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Table of Contents


Hello there! Welcome to my resource for teaching RWS 100 and 200. On here, you will find many (hopefully) useful guides for teaching RWS at San Diego State University, including Lesson Plans, PowerPoint presentations, syllabi, prompts, and handouts. I also provide my own tips and advice for each part of the teaching process, from teaching your first class, to communication, grading, and much more. Remember that while teaching is incredibly complex, it is one of the most rewarding and satisfying professions. Also, there is no one "correct" way to teach; what I have written in this guide is simply what is effective for me and the procedures that I have seen in my two years of teaching RWS at SDSU, but what is most effective for you may (and will) be different. Overall, it is my hope that you find this guide useful as you begin or further your teaching career. Good luck and good teaching! 

 - Andrew Testa, MA RWS '18, TA 17-18, Lecturer Fall 18


Guide for New Teachers

This document contains Andrew's collection of advice to new teachers. It contains class activity ideas, tips on syllabus design, and advice on how  to use the resources below.



The following section contains all of my PowerPoints for RWS 100 and 200, which I taught in Fall 2018. I use the 3 paper structure, but these PowerPoints can easily be adapted to 4 papers. It is important to look at these PowerPoints as lesson plans for the day's class. While I believe that providing a visual aid is helpful in the learning process, these PowerPoints also show how to structure classes around the main areas of RWS. I focus both on rhetoric (strategies, fallacies, appeals, claims, evidence, rhetorical situation, etc.) and writing (drafting, workshops, style, audience, using I, transitions, tone, grammar, etc.).


Andrew's advice 


RWS 100 PowerPoints


This section contains all of my RWS 100 PowerPoints. This is only for the MWF class structure, although it can easily be adapted to TTH. For that, generally for a 75-minute class, I like to have 7 or 8 activities instead of 4 or 5.


Unit 1

  • 100Unit1, 8-27 (This is the first day class and the expectations I go over; generally, you will be able to take attendance, go over the syllabus, do an ice breaker, and conduct a timed writing in the first class for a 50 minute class. For a 75 minute class, you can also fully go over the PowerPoint.)
  • 100Unit1, 8-29 (PACES class on project, argument, claims, evidence, and strategies. Project, argument, and claims are gone over in-depth while evidence and strategies are broadly defined and taught later in the course)
  • 100Unit1, 8-31 (Rhetorical situation. You can also teach this class before PACES if you want.)
  • 100Unit1, 9-5 (Rhetorical appeals. We also go over a text by Jeffrey J. Selingo on higher education and choosing majors.)
  • 100Unit1, 9-7 (Evidence analysis.)
  • 100Unit1, 9-10 (Assumptions class. Tone and transitions are also taught because I think they are important and go together.)
  • 100Unit1, 9-12 (Logical fallacies class. I use Richard Nixon's Checkers speech as the text here because it is replete with fallacies and was one of the biggest speeches of the 20th century. Students watch parts of the speech itself on YouTube.)
  • 100Unit1, 9-14 (Text for essay 1. I used a Jeffrey J. Selingo on how young adults venture into adulthood. It is extremely relevant to students.)
  • 100Unit1, 9-17 (Text for essay 1 continued. I do PIE today, which I think is an important concept for students to learn about structuring body paragraphs. We also do large groupwork in this class, and they present on the whiteboard with markers.)
  • 100Unit1, 9-19 (Writing essay 1 class. The class before the short rough draft is due, I go over the essay in-depth and tell students what each part of the essay should look like. You may or may not want to guide students this much, but my students have found it incredibly helpful.)
  • 100Unit1, 9-21 (First workshop. I tell a personal story about why workshops are important by talking about becoming a prolific writer at 13
  • 100Unit1, 9-24 (Second workshop. We also go over how to write conclusions.)


Unit 2

  • 100Unit2, 10-3 (Sources class. Students also write a reflection on paper 1, and I conduct a mid-semester evaluation of my teaching.)
  • 100Unit2, 10-5 (Style class. We go over clarity. Students are assigned Hemingways' Hills Like White Elephants and two students read dialogue from it.)
  • 100Unit2, 10-8 (Kendall article. Also, I go over correctness.)
  • 100Unit2, 10-10 (Style class 2. I go over cohesion and concision.)
  • 100Unit2, 10-12 (Text for unit 2. We use claims from a review to analyze a movie. I would not have students use these texts again. Instead, use the current TA texts.)
  • 100Unit2, 10-19 (I go over writing assignment two. I also go over some grammar from the students' first essays.) 
  • 100Unit2, 10-24 (Workshop. I also go over commas. I would add a practice slide for commas if I taught this particular lecture again.)


Unit 3

  • 100Unit3, 11-2 (Rhetorical strategies class. I use YouTube clips as examples. The clips are typically fun songs, famous films, speeches, and performances. Make sure you also show students each strategy in its written form.)
  • 100Unit3, 11-5 (Strategies continued. We go over the first text for unit 3.)
  • 100Unit3, 11-7 (Unit 3 texts. This particular lecture is on happiness and money.)
  • 100Unit3, 11-9 (Unit 3 texts. This particular lecture is on the philosophy of happiness.)
  • 100Unit3, 11-26 (Unit 3 texts. This particular lecture is on the science of happiness.)
  • 100Unit3, 11-28 (I go over writing assignment three.)
  • 100Unit3, 11-30 (Workshop class. I also go over semicolons and titles. I would move semicolons and titles to unit 1 if taught again because students really like learning about these more advanced techniques.)
  • 100Unit3, 12-3 (Workshop class. I also go over grammar from their second paper.)
  • 100Unit3, 12-5  (Last class. I go over the WPA and briefly discuss course evaluations so students complete them.)


RWS 200 PowerPoint 

This section contains all of my PowerPoints for RWS 200. Since I taught both a MWF and a TTH, I have included PowerPoints for both formats.

Unit 1 MWF


Unit 2 MWF


Unit  3 MWF


Unit 1 TTH


Unit 2 TTH


Unit 3 TTH 


Prompts and Rubrics

The following section contains all of the prompts and rubrics that were used for my F18 classes.

RWS 100 Prompts and Rubrics


RWS 200 Prompts and Rubrics



This section contains all of my syllabi. They are directly related to the PowerPoints and demonstrate my schedule for the semester. I have since revised my texts and schedule, but these should give you a good idea of the syllabi I employed in Fall 2018.



These are some handouts I created that I use. I also use many handouts from UNC's Writing Center (https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/). I find them well-written and easy to use for students.



I teach some style in my classes so that students understand the C's more (clarity, cohesion, concision). I use this Writing Style Guide Points handout for this, which concisely has style tips from four famous style authors. Some students will know Orwell's tips already. Strunk and White's style points have been a mainstay for almost 100 years. The Williams style tips are more advanced but can be extremely useful to students, especially those who are excelling.


I have both simply assigned this and also taught from it. It is secondary, but many students find it helpful.


Sentence Length

In order to help show students that they should vary their sentences, I read this Sentence Length handout to the class. This encourages them to experiment with long and short sentences. It is originally by Gary Provost, from 100 Ways to Improve Your Writing.



I created a Synonym List with the most common words I see students write for RWS 100 and 200 and how they can vary their diction. It is a work in progress, and you are free to add to it. I find that students say "show," "say," "see," "a lot," "important," and "clear" too much in their RWS essays. This list gives them more words to choose from. I also tell them that these words have different meanings and alter what they say, usually allowing them to be more specific. Again, this is very secondary.

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