Elementary Composition (IU)

W131: Elementary Composition is Indiana University’s required freshman composition course. It is an ambitious course that challenges students to learn the conventions of college-level analytical academic writing. Students practice these skills in formal writing assignments that analyze texts, films, and photographs. They also learn to read challenging academic essays and to apply ideas from these essays in their own writing.

Elementary Composition was the first course I taught at Indiana University in the 2007-08 academic year. From 2011-13, as Assistant Director of Elementary Composition, I worked with the Director of Composition and the other Assistant Directors to revise the curriculum and to develop supplemental materials for the course.

See below for links to sample assignment sheets and handouts.



Unit 1

Microtheme 1

Microtheme 2 

Essay 1

Unit 2

Microtheme 3

Microtheme 4

Essay 2 

Unit 3

Essay 3 

Microtheme 5 

Microtheme 6 & Essay 3 Photo Criteria


Effective Paragraphing

Evolving Thesis Handout

Five Kinds of Weak Thesis Statements Handout

Guidelines for Analysis

The Four Ts of W131

Visual Tools handout

What my students say

“I have gone from the standard 5 paragraph paper into a whole new way to write analytically.”
“The instructor taught me a lot about writing at the college level.”
“He was engaging in class and got us all involved.”
“He was very nice and open to new ideas. In addition, he is very encouraging.”
“Very helpful in individual meetings.”
“actually you do a GREAT job, I cannot think of any improvements.”
“I think I have become better able to analyze closely and say more about less.”
“My overall writing skills have improved as a result of taking this course.”