Instructor version



Allyn and Bacon Chapters 7, 18, and 24

Links to Recommended Readings :
Unit Plan

Day Plan 1

*Prereading assigned from the previous class: Read Allyn and Bacon pages 157-163; 741- 743.

Introducing the Informative Essay

Understand informative writing. Students should learn which features are unique to the informative-scientific report genre.
Generate topic ideas

(5 minutes) Literacy Narrative reflection
Students will take the five minutes of class to answer the following questions in their journals:

1. What did I learn about my relationship with language?
2. If I had had more time to work on the literacy narrative, what changes would I have
3. What about my writing style needs to improve as the semester continues?

(20 minutes) Introduce assignment:
After presenting the assignment sheet to students, engage in a brief discussion of how
we will define “phenomenon” for the purpose of this project. Ask students how they define it. Arrive at a working definition of phenomenon as “an observable event or occurrence which may be investigated empirically.”

Continue discussion with the following question: what does it mean to investigate something empirically?
-If something is empirical, it is testable.
-what types of instruments can be used?

Display template from page 739 of Allyn and Bacon on the overhead projector.

Explain that a scientific paper is broken off into these sections, lending a uniform organization pattern to all documents of this type.

(5 Minutes) Peer Group Activity : Generating Questions: You encounter a variety of natural and social phenomena on a daily basis. Essentially, you are looking for a process which happens either in the natural world (what we think of as “hard science”) or a social process or movement (language, literacy, or culture) that you would like to research and feel you could appropriately explain in an informative essay. Think about some of these particular instances and write down a few questions you have about them. Is there something in particular you want to know more about? Is there something interesting that you feel you know more about than other people might? Consider how this phenomenon (i.e. observable event or occurrence) affects your own life and think about ways in which these events impact society.

(5 minutes) Write down some of the student examples on the board and supplement the list in order to move the discussion towards specific questions that can be effectively researched and discussed within a paper.

Central points to reinforce:

1. Be specific! Questions such as “Why do people turn to religion?” are too broad to answer in a 1500 word essay.
2. Make sure you thoroughly understand what it is you are going to research before you commit to a topic.
3. Ask yourselves, do I believe there will be credible sources available for me to use when researching my topic? Don’t make this assignment harder than it needs to be by picking an obscure topic for which resources are scarce.

(5 minutes) Introduce homework and take questions from the class. Remind students that the literacy narrative may be revised at the end of the semester. Use remaining five minutes to make general observations about the different way one approaches a scientific review piece versus a personal narrative, or clear up any issues about which the class seems uneasy.

Read: Allyn & Bacon pages 743-749. Create a topic about which you can pose questions to your fellow students to collect data. Write ten different questions about your topic, which you will ask your classmates during the next class period. *This is not an “interview” of the student, which we will focus on later in the unit. The point here is to create questions which will give you a data sample of how your classmates feel/think/perceive a certain event or occurrence (i.e. phenomenon.)


Day Plan 2

The Questionnaire

More advanced techniques of gathering research, such as interviews and secondary source gathering, will be presented later in the unit. The purpose of this activity to create awareness in students about what kinds of questions, and what kinds of topics, elicit better information. They will learn to pose specific questions, to gauge audience response, and to evaluate which topics may be problematic in collecting data.

(20 minutes) Small Group Activity: Have students break off into groups of four. Each person in the group will take a turn posing their questions to the other three group members. After all of the data has been collected, the group should decide which questionnaire was most effective and be ready to share it with the class.

(10 minutes) Class reassembles and each group explains which questionnaire they chose and why.
Prompt questions: Were the questions specific enough?
Did you get the answers you expected to receive?

(10 minutes) General Discussion about questionnaires and points to consider when conducting field research. Would the answers have been different if other group members weren’t listening? Would the answers have been different if the surveys were written and collected anonymously? Are there some topics where people may lie about the answers or refuse to give information? Why?

(5 minutes) Freewrite. What did I learn about the questionnaire format today that surprised me? How were the most effective questions worded?

(5 minutes) Introduce homework and clear up any lingering questions.

