Unit Plans

Instructor Schedule of Events and Complete Lesson Plans

Class 1: Introduce Topic Assignment: the Informative Essay

Participating as a class, students will go over the informative essay assignment sheet and start thinking about topic ideas.

1. Review the Informative Essay assignment sheet
2. Brainstorm and discuss topic ideas

Part 1 [5 min.]

Instructor plays PowerPoint presentation with location pictures. Instructor may use music to enhance presentation.

Instructor displays prompt:
● What do these things have in common?

After students have had a chance to answer, instructor finishes presentation with prompt:
● These are all places in South Florida.

Part 2 [15 min.]
● Instructor projects assignment sheet for the Informative Essay.
● Students take turns reading portions of the assignment aloud to the class.
● Instructor pauses after each portion to explain and answer questions about the assignment.

Part 3 [20 min.]
Instructor hands out an index card to each class member ands types in or reveals the prompt:

● Invention Exercise
○ Think about a location in South Florida that you find significant and interesting. This
location should be close enough to observe. Write the name of your chosen location on
your index card.

Once students have completed the exercise, the instructor (or a student volunteer) collects the cards in a container (the container can be something amusing like a funny hat).

Once all the cards have been collected, the instructor invites a student to the front of the class to pick a location out of the hat. The student reads the location aloud and the instructor reveals the following prompt for class discussion.
■ Is this location specific enough for a focused essay? Why or why not?
■ What makes this location significant and interesting?
■ Is there anything about the location that people may not know or that may be surprising?
■ What kinds of things might I want to look up to find out more information about this location?

The Instructor types in the name of the location and the student’s answers to the prompt. Once the students have finished discussing the first location, the instructor invited another volunteer to pick another place out of the container.

Part 4 [5 min.]
Wrap-up and review homework for Day 2.


Class 2—Informative Essay & Invention

Students will learn the conventions of an informative essay through group discussion and hands on activities. In groups, students will work to brainstorm possible topics for their essays.

1. Understand the conventions of an informative essay
2. Establish approaches for students’ essays
3. Invent possible topics for each student’s essay
4. Work together to help narrow down possible topics to two per student


Class opening/free writing exercise: Look around the classroom. Write down a list of ten things you observe (what do you see, hear, smell, etc.)

Volunteers from class read their observation lists
Together class analyzes the data (written on board) to establish commonalities.
Together class learns to draw conclusions from observations
Discuss Observation Journal

Discussion of conventions of Informative Essays
Discussion of “Crazy Things Seem Normal…Normal Things Seem Crazy”

[20mins] Group activity:
1. Each student reads their list of places and assumptions (from previous homework assignment)
to his or her group mates.
2. Groups discuss which places sound most appealing as readers, which they want to know more
about, the degree of observation that can be done at the location, and how well established
the location is.
3. The groups decide together through discussion which are the two most promising places of each
member’s six possible topics

Review homework for class 3

Class 3—Research Question and Further Invention

Through interactive class discussion, students will learn the importance of research questions, as well as, the best way to create a research question. They will work towards creating a research question of their own.

1. Understand the uses of research questions
2. Establish possible research questions
3. Better understand observations techniques


Paired free writing activity:
Students get into pairs and swap chosen places. If necessary, students may give each other a little background information on the chosen place. Then each student free writes on his or her partner’s chosen place:
1. Things they suspect to be true of the place
2. How the imagine it looks, smells, sounds
3. Questions they have about the place
Students discuss their partners’ responses to their topics.
Students change partners and redo this exercise.

*These observations will be entered into the student’s Observation Journal, column two, “What Others Think”

Class discussion of research questions
Class looks at example research questions and establishes their worth

In groups, students discuss each member’s five questions (from previous homework exercise) and their worth as potential research questions. If time permits, students may work on establishing their actual research question based on group discussion.

Review homework for class 4

Class 4: Using Secondary Sources and Avoiding Plagiarism

Using class discussion and small group work, students will work on understanding and using secondary sources effectively. Students will also work on using attributive tags to separate their own ideas from their source material. In addition, students will discuss plagiarism and its effect on their own writing.

