Faculty Spotlight

"Writing is not only something to be taught reactively, through feedback on drafts, but also proactively, using exercises that help students think critically about the choices they will make when constructing papers." 

— Professor David Cunningham (Sociology)

Faculty spotlight

"I could not believe how effectively my colleagues had designed classes with a series of linked short writing exercises, culminating in a single longer piece of writing that was almost woven out of those bits and pieces.

"It's changed how I design both undergraduate and graduate classes."

— Professor John Plotz (English)

Sample Lesson Plans

Davis Grant faculty developed a number of lesson plans for teaching writing.

Below are some from Professor Morris's biology class (developed with TF Jessie Stickgold-Sarah), Melissa Kosinski-Collins’s biology class (developed with TF Adam Jacobson), Professor Plotz's English class (developed with TF Lauren Holm), Professor Brettler's NEJS class (developed with TF Molly DeMarco), Professor Watson's psychology class (developed with TF Michael Sheehan), Professor Kryder's politics class (developed with TF Paul Herron), Professor Cunningham's sociology class (developed with TF Clare Hammonds), Adrianne Krstansky’s theatre arts class (developed with TF Celeste Radosevich), Sarah Lamb’s anthropology class (developed with TF Casey Miller), David Powelstock’s comparative literature class (developed with TF Ryan Wepler), Faith Smith’s AAAS class (developed with TF Anna Jaysane-Darr), and Cheryl Walker’s classics class (developed with TF Claudia Filos).

When using these or modifications of these exercises, please give us credit by including the phrase "developed through the Davis Grant, Brandeis University."

African and Afro-American Studies

  • Lesson plan on thesis (doc)
  • Lesson plan on developing a final paper topic (doc)
  • Lesson plan on getting from article to angle in an African literature paper (doc)
  • Lesson plan for a peer review (doc)


  • Lesson plan on thesis (doc)
  • Lesson plan on motive (doc)
  • Lesson plan on concise writing skills (doc)
  • Lesson plan on peer/group sentence surgery (doc)
  • Lesson plan on titles (doc)


  • Exercise on citation (doc)
  • Investigative exercise on introductions (doc)
  • Introduction exercise focusing on reading skills and comprehension, or on writing a research paper for a lab class (doc)
  • Exercise on the structure of introductions (doc)
  • Lesson plan for thesis and motive (doc)


  • Lesson plan on the SMART thesis (doc)
  • Handout on the SMART thesis (doc)

Comparative Literature

  • Lesson plan on critical summaries (doc)
  • Lesson plan on moving from thesis to structure (doc)
  • Lesson plan for a peer review (doc)
  • Lesson plan on quotation matching as preparation for a lens essay (doc)
  • Lesson plan on quotation synthesis (doc)
  • Lesson plan on generating theoretical evidence in comparative literature (doc)
  • Lesson plan on research proposal presentations (doc)


  •  Exercise on note-taking (doc)
  •  Exercise on revising a thesis with the grading rubric (doc)
  •  Exercise on poetry (doc)
  •  Exercise on annotated bibliographies (doc)

Near Eastern and Judaic Studies

  • Exercise on writing evaluative pieces (pdf) and (doc)
  • Lesson plan on evaluative writing (doc)
  • Exercise on choosing evidence and writing a thesis (doc)
  • Handout on thesis (doc
  • Lesson plan on summary writing (doc)
  • Summary writing handout (pdf) and (doc)
  • Exercise for writing a summary paragraph (doc)


  •  Lesson plan and handout on introductions (doc)
  •  Lesson plan and handout on conclusions (doc)
  •  Lesson plan on diagramming research reviews (doc)
  •  Exercise on spotting loser sentences (doc)
  •  Tips on writing Psychology papers (doc)
  •  Handout on APA Citation (doc)


  •  Lesson plan on clarity (doc)
  •  Making historical descriptions into claims (doc)
  •  Outlining papers (doc)
  •  Exercise on Obama as a writer (doc)
  •  Exercise on legal writing (doc)

Romance Studies

  • Lesson plan on discovering meaning in poetic form and language (doc)
  • Lesson plan on thesis and motive (doc)


  • Lesson plan on identifying themes (doc)
  • Lesson plan on creating thematic maps (doc)
  • Lesson plan on using theory as a "lens" (doc)
  • Lesson plan on improving theses (doc)