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Day 1

ENC 1101 • Writing Under Pressure: Timed Writing Unit

In this lesson we chose to introduce the unit be revisiting some the students’ prior experiences with timed writing exams and assignments. Despite the student’s dislike of timed writing, a dislike that can often be traced back to their high school experiences with standarized tests like FCAT, we stirred up those memories to begin the discussion on improving performance in and releiving anxiety about timed writing scenarios.

By addressing many of the students’ fears and concerns, as well as recognizing perceived challenges in regards to timed writing, and then applying the principles discussed in chapter nine of A&B to address each fear/concern/challenge, the idea that there are simple skill sets that can be learned and applied to timed writing assignments is presented.


INSTRUCTOR’S DAY PLAN DAY 1 – Friday
________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Objective:

Introduce students to strategies for successful college level timed writing.
Students will have been assigned A&B Chapter 9 – “Essay Examinations: Writing Well Under Pressure” as there homework reading for today.

(10 Min)
-Individual Activity to write a journal entry on experiences with timed writing.

-Use DOCUMENT 1-A on the projector to show the journal prompt.

(05 Min)
-Group Activity in groups of three or four to develop a list of shared fears/concerns/challenges.

-Students should list fears, concerns and/or challenges that they have in common with their
other group members.

(10 Min)
-Class Discussion to draw class wide conclusions based on group activity for the top six fears/concerns/challenges regarding timed writing exams.

Q: -What fears did your group have in common?
-What concerns did you share with your group?
-What challenges did your group recognize in common?
-If you had no overlap in your answers, what were your group members’ top three fears?
Concerns? Challenges?

-Take a picture of the bottom three fears/concerns/challenges to post on Moodle for HW
(“Bottom Three Fears/Concerns/Challenges” Moodle forum).

-Review of key points from the reading (A&B pp 280-289) and fit the top three shared
fears/concerns/challenges into the key points discussion as a way of addressing them for the
class.

-Use DOCUMENT 1-B on the projector to show the key points of Chapter 9.

Q: -Which strategy do A&B recommend for dealing with fear/concern/
challenge number one? Number two? Number three?

(15 Min)
-Class Activity to identify the prompt, from a group of prompts, that best fits a specific sample essay.

-Read the short essay on pages 284 and 285 of A&B aloud to the class. Project A&B text on the
board.
-Identify the most likely prompt, from the selection of prompts, for this piece of writing by
reading each prompt aloud and asking:

Q: -Was this essay written in response to prompt #1?
-Was this essay written in response to prompt #2?
-Was this essay written in response to prompt #3?
-Was this essay written in response to prompt #4?

“Matching the essay with the appropriate question may prove tricky for your students. If confusion arises, observe that some instructors might consider this essay an adequate response to Question 1, but it probably wouldn’t receive an “A.” The essay focuses primarily on similarities between Swift’s and Shelly’s views and mentions only one, vaguely defined, difference (that Shelly “feels more optimistic” than Swift) in the final paragraph. An exemplary answer to Question 1 would identify several differences between Shelly’s and Swift’s views and illustrate these with textual examples. Although this response also touches on the concerns of Questions 2 and 3, neither scientific knowledge nor character analysis is central to the discussion. Because the essay revolves around the texts’ exploration of human nature, most instructors would consider it an off topic response to either question.

The essay is a successful treatment of Question 4, a lengthy question that requires sophisticated interpretation and analysis. Although the question begins with several generalizations and offers numerous topic options, note how this writer refines her response to fit the basic requirements: a discussion of two works on the list, geared to the key issue (how the texts suggest an optimistic or pessimistic view of human nature), and supported by specific textual examples. the discussion of Frankenstein is less developed than the section on Gulliver’s Travels–perhaps because the writer ran out of time–but the overall strength and coherence of the argument is what earned it an A.”

(05 Min)
-Introduce the unit plan and review the assignment sheet using the “Students’ Unit Plan” on the projector
.
-Distribute and review the timed writing assignment sheet. Use DOCUMENT 1-C to project on
the board.

(05 Min)
-Homework: Use DOCUMENT 1-D on the projector to discuss the HW

To be completed before class on Monday.

-Read the students’ unit plan on Moodle.

-Review the assignment sheet for the timed writing unit.

-Review A&B pages 282-284, “Interpreting Key Terms.”

-Read through the sample test prompt on Moodle and post your answers to the forum. See
DOCUMENT 1-E for the “Unpacking the prompt” forum.

-Identify which sections of Chapter 9 address the bottom three fears/concerns/challenges that
we came up with in class. Explain the Chapter 9 strategies you selected to help address the
particular fear/concern/challenge and post your response to Moodle forum.

-See DOCUMENT 1-F for the “Bottom Three Fears/Concerns/Challenges” forum prompt.

DOCUMENTS

1-A

Write brief responses to the following prompts:

1) Describe your previous experience with timed writing exams.