1. Understand three ways to use sources in an informative essay: quotation, paraphrase, and
2. Clarify the difference between these sources and identify when they can be used effectively.
3. Understand the difference between plagiarism and patch writing.
4. Clarify the importance of avoiding plagiarism and patch writing in academic writing.

Part 1 – [10 min.]

The class discusses the difference between quotation, paraphrase, and summary.
Instructor writes or types the student’s answers and ideas on the board.

Instructor may project the strategy chart from Allyn and Bacon page 690:

Part 2 – [20 min.]
A. Group Workshops – [10 min.]

The class divides into groups of 5. Each group should have a recorder and monitor.

Each group should have a copy (electronic or hard copy) of their chosen article.

The instructor reveals or types this prompt:
● Choose one or two articles from your group members.
● Discuss examples of the author’s use of quotation, paraphrase, and summary in the article.
● Why did the author choose to use quotation, paraphrase or summary and was that choice
effective in the article?
● How did the author use signal phrases to integrate their sources in the article?
● Is the author’s use of signal phrases effective?

B. Presentations – [10 min.]
● Each group’s recorder should take turns presenting their group’s conclusions.
-The recorder should use the class projector to the project the article for the entire class as
he/she discusses the article’s use of secondary sources.
● The class has an opportunity to respond to or ask questions about each group’s presentation.

Part 3 – [15 min.]
Journal – [5 min.]

Instructor writes or types the following prompt on the board:
-Answer the following questions on plagiarism:
○ What is plagiarism?
○ Do you think that plagiarism is wrong? Why or why not?
○ List any famous people who you know have been accused of plagiarism?
-Have they been judged harshly or has their plagiarism been overlooked?

Discussion – [10 min.]
● The class discusses plagiarism and strategies for avoiding plagiarism.
● The instructor should also initiate a discussion on the difference between plagiarism and
patch writing.

The instructor writes or types the student’s responses on the board.

Instructor may project and discuss the following definitions:

● The Citation Project notes the difference between plagiarism, stealing ideas or words and
passing them off as your own, and patch writing, “restating a phrase, clause, or one or more
sentences while staying close to the language or syntax of the source.”

● The Council of Writing Program Administrators also emphasizes the importance of understanding
that plagiarism, which they define as “blurring the lines between your ideas and someone else’s
ideas or submitting someone’s work as your own,” if different from the misuse of sources.

Part 4 – [5 min.]
Review Homework for day 5.

Class 5: Observation Journal

Students will learn about the observation journal and double entry notebook. They will learn how to use observations as primary research for their informative essay on place.

1. Understand how to use the double-entry notebook as a tool for finding surprising insights and
2. Understand how to use descriptive details that “show” rather than “tell”
3. Analyze sample descriptive essay to understand how good observations offer new perspectives
and insights


1. Lecture: Observation
Observations are insightful notes and descriptions about the world. Observations provide you with material about people, events, or places that are useful when you want to discover and learn; it shows your unique perspective about the world.

For the purposes of this assignment, you will be exploring your perspective before you visited the place and after you visited your chosen place. You will be looking for a new perspective, or a new way of seeing this place after you visit it. The tool that will help you accomplish this is the double-entry notebook.
1. Project Purdue Online Writing Lab: Conducting Primary research: Observation
2. Lecture on double-entry notebook
3. Show pictures and examples of double-entry notebook

2. Group Activity: Double-Entry Notebook

Prompt: Using the double-entry notebook format and your homework on senses, free write preconceived notions about your place on the left hand side of the column: what you expect to see there. The right hand side will be reserved for later when you visit your place and take notes.

Split into groups and then discuss what you expect to see at your chosen place
1. One person be assigned the role of time keeper
2. Someone else is the note taker
3. Discuss your preconceived notions and expectations about your place with the group
4. Briefly announce to the class your place

3. a. Group Activity: Features of Good observation: Ally and Bacon, page 182

Someone volunteer to read the student essay out loud to the class

Using the “Behind Stone Walls” student essay, identify “show words”
1. Discuss the essay with your group.
2. In the group, write the “show words” down on a piece of paper
3. On the board, write down the show words
4. Discuss with the class how the specific words help describe the place
5. Using diagram 4.2, page 73, discuss where on the scale of abstraction Carp’s essay fits

b. How do I use observation to support my surprising reversal essay?
Answer these three questions about surprising reversal on page 184:
1. What is the audience that Cheryl Carp imagines?
2. For this audience, what is the common view of prisoners that Cheryl Carp attempts to reverse?
3. What is her own surprising view?

