Week Two (Yes, Week Two!)

I know…you haven’t yet started week one and here I am talking about week two! But for these entries to be useful, it’s important for me to stay about a week ahead.

Please know – these thoughts and plans are not “the” way to teach FYS. You are not me and things that I do may not be right for you. You use many of the same pedagogical principles differently, and that’s good. I simply hope to spark practical ideas and conversation around how FYS learning and teaching might look each week.


Phase I, Week 2

My intent for week two remains building the right classroom culture. I want the “class” to feel somewhat like a living room where a bunch of intellectually curious people sit around and wrestle with weighty issues.

I will continue to shape this culture in the background, however, as there are two “tasks” that I need to accomplish in a week that has only two days.

In week two I intend to get students working on their PsP and I will introduce them to the guiding question.

For Wednesday I intend to start class with a very short writing-to-learn (WTL). I’m going to ask that they spend three minutes in a retrieval exercise – what are the elements from the previous week that mattered most? (This can also include the Involvement Fair). I don’t expect anything remarkable from this, but I am establishing a pattern for the ebb and flow of class. We will write a lot, and we will use retrieval and prediction exercises a lot.

When this is done’ll likely do a QFT with the Q-Focus topic of “guiding questions”. We’ll see where it goes, but it’ll get them used to forming good questions around the idea of questioning.

(I will be transparent and explain what the QFT is all about – particularly the centrality of good questions to the educated person.)

For Friday I’ll parlay this discussion into a conversation about the PSP – after all, having a good question to drive us might become simple musing if we don’t lay out a plan to get there.

We’ll discuss the elements of a plan, including the use of root cause analysis (asking “why”) to determine our current state.

Lastly, I’ll give them a bit of informal writing for the weekend. I’ll ask them to take the Battersby and Bailin article and write a short piece on what they believe is the central thesis. My intent is to get them to think about these skilled author’s build their argument.

As a preview, I’ll probably do a bit of work on critical thinking to start week three…some basic vocabulary and concepts for them to build upon as they move forward.



  1. PSP Talk: That sounds good. Having two days will make it tricky.
    I was going to introduce the PSP in a different way. The students are still shell-shocked and nervous about where they are (physically and in future-thinking) so I was going to have them list five things that they think “others” in their ilk are most anxious about in their lives. I imagine they will include future jobs, finding a major, getting good grades, fitting in, etc) They won’t have to turn this in because I want them to feel comfortable being honest. Then they will choose a couple of these items on their list to talk about in small groups. This will move them closer to each other and build a sense of trust as well as commonality. THEN… their homework, (which we might start in class) is to brainstorm various ideas that will help resolve (and move them through) the anxiety toward a plan. In doing this, they will be developing a PSP without knowing it yet. This can be turned into a narrative next week.


    1. All great ideas!
      When we talk about the PSP I plan on incorporating goal setting tips.As I see it, the PSP is not only a plan that helps students fulfill their academic goals. It is a way of thinking, a tool that can help them make life decisions of all kinds. I see several different categories of goals and plans. All of these change as their life changes.


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