Writing about Music Lesson Plan: Reverse Outlines

Lesson Plan on Reverse Outlines
Emily Wilbourne, Queens College, CUNY, Music
Music 121 or 122

Lesson objective(s): This exercises is intended to aid in the revision process.

Total estimated time: ca.45 minutes.

Additional outcome(s): N/A

Course work or assignment underway: A major piece of writing (any).

Work and/or reading completed before class: Completed draft of paper.

Sequence of Classroom Activities:

  1. Have students read through their work and construct an outline that accounts for every paragraph. This should look like an outline, but instead of describing their intentions, this should accurately represent what they wrote. (20+ mins; the length of this exercise will depend on the length of the papers written).
  2. With the reverse outlines in hand, ask students what they saw as the purpose behind the exercise. What did they notice about the structure of their papers that they hadn’t noticed beforehand? (5-10 mins).
  3. Working alone or in pairs, students should consider the relative length of the various components of their paper. How much space is given to the introduction? The examples? The conclusion? (3 mins; 6 mins if they work in pairs).
  4. Looking at the reverse outline of a colleague, does this seem like the most logical way to lay out the information? Are there any obvious changes that should or could be made to the structure? Write them a paragraph outlining your thoughts. (10 mins).
  5. Return to the larger group. How can this help to identify places for revision? (5 mins).NB This might be a good place to discuss the purpose of revision: to remove irrelevant material, to condense lengthy (but still relevant) material, to expand on missing material, to add supporting material, to shift material around, to improve the written expression, etc. (Revisions should always have a purpose). [This would probably extend the time beyond 5 mins to 15 mins].

Reflection on the lesson’s success or alternative approaches:

This exercise works best on the day in which students hand their draft in or on the day in which the instructor hands their drafts back.

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