Incorporating Writing in FYS

FYS Sample Writing Calendar

Writing Activities by Week


1 – freewrite, annotation, in class group paragraphs, blog post, modeling writing 

2 – modeling writing and revision, freewriting, summary

3 – modeling revision and groupwork, bibliography (citation and thesis), blog post

4 – modeling revision and summary, annotated bibliography

5 - modeling context, outline, peer review, modeling organization, blog post

6 – revising outline, modeling organization

7 - modeling hooks and conclusions, rough draft, peer review

8 – class presentations, final draft. 


Class Schedule:


Mon 8/18 - 30 minutes: 10 min. of writing, 20 min. of discussion

In class freewrite: “Is Shrek a Fairy Tale?”

Goals: facilitate informed discussion and critical and creative thinking to define genre, establish conventions of fairy tales, start class discussion re: relationship between formal conventions (has a princess, begins “once upon a time”) and functional conventions (teaches a moral lesson)     

Homework: Read and annotate “Cinderella,” identifying the moments when the story conforms to formal and functional conventions of a fairy tale.

Tues 8/19 - 25 minutes: 10 min. mini-lesson, 15 min. groupwork and class review

As a class, read “Fairy Tales and A Dose of Reality” (NYT op-ed). Identify the argument, main claims, and evidence in Orenstein’s article as a class (Reverse outline). Work in small groups to analyze one of the main claims and develop a counterargument, in writing, that you then present to the class.

Goals: facilitate critical reading, cogent writing, and informed discussion.

Homework: Create a blog post in which you explain whether you agree or disagree with Orenstein’s argument about the ways fairy tales shape modern understanding of marriage, and why.

Th 8/21- 15 minutes: 10 min. assignment review, 5 min. mini-lesson and class discussion

Review all of the writing assignments for FYS and explain their significance. Mini-lecture on topic vs. thesis. As a class, brainstorm possible topics for papers.

Goals: writing cogently

Fri 8/22 – 25 minutes: 15 min. groupwork and class review, 10 min. mini-lesson

Choosing a topic from yesterday’s collaborative list, students will work in groups to brainstorm a list of possible research questions. Then, as a class, share these questions and identify possible search terms. Go online to model how to find abstracts, choose suitable articles, identify thesis sentences in articles. Review citation handout.

Goals: building research skills

Homework: Find an article that interests you (possibly related to your topic, though you still have some wiggle room). Create a blog post in which you summarize the article, presenting the thesis, claims, and supporting evidence. Bring a printout of your blog post to class.


Tues 8/26 – 25 minutes: 5 min. individual reading and note-taking, 20 min. mini-lesson.

Students begin by re-reading their blog posts and identifying one thing they think works well and one thing that could use improvement. As a class, review these parts of the summaries on the doc cam, identifying common difficulties, discussing possible solutions, and explaining why successful moments are successful.

Goals: build research skills, encourage critical thinking, reading, and informed discussion

Homework: Paper topic due Thursday

Th 8/28 - 25 minutes: 10 min. group discussion, 5 min. freewrite, 10 min. mini-lesson

Working in groups of 4 or 5, spend 2 mins. discussing each topic. What do your classmates find interesting about this? What questions do they have? Talk for the full two mins. for each topic.

After this, take 5 minutes to write about your topic. This is a low stakes writing assignment, but you need to be writing the whole time. What interesting questions did your classmates raise? What can you build off of that? Where are your interests within this topic? What do you think you’ll find out once you start to research? 

Mini-lesson: Review the rubric for the summary assignment (due Tues.) then go through a model summary as a class, identifying the thesis and topic sentences and discussing when to quote and when to paraphrase and citation style.

Goals: build research skills, encourage critical reading, and cogent writing.

Homework: Write a blog post titled with your topic, and then below list five questions you think you’d be interesting in researching. Read the two blogs posted immediately before your own and comment with two questions each for them about their topics as well.

Find an article about your topic. Write a one-page summary of the article to hand in Tuesday. 

**first formal writing assignment**


Tues 9/2 – 20 minutes: 5 min. assignment review/preview, 15 min. groupwork

Review summary assignment/common challenges (due today) and upcoming bibliography project (cite and quote thesis) as a class. In groups, review packet of first pages of articles and identify thesis. Then check as a class. Mini-lesson on writing your own thesis: good/better/best. 

