Tuesday, April 8, 2008

New Term Resolutions

Last term I co-taught two accelerated sections of  The Constructed Self with Victoria.  With this experience under my belt, I've returned to the classroom and the blog with some new insights into the challenges and opportunities of teaching writing to freshman in University Studies. 

At the end of each term, I like to sit down on my hindsight and make a list of "dos and don'ts" for future versions of the course and number them because there is something comforting to me about this.  Perhaps the numbers lend a sense of authority; I become the "woman with the plan."  Here are some of my current lists.

Classroom Resolutions
1.  My goal is to talk less.  Engage students in creating discussion topics, questions, and creating/finding class materials.  A particular challenge to me in freshman inquiry was class size.  Because small group activities demand more planning and orchestration, as well as more physical space, it was easier for me to rely on lecture format in a class that stressed the seams of the room.  It would be great to hear from others about how they accomplish a student-centered classroom in a tight space/time.

2.  Keep encouraging risk.  As much as students were made uncomfortable by our more open-ended and non-traditional assignments, these were ultimately the most successful in eliciting real analysis and critical thinking (stay tuned, more on these risky assignments later!).

I've also got some ideas about working with frinq faculty and mentors.  
1.  Host regular workshops for faculty and/or mentors to swap ideas and support.  
Some possible topics: 
* sharing your best writing assignments
* using creative writing to teach academic writing
* teaching research skills without the research paper
* incorporating revision in writing assignments
* teaching argumentation, drafting the portfolio essay throughout a term.
* critiquing our written instructions for assignments

2.  Collect and share writing assignment, exercises, and web-based materials such as this blog I like.

3.  Reorganize and update the writing center blog for undergraduates with frinqsters in mind.  

4.  Meet with students, faculty, and mentors during my drop-in hours: Tuesdays 9:30 - 11:30, 12 - 2; Thursdays 10 - 12.

Here's what you can do.
1.  Tell me what kinds of writing assignments you're planning this term and what writing challenges you anticipate.  Send comments to my email, post comments to this blog, or visit me in the Writing Center.

2.  Offer ideas about what to cover in workshops and when you can come.  Then come to them and share your expertise and wisdom.

3.  Send your students and mentors to the Writing Center, our website, and our blog.

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