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?”

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.

Mitigating Silence

Speech bubble with an ellipsis inside

I’ve never been able to hold a silence in class. There’s lots of talk about how long you can let a question hang in the air--there’s a swagger in these discussions, a sort of teacherly way of one-upping one another. And I’ve heard boasts about a minute or two and stories about those rare masters that can hold the three, four, five minute silence (we can, in this regard, look toward John Cage as having raised the long silence to an artform).

Getting Students to Disagree

Chalkboard drawing of stick figure with text Formula for English Class Discussion

I am teaching 306 for the first time this semester. Apart from the typical anxieties and uncertainties of teaching a new format (and a lot of content that had thus far been foreign to me) things are going pretty well. More important, they seem to be going better every week. Of course there are still many things I struggle with. One of the most important ones to me is getting a decent group discussion going.

Encouraging Class Participation with Google Docs

Graphic comparing Google Docs and Enterprise 2.0 platforms

Classroom dynamics can vary widely from one group of students to the next. This fact has really struck home now that I’m teaching two sessions of Rhetoric and Writing: “Disability in Pop Culture.” I walk into both classes with the same lesson plans, with (one of) the same interpreters, and with the same kinds of technology available. Many variables are different; different buildings, different classroom space (in terms of size), one interpreter is different, different days, different time of day (although both take place in the afternoon).


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