So far, so…good

I’m more pleased than I was in, say, February. I know that I am struggling, but I also “get” the whole Rhet Comp approach way more than I did, which is to say, not a ton, but more, and I am liking what I am learning. Now, I see everything as rhetorical. It’s freaky, actually.

Genre has been interesting and has yielded some Good Writing. Nuts sitting in the back of the room in one of my sections have started to crack. A couple of audible gasps were emitted at various points when we read something so seamless we couldn’t tell “real” from “Memorex.” I feel the semester dribbling away time wise, though. My own learning curve happens along with theirs, and if I am to budget time well I need to be ahead of them, not with them. Translation: No time to finish genre analysis properly — heck, I did the thing backwards, making them write first and analyze second. I am now using the genre as a natural stepping stone to Inquiry. So far, it’s working. I am using a Graff, TheySay/ISay kind of approach. I have budgeted almost no time for multi modal. And, um, I am not sure how to explain to them exactly what goes into Unit 5.

Now that I write this, I guess things are pretty haywire. But.

On various micro levels, during those quick-to-pass discussion moments, metacognition and writing-as-process and writing we are doing about writing are fusing and the class jumps to a Level of Awareness way higher than you would expect from Comp 1. So hey  ILive in the moment. And I feel that we are all doing something right.

I’m learning a lot from the example assignments you are all giving sharing during our PD and I thank you. I am a quick and early adopter.

I am also using some of the Reading awareness (reading as “invisible,” making it visible) I gleaned from Eileen Carillo (from the Summit last week). I am trying to make more transparent why I am assigning a reading.

Overall I still struggle with Reward — how to reward the students for making the kinds of linguistic moves I think are productive and trying to square that with what I think my Dept is expecting me to reward. But now maybe less so.



5 thoughts on “So far, so…good

  1. Robert Lestón

    I’m not sure that I agree that your’e doing the assignment backwards. After we spoke last week, I had the feeling that you knew what you were doing, and if you approached doing it from another angle, I don’t see a problem with that. I think you’re in pretty good shape, and you’re figuring it out in a productive way that works for you.

  2. Kim

    Sarah, I love the line “Nuts sitting in the back of the room in one of my sections have started to crack”… and have been thinking about it since last week! I’m so interested in your approaches to teaching, and think that the moments of true spontaneous learning are those moments when you hear audible gasps or get genuine laughter…. moments when the best laid plans fall away and you’re just living in the moment and discovering stuff! I’m curious about what kind of writing your students have been doing related to genre awareness and inquiry and discovery.

    1. SSchmerler Post author

      Thanks, Kim and Robert. Football players who say nothing have been writing poems about football. A young man who struggles to speak clearly and has English as a second or third language (Arabic is his first) is trying to write about a friend who broke his arm in a wrestling tournament in the style of a CNN News piece. A young man who likes to make art reviewed himself on Amazon and gave himself One Star. A fellow student wrote another review in the comment thread. And then he commented on her comment.
      “It goes,” as the Italians say. : )

  3. Carrie Hall

    This is corny, but I think writing well is its own reward. I mean, I know in my own writing, when I’ve really hit something, it feels good.

    Also, football players are, almost without exception, good poets. I have often wondered why this is true, but in my experience, it is true. And I have a lot of experience with this.

    Your comment that you see everything as rhetorical reminds me of my students, who are like “well now I can’t watch a video without trying to figure out what everything MEANS. It’s ANNOYING. (but also kinda cool.)”

    So many people were so affected by Ellen, I wonder if we shouldn’t try to find a way to get her back here for some kind of talk.

  4. Carrie Hall

    As one final aside, the first time I spoke at the C’s (the national Comp conference,) I had a pretty shitty time (Saturday, noon) and we thought noone would show. But we were talking about reading, which was, and is, still pretty rare at the C’s. Anyway, that place was PACKED. People really wanted to know how to teach reading. It was freaking bewildering to all of us! I encourage everyone to read the work of Mariolina Salviatori and Patricia Donahue, who are amazing reading pedagogues.

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