Sample Lesson Plan

Project 3: Foundational genre – Response unit (approx. 3 weeks)



In preparation for day one, students read a section from their textbook using the reading/annotation strategies they’ve learned thus far to pick out key terms. Students are asked to annotate their textbooks to pull out key terms with an eye toward distinguishing the response genre from the summary genre (that they practiced prior to this).

1) Revisiting the Wayne Writer response section for a warm-up:

     Key terms: Genre, Summary, Response

     Key questions: What is the difference between a summary and response ?

                                 What is the function of summary WITHIN a response?

                                 Why do we *respond* to others’ ideas?

At the beginning of class, I ask students to form groups and give them a short activity involving key terms and concepts – typically I ask them to define terms and use them in relation to concepts they’ve already learned about thus far (encouraging them to consult their notes from past class sessions if need be).

Students write down the material they generate in the groups and then we share it as a class, discussing any differences of interpretation of terms/concepts from the textbook and their relation to earlier coursework.  Depending on the productivity of the group work, I may provide some guiding questions (listed above) for groups to consider.

Following our discussion, groups reconvene for an exercise in applying their new-found genre knowledge to an in-class practice assignment like the one below:

2) Group exercise: In groups of 2-3, take 15 minutes to come up with a response to the short writing piece provided and indicate the *type* of approach you used in your response (hint: these are found in your textbook).

After this exercise, I ask students to reflect on how they might use these strategies/skills/genre knowledge to apply it to their own text (chosen from a list of approved academic texts provided to them).

Homework for next class period:

Read: Your own article and annotate with an eye toward response. REMEMBER: You are not taking notes just to remember key ideas, but also to make note of your *reactions* to the text.

Come to class with a thesis statement and a few quotes from the text to help support your ideas!



Class begins with a recap of the homework assignment. I ask students to volunteer some narratives about their experience annotating their text (this is a scaffolding moment in which students had experience annotating for the purpose of summarizing and are now annotating with the purpose of responding).

Using our knowledge and experience from the last class session (in which students practiced latching on to information in a piece of writing and coming up with a thesis indicating their response to it), I ask students to volunteer some of their preliminary thoughts about response/thesis statements.

1) Let’s recap your homework from Thursday:

     A) Read and annotate the text you read for your summary.

     B) Develop a thesis statement (or at the very least a solid understanding of your perspective on the text).

After spending time talking about a few specific cases, we relate this back to the general idea of a thesis statement, why it’s important, what purpose it serves for this genre…

2) Let’s recap the purpose of a thesis statement (in general).

3) What should your thesis statement in a response do for your reader? Let’s come up with some “rules” together.

Through a class discussion, we come up with a list of reasons a thesis statement exists in writing and specifically in the genre of response. After the short discussion, ask students to get into groups for a writing exercise designed to help them see the *specific moments* in their text where their ideas intersect with the author’s.

WRITING EXERCISE (This will last about 30 minutes and your work will be collected for 30 points toward the final project total):

— Write your thesis statement (If you already did, edit it and make any changes you think you might need/want to make)

— After writing your thesis statement, go back to your article and find some quotes you selected — do they support your thesis?

— If they do, why (give a reason why the quote supports you). If they do not, select a couple that might.


At this point in the project (when students have  worked in class with me and with their peers to develop a thesis statement), I have individual student conferences in my office across two days. These conferences are used to ensure all students have a clear direction for their project and a substantive approach to the text with which to write more about.


Now that students have all met one-on-one with me and have a clear direction for their response, we take a day to look at examples of full responses written for former (anonymous) students. In this workshop, I hand out 2-3 sample papers:

1) Sample paper workshop!

     – Break into groups of 2-3

     – Read the sample papers provided to you

     – Answer the questions on the analysis worksheet and prepare to present your findings

After students form their groups, I hand out a worksheet with questions regarding structure, organization, thesis, citation, and genre conventions. I ask students to consider what they’ve learned thus far and apply that knowledge to their answers on the worksheet – using discussion with the group to come up with answers.

2) Be sure that while you’re listening to others present their findings that you write down anything you haven’t thought of!

After this workshop, I assign a short reading meant to help students reflect on their “writerly selves” as they are moving into the drafting stage of their first full project. I ask students to read the short narrative piece before beginning their full essay. I typically ask students to strive for a minimum of 1.5 pages of content for the next class period.


Day five of Project 3 begins with a short quiz on the reading (to gauge whether students are attending to some of the reading strategies they learned earlier in the semester: identifying the author, the main purpose, and looking up difficult terms).

I then spend the remainder of class time in a writing workshop with students. Writing workshops consist of students using the class time to continue drafting their project either independently or with a group/partner (giving students the option in this stage increases their comfort level).

While students are writing, I move around the room (sometimes with a timer to add a little element of fun) and meet with each student for 2-3 minutes (more, depending on how many are present that day). I typically read what students have written thus far and answer any questions they have at the moment, provide a manageable directive for the class period and sometimes a larger goal for the next class.

2) Mini-conferences; workshopping paragraphs/ outlines

     – Keep in mind that while I am working with others, you should be writing! Build on what you’ve written or edit what you’ve already written.

After this workshop, students are asked to continue writing and complete a full rough draft before our next class session.


Structured peer review. I provide a list of questions for students to consider about one another’s work. I split peer review into two parts: oral and written.


For your peer review you will partner-up with a classmate. You will listen while your classmate reads your paper aloud to you. While you are listening, you will write down anything that comes to mind. Consider these questions to think about while you listen:

1) Does my reader “trip-up” on my language while they’re reading?

2) Do I have a clear thesis/direction for my response?

3) Does my paper contain a short summary of the material I’m responding to?

4) Does my paper GO BEYOND a simple summary and RESPOND in some way to an element of the author’s argument?

After listening to your paper read aloud, you will do the same for your peer.


Once you’ve finished the read-aloud portion of the peer review, you will answer the following questions about your peer’s response (PLEASE BE SURE to either do this digitally or write your comments on a separate sheet of paper so you are able to give this feedback to your peer at the end of class):

1. Does the paper have a clear thesis? If so, identify the thesis.

2. Does the paper have a clear purpose? Do you have a solid idea of the writer’s response to the text? If not, how could it be better expressed?

3. Does the project contain ample support statements/support paragraphs that refer to and back up the thesis? In other words, does the writer follow-through with their claim in the thesis/introduction? If so, point to paragraphs that indicate support/follow-through.

4. What is the strongest part of the paper (most interesting, most powerful, etc.)?

5. What is the weakest part of the paper (or the part that needs to be improved, further developed or extended)?

6. Does the author make appropriate references to particular moments in the text (quotations, paraphrases, etc.)?

7. On the sentence-level, did you find the paper to be well written? Does it contain poor grammar or sentence-fragments? Is it unnecessarily wordy at times?

8. Does the project read like a response rather than a summary? I.e., does show a clear attention to the response rather than just summarizing the text?

9. What grade would you give the paper if it was a final draft?


The final day of the Response unit of the course is an editing workshop in which students are asked (prior to today) to compose a one-page reflection on their peers’ comments. They are asked to reflect on whether they feel the comments are useful (and if they will make them) and if not, why.

Editing workshop!

*Please have your one-page response to comments out and ready to work with.

*This is your opportunity to address comments that were given to you on Tuesday’s peer review day!

*For the duration of class you will make those changes to your draft as you see fit. 

This class day will also be used as an opportunity to ask questions about your draft if you do not understand some of your peers’ comments or you have any other issues that you need clarification on before submitting the rough draft.