4. Review the homework for next class and answer student questions

Example of Double-Entry notebook using “Behind Stone Walls” by student, Cheryl Carp
The following is a mock entry:


Class 6: Rhetorical Appeals and Style

Through class discussion and writing, the students will explore the rhetorical appeals and their relation to style in an informative essay.

1. Understand the rhetorical appeals: logos, pathos and ethos.
2. Develop an understanding of the levels of style and the ways style can be used in an
informative essay.
Part 1 [30 min.]

Instructor projects the following excerpt from Allyn and Bacon, page 57:

● Logosis the appeal to reason. It refers to the quality of the message
itself – to its internal consistency, to its clarity in asserting a thesis or point, and to the
quality of reasons and evidence used to support the point.
● Ethos is the appeal to the character of the speaker/writer. It refers to the
speaker/writer’s trustworthiness and credibility. One can often increase the ethos of a message
by being knowledgeable about the issue, by appearing thoughtful and fair, by listening well, and
by being respectful of alternative points of view. A writer’s accuracy and thoroughness in
crediting sources and professionalism in caring about the format, grammar, and neat appearance
of a document are part of the appeal to ethos.
● Pathos is the appeal to the sympathies, values, beliefs, and emotions of the
audience. Appeals to pathos can be made in many ways. Pathos can often be enhanced through
visual images, frequently use in Web sites, posters, and magazine or newspaper articles. In
written texts, the same effects can be created through vivid examples and details, through
connotative language, and through empathy with the audience’s beliefs and values.

Students discuss as a class the rhetorical appeals and how the audience and purpose of an informative essay affect them.

Students discuss the ways they can use rhetorical appeals in their own informative essays.

Students discuss the concept of style and how audience, purpose, and rhetorical choices affect it.

Instructor projects the following levels of style from St. Martin’s Guide to Teaching Writing, page 206:

● Three hierarchical levels of style
○ Formal or literary style
○ Informal or colloquial style
○ Vulgar or illiterate style

Students discuss the differences between the three levels of style, and if the three levels are still relevant to writing today.

Students discuss how different writing genres and different audiences might affect or be affected by different level of style.

For example:
What kind of style or level of style would you use for:
● An e-mail
● A text message
● A scholarly article
● An essay
● An instruction manual
● A narrative

Part 2 [15 min.]
Using one paragraph from the essay, Behind Stone Walls, Allyn and Bacon, pages 182-183, students re-write the paragraph in a different style.


Class 7: Parts of an Informative essay (Part I) Thesis and Surprising Reversal

Using their own surprising reversal thesis ideas, students will discuss and refine their ideas and supporting points through class discussion and peer interaction in small groups.

1. Understand Thesis and Surprising Reversal in Informative Essays
2. Grapple with the Effective and Non-Effective Use of Thesis and Surprising Reversal

Part 1 – [15min.]
A. Journal Entry – [5 min.]

Based on your reading in Allyn and Bacon, write for 5 minutes, answering the following questions:
○ -What is a thesis statement and how can it be used effectively in an informative essay?
○ -What does Allyn and Bacon mean when it talks about surprising reversal and thesis tension?
○ -How can you use a surprising reversal thesis effectively in an informative essay?

B. Discussion – [10 min.]
Students discuss their answers to the above questions. Instructor makes sure that the students grasp the basic use of thesis and surprising reversal in informative essays. Instructor types or writes student’s answers on the board for each question.

Instructor reveals example:
Thesis without tension or surprising reversal: Topekeegee Yugnee Park is a
nice place to relax and enjoy nature.
Thesis with surprising reversal: Although Topekeegee Yugnee Park is a nice
place to relax and enjoy nature, it is transformed once a year, into a Medieval adventure
during the Camelot Days Festival.
Thesis without tension or surprising reversal: Harvey’s By the Bay is a bar
in Miami where people can hang out and have fun.
● Thesis with surprising reversal: Although Harvey’s By the Bay may seem like just another
Miami bar, it actually has an interesting American military history.

