As I’ve said before, my sister teaches high school in Florida—history and psychology, with a lot of writing in all her classes (she says she’s “notorious” not just for assigning writing but for teaching it and taking it very, very seriously). I love hearing about the work she is doing and about her students, and recently she wrote to share a poem one of her seniors had written, not for class but just on her own. [read more]
Whisper, not unlike Snapchat, is another increasingly popular app. Whisper allows people to share secrets anonymously, accompanying each secret with a photo. I’ve been exploring the app, enjoying its voyeuristic pleasures and discovering that many use it (not unlike Snapchat) for sexual ends.
It strikes me that Whisper is an immediate, uncurated, digital version of PostSecret. [read more]
Earlier this month, I wrote about Writing Center Trip Reports in my Ink’d In column, and I want to talk a bit more about trip report assignments. I developed the activity for professional writing, but I’ve adapted it to work for literature and first-year writing classes as well. [read more]
I’m taking a holiday for the summer but will be back fresh and ready to blog in the fall.
In late June, I drove from the Burlington airport down Route 116, eventually turning east on Route 125 to drive up into the Green Mountains to Bread Loaf, a campus of Middlebury College that looks up toward Bread Loaf Mountain. For many of the last twenty-five summers, I have made this trek, yet every time I make the drive it is entirely new. [read more]
With the World Cup standing as the globe’s most prominent popular cultural event of the moment, I think it is appropriate for me to take a cultural semiotic look at it, especially in the wake of all the commentary that has followed Brazil’s rather epic loss to Germany in the semi-finals. As I write this blog, Holland is playing Argentina in the second semi-final, but since neither the outcome of that game nor the final to follow is of any significance from a semiotic point of view, I will not concern myself here with the ultimate outcome of the games but will focus instead on the non-player reactions to the entire phenomenon. [read more]
In the aftermath of our SACSCOC accreditation, our school is sending around a terminal degree list, the idea being that departments should specify what degrees get to teach which classes. Currently, the rules allow any terminal degree in English to teach any course in English—I could teach the Victorian Novel or creative writing, even though I know almost nothing about either. In some ways, then, specifying which degrees go with which courses sounds like a great idea, though of course it’s more complicated than that—particularly when it comes to composition. [read more]
At the end of my last post, I vowed to “spend some time this summer thinking about assignments or activities that will ask students to spend just a little more time in the deep end.”
The deep end, of course, requires actual swimming and not just floating, paddling, or splashing around. It has become challenging to engage students in complex texts (their own or others’) when their brains are becoming addicted to distractions, as Nicholas Carr discusses in The Shallows.
So what is a writing teacher to do? [read more]
Since I returned to the classroom last August, I have been searching for assessment strategies that worked for me and for students. I tried Assessing Student Work with Rubrics, but found that they weren’t working for me. I had endless trouble Finding a Tool to Grade Online, and my worries about grade inflation and unhappy students led me to want to Forget about Grades.
After teaching English for 40 years, I’ve grown accustomed to the predictable responses I get when I meet someone and reveal my occupation. Many say “Oh, I better watch my grammar,” while others say “That was never my best subject.” Increasingly, the response I am getting goes something like this: “Isn’t it something the way students have lost the ability to write a decent sentence? They do so much texting and tweeting that all they know how to do is write shorthand messages, full of internet slang and acronyms.” I get this response from people outside the academy, but also from instructors in other disciplines. [read more]