Write: Since your audience for the informative essay will be your classmates, your homework assignment involves finding out what your audience knows about your topic. Post the following to the “Informative Essay Topics” forum in Moodle:

-The subject line of your message should contain the name of the phenomenon you plan to observe and research. (It’s okay if you haven’t 100% settled on a topic. This is an exploratory exercise.)

-The body of your message should contain a two-paragraph explanation of why you want to research this topic and write about it. If you don’t know much about it, explain why you’re curious. If you’re already familiar with the phenomenon, explain why you think it might make a good topic for this assignment. What might your readers not know and find interesting and surprising?

– Respond to two Moodle posts in the “Informative Essay Topics” section. Write a one-paragraph response answering the following questions: What prior knowledge do I have about this topic? What aspects of the topic do I find interesting? What advice can I offer the person writing on this topic?

Day Plan 3

Introduce students to college-level library research and explain the various options available at FIU for practical scientific research.

Explain how to access university databases.
Familiarize students with the library support staff.
Understand how to effectively search for specific articles that are viable for chosen topics.
Introduce double entry notebooking.

(30 minutes) A librarian from FIU will deliver an informative talk on conducting research in the library. This talk includes a demonstration of searching different databases. Students should volunteer their topics for the presenter to use as examples of searches. The librarian should also deliver information about the various ways a staff member may be reached, including by appointment, by telephone, and through live chat online.

(5 minutes) Students may ask questions to the librarian. Prompt questions, if participation is low, may include:
What type of database would be best to research a social process, such as online social networking or statistics on emotional disorders in veterans?

If an article is unavailable through the FIU website, how do I access interlibrary loan to get a copy of it?

(10 minutes) Lecture: Introduce Double-Entry notebook as a means to organize both primary and secondary research. (see p. 475-477 A&B)
Put up the example in Allyn and Bacon page 476 on the overhead projector. Explain the procedure behind creating a double subject notebook.

(5 minutes) Introduce homework.

Write: Post a finalized topic by next class and two secondary sources for your essay.

Read: Allyn and Bacon Chapter 5, pages 87-96 and Chapter 24, pp. 743-747. Reflect on how the researcher’s angle of vision impacts their observation and portrayal of phenomena.

Read: The essay “Behind Stone Walls” pages 182-183 in Allyn and Bacon carefully and make notes about interesting details. You will be doing a group exercise on this article for the next class.

Day Plan 4

Observation and Angle of Vision

Explore ‘angle of vision’ in research practice and writing
Learn effective observation techniques
Reinforce the use of concrete language and examples

(10 minutes) Open class with a brief journal write or freewrite related to “Behind Stone Walls.” Prompt: What is the social community being addressed here? How does the author combine information and emotional appeal effectively? What is the author’s angle of vision?

(10 minutes) Small group work: Have students break off into groups with their notes from “Behind Stone Walls” and have them discuss a significant detail and why it is important given the rhetorical purpose of the author. How does the detail fit within the overall organization of the paper and contribute to the author’s purpose? What are some things about prison life the author may have left out?

(15 minutes) Discussion: Angle of vision: Using the student responses and notes to “Behind Stone Walls”and drawing on the examples in Chapter 5, focus on how all observation involves editing, both initially and later when the material is assembled for incorporation in a text. Discuss the strategies on page 95, which restate the strategies in Chapter 3, pages 56-57.

(10 minutes) Discussion: Discuss the Observation strategies on page 744. Ask students how they plan to conduct the observation portion of their research. Show them how to use their double-entry notebooks for observation, with notes on one side and interpretations and further questions on the other.

(5 minutes) Introduce an observation object as a model for the homework and answer any lingering questions.

Write: Observation Exercise: Write a two part observation of the object posted in Moodle. In the first part focus on physical description of the object. In the second part, describe the object/being from your perspective (angle of vision) as author. This is your interpretation.Does it seem mean? Intimidating? Exotic? Cuddly? What questions has this object raised for you and further research on the topic? Post this in to Moodle “Observation Exercise” forum before the next class.

[Instructor Note: an object or a picture is posted to Moodle which students must describe, like a Wolperdinger, aka a German Jackalope, abominable snowman, roseate spoonbill, etc., or pictures or alternately objects students take from their environment.]

