Tuesday, August 26

Day 1 (Tuesday, August 26)

Lesson Objectives
Students will

Connection to Course Goals. Introducing students to each other and to the question-at-issue lays the groundwork for the process of academic inquiry ahead.

Tip. Always rewrite the daily schedule to fit the needs of your particular class, help solidify daily class goals in your own mind, and build connections from one class to the next.


After orientation last week, you're well prepared to teach your first class (even if you feel like you're not!).  To get ready for day 1, reread the syllabus introduction, revisit the first few readings you'll assign, prepare your materials (see  the list below), ask for any help you need (the lecturers are here for you!), and write out your own lesson plan.


Class roster (as up to date as possible)
20 copies of your syllabus (if Writing Studio instructions aren't on your syllabus, prepare an extra handout with those)
Yellow handouts about the CO150 drop policy
Overhead transparencies:

Instructions for student introductions
Write-to-Learn instructions

Your notes about the readings for the first unit
List of questions/prompts for class discussion

Tip. Remember to prepare handouts and transparencies well in advance of your class, so that you’re not stuck in a line at the copier two minutes before class!


Some students may have prepared for class today by buying the textbook.  Also some may have set up Writing Studio accounts.  Today is unique because it's a fresh start.  Your students will come in with few ideas about what the class will be about, what the atmosphere will feel like, etc.  One of your primary tasks for today is to establish a classroom culture that will work for you and your students, and to give students a fair idea of what they can expect for the rest of the semester.

Tip. Look ahead to the next lesson plan and the homework that will be due to remind yourself of those concepts and skills that need to be emphasized in today’s class.


Introduce yourself and the course (3-5 minutes)

Before class begins, write your name, the course number, section, and title on the board.  Once all (or most) students have arrived, take a moment to introduce yourself--tell students what you would like them to call you, and consider what else you'd like them to know about you.  Make sure everyone is in the right place—have students check their schedules to be sure that they're really in your section.  Offer an "out" for anyone who is in the wrong room.

Tip. The formality of your introduction will help set the tone for the semester, and remember that it's much easier to become less formal as time goes on than it is to become more formal.

Attendance (5-10 minutes)

Use your roster to call names and make note of anyone who is absent.  After you have called all the names on your list, ask if there is anyone in the room whose name you didn't call.  If anyone raises his/her hand, take time to sort it out.  Possible reasons why the student isn't on your roster include (in order of likelihood):

Transitions. Articulate a connection between each activity so that students understand the purposes of the things you ask them to do. One way to ensure that you use transitions is to write them out in your lesson plan. Here, you might say something like: Now that we know who is here, let's take a look at what this class will be about.

Distribute and review your syllabus (10-15 minutes)

Spend time looking at the document with your students.  Discuss the course description, your contact information, your grading system, and key course policies. You might not discuss every single thing in detail; if you don't (and even if you do), remind students to reread the document after class and to email you with any questions or concerns. 

Tip. Get students used to engaging in class by calling on them to read parts of the syllabus; this can also help you learn their names faster.

Transition. Here you might say: We'll be doing a lot of work together, so let's get to know each other now.

Student introductions (15-20 minutes)

Choose one of the introduction activities below, or use another that accomplishes the goal of allowing students to make connections with each other and the goal of setting precedents about participation and community.

Tip. Whichever option you choose, keep track of time—it's easy for some students to get chatty. You need about 15 minutes (or more) after this activity to finish up with class. If you're running out of time, cut the activity short and finish it on Thursday.

Option 1:

In this activity, students pair up and interview each other; then they introduce each other to the rest of the class.  Here are instructions which you can put on an overhead (be sure to enlarge the font to 16pt or larger):


Pair up with someone near you that you do not know.

Take a few minutes to find out interesting things about your partner—you can ask the typical questions (name, major, hometown, etc.) but also try to find out something unusual, unique, silly, and/or amazing.

In a few minutes, I'll ask you to introduce your partner to the class, so be sure to jot down notes.