Once students have discussed effective use of thesis and surprising reversal, the instructor reveals or types in this prompt:

● Are there any times when surprising reversal or thesis statements may not be effective in an
informative essay?

● When might a delayed thesis be effective?

Students discuss possible examples and answers, and instructor types or writes the student’s responses on the board.

Part 2 – [30 min.]
A. Group Workshops – [20 min.]

Instructor has the class divide into groups of 5. Each group should have a recorder and a monitor.

Instructor reveals or types in the following prompt:

● -Everyone in the group should share the surprising reversal thesis statement and supporting
points that they brought to class.
● -Discuss the effectiveness of your classmates surprising reversal and thesis statements.
● -Choose one or two effective statements to share with class. Be prepared to defend why you
think that the statements are effective.

B. Presentations – [10 min.]
-Each group recorder takes turns presenting their group’s thesis statements, surprising reversals, and conclusions.

-After each recorder presents, the class has an opportunity to respond with suggestions, comments, or questions for the group.

Part 3 – [5 min.]
Review homework for Day 8


Class 8- Parts of an Informative essay (part 2)- Introduction

Students will learn how to write a thesis driven introduction. Each Student will brainstorm on:
• What is the purpose and function of an introduction?
• Learn the appropriate form of an essay in order to be able to model and identify ways to:
o Use various attention grabbers/ motivators in writing an introduction,
o Identify sound thesis statements and the surprising reversal technique
o Generate a blueprint for the paper.

1. Introduce the topic in an interesting way that entices the reader
2. Indicate how the topic is to be developed in the body paragraphs that follow
3. Learn how to seamlessly incorporate the thesis statement into the introduction

1. Free write/brainstorm

Prompt: If the research paper can be compared to a meal, then the introduction is the appetizer. In your journals I want you to write down whether you agree or disagree with this statement and why. In What ways is the introduction like an appetizer? Alternatively, in what ways is it not?

2. Share and Discuss free write

a. What is an appetizer? [Descriptive]
i. Small food or drink offered before the meal
1. Its light, small, usually in line with the larger dinner theme
2. Sets the mood/tone [allows people to determine their mindset as dinner approaches
and their mood in context]
b. What is the purpose of an introduction- its reason for existence?
i. to entice your reader into wanting to read more
ii. to stimulate interest on your topic
iii. to open up cravings- make us receptive to learning/ be shown something new [more so if
it is not something we would still be interested in after we have been introduced to it]

3. Mini-lecture + question and answer

a. The functions/objectives of an Introduction
• Identify the specific topic
• Provide relevant background information
• Identify and explain the complications found within the topic
o Introduce surprising reversal
• Use the thesis statement to establish direction of study and point the audience towards
the conclusion

b. The Form/structure of the introduction
i. Motivator/attention grabber
ii. Thesis + surprising reversal
iii. Blueprint/points to be explored in detail in the body of the essay

4. [Whole group activity]-
i. A sample introduction is projected on the screen.
ii. One student will read it aloud.
iii. Led by the instructor the class will identify:
1. the motivator/hook
2. the thesis and surprising reversal
3. Blueprint/ideas that would be further explored in the body paragraphs

5. Guided discussion of the varieties of motivators
i. Following from group activity above, ask students to think of other ways to start the
same introduction- find other types of motivators.
1. Provide background information
a. Provide history and background of a specific subject
b. Shocking fact or statistic
2. A controversial opinion
a. Turn about
a. Max was a cute dog, a Tibetan terrier with a “winning smile”, but he
had annoying habit of “lifting his leg” on my furniture if I left him
alone for more than a couple of hours. Also, halfway through our
walks, he would roll on his back indicating he had had enough. I would
have to carry him home. Just when I decided to give him up for
adoption, he used his amazing talent as a “chick magnet” to find me the
love of my life.
3. Challenge the assumption
4. A quotation

a. Use a quotation to lead to the thesis statement
b. “Never trust a man a dog doesn’t like,” the proverb says. This somehow
implies that dogs can tell the character of a person before a human
can. In many ways, this is true: dogs have amazing talents when it
comes to assessing a person’s character. But how do they do it? Pet
behaviorists give the following explanations.
5. Definition of an unusual term central to your thesis
6. A combination of motivators

