Day 2 . Wednesday, August 27th

Wednesday, August 25:  Activity Ideas


Reviewing Expectations

The Writing Situation Model

Discussing Homework

Critical Reading

Introducing Portfolio 1

Concluding and Assigning Homework

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Logistics (5-7 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 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

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 (remember to feel free to write your own!)
Last time we conducted interviews with one another and discussed how context affects even our choices about the questions we’re willing to ask our classmates. Today we'll connect that activity with the writing situation model and then use it to examine the situation you found yourselves in as you worked on your homework for today.


The Writing Situation Model (10 minutes)

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Introduce the Writing Situation Model

The goal for this discussion is to illustrate how context shapes the interactions between writers and readers. Writers make choices based on their physical, social and cultural contexts as well as their purposes for writing. In the same sense, readers come to a text by way of their own needs and interests. Thinking about interactions between writers and readers helps to ensure that meaning is clearly communicated.

For this activity, use the model from "Understanding Writing Situations: Writing as a Social Act" to show students how readers and writers interact. This model is available on Writing@CSU ( can either draw a diagram on the board or make an overhead (we recommend making an overhead). Explain to students that you will first review the model in general terms, and then they will discuss it with more detail in relation to their homework.

Be sure to cover the following points (in whatever order feels right for you):

·      Writers have purposes for writing

·      Usually these purposes emerge from the writer's cultural or social context (something happens outside the writer that creates a need to write - something to respond to)

·      Writes make choices based on the context they are writing for (writing a letter home to your parents asking for money is a different than writing a letter to an organization to ask for contributions for a good cause). Therefore, different contexts will pose different requirements, limitations, and opportunities for a writer.

·      In addition to context, writers also need to think about readers.

·      Readers have various needs and interests which are likewise determined by their contexts (their background, environment and experience).

·      In order to communicate effectively, a writer must anticipate what their readers' needs and interests are.

Sample Transition to Next Activity

As a transition, review the key points from the writing situation model. Students will have read the writing guide as homework for today (Understanding Writing Situations: Writing as a Social Act at Use this review of the writing situation model as a transition into the next activity.

You might say something like the following:  Now that we understand the diagram, let's apply our homework to it so that we can fully understand how it relates to the writing we do ourselves.


Discussing Homework (10-12 minutes total)

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Discuss homework in relation to the writing situation model

For this activity it helps to label the diagram with students' responses to reinforce connections and to help keep the discussion on track. Note: possible responses and prompts are listed in parenthesis following the questions.

Start at the middle of the diagram and ask students the following questions:

·      What was the text you produced? (homework - reflection on self as writer)

·      What was your purpose for writing this text? (to complete an assignment, to impress the instructor or class, to learn more about one's self as a writer, to get an "A" in CO150)

·      Describe the context that created your purpose for writing? (the college classroom, the first day of class, a small "classroom community" where participation is likely)

·      What requirements and limitations did the context of a college classroom pose? (a deadline for writing, a computer to type the message and to print it out, limitations on language, tone and style, the possibility of having to share writing in class…).

·      What opportunities did this context create? (an invitation to call on your own personal reflections, experience and expertise)

·      How did the various limitations, requirements and opportunities shape what you wrote? (answers will vary)

·      Who did you think of as your readers for this text? (you, the instructor, other peers)

·      Did you think of your readers’ needs and interests? If so, what were they?

Sample Transition to Next Activity

So whether or not you realized it you were probably already thinking about context, audience and purpose when completing your homework. This course aims to help you think about these things more critically, both as a writer and as a reader.  And now that we see how our own writing relates to the Writing Situation Model, we need to look at our first major assignment from the same perspective.

Critical Reading (5-7 minutes)

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Discuss strategies for critical reading

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:


Introducing Portfolio 1 (5 minutes)

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Introduce Portfolio 1
  • Pass out the Essay 1 assignment sheet.       Let students read it over or have a student or two read the most important parts out loud.

·      To check for understanding of the general terms, and the essay in particular, ask students to restate the purpose, context, and audience as a class: What is the purpose of this essay assignment? Who is your audience for this essay? What will you have to do to meet the assignment goals?

·      Then, move on to discuss how these responses will affect their choices when writing Essay 1. Since the students are part of the general academic audience, include them by asking what type of response they would like to read.  You might ask the following:  Given your audience, what will readers want to know? What type of reaction would you want to read?

Students should be able to generate such concerns as: a reaction that isn't a rant, a reaction that doesn't go off on tangents or try to cover too much (focus), a reaction that has an appropriate tone, a reaction I can relate to, a reaction that is well supported with evidence.


Concluding and Assigning Homework (5 minutes)

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A Possible Conclusion for Today’s Class

Today we began discussing the writing situation model. Next time we will introduce the techniques involved in writing academic summary to help prepare for writing Essay 1. We'll deepen our understanding of summary by using the writing situation model to think critically about a writer's argument.

Assign homework for next time

Put the homework assignment on an overhead for students to copy down.  You will need to explain or provide explanation/instructions for how students can access the article for reading.

You should also let students know that 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.