The following guide is aimed at instructors new to the CAS Writing Program and walks them through the process of preparing their courses for the first time. Note that while some sections of WR 120 are reserved for English language learners (ELLs), all WR 120s use the same learning outcomes and course requirements. Similarly, while WR 15x classes come in three different varieties (each with its own special focus and additional Hub unit), the WR 15x courses have much in common with each other. This guide addresses those core elements and refers instructors to additional resources.
Step 1: Learn more about the course
- Review the Learning Outcomes, Pedagogical Approach, and Course Requirements:
- Review the Writing Program shared vocabulary list.
- Take a look at these May 2021 slides from comparing and contrasting WR 120 and WR 15x (as well as WR 151, WR 152, and WR 153).
- For WR 15x, review the WR 15x-specific Faculty Guide:
- Review the current syllabi template.
- Review the Writing Program list of policies.
Step 2: Choose your topic and readings
- Remember that WR 120 and even WR 15x courses are first-year classes designed for students who have a wide range of majors and interests. Try to avoid assuming any background knowledge on students’ parts, assigning reading assignments due the first day of class, or otherwise discouraging students from taking your course.
- Select course materials from a range of sources, representing a variety of styles and perspectives; especially welcome are non-Western readings and work by authors whose perspectives, backgrounds, and/or identities have been historically underrepresented.
- Try to avoid assigning reading for the first day of class. Something short, no more than 3-5 pages or so, would be fine, but be aware that students may not have a lot of time leading up to the first day to complete assignments.
- For WR 15x: Choose a topic conducive to meaningful student-led research and engaged discourse, which might appeal to students with diverse backgrounds and interests. Be sure to leave space on your syllabus for student contributions; since students should be finding some required materials in their own research, instructors often assign fewer of their own selected sources than they would in WR 120.
Step 3: Attend to logistical details
- Place your book orders [WPnet/internal site; login required] and/or post digitized material on your course site (per copyright laws) or on library reserves. If you are a new instructor without a BU affiliation, please email email@example.com.
- Double-check the semester dates on the official university calendar, be sure you understand the BU building codes, and preview your classroom layout.
- Use Blackboard or another electronic tool for course management purposes. Set up your Blackboard sites, if desired, directly through the FacultyLink.
- Review Writing Program technology policies and tips, including information on Blackboard the FacultyLink, and more, and be sure to check your class roster through the link.
- When planning your due dates, note that all required coursework, including the final paper, should be due and submitted by the day that classes end: Nothing may be due for students for a WR class during reading period or finals. Be sure to provide yourself enough time to give feedback on drafts and final versions (per Writing Program policy).
- If you haven’t already done so, new faulty should request that your BU email account be enabled as a Google Apps account; this process happens automatically for students but must be manually requested by faculty. You can then use your Google-enabled BU account to create a shared Google drive for your course and to access Google docs that others might have set up and allowed BU-wide access to.
- Remember to fill out the online forms every semester to submit your draft and final syllabi and your office hours.
- Check the Writing Program FAQ page for other small details.
Step 4: Plan assignments and course activities
- Cumulative Portfolio (common Writing Program assignment)
- Literacy Narrative (common Writing Program assignment)
- Academic Argument 1: Entering the Conversation about [Your Topic]
- Academic Argument 2: Raising a Question, Contributing to the Conversation
- Alternate Genre Project
For WR 151 and WR 152, note that the typical research paper will be 8-10 pages in length.
For all courses, plan your syllabus in detail, taking into account the information from the above documents and also the following Writing Program policies and approaches that apply to all sections of WR courses:
- Drafts: Instructors may choose to give written feedback on drafts or may prefer to give feedback on drafts in conferences (individual or group). Writing Program policy is to schedule conferences outside of class time; do not cancel classes for conferences.
- Essential Lessons: The ELs represent the key concepts and learning outcomes for each level. You should plan to “cover” all 3-4 (depending on the level) ELs for whatever level you are teaching in a given semester. Note that the ELs are not generally quick, one-shot lessons, but rather might take multiple class periods, or even weeks, to complete. While you may adapt the lesson plans and handouts provided to your own readings, teaching style, and students’ needs, the basic goals and sequence of the ELs (see each EL for suggested timing) should generally remain consistent.
- Grading: Using alternative grading (less grading, contract grading, or ungrading) is encouraged at all levels of the Writing Program; instructors should specify their grading scheme (and contract, if applicable) on their syllabus.
- Inclusion: Writing Program courses should be open to and welcoming of all students, including multilingual students (both domestic and international), first-gen students, and students of color. Instructors should plan to use inclusive teaching strategies, review tips for conferencing with English language learners, explicitly teach the so-called “hidden curriculum,” craft peer-to-peer work deliberately, and scaffold class participation in order to create truly inclusive discussions.
- Additional Resources: Design user-friendly assignments sheets and materials and/or adapt any of the major assignments, exercises and handouts, or additional resources on this site; you do not need to attribute any of these materials, and should feel free to make them your own in any way you see fit. Familiarize yourself with the BEAM/BEAT framework, which offers a rhetorical approach to using sources common to all WR 120 and 15x sections. As you decide what to cover each week, look over the Resource of the Week Archives and also consider using WR, our journal of exemplary student work, in the classroom, one or more of the already prepared Flipped Learning Modules (FLMs).
Step 5: Connect with other instructors
- If you are new to the program, please consider joining the Collaborative Mentoring Initiative; CMI is open to all and offers small clusters of teachers, both new and experienced, part-time or full-time, with whom you can discuss your planning and teaching. Even if you don’t join CMI, don’t hesitate to ask colleagues for advice or sample assignments.
- Boston Now is another initiative that is open to instructors (both part-time and full-time); if you are interested in teaching a class focused on Boston, and using outside-the-classroom learning and community experiences, feel free to connect with the Boston Now coordinators and discuss options for future courses.
- The Writing Program Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee welcomes all interested faculty, both part-time and full-time, who are interested in working on DEI issues as they affect faculty, students, and our curriculum.
Teaching WR 111 or WR 112 instead/in addition? Start here.