Problems in the Descriptive Mode

Four-item list entitled Mental Work Cited

Although teaching a descriptive unit is an essential foundation for good writing, many instructors find summary tedious to teach, and especially difficult to present to students in interesting, innovative ways.  In my class, we learn how to adopt the descriptive mode as historiography, giving students a chance to both practice good summary and question the processes by which summary is produced and presented in a common rhetorical context.   Nonetheless, students are usually anxious to move on to analysis as we wrap up the first unit.

Screencast Feedback with Jing

Logo resembling a sun with rays pointing toward different tech devices

After teaching RHE 306 for my second semester, I still have not fully decided on a consistent system for students to turn in their work. Electronic copies have a couple of advantages that pertain to the particular format of the class: a) different versions can easily be compared in text processing software (it’s called “merge documents” in LibreOffice and in Word). In a course that highlights writing as a process and the role of revision, this helps gauge the extent of changes made from one stage to the next.

Teaching and Writing

A dog chewing on a large ball

So I went on the job market this year, and one of the questions that kept coming up was how I saw my teaching and my scholarship fitting together.  I’m working on a dissertation on early American poetry and have taught poetry classes, so some of the connections are pretty obvious.  But this semester I’m teaching 306, and while my students would certainly freak out (by which I mean feign sleep in spectacular and dramatic attitudes of disinterest) if I busted out some Puritan funeral elegies, I have been thinking a lot about the parallels between the writing t

Game Controllers and Course Design

Black Playstation controller

So, I've been thinking this week about controllers and controls. The Playstation 4 controller was announced, and there are some significant changes in the design that speak to the changing nature of gaming in general. The new controller has a touch screen and a color-coded light bar to identify different players. Most significant to this post, though, is the missing 'Select' and 'Start' buttons. Since the 1980s, these buttons have been standard on most game controllers, and Sony's decision to replace them with the 'Share' and 'Options' button signals a shift in video games' focus.

What to Do When Students Want to Talk in Class

Three students sitting at desks with their hands raised

I’ve been feeling very invigorated this semester as a teacher for several reasons: I’m teaching RHE 309S for the first time, incorporating more digital writing and texts into my syllabus, and the kids I’m teaching seem pretty invested in the material. In fact, they love to talk in class. Managing the class discussions, then, has presented a new challenge for me as a teacher.

The Chicken In the Egg: Theme and Comp in the Truthy Classroom, Revisted

Three people on the street in egg costumes with legs

I want to revisit my post from last semester today, because it dealt with the lessons of grading the first major assignment in my first advanced composition course, and this week I found myself doing the last class meetings before this semester’s first major assignment deadline.

Over the Hedge with Nate Silver and Jacques Derrida

Photo of a labyrinthine hedge dividing a grass yard from a gravel path

In October 2012, statistician and New York Times blogger Nate Silver was predicting up a storm. He was aggregating, calculating, and tabulating poll results in order to determine the probable outcomes of the upcoming presidential election. By the end of the month, he had President Obama’s reelection chances at 79%. MSNBC pundit Joe Scarborough was not amused:

Reading Like a Detective

Photo of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson from the BBC series Sherlock

Close reading is a cornerstone of literature classes, but it can be a drag to teach. The excitement I sometimes feel about finding new and contradictory meanings for words a little difficult to translate to the average non-major (and even the average major). So this semester I decided to frame my close reading lesson in terms of detective work. Specifically, I decided to show them about fifteen minutes' worth an episode of the BBC drama Sherlock

Multimodal Writing: How Do We Assess New Media?

Vintage television with the words Read Instead posted on the screen

 "Students should be able to both read critically and write functionally, no matter what the medium" (William Kist).

Researching Public Issues with Twitter

Class Twitter account, @rhetoric306, with Ancient Rhetorics for Contemporary Students (5th ed.) as background

I ask my RHE 306 class, Rhetoric and Writing, to focus their writing for the semester around a single public issue. I want students in my class to concentrate on the kinds of disagreements that, however intractable, demand a response. So I ask them to frame their issues as policy questions. As we near the time when I ask students to begin researching their issues in earnest, I've been looking for ways to improve my lesson on library research.



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