Teaching WRIT 100/101

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Course Design

Writing 100/101 is designed as an introductory course to academic writing featuring genres commonly used in other academic situations such as analysis, argument, and reflection. Students choose to take either Writing 100 or Writing 101 and then move into Writing 102 or Liberal Arts 102 after successful completion of either course; they are not placed into either course by test score or writing sample.



Required Texts

Standard Curriculum:

  • The Writer’s Practice
  • Common Reading Experience Text
  • UM RhetLab modules

New York Times Curriculum:

  • Semester-long subscription to The New York Times
  • Common Reading Experience Text
  • UM RhetLab modules
  • The Writer’s Practice (optional)

NPR Curriculum

  • Access to the internet and the NPR website
  • Common Reading Experience Text
  • UM RhetLab modules
  • The Writer’s Practice (optional)

Suggested Assignment Sequence

The suggested assignment sequence is as follows: Common Reading Text project, Analysis, Argument, Multimodal, Commonplace Book. The Common Reading Text project emphasizes the critical reading, critical thinking, analysis, research, and synthesis skills that are vital to college writing. This project is the ideal starting point because the assignment is based on the Common Reading Text, which students are given over the summer. With related campus events, the Common Reading Text can help teachers establish a community of readers and writers. The next project, the Analysis, helps students build the critical thinking skills they need to write analytically in many of the other assignments, both in Writing 100/101 and across the university. The Argument strengthens students’ research skills by asking them to work with outside sources and utilize the University library. The Multimodal project, which is a sort of revision or rethinking of a previous paper, takes place later in the semester. The Commonplace Book is an ongoing, semester-long project that requires students to reflect on their learning and writing practices.



Major Projects

Students are expected to complete five major units, each of which comprises critical reading and response, a drafting process, and reflection. In at least three of the units, students should be assigned a short timed-writing exercise as part of the writing process. A brief overview of each project, with a description of the areas students usually struggle with, is provided below. (Click the arrow next to the project title to expand).

Common Reading Text Project

The Common Reading Text project emphasizes the critical reading, critical thinking, analysis, research, and synthesis skills that are vital to college writing. Students respond to one of the prompts included in the annual Common Reading Resource Guide.

Areas to highlight: Some students may not have read or finished the source text and will benefit from a pre-semester reminder to read the book. They may have limited experience with reading/interpreting a writing prompt. Students will have varied experience in analysis and argument, and most will have little experience with synthesizing texts/voices. Students may also not be familiar with extensive drafting and the rigor of college expectations. The Common Reading Text Project is roughly a two and one-half week unit.

Analysis

In analysis, students examine an issue or an artifact’s component parts to understand how it makes meaning. Analysis is roughly a three-week unit.

Areas to highlight: Many students don’t have much experience with analysis and often have difficulty moving past summary. Some are unaccustomed to examining individual parts of an issue or an artifact and may need guidance in breaking down the whole. Often, students struggle with identifying an analytic thesis that answers the questions how, why, and/or so what. Once students have a draft in place, the most common problems are organization and focus. It is not uncommon for a student to try to cover many different ideas. These writers need help organizing their thoughts and focusing their essays. Students sometimes struggle with providing enough specific evidence to support their analyses. These writers may need to be alerted to areas that would benefit from additional evidence.

Argument

In argument, students make a claim and support that claim with evidence. While instructors may assign for this project different types of argument, the essay should require background information on the topic as context for the argument, a clearly-expressed main claim, evidence, and refutation of counter-arguments. Argument is roughly a four-week unit.

Areas to highlight: Students often need help narrowing a topic to a specific, debatable claim. Some students struggle to provide enough specific evidence to support their claims and need help locating and evaluating sources. Students often need help integrating quoted material and paraphrases into their texts as well as documenting their sources. Students may also need help considering opposing viewpoints or counterarguments and refutation.

Multimodal

In the multimodal assignment, students re-work or re-think an earlier project in a different mode or medium. Multimodal is roughly a two-week project.

Areas to highlight: Students often don’t recognize that a change in mode or medium requires a change in technique, so they need help in understanding how electronic, visual, or spoken text is different from print text and, thus, how to think about audience. Students may also need help with unfamiliar technology.

Commonplace Book

The commonplace book is a personalized space for recording, organizing, and reflecting on a student’s learning. This semester-long project incorporates daily, weekly, and unit reflections, culminating in a final reflective post.

Areas to highlight: Students are generally unfamiliar with self-reflection and metacognition and need many opportunities throughout the semester to practice. Many will need help with being more specific about their learning. Students may have difficulty demonstrating their progress, or lack thereof, through examples, often resorting to more telling than showing. Students may also struggle to understand how tagging can be a mechanism to represent the larger structures of their learning.


Grading

Rubrics for each project are available on the assignment library. Sharing the rubric with students at the beginning of each unit, and using the rubric to determine the project’s final grade, helps students understand the expectations for each project and the reasons for the final grade. Using the rubric to determine grades also provides consistency across sections of DWR courses. Projects should be graded and returned within one week of submission.