Thursday, August 4, 2016

New ideas in teaching writing

Last semester sucked.  I really shouldn't have tried what I did while I was disabled upstairs.  Trying to do multiple research papers and styles while I couldn't think straight...well, it wasn't an unmitigated disaster, but it was damned close.

I have a better idea how to do it, and do it right, this semester.  I'll go ahead and teach the four styles of argument (definition, causal, evaluation, proposal), but I'll match them up with the styles (Chicago style, Council of Science Editors, Modern Language Association/MLA, and American Psychological Association, or APA).  Pretty sure science would be best matched with causal, and Chicago style (journalism) would be best matched with either a definition or the evaluation (in the form of a movie review).  If you've got ideas, feel free to let me know in the comments.

The main point is this: English and foreign languages are the only majors that use the MLA format beyond basic core classes.  Why is that the only style English departments are teaching?  Neither the CMS nor the CSE styles are remotely similar in anything but the bibliography.  APA is pretty similar, but for the use of copyright dates in the in-text citations.  But even APA isn't more than just glossed over.

I have most of the parts of my textbook done, I just have to assemble it correctly.

And this semester, this fall semester, I have arranged to teach two comp 2 courses...and one comp 1.  I got an email from the new department head asking me to take an extra section.  On the one hand, that's a nice little extra in the income.  On the other...that's an extra two dozen papers to grade every few weeks, and an extra number of office hours.  I think my requirements will be up to 7.5 hours on campus (2.5 office hours per class taught).  So, two hours in the morning every day I'm on campus, and half an hour after classes.  Or maybe an extra 25 minutes in the morning before classes...I'll have to think about that.

And...I haven't taught Comp 1 in about six years.  I need to redo my book.  I'm honestly thinking of two papers plus a lot of other little assignments to add up to about 5,500 words that I grade (one is going to be a unit on how to email a teacher...probably the first one).  I'm planning six weeks of blogging while I do an intro to research unit, and a unit on spin and how it's done (gotta get them suspicious of politics and advertisers before November...).  I may do a unit on how to put together a powerpoint presentation, since I don't think anyone else really does that.

(Yes, I'm sort of thinking out loud, here.)

If anyone has any suggestions on what else they think I should do, feel free to chime in.

This semester...yeah, it's gonna be rough.


  1. Money is good, but not at the risk of your health. Re the teaching, I'd say pick what works for you and run with it.

    1. I seriously haven't taught the Comp I class in six years. I'm going to be going back to basic "this is what you need to do for this situation" written communication. I doubt the kids coming out of five years of common core shit are going to be capable of more.