Wednesday, September 6th

Day 7 - Wednesday, September 6th

Lesson Objectives

To review the connections between claims, reasons, and evidence and to emphasize the importance of structure in summary/response essays. To construct criteria for workshop and practice giving useful feedback on a sample essay.

Connection to Course Goals

Any time we can help students understand the relationship between structure, development and organization and the rhetorical context of their writing, we are touching back to the core goals of CO150 by emphasizing that writing is a rhetorically situated, intentional process. Taking time to examine a sample essay will provide students with a model of how to structure their essays, which in turn will help reinforce the idea that writers make conscious choices about how to shape texts in response to rhetorical situations. Constructing some criteria for the workshop helps you set the standard for completing an effective workshop.

Take Attendance and Introduce Class (3 - 5 minutes)

Develop an introduction for this class session. You may wish to remind students of key concepts from the previous lesson, forecast what you’ll be working on for the day, and/or look ahead to the due date for P1A.

Transition: Develop a transition.

Present Claims, Reasons and Evidence on the Board (10 - 15 minutes)

The aim of this activity is to examine possible responses to the three articles. Ask two or three students to put their claim, reason(s) and evidence on the board. See if anyone will volunteer (If they're hesitant to volunteer, tell them that it's like getting free "expert" assistance with their writing for the first paper).

Once the sample arguments are outlined on the board, ask other students if they would find these arguments convincing. Also, what suggestions might they have for making these arguments more convincing? Is there additional evidence, for instance, that they would advise using?

During this discussion, you might also reinforce what counts as evidence and where student's can find evidence. Also, explain that their responses should be focused and cohesive. They need to limit their essays to just one or two clear points. Similarly, their claims, reasons and evidence should all be connected. The reasons should logically follow from the claim and the evidence should logically follow from the reasons.

Transition: Develop a transition. You might say, "Now that we've discussed how to use claims, reasons, and evidence to structure a response, let's take a look at how one student used these strategies in the sample essay."

Examine the Sample Essay (15 minutes)

Provide students with a few moments to read back over the sample essay. Keep in mind that the sample is not a model essay. It is likely to be effective in some ways an ineffective in others.

It may be useful to put the sample essay on overheads for this activity. Make sure to keep the font large enough to read from the back of the room.

Look first at the summary to see if it meets the criteria for academic summary (point students back the PHG for that list or quickly throw up your overhead of it). Then, ask students to identify the sample essay's claim. You might underline this on the overhead, or even ask a student to serve as "scribe" and make notes on the overhead as the class goes through it. Point out that the essay includes a brief transition between summary and response - the summary serves to set up the response, and the two pieces work together as a cohesive whole. Ask the class to identify the reasons offered in support of the claim; note these on the overheads. Then, as time allows, discuss how the writer used evidence to support their claim. Ask students what they would change or continue to develop in this essay.

Transition: Develop a transition. You might say, "In many ways, what we've just done with this sample essay is what you'll be doing with your own essays when we workshop them on Thursday. Remember that this essay isn't perfect, but that it does show one way to use claims, reasons, and evidence to develop a response. Let's take a quick look at the P1A assignment to remind ourselves what the parameters of this assignment are."

Review the Portfolio I Assignment Sheet (5-7 minutes)

Have students take out and read their assignment sheet for Portfolio I - Part A. Ask them if they have any new questions/concerns. Tell them that they have now gained the tools to successfully complete this assignment and highlight any important requirements. You may also choose to review all Portfolio I - Part A materials that you plan to collect so students can start to organize their work and prepare to turn it in. If you have a workshop policy (i.e. paper grade is lowered for missed workshops), remind them of this as well.

Construct Criteria for Workshop (10 minutes)

Some students believe there is little to gain from workshops. They tend to think that the instructor is the only person capable of providing useful feedback or they are resistant to workshops because they've found them unproductive in the past. The aim then of this discussion then is to develop a set of criteria for making this workshop worthwhile. You might do this by asking students to generate a list of "Helpful" and "Not so helpful" comments on the board. Since they've all received comments from teachers/instructors on papers, they should know which ones are most useful.

Your lists might look something like this:

Helpful comments are: Unhelpful comments are:
  • Specific - they say exactly what the reader is thinking and they answer the question "Why?" Why is something "good" or "bad"?
  • Balanced - they offer both positive comments on what is working and they draw attention to areas that need improvement.
  • Suggestive - rather than simply spotting a problem, they might offer advice for improvement.
  • Vague - they don't tell the writer very much and lack specifics.
  • "Too nice" - they avoid pointing to places that could be improved because the writer doesn't want to offend.
  • "Too harsh" - they tear into someone's writing without considering the positive attributes. They diagnose problems but don't offer any suggestion.
  • Dominating - they try to take over the paper without any concern for what the writer's trying to do.
  • Nitpicky - they might try to fix every small error (i.e. commas) rather than focusing on the bigger picture.

Transition: Develop a transition here.

Conclude Class and Assign Homework (2 minutes)

Pass back graded summaries. This could also happen at the end of class on Wednesday if necessary, but it’s good to get them back to students soon enough that they can use your feedback to work on their P1A drafts. Remind students that this is one small assignment out of many this semester. Make sure that students know that they’ll be applying today’s discussion about conducting workshops during the next class session. Remind them of your workshop policies and emphasize that they need to show up with a draft in hand for the workshop.

Write a conclusion for class.


  1. Complete a draft of your P1A (summary and response) paper and bring a clean copy to class for workshop.
  2. Read about plagiarism on pg. 204 in the PHG to be sure that you’re clear on what it means and how to avoid it.