Course Information

WRIT 1201 introduces students to general writing strategies encountered at the college level. Through frequent practice and feedback, students learn to see writing as a tool for learning and a vehicle for the expression of ideas and informed views. Students also learn a working vocabulary for discussing writing.

Typical assignments include informal writing derived from personal experience, response to readings, analysis and evaluation of sources on the web and in print, and formal papers that increasingly make use of sources as well as close reading of texts. The course emphasizes the active practice of writing, from gathering ideas for a paper, through the drafting of papers, to careful editing.

Other Considerations

Participation in the student field day is required for WRIT 1201. Student field days provide access to University of Minnesota facilities, resources, and individuals that students would not normally be exposed to at their high school. Exposure to these resources is designed to provide students with a deeper understanding of the content knowledge required to be successful in the course.

Class size limit: 22

Sample Syllabus

U of M Catalog Description

Introduction to and practice of writing process. Academic genres. Critical reading, rhetorical analysis for principles of audience, purpose, and argumentative strategies. Formal assignments: summary/analytical writing, source-based writing.

Student Qualifications

To be eligible to participate in WRIT 1201, a student must be a junior or senior who can show a pattern of consistent attendance at school. The student must also meet one of the following additional criteria: a GPA of 3.0 or better; or has completed the ACT or Plan with reading and writing scored considered sufficient by the instructor; or has the recommendation of the teacher or counselor. Eligible ninth and tenth graders must have the instructor’s permission to enroll.

Sixty percent of the students must also belong to one or more of the targeted audiences for the Entry Point Project:

  • Multilingual/ELL
  • Members of racial or ethnic minorities
  • First-generation college-bound students
  • From families of low to moderate income
  • Between the top 50% and top 20% of their class

Instructor Qualifications

Instructors apply and are selected by faculty in accordance with the U of M policy governing Academic Appointments with Teaching Functions. Once approved, an instructor is appointed as a Teaching Specialist 9754 (University Job Title and Code) in the College of Continuing and Professional Studies. Instructor qualifications are determined by the sponsoring University department.

View the Instructor Applicant Handbook for course-specific qualifications and application steps. 


WRIT 1201 teachers who use education as a theme have historically assigned an autobiographical narrative supplemented with expository readings about education. The main criteria for choosing the autobiographical text are that it be engaging and accessible, that it deals with educational growth, and that it presents the experiences of people and groups underrepresented in higher education.

Past WRIT 1201 classes have used The Lucky Child by Loung Ung; Holler If You Hear Me: The Education of a Teacher and His Students by Gregory Michie; The Late Homecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir by Kao Kalia Yang, and Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. Expository readings that supplement the narrative should be reasonably accessible and raise questions, suggest perspectives, and invite reflection on the topic of education. Currently, many teachers use articles from Rethinking Schools: An Agenda for Reform, ed. David Levine; or Rethinking School Reform, ed. Stan Karp and Linda Christensen.

WRIT 1201 instructors on campus use a wide range of texts, including 40 Model Essays: A Portable Anthology, ed. Jane E. Aaron (now in a 2nd edition); 50 Essays, 7th edition, ed. Samuel Cohen; and Acting Out Culture: Reading and Writing, 4th edition, ed. James S. Miller. Similar to texts used by CIS teachers, these collections provide reasonably accessible expository pieces that raise questions, suggest perspectives, and invite reflection on education and multicultural issues, as well as a range of other topics.

We are always looking for more texts that might be used.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is this a remedial class or a college course?
Students in this course do college-level work, coached by teachers using a developmental (rather than remedial) approach. WRIT 1201 is designed both to tap into the capabilities and experience that students bring to the course and to support their acquisition of knowledge and abilities needed for success in university courses.

Does WRIT 1201 fulfill the university’s freshman composition requirement?
WRIT 1201 does not meet the first year writing requirement, although the course serves as excellent preparation for students who will later enroll in other freshman composition courses.

Is it essential that the readings and writing center on the topic of education?
No, although historically they have done so. The focus on education allows students to critique existing standards as they learn to meet those standards when necessary. It also supports the multicultural perspective of the course and ensures that the curriculum will be meaningful to the largest number of students possible. However, a teacher may center assignments around a different intellectually rigorous theme or may choose not to use a theme at all.

Do teachers have a choice in assignments?
Somewhat. Teachers and their faculty coordinator discuss assignments and goals during the summer workshop. It is essential that we all use assignments that are carefully sequenced, fulfill the course goals, and maintain the rigor of the course. Students typically write four or five papers (for a total of about 20 revised pages); the assignments usually progress from narrative reflection to analyzing assigned texts to a research project.

Are all of the readings specified by the university?
No. However, texts are recommended and regularly reviewed by the program staff and the faculty coordinator. Since the choice of readings is closely linked to the writing assignments and greatly influences the challenges students will face, teachers are strongly encouraged to choose readings discussed in the summer workshops.

What happens at typical teacher workshops?
Typical activities at CIS workshops include meeting University faculty; reviewing and/or developing student assessment tools; sharing instructional materials; discussing particular content, pedagogy, or assessment of the University course; and receiving updates on CIS program policies and practices.

High school class schedules vary: can a teacher in the block system teach the Writing Studio course?
All courses offered through CIS have the same minimum number of contact hours as the on-campus sections. Teachers wishing to teach a WRIT 1201 course on the block schedule should consult with the faculty coordinator (contact information above) to make sure this arrangement will work.

What happens at typical student field days?
Student field days provide an opportunity for CIS students to meet with their peers, explore the Twin Cities campus, and learn about college life. Typical activities of a Writ 1201 field day include learning about the University Libraries database system, hearing about writing in various disciplines, and working in small groups on an activity with students from other schools.

Are field days required?
Although most courses available through CIS hold on-campus student field days, student and teacher participation is required for only a few. Writing Studio requires field days because they provide critical opportunities for students to experience being on a college campus.

What sorts of mentoring are offered for new WRIT 1201 teachers?
The faculty coordinator welcomes phone or email check-ins and meetings with individual teachers during the term to supplement the all-group one-day workshops during the school year and the three-day workshop during the summer. New teachers also benefit from an orientation to College in the Schools that will familiarize them with the support available through CIS as well as prepare them for administrative tasks such as registering students and posting grades.

High Schools Offering This Course

  • Apple Valley High School
  • Brooklyn Center Secondary Arts and IB World School
  • Chaska High School
  • City Academy (Saint Paul)
  • Community of Peace Academy (Saint Paul)
  • Como Park Senior High School (Saint Paul)
  • Cretin-Derham Hall (Saint Paul)
  • Delano High School
  • Edison High School (Minneapolis)
  • Harding High School (Saint Paul)
  • Hmong College Prep Academy (Saint Paul)
  • Humboldt Senior High School (Saint Paul)
  • Parnassus Preparatory School (Maple Grove)
  • Patrick Henry High School (Minneapolis)
  • Pine City High School
  • Richfield High School
  • Simley High School (Inver Grove Heights)
  • Somerset High School
  • St. Anthony Village High School
  • Tri-City United High School (Montgomery)
  • Twin Cities Academy High School (Saint Paul)
  • Ubah Medical Academy (Hopkins)
  • Washington Technology Magnet School (Saint Paul)
  • White Bear Lake Area High School
  • Woodbury High School