Read: Allyn and Bacon Chapter 24, pages 745-747 on interviews before writing interview questions.

Write: Prepare a list of at least five questions for an in-class practice interview with a classmate on Wednesday. The subject of the interview should be “Your favorite thing to do.” These are questions anyone in our class can answer, so they’ll make for good practice interviews. Post the following item to the “Practice Interview Questions” forum in Moodle by 12 pm and bring a printed copy to class:


Day Plan 5

Conducting Interviews

Learn effective interviewing techniques
Develop interview questions

(15 minutes) Discussion: Based on Allyn and Bacon Chapter 24, pages 745-747, discuss strategies for a successful interview experience. Be sure to note:

– Do your background research, but don’t be afraid to ask if don’t understand something or need to
follow up.
– Try to ask general questions about the interviewee and the topic first, and then ask about specifics.
Some initial personal questions will make the interviewee feel comfortable and let them know you are
interested in them and their topic
– Try to avoid redundant questions. Rephrasing a question and asking it again can get on the nerves of
those who are giving you their time and ultimately sour the interview.
– Ask follow-up questions as necessary.
– Use the double-entry notebook to note important passages from the interview and reflect on the
significance of the passages and context for the research project, as well as further questions for

[Instructor note: Ask students who conducting interviews if they have made arrangements already or conducted the interview.]

(10 minutes) Discussion: Based on student examples from homework, discuss effective interview questions. (Alternately, students who are conducting interviews can brainstorm questions for their research projects or present questions for discussion.)

(10 minutes) Partner exercise: Break off into pairs and do practice interview strategies using the questions they developed for homework.

(5 minutes) Journal Write/Freewrite: Which of your questions were effective and got useful responses? Which questions led to dead ends? How can I make sure my interview questions are effective when I go out to do field research? What did I learn from this exercise?

(5 minutes) Discussion: Discuss responses to the journal entry/freewrite.

(5 minutes) Introduce homework (project sample questions and observation notes) and address any lingering questions.

Write: If conducting interviews for this assignment, post 10 interview questions to Moodle under “Observations and Interviews”. If conducting observations, post a list of 10 potential aspects of the phenomenon you will be looking for. Keep in mind that both your questions and the observation list may change as you conduct your research.

Read: Allyn and Bacon Chapter 18, pages 577-585; 592-598. Focus on moving from old information to new information as a way of organizing not only your introductions but also your papers.

Read: Student sample essays posted in Moodle and grade according to the rubric assigned for the essay. Bring the graded rubrics to class for discussion.


Day Plan 6

Titles and Introductions

Understand how to write an effective title
Understand how to write an effective introduction

(10 minutes) Homework Review: Ask students to volunteer to show interview questions or observation notes and discuss. Ask if they have done their primary research or have it planned. Ask if they have any questions about their primary research.

(15 minutes) Discussion: What makes an effective introduction? What information belongs in the introduction and what information should be saved for the body of the paper? Show examples of effective and ineffective introductions on the projector and/or refer to examples from the reading.

(10 minutes) Discussion: Rubric homework. What specifically is mentioned about the title and introduction? In what areas were the papers successful or unsuccessful? How did they meet or not meet the expectations for the assignment based on the grading rubric and the assignment sheet? Please refer to the rubric as you move forward in your project and drafts.

(10 minutes) In-class writing: Have students start a draft title and introduction.

(5 minutes) Discuss introductions and titles and introduce homework.

Read: Allyn and Bacon Chapter 18, pages 585-592; 598-617. Focus on techniques for developing outlines, the body of the text, and conclusions.

Write: Write a draft title and introduction (1-2 paragraphs) for your informative essay. Post to Moodle “Titles and Introductions”.



Day Plan 7

Bodies, Outlines, Conclusions

Understand how to construct the body of the essay
Understand how use outlines as a road map for further drafts of the essay
Understand how to write an effective conclusion

(10 minutes) Discussion: Students introductions and titles are volunteered or selected for discussion. Does the reader know where the essay is headed and what will come next?

