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
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
As the semester winds down at LaGuardia, we took stock during the English department hybrid showcase last week, thinking about our work over the past year. With a mini-grant we received from our Center for Teaching and Learning (previously mentioned here), we’ve been developing our program and our individual classes; what began as a course development plan has morphed into a full-on training/certification program. There are some ongoing questions for consideration that came out of the hybrid mini-grant workshops: both in the interdisciplinary faculty planning meetings with the Center for Teaching and Learning, and on a departmental level. This list includes several other items I’ve been thinking about as well.… Read more
Yesterday, a small team of faculty in our department spent four very productive hours, fueled by coffee and mini-Creme Brulee confections from Doughnut Plant, workshopping our hybrid syllabi and assignments for the spring. We applied for and received a generous grant from LaGuardia’s Center for Teaching & Learning to work on our hybrid program this year, and a group of us are working more closely on hybrid course design and further program development.
This is my first time teaching ENG 102: Writing Through Literature – our second-level composition class – as a hybrid. I taught the course around post-apocalyptic lit last year, but I’m overhauling it now both in terms of content (while keeping the post-apocalyptic theme) and design for hybrid delivery.… 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
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
This semester I have been drawing on more digital teaching/learning tools, as I was fortunate enough to get computer labs for all my classes. My students were just recently playing with Voyant for text analysis and have been exposed to Prezi for concept mapping. These are certainly not new tools, but since some of my colleagues were curious as to how I was using them and my general thoughts on Voyant and Prezi, I decided to bypass drafting emails to several interested parties and instead discuss them a bit in a post. I’ll briefly describe how I used the tools, how my students responded to them, and the limitations of such methods.… Read more
Last week the Chronicle‘s “Conversation” blog featured a post by Emory English professor Mark Bauerlein. The comments that followed were only a small part of the larger brouhaha over the Common Core standards going on throughout all levels of education. While I have not gotten a chance to read every contribution to the conversation yet and the many other articles/blogs on the topic, Bauerlein’s argument against personal writing and the ensuing comments highlight the stakes in the debate for anyone teaching writing or writing-intensive courses on a college level.
This debate over personal writing is, in turn, reminiscent of discussions I often had with colleagues as a special education middle school teacher, leading instruction in English Language Arts and Social Studies in some of poorest neighborhoods in New York City.… Read more