Day 3 . Friday, August 29th

Thursday, August 26:  Activity Ideas


Reviewing Expectations

Discussing Homework

Critical Reading

Discussing Cohen's Article

Applying the WSM to Cohen's Article

Introducing Summary

Applying Summary Principles to Cohen's Article

Concluding and Assigning Homework

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Introduce the Class Session and take roll (2-3 minutes)

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By referring to your agenda on the board or by previewing the day's goals/objectives, introduce the class session for your students.  Today is also probably a good day to remind students of the limited add/drop period for the class, to be sure you have all New York Times subscriptions filled out and faxed, and to finalize entries into your grade book.

Logistics (7-10 minutes total)

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Heads Up:  For each class you teach, you should write an Introduction. 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 class session (2-3 minutes)

Remind students who you are/introduce yourself for those who missed the previous class session or just added the course.

Provide an overview of what you'll cover during the class session and/or refer to the agenda you have put on the board.

Or you might say something like the following:   Today we'll be returning to the idea of how context influences our choices and actions. By understanding how writers are influenced by various contexts, you will hopefully learn to make more confident and accurate choices with your own writing (in both academic and non-academic situations). Also, we will discuss the specifics of the Portfolio 1 assignment and will learn critical reading strategies that will help you in CO150 and beyond.

Take roll (3-5 minutes)

Call out names and record attendance on your roll sheet or using the note cards you received during the previous class session.   Once you've gotten through your roll, ask if there is anyone you missed.

  • Be aware that there may a number of new faces today.
  • As with the previous class session, do not promise any extra students that they will be able to enroll or "override."  Firstly, the English department works hard to keep our writing courses capped at low numbers. Overriding extra students into sections jeopardizes this and also creates extra work for you.   Secondly, even if someone is on your roll but isn't in the class the first day, the add/drop policy requires only students who don't attend the first TWO classes to be automatically dropped (you will receive a note from the department administrative assistants regarding automatically dropping "no shows" by the end of the week). Thus, you might have students who don't come the first day but show up for the second class.   Suggest that students who wish to get into your section that they are welcome to stay for class but dialing in through RamWeb (the online student enrollment process) provides the best chance to enroll.
  • Remind students that they cannot drop the course after the date on the orange add/drop sheet you handed out--no if's, and's or but's. 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.
Hand out materials to new students (1-2 minutes)

Hand out the New York Times subscription form to new students. At this time, you can also a note card for students to fill out if you are doing so. You may want to ask new students to stay a moment after class so that they can do this as well.

Sample transition to next activity

Explain that you have read through your students' expectations (from the WTL from the previous class session) and you would like to address some of the expectations as well as remind them of your policies/expectations.  

You might say something like the following:

Now that I've read the rest of your expectations from the previous class session, I would like to address some in more detail and remind you of some of the class policies and my expectations.

Reviewing Expectations (3-5 minutes)

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Review expectations for course

Discuss student responses from the WTLs completed on the first day of class. Address

any student concerns that didn't come up on the first day. Also, you can explain the

dual focus for the class:

  • Writing is our primary concern, so we'll spend a lot of time emphasizing things like purpose, audience, and context. (We tend not to focus on skills, such as grammar and mechanics, as much as we do on larger concepts and approaches to writing; however, we will work individually with students who face some challenges with grammar and mechanics and can address whole class concerns in this area when there appears to be a pattern of error.
  • Public discourse is our secondary focus (since it is an ideal topic for exploring the complexity of writing situations), so we'll also be looking at important social and political issues.
You may wish at this point to also address any expectations they 've articulated that you believe will clearly NOT be covered by CO150. This helps to clarify what the course will and will not do and it allows you to legitimize their goals, even if these goals lie outside the bounds of this composition course.

Sample Transition to Next Activity

Building off of yesterday's discussion about context, we need to consider how context influences the writing you did for class today. 

Discuss Homework (5 minutes)

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Spend some time discussing the experience of writing the homework for today.  You should apply the Writing Situation Model to students' experiences.

What influenced students to make the choices they did?

What was their purpose for writing? 

Their perceived audience?

Did anyone stray from the prompt?  Why or why not?

Sample Transition to Next Activity

Thinking about our choices for reading is just as important as thinking about our choices for writing.  For homework, you read an article by Lizabeth Cohen and you read about critical reading strategies in the Prentice Hall Guide.  During the next few activities we will focus on these.

Discussing Critical Reading (5 minutes)

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This activity asks students to think about how they can become close and critical readers. Use the PHG (pgs. 153 - 154), the Critical Reading Guide on Writing@CSU ( ), and the questions below to guide discussion:

Ask students to identify what it means to be a "critical reader." What makes an effective critical reader? How does one become a close reader of the text? What can you do to be more active and critical when reading an essay?

Reinforce the following from the PHG:

  • Preview or survey your reading. This means looking over the reading before you begin it. With the NYT that would involve reading the news summary on page 2 before you read articles. Previewing allows you to estimate length/time requirements, activate what you know about the topic, prepare yourself for the content by reading the introduction and conclusion before your read all the way through.
  • Apply close reading strategies (marginal markings, notes outside of text)
  • Pose questions that challenge the ideas in the text
  • Consider the context in which the essay was written
  • Consider your context (what you are bringing to your reading and why you react the way you do)
Consider how cultural context influences your reading (turn the critical lens inward and examine your beliefs and influences)

Sample Transition to Next Activity

Now let's apply our critical reading skills to Cohen's article.

