Tuesday, September 2

Day 3 (Tuesday, September 2)

Lesson Objectives
Students will

Connection to Course Goals. Students continue to practice close reading and learn to look critically at their own work; these skills will be useful when writing the Academic Summary.


Decide how you will prefer to keep your attendance record from here on out (you shouldn’t have any more roster changes), and prepare what you need in order to do so. Also, decide how you will hold students accountable for reading—quizzes? WTLs?  another activity? Reread “Apocalypse Now.” Make sure you have notes about what needs to go into a summary of this article. Make your own adjustments to the summary criteria and the assignment sheet as well.


Inquiry list
Attendance record
“Apocalypse Now” (annotated)
Your notes on and summary of the article
Summary assignment sheets
Overhead transparencies:
               Quiz questions or WTL prompt
               Summary criteria
               Self-workshop instructions
               Group summaries from Thursday


For today’s class, students have read “Chill Out” and they have drafted summaries. They are expecting to discuss Wilson’s piece and their summaries. Since Wilson’s article is more complicated than the “Responses to the IPCC” essays from last week, and because summary writing may be new to many students, students might be coming to class today with questions and uncertainties.


Agenda (before class begins)

Write the agenda on the board if that’s what you’ll prefer to do throughout the semester. 

Agenda. Future lesson plans won’t include this item, so add it yourself if you prefer to use it.

Attendance (2 minutes)

After today’s class you should not have any roster changes, so you can begin to take attendance in the same way you’ll take attendance throughout the semester.  Be sure to keep an accurate record so that you can apply your attendance policy fairly.  Keeping accurate attendance records is essential. 

Attendance. If you lower a student’s grade for excessive absences, you must have an accurate record of the classes missed! If you lower a student’s grade for excessive absences, you must have an accurate record of the classes missed!

Introduce class (2 minutes)

Introduce today’s class by designating a student to be in charge of the inquiry list today.  Link back to last week (last week, we began to inquire and to learn about summary writing for example).  Preview the activities you’ll do today.

Give a reading quiz or a WTL (or finish group summaries from Thursday) (5-8 minutes)

To reinforce accountability for reading assignments, conduct an activity such as a quiz or WTL.

Tip. You don’t have to always do the same thing, but be sure students are always accountable for reading and other daily assignments.

If you give a quiz, put three to five questions on an overhead transparency and give students a few minutes to answer using their own paper. Here are some sample questions that hold students accountable for the content of the reading and connect to today’s class:

Reading Quiz

Please use your own paper to provide brief answers to the following questions:

1.  To whom does Edward O. Wilson write?
2.  List two things that a summary needs to include (or not include).
3.  Name two things Wilson claims that he and the audience of his letter share in common.
4.  Where was “Apocalypse Now” published?
5.  Why has Wilson chosen this hypothetical audience for his letter?
Instead, you may choose to give a WTL with questions that allow students to reflect on the reading and their writing process while still enabling them to show you that they read.  Here is a sample WTL prompt:


Please take a few minutes to write about the following:
What did you learn from reading about summaries in the PHG that you didn’t already know about summary writing?
What did you do to find Wilson’s thesis in “Apocalypse Now”? How did this differ from what we did last week with the “Responses to the IPCC” essays?

Alternatively, you could combine this activity with the next one and begin your discussion by having each student contribute a comment or question about the reading assignment. Some questions may be complicated enough that you want to save them for later (i.e. “how do you find the thesis in Wilson’s article?”)—it’s fine to tell students, “We’re going to get to that later on today.”

Transition. The PHG reading homework for today should have helped you write your summary.

Discuss homework (5-6 minutes)

Allow students time to talk about the homework by asking questions such as:

Transition. Let’s go through another example of a summary step-by-step.

Generate summary points (22-25 minutes)

Take plenty of time to discuss what Wilson says in “Apocalypse Now.”  Start by brainstorming ideas on the board.  What does Wilson say? Here, anything that is objective and accurate (even if it is a minor point, evidence, etc.) is worthwhile. Write student responses on the board (or ask a student to be your “scribe”). 

Tip. Here you’re modeling what students will do in the first assignment, so be sure students can see how an argument can be broken into parts with distinct functions.

Once you have most or all of Wilson’s major points on the board, begin to label them: thesis, reasons, evidence, key points (such as counterarguments, questions-at-issue, causes and effects, solutions, etc.). 

Here’s an example of how a class might brainstorm:

What Wilson says:

Tip. Look through your own notes to see if there is anything to add to the list and then allow students another chance to add anything more.

Finally, determine what should go into a summary in order to accurately and objectively represent Wilson’s argument (you really can’t go overboard in reminding students of the purposes of summary writing). It’s tempting to summarize in chronological order (Wilson says X and then X and then X, etc.), but that doesn’t enable one to restate the argument, which demands identifying a hierarchy of concerns. Take time to determine Wilson’s thesis first. As with the essays from last week, Wilson does not announce his thesis in his first paragraph.

