1101 rough ideas

Like Carrie, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about reading, and also doing a ton of research and reading about reading over the break, and I realize I haven’t ever really taught that. Read a film, no problem — I can get a class to hold forth about shots, angles, lighting, single takes, establishing shots, etc., until we’re all exhausted (and used to do in my film classes), but I don’t enjoy or get as much out of close written-text reading. But after all this research, I do want to incorporate/test out some of Carillo’s strategies as well as Salvatori’s focus on how to deal with difficult texts. Like the rest of us, I really am tired of students not doing the reading… because they don’t know how to read in different ways for different contexts (sort of like genre!). We’ll see; it will be a learning experience for me AND the students.

I also want to more efficiently build in reflection-in-action (Yancey’s term) throughout, and especially using reflections to aid revision as Lindenman  et al. lay it out. I’m hoping some better scaffolding and praxis will lead to a better Theory of Writing/Final Reflection (been doing a lot of reading about that, too).

That said, here are my general thoughts about the 1101 units.

Literacy Narrative: I’ll probably do this more or less the way I always do it, focusing on literacy in general and writing in specific. I go more or less in this order: 1) literacy (a bit from Brandt) and what how they define it; 2) what they believe about writing and why; 3) literacy sponsors (I did throw a little about personal discourse communities in this term, and it seemed to work well); 4) quite a bit of low stakes posting; 5) examples of different literacy narratives (I’m going to try to do more mentor-text analysis); 6) their own essay on a specific aspect of their literacy designed to get them away from a “this is my life in chronological order” garbage they tend to want to write; 7) workshopping and revision strategies; and 8) reflective writing all along, including a final one after their essays are drafted. I have them do a lot of sharing throughout, so that they see they’re not alone in their beliefs and/or fears, and I have to disabuse them of the tendency to “give the teacher what she wants,” but even though this seems like a lot, I think this unit is critical to re-setting students from high school to college, and un-teaching bad habits so they’re more receptive to what we’re now trying to do in terms of transfer. And now I’ll get off my soap box.

Rhetorical Genre Analysis: Now for the new stuff, and here I’m still very foggy. I’m in love with the Graphic Guide Robert showed us last time because the language is not dumbed down, the theory is pretty much up to date, and it builds in visual rhetoric/analysis along with written textual/rhetorical analysis. We will have also talked about rhetorical situations and genres a bit in Unit 1, so I want to start with revisiting those concepts, including how to analyze a genre rhetorically. Then I would like to send them off to investigate a specific genre, largely what Robert has in his Assignment in our initial curriculum materials — pick a genre, find as many multi-modal examples/artifacts as possible, analyze each one rhetorically, then write an essay about what they’ve learned about that genre. Along the way, I’ll have them write about things like, who’s privileged by the genre and who is excluded — all that good ideological work that goes along audience and context. I don’t think I want them to compose in that genre, not yet anyway, and I’m wondering about whether it would be more instructive for them to examine unfamiliar genres (I read something about that last week) as a way to put their own assumptions aside, or whether just laying out those assumptions before they start would do the same thing. 

Multiple Genre Project: Well, this is familiar to me since it’s a re-imaging of the Inquiry project I do now — finding a personally-interesting topic and digging into it by starting with questions instead of answers. I personally have never had a problem with students finding something they want to investigate, but we do a lot of collective brainstorming with giant Post-Its on the wall in one of my favorite in-class activities, which seems to get them going in the right direction; I also let them change their focus as they do the investigating if something starts to draw their interest. This term, I had them do a Googlepedia activity in class before we did the Post-Its (we had computers, although in other classes, I’ve had students use their phones to get started) where they we threw some topics/issues on the board, and then they did what they would normally do when they research something: start with Google Search and Wikipedia (no sense ignoring them, I figure); as they click through, they keep a lot of where they go and why. Not surprisingly, this activity led them to some great issues that they’re now working on. I do want to use the MGP template stuff Robert pointed us to flesh this out a little more (not sure how yet, need time to think!). I would like to end up with 1) an introduction which includes why they chose this issue, a summary of what they found, and what their opinion of the issue is now, and 2) a literature review that includes brief rhetorical analyses of each source/artifact, building on what they learned to do in Unit 2. Now… as for the culminating piece — I haven’t been unhappy what I’ve had them do before, but I’ve been re-reading Nelson Graff and I really like his “write something for a journal, etc.”

Well, this has gotten long… forgive me for indulging in my usual “thinking on paper.” See you later today.

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