Writing@CSU: Composition Teaching Resources

Week 4: Monday, September 15th - Friday, September 19th

Goals for this Week

  • Discuss the role of an overall claim in a response. Explain how an effective overall claim provides focus and clarity for an essay that addresses a specific audience. Explain that an effective claim can help students “map out” a response that is then a matter of development. Explain the notion of the essay map. Your discussion should help students move beyond generalized responses and begin thinking about how an overall claim reflects their purposes and audience needs, focuses their response, and helps shape an organizational structure for their essay.
  • Review portfolio requirements for essay one and address student concerns about meeting those requirements. Reinforce student understanding of what is involved in writing an effective summary/response essay.
  • Bring in a sample response, perhaps one that you’ve written in preparation for teaching this course.
  • Review peer review techniques and conduct a brief workshop on students’ responses to the Bollinger or Thernstrom essay as well as a full workshop on their drafts of the summary/response essay they choose to use for the portfolio evaluation.
  • Develop evaluation criteria (rubric) for the portfolio, making sure that they understand that focus (of purpose, audience, and message) is the number one evaluation criterion. Clarify that development of the argument is the next concern for you and for them, and that reasons must be accompanied by evidence. Also clarify that better papers will then go the next step to provide a level of discussion and explanation for the connection between evidence, reasons, and overall claim. Make sure that they understand that mechanics (grammar) are a lower level concern but that carefully written, well-edited and proofread manuscripts send a strong message that the writer has taken special care to present a polished product. If you develop a consistent evaluation approach that follows these guidelines, then your expectations will be predictable for your students—and by the end of the course they will have gone some distance toward accomplishing a deepening of the substance of their writing, rather than just focusing on superficial mechanics.

You may want to use the “Evaluating Student Writing” idea from the Activities Bank that accompanies this syllabus. This classroom activity helps students become better evaluators of their own work and familiarizes students with “rhetorical terminology” that composition instructors commonly use, especially when evaluating (grading) student work.

  • Review necessary components of Portfolio 1 (what must be included in the folder), and provide students with a postscript that allows them to reflect on their processes during the first four weeks of class. You may wish to prepare a list for the board or overhead with the portfolio components given, and you may wish to delay the postscript until the beginning of the class when the portfolio is turned in.

Activities for this Week

Detailed lesson plans are available for the first four weeks of the course. Beginning in the fifth week, you will be expected to choose activities from a set of suggested activities and/or develop your own activities that will help you and your students achieve the course goals for a specific week.