(10 minutes) Discussion: Discuss open and closed forms (Allyn and Bacon pages 10-11) and the many forms an informative essay can take. Focus on the structure for a scientific report on page 739 of Allyn and Bacon and discuss where if falls on the scale. Let students know that for a paper of this length, they will not be required to follow the structure completely.

(5 minutes) Lecture: Introduce outlining as a means to visualize the structure of the paper and as a road map for moving forward. Discuss Allyn and Bacon pages 585-591.

(10 minutes) In-Class Exercise: Students write a quick outline of how they see their papers progressing now that they likely have the research completed and the material collected. How do you plan to organize the material? What do you intend to cover in each section? Are the paragraphs focused on a specific topic? Refer to Allyn and Bacon 598ff.

(10 minutes) Discussion: Students volunteer or are selected to discuss their outlines.

(5 minutes) Answer any lingering questions and introduce homework.

Write: Post a revised outline to Moodle “Outlines” as a non-binding roadmap for moving forward. As you develop your outlines more fully, make sure you are meeting the requirements for the assignment as listed on the assignment sheet and the rubric.

Read: “Inside the Brain” by David Noonan in Allyn and Bacon pages 191-195. Be prepared to discuss during the next class.

Day Plan 8

Incorporating material from primary research

– Understand how to incorporate observation and interview material effectively in the informative essay
– What are smooth transitions?
– Students should learn that each time a source is included that they should provide analysis of the
information. If there is nothing to analyze, why is this source being used in the paper?
– Understand the difference between direct and indirect quotation.

(10 minutes) Small Group Exercise: In groups of two or three, identify passages in the reading in which observation and interview material are effectively incorporated. How was it introduced? How was it quoted? How do observation and interview material work together to create a compelling portrait of the subject?

(10 minutes) Discussion: Discuss responses from the small group exercise.

(15 minutes) Class Exercise: Based on the interview transcript and observation notes posted on on the overhead, summarize the important information based that you think would be useful for the proposed informative topic.

[Instructor Note: Develop responses to two likely interview questions. You can answer as if you had been interviewed, or create responses to an interview about a running theme in class. In a similar manner, create observation notes.]

(10 minutes) Discussion: Discuss responses to the activity.

(5 minutes) Answer any lingering questions and introduce homework.

Read: “Rhetorical Strategies for Observing Language Behavior in Action” (see link in the readings section) and type a lengthy paragraph where you explain which strategies or ideas will be most useful for conducting your own primary research. This will be collected during the following class.

Write: Using your notes from the group activity and referring to the interview transcript and observation notes, briefly report (1-2 paragraphs) the results of the two interview questions and observation notes to your audience, the class, properly using direct and indirect quotations. Try to relate the materials to each other as much as possible to create a unified narrative. This will help you practice quoting and incorporating relevant primary research material into an informative essay. Post to “Research Write-Up” in Moodle.

[Instructor Note: Alternatively students could be asked to write up the results of a portion of their own research.]

Read: Allyn and Bacon pages 803-810 “A Guide to Avoiding Plagiarism”. Pay particular attention to how sources are introduced in the text. Review the MLA style section of The Everyday Writer and bring to class. For further information, you can also review Allyn and Bacon Chapter 23.


Day Plan 9

Citation and quotation of secondary sources.

Understand basic APA format guidelines
Understand how to properly cite sources in the text
Understand how to create a works cited page

APA Workshop: Bring your copy of The Everyday Writer
(10 minutes) Discussion: Ask students to define plagiarism and review the plagiarism statement in the course syllabus. Show students how to get on to the Purdue Owl APA site and where they can find particular forms of citation. Have students understand the how to construct a works cited page.

(10 minutes) Discussion: Present the materials and examples from which the students can extrapolate their own works cited. Pay particular attention to Internet sources.

(10 minutes) Discussion: How to effectively introduce secondary sources based on examples.

(15 minutes) Small group exercise: Students bring in the one of the secondary sources they plan on using and have them generate a works cited page in small groups.

(5 minutes) Set up appointments for Conferences and post those appointments to Moodle for easy student reference and access.

Write: Complete your Works Cited page and post it to the “Works Cited” forum on Moodle. Then, by 12 o’clock Sunday night respond to two of your classmates’ Works Cited page by providing corrections where you find mistakes. You will be graded on this assignment based on thoroughness and the correctness of your responses. Make sure to respond to posts that do not have responses already.

