Week 5: Monday, September 22nd - Friday, September 26th

Week 6:  Overview


Weekly Notes and Advice

Heads Up

Before beginning this portfolio, decide when you'd like to take your class to the library for research instruction. It's best to schedule a session at the start of Portfolio 2, for either Week 6 or Week 7, before students begin researching their issues more extensively. Contact Sari Keilmand by email at skeilman@manta.library.ColoState.EDU to set up an appointment. (She would prefer that you call at least two weeks ahead of time).  To expedite things even further, you can fill out the online sign-up sheet for CO150 library instruction and your information will be processed from there.

Keep in mind, however, that Library Day still involves you; you should attend the session with your students so that you can incorporate the skills discussed there into your lesson plans.


In this portfolio, your students will be making the shift from focusing on individual positions to understanding the similarities among positions that allow them to generalize about shared approaches (or perspectives) to an issue. This portfolio begins with identification of an issue that interests them (the Topic Proposal) then moves to what students themselves (each individually) bring to the issue in terms of their own contexts, values, beliefs, affiliations, etc. (Personal Position Analysis) and culminates in analysis of the positions and shared approaches writers are taking toward their issue.  The collection of News Clips on issues in the "contact zones" will also help students gain a sense of the values and beliefs that underlie different positions and shared perspectives. By conference time, students should have a working Annotated Bibliography that constitutes a representative sample of sources from different perspectives. (In Portfolio 3, they then enlarge upon this annotated bibliography to find additional sources that align with their emerging point of view.)

The key in this first week of the portfolio is helping students understand what a debatable issue is and how they can explore it. By encouraging your students to select a debatable issue that interests them, you’ll increase the likelihood that they will produce better writing, since students are more likely to write well about issues they care about. We want students to be invested in their issues so that they will think critically about them and so that they revise their writing more willingly. We also want students to apply concepts involving the writing situation (context, audience and purpose) to their own thinking about writing. This goal is achieved by having them write for an academic audience—you, the instructor, and the students in your class. Even in the initial stages of their research, students will need to consider and choose topics that are most relevant to their audience and their audience’s understanding of the goals of the assignment—that is, to represent the complexity of the issue by sampling and characterizing the positions and generalized approaches to the issue. The library instruction will help students hone their research skills and teach them to seek out current, credible, and valid sources.


Connection to Course Goals

This portfolio marks a shift from focusing on the arguments advanced form individual authors, that is, focusing on individual positions on an issue, to understanding the larger conversation about an issue.  This portfolio also shifts the selection of articles from the instructor to the student.  Each of the components here is connected to the conversation metaphor that runs through the course.  Finally, the process of analysis is an important skill that students will need when writing for both academic and civic purposes.



This unit marks a transition in your lesson planning.  You are responsible for creating and putting activities together to instruct your students.  You will find explanations of goals or objectives that you need to accomplish and options for choosing among various activities that meet those goals.  Be aware that the minutes indicated after activities may not always add up to a full week of class sessions, so the responsibility for creating your own activities is increased in this unit.  But you still need to be meeting the weekly and course goals as we progress, so if you have any questions about planning your classes, please feel free to ask Mike, Kate, Steve, Sarah or any of the lecturers.

As you write your specific lesson plan for each class day, be sure to include an overall LESSON OBJECTIVE or GOAL as well as a CONNECTION TO COURSE GOALS. Remember also to introduce the plan for your class each day, provide transitions between activities, and to review at the end what was accomplished and why. To the greatest extent possible, ask students to conduct the review at the end or perhaps to provide a review at the beginning of the next class. Asking students to do this work instead of doing it all yourself encourages them to take responsibility for making connections. Quite simply, they will learn more by doing it this way. Their direct involvement is also more engaging than simple lecture and summary.


Goals for the Week

Before you begin planning your week, review the Key Terms and Definitions for this unit.

  • Collect, respond to, and grade Portfolio 1.
  • Design and administer a Postscript for Portfolio 1.
Activity Ideas:  Postscripts
  • Create a transition between Portfolios 1 and 2.
Activity Ideas:  Transitioning Between Portfolios
  • Assign Portfolio 2 and review its parts and sequence, clarifying that the sequence of assignments leads directly toward the final essay and contributes toward making it a successful final essay.
  • Discuss the audience and context for the Issue Analysis and Source Synthesis.
  • Explore debatable topics/issues for Portfolio 2, collecting and reviewing their ideas and their News Clip Journals

Activity Ideas:  Exploring Topics

Activity Ideas:  Narrowing Topics into Issues

  • Establish criteria for what makes a "good" issue or research question.
  • Take students to the library or arrange to take them in Week 7.
  • Assign Part 1 of Portfolio 2 - Topic Proposal (due at the start of week 7).
  • Review Tannen's essay, "The Argument Culture," on pages 401-405 in the PHG.
Activity Ideas:  Discussion Questions
  • Assign that NYT articles on issues to be considered for Portfolio 2 be brought in for the next class. Assign the continued collection of news clips (10 total by the end of Portfolio 2) now with an emphasis on social and cultural "contact zones" or areas of conflict or debate caused by competing values, beliefs, or contexts.


Required Readings and Assignments

Ask students to do the following this week:
  • Read Deborah Tannen's essay, "The Argument Culture," on pages 401 - 405 in the PHG. Annotate her points in the margins and carry on a dialogue there, indicating which points you agree/disagree with and which points raise questions or concerns.  Note:  You may want to assign this reading on the last day of Portfolio 1 so that you can begin Portfolio 2 by discussing it.
  • Read pages 570 through the top of 573 in the PHG about choosing a narrowing a topic.  Choose 3 topics in which you are interested and post a brief description of them to the discussion forum in the Writing Studio.  Respond to the person posted above you* with a few thoughts on how effective the topics chosen are.  You might also select one topic working with which you feel the writer would have the most ease in Portfolio 2.  Realize that topics are shareable (just as long as we don't have everyone doing the same thing!).
    *If you are the first person posted, respond to the last person posted.
  • Return to the News Clip Journal. Bring it with 10 sources and at least three interesting issues identified (*you might break this up over a few class sessions). Bring the newspaper to class as well, of course. Identifying at least three issues that interest you, briefly and informally summarize them on the class forum in the Writing Studio for others to read.
  • Complete the Topic Proposal.


Additional Teaching Resources

Helping students research successfully begins by helping them choose a viable topic.  Check out CSU's guides Helping Students Generate a Topic and Helping Students Narrow a Topic for tips on this.


An Important Note on Getting Student Feedback

At some point within the next few weeks, it would be beneficial to both you and your students to get some student feedback.  This feedback does not, in any way, need to be an evaluation of you.  Instead, try to glean insight about how the course is going for your students in terms of pace, comprehension, community, and suggestions for future classes (both students and teachers).  A simple WTL on three appreciations and three concerns about the course can be effective or you can administer the evaluation form found in the appendix.  Getting Student Feedback, Class Evaluations, Student Ratings are also recommended for more information on the fundamental reasons for collecting feedback at different points in the semester, and they provide additional suggestions for soliciting it.