Lesson Plan on Deep-End Introductions
Emily Wilbourne, Queens College, CUNY, Music
Music 121 or 122
Lesson objective(s): Students will write an introduction in class. Though they may not end up using this piece of writing in their final paper, it should—at the least—encourage them to think about the way in which they begin their work.
Total estimated time: An entire class period (1h15mins). It would be possible to divide this class into two sections; the possible point of division is identified below.
Additional outcome(s): This lesson incorporates a reading-for-structure exercise, which has its own benefits.
Course work or assignment underway: A major piece of writing (any).
Work and/or reading completed before class: Students should come prepared with an event or specific happening that typifies the central issue of their paper.
Sequence of Classroom Activities:
1. Handout three sample introductions from scholarly sources, each of which employs an opening sentence modeled on the formula, “In the year XXXX, this happened . . .”
Include the first three or four paragraphs in your example (ideally enough to get beyond the descriptive section of the piece).
2. Students should read the excerpts, marking up which sections are DESCRIPTIVE, ANALYTIC, or ARGUMENTATIVE. (15 mins).
Discuss the patterns that students have noticed. (7 mins).
[If this lesson is to be completed over two separate days, break here. The benefit of this approach is that it allows students to pick the “event” they wish to use for the introduction with a clear idea of why and how the event will feature in their work.]
3. Have students draft an introduction for their own paper, using the event they chose in advance. They should follow the template: (1) description of event, (2) analysis of broader/deeper issues raised by the event, (3) articulation of how their paper will address these issues. (30 mins).
4. Students should exchange their drafted introduction with a colleague. Having read the intro, the student should paraphrase the thesis of the paper and then return the draft and the thesis statement to the author. (7 mins).
5. Does the thesis statement (as derived by a reader) match the one the author had in mind? Is this the ideal “moment” to have chosen for the introduction? If not, why not? If so, why? Students should answer these questions in writing. (7 mins).
6. Return to the group for a discussion of the exercise (10 mins). Note that the questions they just answered should be enough to generate a group discussion. If not, you may wish to brainstorm other ways (interesting and/or boring ways) to start a paper.
Reflection on the lesson’s success or alternative approaches:
This exercise can be used in tandem with “Intro to intros”; if so, this should be the second of the two.