6. [Peer group Activity
1. Assuming students are divided into 7 groups of 4 students each, the peer group activity would
require each student to bring:
i. A hardcopy of draft #1 Introduction to class
ii. A yellow and a pink highlighter
2. Instruct students to exchange their draft#1.
i. Instruct them to identify the motivator. Highlight in yellow the motivator
ii. Instruct them to respond on the back of the draft they are reviewing:
1. Was the motivator effective at hooking the reader? Why or why not?
3. Instruct them to identify the thesis statement. Underline the thesis statement.
i. Instruct them to respond on the back of the draft they are reviewing:
1. Is the thesis statement clear? What is the subject and the opinion?
4. Instruct them to identify the blueprint. Highlight in pink each idea provided that will
support the thesis
i. Instruct them to respond on the back of the draft they are reviewing:
1. How many ideas did the writer present? What are the possible ideas mentioned
to support the thesis, and will form the remainder of the essay?
2. Are these ideas relevant and supportive of the thesis statement?
5. Discuss ways to writer could possibly improve the introduction
6. Return reviewed draft to Writer

7. Wrap-up/summarize


Class 9- Structure: Body and Conclusion

Students will learn how to structure the body and conclusion of their informative essay. They will learn how to find support for the body and how to develop the essay, as well as how to analyze their primary research throughout the essay and in the conclusion.

1. Understand the purpose of the body and conclusion in an essay
2. Understand how to use observations and specific examples to provide support in the body
3. Analyze a sample student essay on place to practically understand how to write the essay ___________________________________________________________________________________________________

1. Lecture and Discussion: Body and Conclusion

1. Using chapter seven, page 173, in Allyn and Bacon: Shaping, Drafting and Revising, look at
the shape of a surprising reversal essay

An introduction that engages the reader’s interest in a place and provides needed context and
A section that explains the common or popular view of this place
A section that gives the writer’s surprising view of the place developed with information
derived from personal observations
A conclusion that summarizes the surprising reversal and analyzes the observations at the place

2. Open your book to page 10 and 11: Spectrum for Open and Closed Form. Discuss what makes open
and closed form

2. Group Activity: Student Sample Essay on Place

Prompt: After reading the student sample essay, answer these eight questions in your groups and present to the class.

1. What surprising view does this essay address?
2. What is the common, expected, or popular view held by the audience?
3. What examples, details, or observations support the body of the essay?
4. What topic sentences does the essay use?
5. How does the writer transition between ideas in the essay?
6. How effective is the paper at hooking the reader’s interest in the place?
7. How does the writer analyze the observations throughout the paper and in the conclusion?
8. Where on the spectrum of closed and open form does this essay fit? See page 10 and 11.

3. Review the homework for next class and answer student questions


Class 10: Class cancelled for Student Conferences

Each student should schedule a conference with the instructor and bring a copy of their 2nd draft to the conference.


Class 11- Peer Review

Using the rubric, students will break into groups of two and peer review each other’s papers for global issues in their informative essay.

1. Understand how to evaluate and judge an informative essay paper.
2. Understand the elements of an effective informative paper.
3. Understand audience when writing an informative paper.


Part 1 [45mins]
2. Group Activity: Peer Review using Rubric

Prompt: After reading you partner’s informative essay, evaluate his or her paper using the rubric.

Keep these questions in mind as you are helping your peer student:

1. Are you surprised at the new information about the place? Was this something you knew before?
2. Are you captivated by the introduction?
3. Is the purpose clear: is the student trying to inform you of a place?
4. Does the paper use concrete observations to inform and surprise the reader?
5. How does the paper use in-text citations and Works Cited? Is it correctly used? Refer to The Everyday
6. Are the sentences clear upon reading the first time? If not, point out places where sentences and
ideas are not clear.
7. Is the structure clear? Are there topic sentences at the beginning of each paragraph?
8. Are there supporting observations and details that develop the topic sentence within the body of the
9. Does this paper read like a travelogue or an informative paper about place? Is the purpose clear?

