Because I Can't Help Myself: Using Canvas Discussion to Practice Style and Grammar

When I began teaching E316K, I was disappointed but not particularly surprised to find that by and large, my students couldn’t write well. Sure, there were a few outliers who turned in clear, dynamic prose; overall, though, I could be administered a vaccine for redundant sentences and clunky syntax. Often, I’d catch myself wondering, “Who let you get this far without teaching you how to write?”

On Grammar Pedagogy; or, Stop: Grammar Time

Drive Slow Street Sign with "ly" marked in after "Slow"

Never before have I spent an entire class period talking about grammar, but I decided that this semester I would try it to see what my students thought about being taught grammar and being graded on grammar (the first of which I never do unless asked by a student for one-on-one help, the second which I only do if grammar severely impacts my ability to understand their papers). I had my students read three articles: Joseph Williams' "The Phenomenology of Error," (a selection from) David Foster Wallace's "Tense Present" a.k.a.

That, Those, and the Other

President Obama speaking to a little girl who's built a block tower, words You Didn't Build That imposed over image

"[H]ere. Where? There." — Jacques Derrida, "Signature Event Context"

When I think of the concept “technology,” I think of computers. Well, I think of other things too—mostly things with screens and occasionally things that explode—but if I were asked to draw a picture of “technology,” it’d probably resemble a laptop. 


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