2) What anxieties do you have about timed writing exams?

3) What Challenges do they present?

4) Are timed written exams an effective way for students to demonstrate they have achieved
learning goals? Why or why not?

5) Why do you think instructors would give a timed writing exam versus a multiple choice or
short answer exam?

1-B

Key strategies for success in timed writing examinations:
(From A&B, pp 280-289)

1) STUDY

2) UNPACK THE PROMPT
-Understanding the use of outside quotations
-Recognizing organizational cues
-Interpreting key terms

3) FOCUS ON THE IMPORTANT THINGS
-Minimize test anxiety
-Manage your time (if called for) or theme
-Clear thesis statement
-Coherent organization
-Support and evidence
-Independent analysis and argument
-Conclusion

1-C

TIMED WRITING ASSIGNMENT SHEET

Your goals in writing this essay are to demonstrate your ability to adapt the writing process to an abbreviated time frame by analyzing an essay exam question, understand what the question is looking for by recognizing cues and by interpreting and responding to key terms, and then to produce a written document, written under time constraint, that responds effectively to the prompt and that exhibits a clear thesis, coherent organization, and content appropriate to the question.

You may already be familiar with the experience of taking a timed writing test, but this unit is
focused on bringing some of the skills that you learned and practiced in the previous units into a scenario where you are writing under a time constraint. By using these skills, much of the pressure and anxiety of a timed writing exam can be diminished and you will be better prepared to use the allotted time to produce an effective essay.

TEST DAY:
Your timed writing exam will be based on information that has been covered in class and in your readings. This will be an open-book exam. Therefore, you will need your Allyn & Bacon book to complete the exam, so make sure to bring it to class. You may also bring your Everyday Writer. Also, make sure to bring plenty of paper and something to write with.

When you enter the classroom, take your seat, put everything away except for your two text books, paper, and something to write with. Once the prompt is posted, begin unpacking it as we have discussed throughout this unit. When you are ready, start writing. Remember to keep an eye on the clock. You will have one hour to complete your essay.

Remember to include any evidence of your prewriting process, including your unpacking of the prompt, development of a thesis or theme, and outlining of your essay. This is especially important if you run out of time and do not complete your essay.

When you are finished, gather your pages, and bring them to the front of the class to staple them together and turn them in. Once you have turned in your timed writing test you will be free to leave the class. Remember that some of your classmates may still be working so please be quiet as you gather your belongings and exit the room.

Grading Criteria:
-Evidence of your process in unpacking the prompt, developing a thesis or theme, and outlining your
essay are observable.
-The essay contains a thesis statement that effectively and logically guides the writing or the essay
focuses on a specific theme that is obvious to the reader from the beginning of the essay and stays in
focus throughout.
-The essay illustrates support with examples taken from the text
-Sources are incorporated logically through a combination of quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing.
-The essay illustrate opinion where appropriate.
-The essay is focused on the rhetorical purpose of addressing the prompt.
-The essay is clearly and logically organized.
-The essay is grammatically and mechanically correct.

1-D

-Homework:

To be completed before class on Monday.

-Read the students’ unit plan on Moodle.

-Review the assignment sheet for the timed writing unit.

-Review A&B pages 282-284, “Interpreting Key Terms.”

-Read through the sample test prompt on Moodle and post your answers to the
forum.

-Identify which sections of Chapter 9 address the bottom three
fears/concerns/challenges that we came up with in class. Explain the Chapter
9 stratagies you selected to help address the particular fear/
concern/challenge and post your response to Moodle forum.

1-E

Unpacking the prompt” Moodle forum

Walt Whitman once wrote that English was not “an abstract construction of Dictionary makers” but a language that had “it’s basis broad and low, close to the ground.” Whitman reminds us that English is a richly expressive language because it comes from a variety of cultural sources. One of these is African-American culture. Write an essay discussing the major ways in which African-American culture has influenced the culture of the United States. Identify and illustrate at least three important influences.

-Identify the key words in this prompt

-Will this be an open or closed form essay?

-What specific details/evidence/support is this prompt asking for?

-How do you think that this prompt will be graded?

-Where, if at all, might Whitman be used as a source in your essay?

-Is this prompt asking you to reflect in the first person?

-Is this prompt asking you to summarize anything?

1-F

“Bottom Three Fears/Concerns/Challenges” Moodle forum

Which of the key strategies for success in timed writing examinations
listed below (from A&B, pp 280-289) can be used to addressed these
fears and concerns that we identified in class?

1) STUDY

2) UNPACK THE PROMPT
-Understanding the use of outside quotations.
-Recognizing organizational cues
-Interpreting key terms

3) FOCUS ON THE IMPORTANT THINGS
-Minimizing test anxiety
-Manage your time
-Clear thesis statement (if called for) or theme
-Coherent organization
-Support and evidence
-Independent analysis and argument
-Conclusion

Post a picture of the bottom three from the list of six that was written on the board

 

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