Discussing Cohen's Article (15 minutes)

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As you discuss Cohen's article, demonstrate critical reading skills and strategies.  To get the discussion going, you might put the following questions (or some of them or questions of your own) on an overhead or have students do a Write to Learn that answers questions about the article.

What is the essence of Cohen's position on the issue of consumption in America?

Where in the text do you see her position most clearly stated?

How does she support her position?

What type of conversation in our society do you feel Cohen's article is most likely a part of?  That is, who might discuss this issue and/or where would it be discussed?

Do you think Cohen makes a valid point about consumption in our society?  Why or why not?

Does this article strike a chord with you as a consumer?  Explain.

Sample Transition to Next Activity

Consider using a transition such as the following: Now let’s take what we know of the article and apply the Writing Situation Model to the discussion of Cohen’s article.

Apply the WSM to Cohen's Article (7-10 minutes)

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Our goal here is to help students see the connection between the WSM and Cohen's choices in writing her article and publishing it in the New York Times.  (You may want to do some background research on Cohen to have up your sleeve.  Be sure students note the date of the article--before the holidays and after 9/11--as this level of social and cultural context plays a role in Cohen's influences and argument.)

As an historian in the U.S., what might motivate Cohen to write about this issue to begin with?

What larger writing situation (beyond the New York Times) is Cohen part of?

Apparent through the byline, Cohen has written a book about this issue.  Why do you think she chose to publish an article version as an editorial in the New York Times?

Who do you think Cohen imagined as her audience for her book?  For this article?

What choices did Cohen make to meet the change in expectations for those differing audiences?  What limitations did she accommodate for both audiences?

How does our culture influence her position on the issue?  How does our culture influence how we, or her intended audience members, read her work?

Sample Transition to Next Activity

Consider using a transition like the following:  For Portfolio 1, your purpose is to provide a summary and response to an article we will have read.  So even though your audience will mostly be concerned with your response, summary is still an important concept. If your summary is inaccurate or incomplete, your response will no doubt be misguided as well. Today (and for our homework next time) we are going to practice some restraint and only summarize ideas from the document in question.

Introduce Summary (15 minutes total)

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Have students look over pages 160-161 in the Prentice Hall Guide for a few minutesYou should also prepare an overhead since some students may not have purchased books yet.

Then use these questions as a guide for this discussion. You may pick and choose from this selection or add some of your own questions to meet the goal of introducing academic summary. (See page 160 - 161 in the PHG for summary guidelines, and view the Teaching Guide on Types of Summary and Response at: when planning this activity). It helps to use the board to focus this activity. You can create two columns: General Summary and Academic Summary. Then, list generated responses beneath the appropriate titles. Note: possible responses and prompts are listed in parenthesis following the questions.

  • What is summary (in general)? Where do you see summary used in our society?
  • When was the last time you summarized something that you did or saw (perhaps in an e-mail to a friend or on the phone)?
  • What is usually your goal or purpose for summarizing? (to inform or entertain; to give an overall impression without all the boring details)
  • Are your summaries objective (fairly representing everyone/everything involved) or are they subjective, colored by your own opinions or point of view?
  • How do you think general summaries compare to academic summaries? What are the similarities and differences? (academic summaries are more objective and focus on main ideas rather than events)
  • What are the purposes for an academic summary (consider the context for Essay 1)? How is this different from a general summary?

On the board or on an overhead, have students compile the components of summary they learned about in their homework reading.  This is a good opportunity to use a student scribe particularly if you are writing on the board.  Once the components are on the board, discuss each one briefly and answer questions students have about them.

Apply Summary Principles to Cohen's article (10 minutes)

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Our goal here is to give students a good foundation for writing their summaries for homework.

  • How will you introduce the article and its writing situation to your audience? 
  • What is the main idea of Cohen's article?  What are the key points she uses to support that idea?  Where do you find these in her article?   [Engage students in writing these down in preparation for their homework.]
  • What details do you feel are okay to leave out in this summary?
  • How will you credit Cohen's ideas or words within your own words?

You might have students get into pairs groups and practice writing a summary of Cohen's article.

Concluding and Assigning Homework (2 minutes)

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Today you might have a student recapitulate the main objectives you discussed today or you might write your own conclusion.  You might say something like, "Today we discussed Cohen's article and her position on one issue of public discourse. We also began preparing for the summary aspect of Portfolio 1.  Your homework will be to put the summary skills we discussed today into action in your own writing."

Assign the homework due for the next class session.

You should also let students know that, after this week, they should begin accessing homework via the Calendar feature on your class page on the Writing Studio.  You should provide instructions for how they can do this (an instructions handout is available in the Appendix).  You should also decide if you want students to create Writing Studio accounts before you enter them into your Studio Class or if you want to enter them first.  If you want enter students first, it is helpful to get their email addresses in class as soon as possible.