Option 2:

In this activity, you generate a handful of questions with the class and then go around the room and allow each student time to answer the questions.  You can start out with the obvious—write "What's your name?" on the board. Ask the students what else they'd like to know about each other.  Give them time—if nobody suggests anything, make another suggestion.  Something like "What's your major?" works and might get them going with more suggestions. Once you have four or five questions listed, end with one of your own. Feel free to answer the questions yourself.

Transition. If you've talked about climate change in the introductions, a transition here will be pretty easy to come up with on the spot. If not, try something like: You'll be getting to know each other more in the next few weeks as we read and discuss issues related to climate change.

Introduce academic inquiry and question-at-issue (10 minutes)

Take some time to explain what you'll be asking students to read about, and why. Take a look back at the introduction to Phase 1 for some possible explanations.

Here's a sample explanation:

Since writing is in essence a carefully-arranged record of thought, we need something thought-worthy to discuss as we practice writing strategies this semester. In the first few weeks of CO150, we'll inquire into questions about climate change. We'll read several magazine and newspaper articles written about climate and energy issues, each of which somehow addresses the question, "What should we do about climate change?" We're going to look at how these articles explore and answer this question, how they appeal to readers, how well they argue their points, and how they go about accomplishing these goals in writing. Later on in the semester, you'll pursue an inquiry of your own; after having looked so closely at the inquiries pursued by these writers, you'll be well prepared to make your own choices as you research and write.

Tip. Consistently emphasizing the link between sustained inquiry (here, into climate change) and college-level writing and thinking will help to defuse complaints from those students who will be “bored” with the subject.

Transition. Since we'll be discussing this question quite a bit in the next few weeks, let's take some time to gather initial ideas now.

Assign a Write-to-Learn (WTL) (5-10 minutes)

Prepare an overhead transparency with instructions:

On a sheet you can turn in, please write for a few minutes in response to the following questions:

If Time: Conduct a class discussion

If you've got a bit of time left, ask students to share some of their answers to the WTL questions. Have your own list of questions handy, too, so you can facilitate discussion as needed.

Collect the WTLs (1-2 minutes)

Some students may not be finished; tell them that they can turn in what they have and that you're not grading this (if you will be keeping track of WTLs and other small assignments, though, be sure students understand how you'll be doing this).

Transition. Perhaps: You'll get a chance to share more of your ideas on Thursday, when we'll discuss a lecture on climate and a series of responses to climate change that you’ll read for homework.

Assign homework for Thursday (3-5 minutes)

Put the homework on an overhead transparency, explain it, and allow students time to copy it down (as an alternative, you can make handouts; you can print 4 or 5 to a page and cut them apart to save paper and precious copies.  If you worry about running out of time, or that students may not get everything copied down correctly, handouts are a good option).

Tip. The “File Folders” section of your Writing Studio class page is one method of making articles available to students, but students may also retrieve articles through Morgan Library databases. See appendix for a student-ready handout with directions for retrieving articles from library databases.

Conclude class

Wrap up today's class and point students forward to Thursday's class.

Be sure to always conclude class, even if you are pressed for time.  Here you might say: It was great to meet all of you today; I'm looking forward to discussing the readings with you on Thursday.

Connection to Next Class

Today you've taken care of a lot of "business" and you've prepared students for what they can expect next time. On Thursday, you'll continue discussing the question-at-issue while introducing students to some fundamental course concepts. 

You might take a moment to reflect on today's class, to assess what went well and what could have gone better (and go easy on yourself—you're probably way more aware of what you did or didn't say/do than your students are!), and to make notes about anything you need to remember for next time. Be sure to check email now and then before Thursday so that you can help students out with questions, Writing Studio issues, etc.

Also, take time to read over today's WTLs to assess students' prior knowledge of and opinions about the question-at-issue, to casually assess their writing abilities, and to begin generating a list of terms and questions for discussion and further inquiry.