To introduce the focus of the class (the importance of audience
and language in effective writing).
To introduce the general course structure
To begin to get students interacting with one another and
"break the ice".
Read PHG pp. 1-13; 21-29; 33-36 on Writing Myths and Rituals
and Purposes and Processes for Writing. Put yourself in your own
ideal writing situation (according to the "Writing Rituals"
chapter) and try two of the warm-up techniques on p. 38-40.
Carefully read the CO150 statement of purpose, the course
overview, and the course policy statement. Make a 2-column log
in which you write down the main points of each in the left margin,
and any questions about them in the right margin. Be prepared
to turn these in.
Copies of policy statement, course overview and statement
Copies of the "shape" handout for half the class
(these can be collected and used again).
Quickly introduce yourself and the course number and section
(just to make sure everyone's in the right place).
Take the roll to see who's who. (5 minutes)
Introduce the focus of the course according to the statement
of purpose. For instance, you might start off by asking your
class, "What is writing?" and "What's the difference
between writing and other forms of communication?" Then,
you can use what they come up with (generally things like communication,
record keeping, words on paper, etc.) to talk about the key difference
between writing and speaking: the fact that, in writing, the speaker
isn't there to interpret for the listener. You can also have your
students try to define the term "communication" and
identify the key components and participants in communication
in order to demonstrate the importance of audience. Another good
way to demonstrate this is to draw the following diagram on the
board: The diagram represents the rhetorical situation of any
writer, as well as how language is central to a writer's negotiations
with his/her audience, and the community which circumscribes that
audience. Help your students understand the idea by asking them
about the relationships between the three points of the triangle--what's
the relationship between the writer and his/her audience? Between
the writer and culture? How does language affect these relationships?
How valuable are the writer's ideas if those negotiations fail
and the audience doesn't understand them? (5-10 minutes)
Then, in order to demonstrate these ideas about audience,
start with the "shape" exercise (about 15-20 minutes,
including the discussion). Have your students break into pairs
and introduce themselves. They should arrange their chairs so
that each set of partners is back-to-back. Give the "shape"
handout to ONE partner in each pair, giving him/her instructions
not to let anyone else see the shape. While you're doing this,
tell the other partners to take out a sheet of paper. Then, tell
the class that the partner with the handout should try to give
the other partner instructions to draw the shape on another
piece of paper without looking at the shape itself. Give
everyone about five minutes for this but don't let anyone compare
the shapes just yet.
Then, use the following set of questions to show students
how this little activity demonstrates the importance of speaking
to an audience:
Start by asking students what they were trying to do--to communicate.
Make the connection that transmitting this shape was their purpose
Then ask the partners who had the original shape if they understood
what THEY were saying when they tried to explain the shape to
their counterparts. The majority of answers will probably be
Then have the partners compare the drawings. Chances are
most of them will be pretty far off. Ask your students "based
on these drawings, how effective was your communications, even
though you understood your own message?" Let this lead to
the idea that a message is only valuable in expository writing
when it's understood by an audience: the message has to be understood.
The purpose of CO150 is to help them understand how to actually
get their audience to receive their messages--to communicate their
purpose to their audience.
Finally, ask your students if they'd be able to use the same
explanation they just used for their partner to describe the shape
to a three-year-old. What would have to change? Use the responses
here to explain how using a language your audience is familiar
with is vital to helping them understand your message. Hence
the course focus on language issues.
To end the class, hand out the course overview, statement
of purpose, and policy statement. If you have time, go over the
course overview to show students how the various components of
the course fit into the focus you just explained.
If in a computer classroom, be sure to highlight the necessity
for practicing with the computers, as well as flagging the most
valuable resources your students have in a computer classroom--the
people on their right and left.
Give the assignment. It's a good idea to have the assignment
ready on an overhead to save time and repetition. Remember to
use 18 pt. type on the overhead so it's visible to the whole class.
Or, you can have the assignment copied on paper, ready to hand
CONGRATULATIONS! You just survived your first class!