Goals: build research skills, encourage critical thinking, and cogent writing.

Homework: First draft bibliography - 10 sources, correctly cited, w/ thesis quoted. 2 of these should include one-paragraph summaries (for feedback/revision before annotated bib).

Th 9/4 – 25 minutes: 10 min. mini-lesson on thesis development, 15 min. groupwork

Model good/better/best thesis statements and discuss why some are more effective than others, drawing from class topics and from the theses identified by students in their bibliographies. Have students work in groups on a good/better/best thesis, then share and critique as a class.

Goals: build discussion, encourage critical thinking, and cogent writing. 

Homework: Create a blog post in which you state your thesis and a list of claims you’ll have to prove to back that thesis. Comment on two other posts with a question that their thesis raises for you. Choose one of the two paragraphs from your bibliography for class workshop. 


Tues 9/9 - 25 minutes: 10 min. mini-lesson on annotations for bibliography, 10 min. student independent writing, 5 min. class review.

Model the parts of a strong summary paragraph (topic sentence, citation, etc) for students using published annotated bib, work together to revise a weaker summary paragraph drawn from online example. Have students work independently to revise the paragraph they brought into class, then reconvene to discuss changes they made and ways to improve even further.

Goals: discussion, critical thinking, cogent writing, research skills, critical reading

Homework: Annotated bibliography

Th 9/11 – 20 minutes: mini-lesson

Model outlining by distributing outline peer review sheet to students and having them walk through the questions as a class and offer suggestions for how to improve model outline.

Goals: research skills, cogent writing

Homework: Paper Outline (bring 4 copies to class)


Tues 9/16 – 25 minutes: 10 min. mini lesson on incorporating context, 15 min. group brainstorm

Using articles, walk students through the ways that scholars tend to provide context for their arguments (at the beginning of the article “They say/I say,” distributed throughout as evidence, in the beginning of sections). In groups of three, have students walk classmates through their outlines and then identify places where context (and types of context) might be useful (5 min/ea).

Goals: critical thinking, cogent writing, informed discussion.

Homework: Complete peer review sheet for two other students

Th 9/18 – 45 minutes: OUTLINE PEER REVIEW

Goals: informed discussion, cogent writing, critical thinking

Homework: Read model paper and write a blog post evaluating it. Was it convincing? If so, why? If not, why not?


Tues 9/23 – 30 minutes: 5 min. mini-lesson on organization, signposting, and topic sentences, 15 min. independent work, 15 mins. class discussion 

Distribute colored markers and have students mark up model paper to identify thesis, signposts, transitions, and topic sentences. As a class, reverse outline the paper and discuss other organizational possibilities.

Goals: critical reading, cogent writing

Homework: Revise your outline to include topic sentences. Post your thesis and revised outline on the blog. Choose two other entries and answer the following: 1) Which topic sentences work to prove the thesis? Which do not? 2) Do any topic sentences seem obvious/don’t require evidence? Which ones? 3) Which is your favorite topic sentence?

Th 9/25 – 25 minutes: 5 min. mini-lesson, 15 min. independent work, 5 min. class review

Go over peer review sheet with students and discuss goals of peer review. Have them use peer review sheet to critique model paper. As a class, discuss ways that the author might revise his/her work based on peer review.

Goals: cogent writing, critical thinking 

Homework: Rough draft due Tuesday.


Tues 9/30 - 10 minutes: 10 min. mini-lesson on hooks and conclusions.

Walk class through models of hooks and conclusions drawn from course reading. Brainstorm different possible reasons for and organization of hooks and conclusions. 

Goals: cogent writing, critical reading, informed discussion.

Homework: Revise the introductory paragraph of your paper and post it on the blog. Comment on two other classmates’ hooks – What is new here? Complete peer review.


Goals: cogent writing, critical reading, informed discussion 

Homework: prepare class presentations


Tues 10/7 – Entire class – class presentations

Have students present their arguments to the class in a 5-minute presentation, using power point or a poster.

Th 10/9 – Final paper due.