate. Be sure to consult the teaching guide on summarizing and responding at https://writing.colostate.edu/guides/teaching/summaryresponse/.

8.     Assign Portfolio 1.

Activities for this Week

Detailed lesson plans are available for the first four weeks of the course, which is the entire first portfolio of the course. You will note at the start of week three, however, that the lesson plans ask you to start writing your own introductions, conclusions, and transitions for the lessons. Beginning in the fifth week, you will be expected to choose activities from a set of suggested activities (The Activity Bank) and to develop your own activities for the Bank, which will help you, your fellow GTAs, and your students achieve the goals for the course, the week, and the specific lesson.

Throughout the course, even in the first weeks, it’s a good idea to type up your own plans for the class, rather to rely upon these sheets. Making your own plan for sequencing activities—and comparing it to this original--will ensure that you get full coverage of the material AND that you are doing things in a manner and sequence that makes sense for you.