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ENC 1101 • Writing Under Pressure: Timed Writing Unit

STUDENTS’ UNIT PLAN: Writing Under Pressure

Learning Outcomes:

I. Demonstrate ability to adapt the writing process to an abbreviated time frame.

II. Analyze an essay exam question to understand what the question is looking for by recognizing cues
and by interpreting and responding to key terms.

III. 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.

IV. Demonstrate the ability to apply knowledge to new concepts.

Timed writing exams are an important part of your college career. Many instructors will use a timed writing exam to gauge your understanding of the themes and ideas of an entire course. Often, they will be looking for evidence that you are able to synthesize the facts in response to a specific prompt. This is similar to the objective of practically every essay assignment with a major difference. While you are taking a timed writing exam you won’t be in your favorite overstuffed chair, you won’t have a hot café con leche, and you won’t have your favorite music playing in the background. Instead, you will be packed into a classroom with other nervous students and a loudly ticking clock. Forget about multiple drafts to focus your paper, or the luxury of long brain storming sessions, or exploring interesting tangents that might lead to even more interesting subject matter. Instead, you have to be prepared to unpack the exam as quickly as possible, and systematically address the various facets of the prompt while still keeping the language and voice of your paper sounding appropriate and authentic.

In this unit we will learn how to take some of the pressure out of timed writing exams and be prepared to adapt everything we know about writing into meeting the challenge of a timed writing examination or assignment.

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DAY 1 – Friday

Introduction to College Level Timed Writing.
Last Wednesday you were assigned A&B Chapter 9 – “Essay Examinations: Writing Well Under Pressure” as homework reading for today.

Today’s class objectives:
1) Through some exploratory writing, group activities, and class discussions we will reveal many of the
common fears about and challenges of timed writing assignments.

2) We will discuss how many of those fears and challenges have strategies that help to relieve or
address them.

3) We will review what The Allyn & Bacon Guide to Writing has to say about timed writing in chapter
nine.

Homework to be completed before next Monday’s class:
-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.

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DAY 2 – Monday

Today’s class objectives:
1) We will review assignment prompts to figure out what they are asking us to write.

2) We will learn to address a prompt with a thesis that will guide our writing of the essay.

-Homework to be completed before class on Wednesday:
-Read A&B Guide to Writing, pages 57-58, and page 46 of The Everyday Writer for a refresher on the
rhetorical appeals.
-Read through the ethos logos, and pathos test prompt on Moodle and answer the questions in the forum.
-Post a peer review to one of your classmates’ posts explaining whether or not you feel their
explanation is effectively reflecting the requirements of the prompt and why?
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DAY 3 – Wednesday

Today’s class objectives:
1) We will continue working on organizing ideas in response to a timed writing prompt and begin our
discussion on developing a rudimentary outline based on a thesis or theme.

-Homework to be completed by noon on Thursday:
-Develop an outline for the rhetorical appeals prompt.
-Post your outline to Moodle in the “Rhetorical appeals outline” forum.
Homework to be completed before class on Friday:
-Respond to one of your classmates’ posts by answering the questions in the “Rhetorical appeals outline
peer review” forum.
-Bring a copy of the African-American cultural influence thesis to class on Friday.
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DAY 4 – Friday

Today’s class objectives:
1) Today we will have a chance to apply everything that we’ve discussed to an in-class, timed writing,
practice exam.

2) We will also write about the experience of taking a timed writing exam after having practiced the
skills and strategies mentioned in Chapter 9 of the A&B Guide to Writing.

-Homework to be completed by noon on Saturday:
-Giving yourself 45 minutes, in the Moodle forum called “Timed writing practice and peer review,” use
the rhetorical appeals prompt and outline that you wrote for the Moodle forum “Rhetorical appeals
outline,” and write an essay.
-Homework to be completed by midnight Saturday night.
-Peer review one of your classmates’ timed writing in the “Rhetorical appeals timed writing peer review” Moodle forum.
Homework to be completed before class on Monday.
-Read your peer reviewer’s comments for advice to apply to the timed writing exam
-Re-read “Paintball” (A&B pp 234-237) and “Living Like Weasels” (A&B pp 640-643). As you read, pay
attention to the authors’ rhetorical choices in regards to their decision to write in either the open
or closed form.-Review the A&B Chapters 1, 18, 19 sections that focus on writing within the closed-to-
open form continuum.
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DAY 5 – Monday

Today’s class objective:
1) Produce a hand written document, written under a time constraint of one hour, that responds
effectively to a prompt and that exhibits a clear thesis or theme, coherent organization, and content
appropriate to the question.
2) Write a final reflection on the experience of writing under a time constraint now that you have
practiced the skills in this unit.

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