The Work of the Class

FYW courses put a primary emphasis on the circulation and development of ongoing academic projects rather than coverage of a specific content or explicit instruction in discrete skills. A FYW course functions as an academic seminar and, in this way, is built on the contributions of its members.

Because student projects provide the central focus of the course, then, working with student writing should be a part of most class sessions. Two defining qualities of this writing include:

  1. It advances a conversation in some specific way (defined project/purposeful inquiry).
  2. It is offered to the other class members, who “try it on,” offer feedback, and serve as a primary audience.

Ways to Feature Student Work

  • Circulate drafts in process or portions of drafts in any number of ways (volunteers, random selection, copying a page (or even various sentences) from several drafts, asking students to choose a favorite paragraph or a place where they work with more than one text, etc.).
  • Ask students to characterize, frame, or situate each other’s work (perhaps in a genre such as headnote, introduction, afterword, blog post, or even review).
  • Build things together in a shared online space (e.g., a Course Bibliography in a Google Doc; an annotation or glossary of key terms in a Google Doc; a HuskyCT blog or discussion thread exploring potential extensions of the texts).
  • Have students post drafts as discussion threads, allowing all students access and assigning a peer review process (with guidelines) for all group members.
  • Build some peer reviewing in class and some out of class (through email or course management software).
  • Help students build “affinity networks” or writing groups around similar projects.
  • Feature a particular project from one student or from a collection you’ve made to help work through a problem or issue.
  • Share reflective writing and process notes.
  • Assign cover letters, informal (mid-process) presentations, formal presentations, or re-mediation projects (putting the larger project into a new genre or context).