Tuesday, October 10th

Day 15 - Tuesday, October 10th

Lesson Objectives

To help students determine which topics they'd like to focus on for Portfolios 2 and 3. To practice narrowing topics down to focused issues; to review using MLA in-text and bibliographic citations.

Connection to Course Goals

Today's class is designed to make sure that students have narrowed, debatable topics and research plans in place to work with over Readings Days. Working together as a class to explore research possibilities, share articles, and narrow topics foregrounds the collaborative nature of CO150 as well as underscoring the importance of writing as a planned, incremental process.

Introduce Today's Class (3 minutes)

Review P2B Assignment Sheet (5-10 minutes)

Have students pull out their copies of the P2B Inquiry Essay assignment sheet. Give them a few minutes to look it over, and then check to make sure they understand the goals of the assignment. Emphasize that their work in P2B will set up P3 (you might refer back to the overall course goals to help students see how each of the assignments in the course builds on the previous assignments).

Transition: Develop a transition here.

Share Possible P2B Issues (20-25 minutes)

The goal of this activity is to get students talking about which topics/issues they want to pursue for their P2B and P3 focus, and to encourage them to share articles they've found for P2A with their classmates. Go around the entire class, asking each student what issue they're planning to research for P2B, why they chose that issue, and whether they've found any interesting/useful sources so far in their research. List each student's issue on the board, and address any questions that come up about research processes (or, better yet, deflect these questions to the class to encourage the students to use each other as resources). You can add to this activity in any way you think will help students work together on their research for P2B. One possibility might be to ask the class to keep track of who is working on which issue, and to each come up with articles or resources from their P2A research to share with at least two other people in the class.

Transition: Develop a transition here.

Discuss Narrowing Topics into Issues (20 minutes)

The goal for this activity is to help students think about narrowing the topics they just chose into specific issues. Inform students that some topics are too broad for the Inquiry Essay and that they'll need to narrow their topics in order to focus their writing for Portfolios 2 and 3. Use the grid below (or one you develop) to illustrate the differences between topics and issues. Clarify that issues are often defined in the form of a debatable question.

Topic Focused More Focused Debatable Question
Nuclear Waste Where should we store it? How should we transport it across the country? Should we continue to use nuclear energy when we don't have a reliable solution for storing its waste?
School Violence What is the cause of school violence? What should teachers' role be in managing school violence? Should we implement counseling programs in schools to reduce violence?

Once you've gone through narrowing a couple of sample topics as a class, practice with a few of the student topics that are listed on the board. You might think of a way to do this as a group project - perhaps have groups narrowed two or three topics from students who are not in their groups, put the narrowed topics and research questions on an overhead, and then present them.

Transition: Develop a transition here.

Review Using MLA Format and Avoiding Plagiarism (10 minutes)

Remind students that they will need to include a bibliography with their papers. Use pages 655- 665 in the PHG as a guide for developing a lesson on documenting sources. Carefully explain how to cite sources in-text, but simply refer students to the additional pages for guidelines on citing sources at the end of their essay.

Use this time to also discuss the importance of avoiding plagiarism. Refer to pgs. 643 - 644 in the PHG as a guide for this lesson.

Transition: Develop a transition here.

WTL - Reading Days Work Plan (5-10 minutes)

Remind students that English Dept. Reading Days are this coming Thursday and that you will not be meeting as a class. Tell them that this is not, however, a day off but rather time to work on the Inquiry Essay researching and drafting outside of class.

With this in mind, ask students to formulate a work plan for reading days. What do they need to get done for this class? Remind them that, at minimum, they should finish their research for P2B, and if they get started drafting, they will be ahead of the game. Give the class a few minutes to draft their work plans, then either have them get a partner to read over sign off on their work plan, or do so yourself.


  1. Complete the tasks listed in your work plan.
  2. Print, read, and annotate the sample Inquiry Essay with questions about its structure and observations about its effectiveness in meeting the goals of the P2B assignment. Note: You'll need to decide how to make the sample essay available to students.