Practical Notes: The Assay Lesson Plan

Welcome to a new series on In the Classroom, in which we address various practical aspects of the writing world, from writing craft papers to revising craft papers, to writing other materials that might be valuable on the job market. 


A thousand years ago, back in the Before Times, we used to be able to drop into each other’s offices and chat about our classes. We could enthuse about a day that went well, we could commiserate with a lesson that fell flat. Many of us are struggling with new pandemic modalities, but I’m also struggling with not seeing colleagues on a regular basis and asking them “how was class?” and them telling me all about it.

A few years ago, Assay published a regular series called My Favorite Essay to Teach, modeled after the AWP panels of 15 years ago on “You Gotta Teach This.” We are aiming to restart our low-stakes pedagogy posts, but in a way that reclaims some of the joy of teaching and the spontaneity of chance chats with colleagues.

The Goal: We miss hallways. We miss talking about a day that went really well, a subject we love to talk about each semester that makes us excited each time it comes around. This is a space for a celebration of best practices and fun things that work in our classes. We want to reclaim the joy of teaching, as best we can in these pandemic days.

What We’re Looking For: We’re looking for write ups of classroom experiences that bring you joy. We’re looking for “here’s a thing I’m really excited about,” could be a day that you’re discussing a favorite reading, or a writing exercise. It doesn’t have to be something that went perfectly. We’re looking for something in the 500-word range that is specifically organized around the following bullet points:

  • Objectives: what are the goals? Introduce a concept? A craft technique? A new unit?
    • Is it a text you love to teach?
    • Is it a tried and true lesson on character development?
  • Preparation: what have you asked your students to do before coming to class? Readings? Writing? Bonus if your reading assignment is online for us to link to!
  • Procedure: What did you do? Power point? Discussion questions? Writing prompt?
  • Conclusion/Follow Ups: What are the strengths of this day in your class? What about it excites you? Where do students usually trip up? Why does this lesson bring you joy?

These lesson plans shouldn’t be long, but they should be thoughtful, analytical. We should be able to recreate your lesson, based on what you tell us.

As always, we’re here for the conversation, so if you have questions or queries, please drop us an email.

Karen Babine is Assay’s editor.

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