Write: Submit a 750 word conference draft to before your appointment time. This draft should include your Works Cited page, but remember that this portion of your paper does not count towards the total word count.


Day Plan 10

CLASS CANCELLED FOR CONFERENCES! Please see schedule for your selected time.

Write:You have just completed your first conference about the Informative essay. What lingering questions do you still have regarding the improvement of your essay? Post three lingering questions to the “Conference Debriefing” forum in Moodle.

Write: Print a copy of the grading rubric and compare it to your current draft. Make a note of places where your draft does/does not meet the rubric. Bring a copy of notes and revisions to class for homework credit.

Read: Allyn and Bacon pages 568-576 on being a helpful peer reviewer. Bring your copy to class.

Please print out your rough draft and bring it to class for peer review workshop


Day Plan 11

Peer Review

Demonstrate effect peer review strategies
Effectively review student essays based on the rubric
Incorporate feedback from reviews

In class peer review activity:
(5 minutes) Journal Write/Freewrite – Make a list of questions that you would want to be asked in a peer review. Looking back on the homework what elements of the rubric did you stray from the most? What questions could you ask of your peers that would address these concern?
(5 minutes) Discussion: Talk to students about the questions they wanted to ask their peer review partners and put them up on the board. Discuss the issues that these questions would address and add onto the list as needed from A&B 174.
(35 minutes) Students are then coupled together based on notes taken in conference and asked to discuss their papers focusing on answering the peer review questions they created for homework and the supplemental material put up on the board.
(5 minutes) End with discussion of homework

Read: mini-essays “Tarantulas” and “Myths about ‘Dangerous’ Spiders” on page 159 of Allyn and Bacon and post a two paragraph response in the Moodle forum called “Tarantulas” to each of the following questions:
A) How would you describe the difference in organizational strategies for each of the
readings? What can you take away from this when evaluating your classmates’
papers for organization? What recommendation could you give them?
B) How does the difference affect the way details are selected and arranged?
C) These two short pieces give somewhat different impressions about tarantulas. How does
this presentation affect the portrayal of the tarantula? Give one specific example to illustrate
your point.

Read: Review Sections XXXXX of The Everyday Writer and be prepared to review student papers for these issues. Review the instructor comments on style from your literacy narrative and write a list of the frequent style errors make that you need to be aware of.

Where XXXXX should be sections that address specific problems that have come up during conferencing.

Write: A full draft 1500 word draft of your paper will be due in class for our proofreading workshop. Either print out a copy or make sure to bring an electronic version that is accessible for your peers.

Bring your copy of The Everyday Writer to class.


Day Plan 12

Style and Proofreading

Develop an understanding of typical grammatical errors and personal language issues based on feedback form the literacy narrative and prior drafts of the informative essay.
Students should understand that the same information, presented in different ways, conveys a different impression.

Discussion (10 min.) Using the readings that were given for homework engage the students in a conversation over how style functions differently within the two pieces. Focus the discussion on notions of rhetorical choice. Discuss the restriction of the genre on stylistic choice and how sometimes flouting the conventions of the genre are beneficial or destructive to a piece of writing.

Proofreading Workshop
Discussion (5 min.) Have students put some of the things they learned from their readings of the everyday writer on the board and select a few pressing questions that they would want their peers to address within their own papers. Make sure to address issues that youhave noticed in conferences and indifferent places throughout the drafting process
Proofing Workshop (25 min.) Have students split into pairs and evaluate each others papers based on their readings and on the list on the board that you have jointly set up at the beginning.
Journal Assignment (10 min.) Have students develop a plan for revision based on the input that they were given from their classmates ask: Did your peer address the issues yo u were most concerned about? If not where they simply a non-issues? How will address the problems your peer writer brought up in regards to style?
Discuss Homework (5 min.)

Polish your final drafts and post to Moodle before the next class.


Day Plan 13

Final Draft 1500 words due to Turnitin before class.

Reflection Informative Draft Scientific

(10 minutes) Journal Assignment
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?


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