My 8am class has turned into a hotbed of burning questions and research. How this happened since my last post about the grueling 8am time slot, I can barely tell... but I think it started when I canceled the reading for a day and assigned my students debate roles as "administrators" and "English faculty," tasking them with … Continue reading How do we write at the intersection of race and gender?
This is a story for the frustrated College Writing student, the slow reader, the one who thinks she's bad at writing because she ever struggles and is discouraged. I grew up loving the arroz con pollo my au pair made for me in our tiny house in Miami, Florida. Irene, or "Ree-nee," as I called her, … Continue reading A Story for the Frustrated English Composition Student
"The vast majority of our professors...used the classroom to enact rituals of control that were about domination and the unjust exercise of power. In these settings I learned a lot about the kind of teacher I did not want to become." -- bell hooks, Teaching to Transgress When my observer asked me about letting my students … Continue reading Education is the Practice of Freedom
In my second-level composition course, students have the option of doing extra credit, due the day we finish reading Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew. The assignment is to write a script that answers the question: "Whatever happened to Christopher Sly?" The play-within-a-play begins with the drunkard Sly who is tricked into behaving like a lord. … Continue reading Learning Drama, Writing Drama
First year instructors are often told to scaffold assignments. Scaffolding, loosely defined, is the process of building cumulative assignments from "low-stakes" to "high-stakes" in a syllabus. Heck, most instructors at any pedagogy conference are told to do this, so I've been doing it for over three years. I believe scaffolding is extremely useful as a … Continue reading Many Students Don’t Know What Scaffolding Is
Asking the right question is no easy task. Teachers spend years fine-tuning questions and lesson plans. But when students get these questions, it's for the first time. According to my students, the hardest paper assignment I gave them was for our poetry unit--but not because it was on poetry. I asked my students to explicate a … Continue reading Ask Students to Write the Final Exam
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJn0ZPd6mYo&w=560&h=315] It's the end of the semester, and we've finally arrived at our poetry unit. After wrapping up Chopin's The Awakening, we spent two days on Dickinson, discussing death (in an unintentional transition from Chopin's controversial ending), the im/materiality of Dickinson's imagery, and, of course, the metaphorical meanings in Dickinson's punctuation, her masterful dashes. I introduced … Continue reading Sylvia Plath’s “Lady Lazarus” & Star Trek
Moving on from teaching the general theme of women's oppression in my composition course, as I described in my last post, we've turned to a much more complex and darker play, John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi. The most corrupt characters, Ferdinand and the Cardinal (also the Duchess's brothers), are motivated by many things: money, power, maintaining a … Continue reading Teaching Students Close Reading Skills with Twitter