As you talk students through these decisions, you don’t need to “give them the answers.” That is, you don’t need to write out The Thesis on the board for them, in part because that would be doing the work you want them to learn how to do. More so, though, because there is not just one way of stating Wilson’s thesis. Though we ask students to be objective in the summary, identifying and rephrasing the thesis is, to a degree, an interpretive act that can’t be 100% objective.

Here are several acceptable ways of phrasing Wilson’s thesis:

Personal viewpoints about religion or science should not divide us when it comes down to fighting for the protection of the planet and the people who depend on it.

“[H]owever the tensions play out between our opposing worldviews, however science and religion wax and wane in the minds of men, there remains the earthborn yet transcendental obligation we are both morally bound to share” to protect the Creation.

Though evangelical churches have for decades been aligned with the political right, which has traditionally associated environmentalism with the left, the time has come to unite to protect our most precious resource: Creation.

Talk about how Wilson supports his thesis, being sure to sort out confusion about key points vs. evidence. Refer back to the explanations in last Thursday’s lesson plan for ways of helping students discern the difference.

Give students a chance to look through their own summaries to make notes of things they might add or remove (more opportunity for this later, too). 

Transition. The most important thing in academic summary is to accurately and objectively represent the writer’s argument, but let’s look at some other criteria now.

Explain criteria for academic summary (5-8 minutes)

Tip. Point out that this is a hierarchy. That is, the items at the top of the list are more important to a successful summary than are the items at the bottom of the list.

Remind students of a summary’s purpose and audience as you present the following on an overhead transparency:

Purpose/Audience: Does the summary convince the reader that the writer has read the article closely and understands its argument?

Conventions: Has the writer observed the genre conventions of academic summary?

Transition. Let’s use these criteria to workshop the summary draft you brought in today.

Summary self-workshop (10-12 minutes)

Present the following prompts on an overhead transparency, and ask students to work through them with their own summaries (anyone without a summary can work on drafting one now).  Explain how they reflect the criteria you just reviewed so that students don’t think of them simply as a checklist.

Summary Self Workshop

This workshop will help you determine how well you have accomplished the goals of representing the writer’s argument both accurately and objectively. 

1. Underline the sentence(s) in which you have restated the author’s thesis.
2. Circle the author’s name, the date of publication, and the title of the magazine or newspaper in which the article was published.
3. Put a star by each reason or key point.
4. Draw a box around each author tag.
5. Draw [brackets] around anything superfluous: any of your own opinions or reactions and/or minutiae from the article (evidence, anecdotes, etc.).

Now, look over your paper.  You should have: an underlined sentence or two, three circles, a few stars, and a few boxes.  If any of those things are missing, make a note to yourself that you need to add them in revision.  If you have anything in brackets, be sure to remove them in revision.

Transition. In our first assignment, you’ll demonstrate your ability to accurately and objectively represent an argument.

Hand out and discuss assignment sheet (8-10 minutes)

Tip. Since you’ve already talked about summary criteria, you should be able to skip the criteria (rubric) on the assignment sheet, though it might be helpful to remind students that this is what you just talked about.

Distribute the assignment sheet, then walk them through it (no need to read it word-for-word, but be sure to highlight the essentials, perhaps by calling on specific students to read key sections) and allow time for questions.  If a student asks a question you don’t want to answer right away, simply say, “let me get back to you about that” and then be sure to return to it on Thursday. Since you’ve already looked at the criteria, you don’t need to do that again.  Be sure to include the rubric with the assignment sheet and to call attention to how it reflects the criteria you just discussed.  Ask that they read these documents carefully before next class and to bring questions they raise.

If time: workshop group summaries from Thursday

You may have time left over; if so, use it to discuss a few group summaries.  Ask students to refer to the criteria on their assignment sheets as you talk about the strengths and weaknesses of the summary at hand.

Assign homework and collect the inquiry list (2-3 minutes)

Today you can begin to assign homework in the way you will do so throughout the rest of the semester. If you plan to post homework to the Writing Studio, it is fine to remind students of that and simply talk through the homework assignment. You might continue to put the homework on the overhead and/or create handouts, but be aware that your students might come to rely on that and ignore the Writing Studio calendar. Some teachers choose to write the homework on the board with the agenda. Whatever you choose to do, today is the day to start the routine. Be sure to collect the inquiry list before students leave.

Homework for Thursday

Connection to Next Class

Conclude class. Wrap up today’s class by saying something like, Next time, we’ll go over quoting and paraphrasing and you’ll get a chance to get some feedback from a classmate.

Today you’ve emphasized the importance of taking time to understand what an author is saying.  Next time, you won’t need to spend as much time on this because, presumably, students will read more closely this time around.  You’ve gotten students used to bringing their own writing into the classroom and so some of students’ nervousness about peer response workshopping might be lessened.  Next time, you’ll do a practice workshop before students trade papers to give each other feedback and that will give you a chance to address concerns and misconceptions about what workshops will be like in CO150.