Friday, September 4

Day 6 (Friday, September 4th)

Lesson Objectives

Students will


Before this class, be sure to familiarize yourself with workshop best practices and review the assignment sheet looking for areas you think will need to be addressed before students will be ready to draft the second part of Assignment 1.



For today, students have brought the summary of the article they wish to respond to in Assignment 1.  A major component of CO150 is peer-editing, where students share their work-in-progress, reading each other’s papers critically to give specific feedback geared towards the revision process. Since peer-review is such an important part of the course, it’s worth taking the time to explain why we workshop.


Take attendance and introduce class (3-4 minutes)

By now you probably have a routine established for beginning class.  Write out your own introduction for today—remember to preview the day’s activities, always connecting them to their first major assignment.  

Why Workshop? Overhead (3-5 Minutes)

Allow this overhead to begin the discussion on the subject of workshopping. If you want you can extend this discussion by asking students for examples for each numbered point, but keep an eye on the time.

The verdict is in…12 Arguments for Writing Workshops

1.   More input leads to better ideas and decision
2.   Higher quality writing
3.   Involvement of everyone in the writing process enhances the writing
4.   Increases the writer’s appropriation and ownership of the process
5.   Higher likelihood of the implementation of new ideas in the writing
6.   Widens the circle of communication
7.   Shared information means increased learning
8.   Increased understanding of other people’s perspectives
9.   Increased opportunity to draw on individual student strengths
10. Ability to identify areas of potential growth
11. Provides a sense of security
12. Develops personal relationships

Summary workshop (20-25 minutes)

We’ve incorporated peer workshops into the syllabus in a number of different ways; we use workshops to help students engage in an academic community as well as to learn more about writing and its processes.  The aim of a workshop is not to have a paper “pre-graded” by a peer (there are more problems with that idea than we have room to explain here) and so, more often than not, we ask students to describe the text they are workshopping and to explain their reactions as readers (not evaluators). Based on their prior workshop experiences, students may also believe their job is to "correct" their peer's paper, editing it for spelling, punctuation and grammar.  We want students to avoid focusing on editing in most workshops. In addition, rarely do we ask students to evaluate their peers’ writing, though that is what many students will expect out of workshop. When we do ask for some evaluation, it is always linked to major criteria such as, in this case, accuracy and objectivity. Our aim, therefore, is to give students an idea of how their writing could be read. We encourage students to consider every reading and response as valid to some extent, and to make their revision choices as carefully as they read.

Still, many students expect that their peers will tell them that their paper is either “good” or “bad” and, depending on past experiences and personalities, some students will be eager for this kind of praise or will dread this kind of criticism. It’s useful, then, to work through a workshop with a sample summary (one of the group summaries from last week will work well) and discuss the kinds of comments that one could give.

Distribute copies of the workshop instructions (it’s worth it to make a handout—you may have provided this on the class page and had them print it out—so that students may refer to it as they revise and as they seek more feedback from others). Give students a moment to read over them, and then practice on the sample summary. Take a moment to describe useful comments vs. not-so-useful comments (useful comments are specific, thoughtful, and point out both strengths and weaknesses, while not-so-useful comments are vague, hasty, too “nice,” too “mean,” etc.).

Then allow students time to find a partner.  They should trade summaries, work through the workshop prompts on the handout, and then take time to consider the feedback they receive.  After most everyone is finished, talk for a bit about revision.  Explain that students don’t have to make every change that their partner suggested, nor are they limited to making only the changes their partner suggested.  Remind students that revision is different from editing and proofreading, and that after revision their summary might be very different from its current state. 

Summary Peer Workshop

In this workshop, one of your classmates will give you feedback on your summary’s accuracy and objectivity. (Accuracy and objectivity are the first two grading criteria for the summary, so the feedback you give and receive will be especially valuable!) He or she will also give feedback on attribution, quoting, and paraphrasing. 

First, trade summaries with another student.  Take out your copy of the article your partner has summarized.  Re-read the article.  Read your partner’s summary and then:

1. Underline your partner’s restatement of the author’s thesis and then check it for accuracy.  Does it fully capture the author’s main message?  Is it worded fairly?  On the back of your partner’s summary, explain your ideas.  If you recommend revision, be specific.

2. Put a star next to each reason or key point and then check these for accuracy.  Do they fairly represent the writer’s ideas?  Are any key points/reasons missing?  On the back of your partner’s summary, explain your ideas.  If you have time, make note of anything extra (minor points, evidence, etc.).

3. Read back over your partner’s summary, looking closely for subjectivity.  Has your partner included his/her opinions at all in the summary?  (Look for moments of response: agreeing or disagreeing, supporting or refuting, etc.). Has your partner passed judgment on the writer or his/her ideas?  (Look for adverbs and adjectives in phrases like "Pollan outrageously suggests that. . .” or “Pollan’s wise advice is. . .”).  Suggest ways for the writer to revise any subjectivity out of the summary.

4. Circle moments of attribution.  These include information about the article such as its title, when and where it was published, and author tags.  Let the writer know if at any point you lost track of the fact that he/she is writing about another writer’s ideas or if the writer needs to vary the author tags.

5. Thinking back to the quoting and paraphrasing activity we just did, identify quotes and paraphrases by writing a “q” next to each quote and a “p” next to each paraphrase.  Is there a good balance of quoting and paraphrasing? Are quotes copied word-for-word? Are quotations surrounded by quotation marks? Are any of the paraphrases too close to the original phrasing? Can you suggest any revisions?

When you receive your paper back, take time to consider your partner’s understanding of your summary: is the sentence he/she underlined what you intended to be read as your restatement of the author’s thesis?  What about the key points? Assume that your partner read carefully.  What, in the writing, might have allowed the misreading?  How can you revise it? 

Finally, read over what your partner wrote on the back of your summary.  Ask your partner any questions you have, and then write a revision plan for yourself so you remember what you want to do when you sit down to revise.

Review assignment sheet (3-5 minutes)
Ask students to take out the assignment sheet you distributed last time, to re-read it (especially the response) and to ask any questions they have. If your students don’t have any questions, verify that they understand what you are asking of them by posing questions like, “what would a sample thesis statement look like in your response?” and “what are the top two criteria for an academic summary?”

Discussion: How to write your response (10 -12 Minutes)
Generate a brainstorming discussion that clarifies the shape and content of the students’ responses. Choose one of the three articles (Quinn, Stone & Underwood, Hawken) to get the class to answer the following questions:

Transitioning from Summary to Response

How will I know when you’ve switched from the summary section of your paper to the response section?


What are some possible thesis statements that you could use to focus your response?


What reasons could one use to support this thesis?


What evidence could one provide to support the above reasoning?

Assign homework and conclude (3 minutes)

Assign the following for homework and wrap up class by reviewing key concepts from today and explaining what students can expect next time. Though they probably need no reminder, let the students know that there will be no class on Monday (Labor Day). While you’ll want to encourage them to enjoy the holiday, you might warn them not to completely forget about Assignment 1 and the homework for Wednesday.

Homework for Wednesday

Connection to Next Class
Next time you’ll briefly reintroduce the goals of peer-review workshops.