Writing in Philosophy Lesson Plan: In-Class Writing Workshop

Lesson Objectives: To synthesize writing and technical philosophical skills from previous lessons and to do a “dry run” of an assignment.

Total Time: 75 min

Coursework Underway: Any upcoming assignment. This lesson is a good way to do a “dry run” of an assignment in class. Students should have been introduced to some of the key concepts in philosophical writing. Use the same readings that were used for these lessons.


Any piece of philosophical writing.

Sequence of Classroom Activities:

Hand out a copy of the upcoming assignment, as applied to the readings covered in class. Include a checklist listing the main elements that should be included in the assignment. These should include:

  1. a thesis (conclusion)
  2. an argument
  3. analysis of the argument
  4. a clear structure (including a clear introduction and conclusion)
  5. (Dialectic or motive, where applicable.)

Have students write a draft or outline response to this assignment, making sure that they cover all the items in the checklist. This should not be too hard, since they will have covered the basic steps for its completion with respect to the assigned readings in the previous classes. Tell them to be specific. They should write thesis statements, introductory paragraphs, have a structure for their paper, a schema of the author’s argument, and some points to raise in its evaluation. (15 min)

(If students have been assigned to bring in drafts of their formal writing assignments, this step can be skipped.)

Have them exchange drafts. Have the student evaluators write down how the (student) author fulfils each element of the assignment. (What is the student’s thesis statement? Argument structure? Does she identify the (professional) author’s conclusion? Her argument? Does she evaluate the (professional) author’s argument? What is the dialectic of the student’s paper (where applicable)? Have them write down one sentence about what the student did well in fulfilling this element, or what can be improved. (20 min) (35 minutes if skipping first step)

Reconvene class. Pick one student evaluator, and have her identify the student whose paper she is evaluating. Discuss her comments as a class. Make suggestions for how students’ can improve their papers, and what strong assignment would look like. (30 min)

Follow up: Have students return to their evaluations of each others’ work. Can their evaluations be improved? (5 min)

Have students return one another’s drafts with comments. Have them note the ways in which their drafts could be improved. (5 min)

Posted in Peer Review & Revision

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