3. Review the homework for next class and answer student questions


Class 12- Citing, Editing, and Proofreading

Students will learn how to efficiently and effectively edit and proofread their paper: They will understand:
• How to incorporate sources into their informative essay paper
• How to correct errors in spelling, mechanics, and grammar; not problems with organization

1. Understand why we cite
2. Understand the importance of proofreading a paper before submission
3. Correctly use in-text citation and bibliography using the APA citation style
4. Effectively proofread a paper as an objective reader.

1. Free write/brainstorm

Prompt: How do you know if someone is telling the truth [In general]? How do you know if someone is telling the truth in research papers?

Referencing & Citations
2. Share and Discuss free write

a. Focusing on the term Reference/source/citation: Why do we cite?
I. What other reasons aside from verifying the truth, and avoid plagiarism?
1. To enable someone reading the document to find the material you have referred to or
2. To demonstrate your width of reading and knowledge about a subject;
3. To support and/or develop points made in the text;
4. Because you may be required to do so by your department.

3. When to Cite
a. If you quote an author
II. Even if you are only borrowing a single key word, you need to tell your reader the
origin of the quotation.
b. If you restate an idea, thesis, or opinion stated by an author
c. If you restate an expert’s theory or opinion
d. If you use facts that are not common knowledge
e. If you need to provide an informational or explanatory note

4. When do you not have to cite a reference?
1. If the information is well and widely known and indisputable, including mathematical
and scientific facts:

a. The Republicans succeeded in winning the majority in both the House and Senate
in the November elections. AIDS is a disease that is managed but not cured.

2. Information found in dictionaries:

a. A Conestoga wagon is a covered wagon with an arched canvas top and broad wheels
used as transportation across the prairies.

3. Statistics and information that can easily be found in several sources and are not
likely to vary from source to source:

a. The population of the United States is 281 million.

5. [Whole group activity]

a. DISCUSS multiple ways to cite.
i. In-text citation
ii. Works cited/references
iii. Citation sources: books, journals, interviews, etc.
b. Introduce the two major citation styles
i. APA Style- American Psychological Association
1. Used in the social sciences
2. Emphasis on the date a work was created
a. Involves recording the date in the in-text citation
b. Date immediately follows authors name in ‘references’
ii. MLA Style- modern Language Association
1. Used in Humanities.
2. Emphasis on authorship
a. Involve recording author’s name in the in-cite text
b. Author’s name also the first to appear in the ‘Works Cited’ page
iii. Show side-by-side example comparison
v. Do APA online activity sheet whole group

6. What is proofreading?

a. Searching your writing for grammatical and typographical errors- spelling, mechanics, grammar;
not organization

7. How to proofread effectively
a. Even the most brilliant writers make errors
b. Read aloud
i. Forces you to read every word
ii. Put paper down after writing and proofreading some time later
c. Track frequent errors
i. Know what areas to get help on
d. The best option is to get a fresh pair of eyes
i. It is difficult to proofread our own work because we are not objective

8. [Peer group procedure]-

1. In peer groups of 4 students
2. Each student must have a copy of their most completed draft, and a pack of multicolor
highlighters; each student in a group will use a different color highlighter
3. Explain the aim is to point out minor problems not to fix them
4. Instruct students to mark the paper even if they are not sure if there is an error. The author
can check it later
5. On chalkboard/white board/projector draw the 4 symbols that will be used in the activity [1)
insert a comma/use a period here, 2) begin a new paragraph/ no paragraph, 3)
spelling/capitalization, and 4) delete/insert

9. [Peer group activity]-
1. Instruct students to pass their final copy to the person to their right
2. Instruct students to check for first proofreading error
3. When 6 minutes has passed, pass papers to the right again, this time check for next common
error identified.
4. Continue passing papers and checking specific aspects until the time is up and the person has
once again received their own paper.

Class 13- Reflection

• Students will reflect on their informative essays and their writing process.

1. Identify strengths and weaknesses in the informative essay
2. Reflect back on the writing process

1. Journal

Prompt: Write in your journals, answering the following questions:

1. Which aspect of this essay do you feel is the most successful? Why?
2. Where did you have the most difficulty when writing this essay? Why? How did you deal with this
3. Try to make a list of the specific skills you had to learn or practice in order to write this essay.
Where might you use these skills in the future?
4. What revisions would you make if you had more time? Why would you make these changes?


Students share and discuss their answers with the class.

[10 min.]



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