Syllabus and Supplies

art supplies stack

I got the list of required supplies for my drawing class today in addition to the syllabus and schedule (part 1 and part 2). Altogether, the supplies cost around $100 to acquire. My initial thoughts as I took a look at this set of materials was how visible the tools necessary to compose were to me. I want to compare this with a writing course, but I should hold off on that. Continue reading “Syllabus and Supplies”


A Survey of Approaches to Sentence Pedagogies

A Survey of Approaches to Sentence Pedagogies

Clay Walker

23 November 2014

Along with the turn to theory and disciplinary rigor in the field of Composition and Rhetoric during the 1980s came a profound turn away from the generative sentence-level pedagogies that were widely popular and shown to be successful (Connors). While many compositionists flippantly remark something along the lines of “research shows that skill and drill doesn’t work,” little actual research has been done on practice-based sentence exercises. Moreover, sentence-level pedagogies doesn’t have to be mindless drone work! Following in the tradition of Christensen and Corbett who argue for a sentence-level pedagogy that serves as a mode of idea generation for student writers, more recent scholars like Micciche and Howard have argued for a return to the sentence in our teaching. The following blog offers a primer on research addressing sentence-level pedagogies that reads somewhat like an extended annotated bibliography. The first section reviews arguments that the field has mistakenly turned away from sentence-level pedagogies, the second section reviews scholarship arguing for one kind of sentence-level pedagogy or another (though there is some overlap between research reviewed in the first section and the second section), and the final section briefly outlines a couple of assignment models that instructors can fold into their courses.

Continue reading “A Survey of Approaches to Sentence Pedagogies”

Media, Metaphors, and Potentiality

I am teaching a digital online resource project for the second semester in my Intermediate/Professional Writing course. The course asks students to first read a number of academic articles theorizing discourse communities and genre in order to develop a primary research project that explores the use of writing and written texts in a professional discourse community. For example, if a student is planning to use his/her college education to become a pharmacist (lots of these at WSU), then the student must interview at least two insiders who have already mastered the pharmacy Discourse and collect 3 distinct sample texts from the field in order to analyze the writing practices and genres used by pharmacists. The online resource guide is the culmination of a semester-long research project in which students present their findings (honed in an earlier data analysis project) for others interested in joining this discourse community and developing writing expertise as a pharmacist (or whatever). Currently, I allow students to use all sorts of media, including blogs, webpages, wikis, and prezis. In Computers and Composition Online, Angela Laflen provides a detailed and very helpful overview of how to integrate prezis into the composition classroom (“Composing the Self: Prezi Literacy Narratives“). Continue reading “Media, Metaphors, and Potentiality”

Teaching Reading in the Composition Classroom

Teaching Reading in the Composition Classroom

Coauthored by Clay Walker and LaToya Faulk

Crossposted at Wayne State’s Composition Blog: WSUTeaching

Teaching reading in the composition classroom can be challenging for a variety of reasons. First, we cannot easily access the internal processes of meaning making that take place when students read. Because reading is such a deeply internalized process, we often can only access indirect measures of reading ability, such as written responses to questions, summaries, notes, etc. Second, readers’ prior experiences and existing ideologies shape how readers respond to various academic texts. Handling the wide variety of cultural backgrounds that shape reading activities in a diverse composition classroom can be difficult for writing instructors. Third, while reading may be a deeply internalized process, it is also a rhetorical process in which meaning making is constructed by the reader in rich socialized contexts.  Thus, the reading process requires a connection between the reader and the literate act, a connection that allows the reader to actively engage in a kind of comprehension that situates meaning and the self. Continue reading “Teaching Reading in the Composition Classroom”

Rhetorical Reading

Overall, the practice of using Writing About Writing in my basic writing classroom has been a fruitful enterprise. One notable success was my decision to assign Christina Haas and Linda Flower’s “Rhetorical Reading Strategies and the Construction of Meaning” for the summary essay. Students were required to read and summarize Haas and Flower’s essay in a 2-page double-spaced summary essay. My students found themselves relating well with the students described in Haas and Flower’s study of freshman readers, and the content of the article was relevant, as we worked on developing effective reading strategies that can lead to writing for academic purposes. The assignment sequence was successful also because the article offered enough complexity that students actually had to choose what issues and details to focus on and include in their summary. Continue reading “Rhetorical Reading”

Teaching Reading in Wayne State’s Basic Writing Classs

For the last month, I’ve been working on setting specific, research-based goals for teaching reading in the basic writing classroom. Teaching reading can be challenging because it is hard to access in the classroom: reading is something that really happens entirely inside the student’s mind, and we often can only access indirect measures of reading ability, such as written responses to questions, summaries, notes, etc. Nonetheless, reading is fundamental to the composition class. For example, in the basic writing class, two of our central genres are summary and response. These two ways of interacting texts are deeply rooted in reading abilities, and lie at the core of much academic writing. Continue reading “Teaching Reading in Wayne State’s Basic Writing Classs”