Discussing Stereotypes in the Classroom

One of my primary aims in a rhetoric classroom is to equip students with the skills to thoughtfully respond to the world around them. What that means, as fellow instructors know well, is that sometimes it is appropriate to discuss rhetorical arguments that make the audience uncomfortable—a discomfort that could potentially halt or hinder discussion in the classroom. Moreover, given that every person in a classroom brings with them a distinct set of past experiences, influences, and perspectives, certain arguments and texts can affect some students more personally than others.

Self Disclosure in the Classroom

girl, tell me about it.

Full disclosure: this blog post may include some self-disclosure.

The Medium is the Mentor: How Failing With an LMS Altered My Teaching Ethos

It took me a while to accept that I can never have all the answers. It took even longer for me to realize that this is a wonderful, fortunate fact. As an instructor, a tenacious part of me clung to the fantasy of a future of flawless knowledge and perfect leadership. Sure, I’d tell myself, I flail about now and again in front of my students, bewildered by a question or flummoxed by a comment I wasn’t expected, but that’s just because I’m relatively new to my course materials, to this emerging technology, to [insert convenient excuse here].

Optional Collaboration and "Winging It"

Apple pie and a mushroom cloud

I’m a big fan of "winging it" in the classroom, a practice my colleague Scott Nelson addressed in a 2012 Blogging Pedagogy post. Typically, my improvisation is restricted to my lesson plans, which I leave informal and loose so that there is room to shift gears depending on the class's needs, interests, and concerns. This semester, though, my “winging it” extended to the broader arc of the course.

Using Basic Media Theory to Teach Rhetoric

This is an image of the Superdome and survivors of Hurricane Katrina living inside of it

“Were all instructors to realize that the quality of mental process, not the production of correct answers, is the measure of educative growth something hardly less than a revolution in teaching would be worked.”

― John Dewey, Democracy and Education

Field Trips in the College Classroom

Large family memorial in rear with individual gravestone in front.

I can remember taking only one field trip after I left the K-12 system. Between three universities in my undergraduate and graduate career, only one lone little undergrad geology course featured an off-site learning experience as a standard part of the curriculum. Therefore, when I realized that I had the chance to take my own RHE 309K students on a field trip, I jumped at the opportunity.

Ethos, Summary, and 9/11 Truth

Ari Fleischer Tweet, begins Digusting op-ed in NYT by a truther

Marking 9/11

This year, in 2012, my first-year rhetoric students were mostly third graders, seven- and eight-year-olds, on 9/11/2001. Their memories of 9/11 were cloudy, mostly of a fearfulness they didn't fully understand. Some of them remember leaving school with their parents; others remember staying in classes with TVs on, watching the news report on what was happening. That's what I did as a high school student on 9/11.

Trust Me, I'm a Teacher: Some Reflections on Teacher-Student Power Relations

Stick figure comic from XKCD

Let me immediately note that I’m not intending to demonstrate universal truths with the following anecdotes. My intent is just to share a couple of particular rhetorical situations and the reflections to which they’ve led.

Using Embarrassment to Build Trust with Students

Woman covering face with hands in embarassment

I recently had a conversation with a couple of other instructors at UT about what to do when you've realized you've made a mistake about a student's grade, especially what to do if you've assigned a grade that is lower than what the student actually deserves.

Oftentimes, as younger or less experienced instructors, we have a tendency to believe that we cannot change a student's grade for the better because then they'll always question our grading practices, and then we'll have to deal with lessened authority in the classroom and constant requests for grade changes.

Teaching Ethos with No Impact Man

Colin Beavan makes an ethical appeal during a public talk

This semester I’ve had my students teach each other key terms and concepts in rhetoric during weekly student presentations. After each presentation, I plan an activity designed to put the concepts just learned into practice, often using a text I provide or one from their research projects. I designed one such activity on “Ethos in No Impact Man” with specific attention to problems former students have had with ethical appeals.

Theorizing Social Media in Pop Culture Contexts

Screenshot from class blog

Social media has long stood out to me as something rhetoric instructors should discuss in the classroom. Aside from email, it is perhaps the most commonly used technology by our students and ourselves. Increasingly, it’s the medium through which we access news stories and forms of information and promotion. Yet, because it raises questions about the overlap between public and private and what’s acceptable or desired in terms of pedagogy, I’ve often hesitated to use it.


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All materials posted to this site are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. We invite you to use and remix these materials, but please give credit where credit is due. In addition, we encourage you to comment on your experiments with and adaptations of these plans so that others may benefit from your experiences.


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