backReturn to Unit One: MWF

Unit One, Day 12 - Friday

Class Goals: Practice academic response that focuses on an analysis of the effectiveness of a text's organization and structure.

Connection to Goals of Course: Introduces the use of backwards, or descriptive, outline for critical reading, peer revision, and self-editing. Highlights as well that the structure in an academic context is typically linear, supported by evidence, etc.


  1. Pass out handout on backwards outline (see Appendix) Point out how it is useful not just to analyze another writer's work but their own as well. In revision, it can show areas in their essays where their organization may not work so well (eg. There are too many subjects in one paragraph; essay shifts abruptly from topic to topic)
  2. (5 min.)

  3. Small group activity -- Have them do a backwards outline of the Bartlett and Steele essay. This should take at least twenty minutes. A good way to do this is to have them set up a table like this:
  4. Paragraph number

    What it "says" (paraphrase)

    What it "does" (its purpose and connection to essay)







    (30 min.)

  5. Discuss backwards outline activity. Have them look over their outlines as you discuss:

(eg. Contrast between individual examples in same company in Rothbaum and Speer)

(Do a sample outline yourself to answer this.)

(You want to have them keep in mind here that writers have choices. What are ways of organizing the essay could the authors have chosen? How would this structure work for their essays?)

(15 min.)

  1. Remind them that with the backwards outline, they can better understand any essay, revise their own work, and take notes on texts for other classes this way. For the ARE they can choose to focus on the effectiveness of an essay's organization, as they have done today in the class discussion. (5 min.)

Assignment: Read Chang and write a brief response. You may want to have them focus on his organization or another specific area to practice.

If you have extra time: See the discussion questions on p. 365 of RA. Numbers 2, 4, and 5 are provocative. (Grey-edged pages 52-3 can also help you in discussing the essay.)