Fold/Unfold Close Reading Activity

This post is a modified version of "Unfolding Fanny Fern's Ruth Hall and Nathaniel Hawthorne's 'The Birthmark'," a paper I presented at the American Literature Association conference in Boston, Massachusetts, on May 23, 2019. To unfold something is to open or unwrap, attempt to undo its folds. However, a fold can’t really be undone: when … Continue reading Fold/Unfold Close Reading Activity

Collaborate, Rotate, Note-Take

Just last week I put together an assignment to have students collaboratively take notes in class. This assignment stems from advice I received from three colleagues, so its very beginnings were collaborative. I am so humbled by the amazing work my fellow teachers are doing at CUNY. Where do I begin? What Do We Mean by … Continue reading Collaborate, Rotate, Note-Take

American Lit: Collaborative Writing & Group Work

This semester as I prepared my syllabus for the American Literature: Origins to the Civil War course, I wanted to get my students more engaged in collaborative multi-modal projects. One of these was to write a blog post comparing the American Puritans to one religious group from the HBO series The Game of Thrones. While students cringed … Continue reading American Lit: Collaborative Writing & Group Work

Using Reacting to the Past to Teach English Composition 101

When I asked if I could use Reacting to the Past (RTTP) in my new English Composition 101 class, and the answer was "yes," I could barely contain my excitement. It can be difficult to convince someone who hasn't seen game-based learning that role play enhances student performance, yes, even in formal writing. I've been trained by … Continue reading Using Reacting to the Past to Teach English Composition 101

Ask Students to Write the Final Exam

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

Teaching The Awakening + One Speed Writing Exercise

I've been teaching Kate Chopin's The Awakening (1899) in the Intro to Writing About Literature course for two years, and I've found it fits a shorter paper assignment better than it does a research paper (you can read my writing prompt for the short paper here). However, this semester I taught Chopin immediately after the long research paper … Continue reading Teaching The Awakening + One Speed Writing Exercise

Feminist Pedagogy: Scaffolding the Research Paper

Teaching Consent in the College Classroom (Part 2) [Read Part 1] Backwards Pedagogy and a Gender Studies theme for the semester turned out some really thorough and unique research papers in my Intro to Writing About Literature class. As I'm grading: there are papers drawing from medieval science and the humours as well as neonatology and … Continue reading Feminist Pedagogy: Scaffolding the Research Paper

Teaching Students Close Reading Skills with Twitter

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

Learning Drama through Writing

This semester, I approached my Composition students with a new assignment that they themselves had a hand in creating and making possible. As part of the Intro to Writing About Literature course, I teach drama, fiction, and poetry. Each genre presents its own challenges but drama, in particular, is difficult to get into when students … Continue reading Learning Drama through Writing

Survey Expectations

The PDFs have been uploaded to Blackboard, the syllabi have been printed, stapled, and handed out, and names have been learned (well, mostly) as the daunting task of teaching a large survey course is underway this fall. We're merely scratching the surface at a breakneck pace, reading American literature from the early explorers to the … Continue reading Survey Expectations