It’s been a minute since I’ve posted. My semester starts at LaGuardia this week, and with it comes my personal pedagogical ritual: taking a decent, pre-existing syllabus I conjured forth (that has been already tweaked and refined); putting it aside; and completely overhauling the content, usually within a mere week before classes begin. To be clear: I am constantly reflecting/tweaking prior assignments and in-class exercises — and many of these are fairly portable and can be recycled with ease into another section of composition. But I want to teach content that I find fresh and exciting, and that I hope will engage students.… Read more
This composition syllabus had a rather long gestational period. It was supposed to make an appearance in the fall of 2016.
Instead, Lemonade happened.
Which worked out fine. I had a great time teaching those composition sections around Beyoncé’s visual album, intersectional feminism, and pop culture more generally.
But because I get bored/distracted easily when teaching the same material repeatedly, I felt it was time to revisit my Black Mirror ideas, tweak as necessary, and roll out this sucker. Fortunately, the experience running those Lemonade sections – especially using student writing as course reading/response materials – helped me hone this iteration a bit more.… Read more
The semester starts in less than two weeks, y’all. So what did I do, with my ready-to-go-syllabi, numerous writing deadlines, and paper-/committee-work looming over me, vulture-like?
I posted a proposition on social media that would lead me down the last-minute-abandonment-of-already-developed-syllabus road.
And yet, that is exactly what I ended up doing today.
Of course, the major source of inspiration behind all this was Candice Benbow’s stunning, comprehensive, and wonderfully detailed/designed Lemonade Syllabus. I live in awe of this document.… Read more
I had a bit of a come-to-Jesus moment while reflecting on my teaching over this “break”. The moment mostly involved our second level composition class – ENG 102, “Writing Through Literature.” It is also kind of an intro to lit class, but not really a hardcore lit survey – or not in my hands, anyway. It’s more like “flirting with literature” in my rendering of the thing. So I have been running ENG 102 primarily as a writing class, usually focused around a particular theme (my last few sections used post-apocalyptic and dystopian works), in which students also encounter literature (there should be three genres included, poetry and drama are mandatory among those three), and begin to learn how to analyze and write about literature. … Read more
The first round of podcasts from my composition class – reflections on at least one text from our class readings – were impressive. I learned a lot about my students: personal and background information that touched upon our class themes/topics, interpretations and connections with texts that had not come out in class, and the beginnings (for some) of larger projects. The second round of podcasts is more argument- and research-driven; students have to articulate a thesis, use research (including at least one scholarly source) to make their case, and conduct interviews. We informally called the first round of podcasts the “shooting the shit” pieces: the second round of podcasts demands a much clearer design plan and a lot more technological literacy.… Read more
As I mentioned here recently, my composition students will be preparing two rounds of podcasts this semester. They are recording their first podcasts tomorrow, and – based on some of the ideas they were bouncing around in class yesterday – I’m looking forward to the results. Several colleagues expressed interest in the assignment, so I thought I’d quickly create a repository for the methods/materials I’m using. Fair warning: this is all still very much in development.… Read more
We’re almost through the first week of classes at LaGuardia. I’ve tweaked some old things, rolled out some new things, and based upon the insights/connections students are making in our initial meetings, I think a lot of great work is going to happen this semester. I spent some time during the winter break thinking about the grading contract I used during the fall. While the grading contract was an improvement (in my mind) on my older grading practices – and I think it made things more transparent in general – the act of revision was still not prioritized to the level I wanted.… Read more
Below are the Prezi and the Zotero collection I prepared for the Teaching Comics workshop in the English department today, sponsored by the Composition & Research Committee at LaGuardia Community College. More resources can be easily added, so feel free to make suggestions.… Read more
In my composition class this January/February Fall II term at LaGuardia I’m running the Reacting to the Past game Confucianism and the Succession Crisis of the Wanli Emperor by Mark C. Carnes and Daniel K. Gardner. I plan on posting/writing more about using RTTP in composition and writing intensive classes, as the games work well with my aims when teaching comp and research. Students use primary sources to enter a debate while adopting defined roles, wrestle with the “big ideas” of a particular historical moment, get a sense of individual intellectual/historical agency, and craft argument-driven pieces to influence others. They perform their knowledge of the texts and the politics at play by forming alliances, plotting, and delivering speeches.… Read more
For this semester’s composition classes, I decided to deviate a bit from my prior offerings. In the past I’ve incorporated anthologies into my composition syllabi, but I am frankly not the biggest fan of anthologies/readers in the context of a writing class: these work very well for some people, they are simply not appealing to me. I need some sort of larger concept to grapple with: a theme we can return to and explore from different positions – and this leaves aside larger questions of what gets included/excluded from such anthologies as well.… Read more