Using Markup for Close Reading

By | Teaching With Marca | No Comments

As writing instructors, we tend to have our favorite assignments – those that really “just work.”  For me, it’s an assignment for which I use Marca’s markup features to assist my students in practicing how to do close reading.  While my assignment is focused on poetry, this could definitely be adapted to other genres. First, the assignment, as given to students.  I use this as prewriting, but I also have students turn in a final version with their full essays, in which I ask them to explicate a short poem.

THE ASSIGNMENT:

To complete the assignment, you will transcribe the poem, paraphrase the poem, and complete an annotation of the poem’s features.

  • Transcription – type the poem as faithfully as possible.  Pay particular attention to punctuation, line breaks, capitalization, etc. Do not copy-paste the poem.  The idea here is that reproducing (by typing) the poem is a type of close reading.  This exercise helps you to notice the details of the poem.
  • Paraphrase – beneath the transcription, provide a brief paraphrase of the poem in which you describe in your own words the content of the poem (what’s “going on” in the poem).  You can paraphrase the poem as a whole, or you can paraphrase each stanza.  In this paraphrase, you should also note any major (universal) rhetorical or poetic “features” – i.e. how would you describe this poem?  At the very least, you should identify the verse form and/or meter.
  • Finally, you will annotate the poem.
    • Complete a word study using the OED.  Find the most applicable definitions for any word that you feel needs explanation (either because it is unfamiliar or because it has multiple definitions) using the OED. In the OED, enter the word you’re searching, and then choose any of the definitions that seem applicable to your reading of the poem. Back in Marca, put the cursor where you want the note, and then use the “Insert Note” feature of the document tools to enter the definition(s). Remember to cite the OED entry in your works cited for the project.
    • Note the rhyme scheme for your poem (if there is one).  You can note this in any form that makes sense to you (highlighting, listing, adding notes).
    • Use the Markup Tags (see below) to annotate the poem’s salient features.  You will simply highlight the passage of text and choose the appropriate tag from the appropriate collection of markup tags.  You may want to add a note (see above) to further explain the feature and its significance.

THE MARKUP:

The thing that really makes this assignment “just work” for me is the fact that I can create my own markup tags in Marca.  From the Home page under settings, choose “Manage Markup” and then “Create Set.” Screen shot 2015-02-18 at 1.42.09 PM   Create your set (for example, I created sets for rhyme, sound devices, and figurative language).  Once you’ve created your sets, you can create markup tags that are related to the set.  So, for example, I include tags for marking alliteration, assonance, and other sound devices: Screen shot 2015-02-18 at 1.49.17 PM   As you create tags, you can choose the color, the text that will display when a user hovers over something that’s been tagged, and you can even link out to other resources for explanations or definitions.  I kept things pretty simple in my own assignment.  To use the tags, simply go to your course settings, click on “edit settings” and choose your new markup sets from those available.

THE RESULT: I’ve asked one of my stellar students if I might share her work.  University of Georgia freshman Claire Dodd worked with Karen Gershon Tripp’s “Race.”  Her close reading “just works” on multiple levels.  It makes visible the patterns of sound devices in the poem.  In her work below, you’ll see where she’s used markup tags to highlight some of the textual features, and we can see these tags as we hover over the marked text.  Claire also decided to use color to highlight (literally) key repeated words and moments when the meter shifts from iambic tetrameter to trimeter.  Finally, she used “Insert Notes” to comment upon allusions, to do word studies, and to ask questions that she later addresses in her explication of the poem.  In short, she’s engaging with the poem, and she’s able to demonstrate that engagement through this markup. Screen shot 2015-02-18 at 2.08.49 PM  

Sara Steger is a lecturer at the University of Georgia, where she teaches composition classes and digital humanities.   

The 12 Days of Composition Finale

By | Composition, Fun | No Comments

Here at Marca, we’re bringing you the 12 Days of Composition. We’re excited to share some of our favorite ideas, stories, and resources with you!

  • Day 1: An online app for your writing class
  • Day 2: Pair of classics
  • Day 3: Trio of resources
  • Day 4: Set of CFPs
  • Day 5: Bunch of books
  • Day 6: Composition conversation starters
  • Day 7: Series of sayings from Sirc
  • Day 8: Exercises galore!
  • Day 9: Nurturing a critical technology literacy
  • Day 10: A reading list from Medium
  • Day 11: Events to energize 2015

Day Twelve: Teaching Terms

What’s the word on the street? Today, we’ve got the scoop on a dozen terms related to teaching and writing that are hot right now. Some, like transfer, we’ve already talked about on the blog. And others, like facilitative feedback, we’re really excited to think about for the future of Marca.

The Buzz

1. PBL: Project-Based Learning

“What is Project-Based Learning (PBL) and how long has it been around? As far back as the early 1900s, John Dewey supported the ‘learning by doing’ approach to education, which is the essential element of PBL.

“Today, PBL is viewed as a model for classroom activity that shifts away from teacher-centered instruction and emphasizes student-centered projects.”

– excerpt from “Research Spotlight on Project-Based Learning,” on the NEA’s website

PBL diagram from Zulama

PBL diagram from Zulama

2. Facilitative Feedback

“Facilitative remarks avoid telling a writer what to do–Change this; rearrange that. Instead, they raise questions that are carefully crafted so that they encourage a writer to consider her ideas and their expression more fully.”

– excerpt from “Responding to Problems: A Facilitative Approach,” on Dartmouth’s Institute for Writing and Rhetoric website

3. Low-Stakes Writing

“This is low stakes writing. The goal isn’t so much good writing as coming to learn, understand, remember and figure out what you don’t yet know. Even though low stakes writing-to-learn is not always good as writing, it is particularly effective at promoting learning and involvement in course material, and it is much easier on teachers–especially those who aren’t writing teachers.”

– excerpt from “Writing for Learning–Not Just for Demonstrating Learning,” by Peter Elbow online

4. Transfer

“Transfer of learning occurs when learning in one context or with one set of materials impacts on performance in another context or with other related materials. For example, learning to drive a car helps a person later to learn more quickly to drive a truck, learning mathematics prepares students to study physics, learning to get along with one’s siblings may prepare one for getting along better with others, and experience playing chess might even make one a better strategic thinker in politics or business. Transfer is a key concept in education and learning theory because most formal education aspires to transfer.”

– excerpt from “Transfer of Learning,” by David N. Perkins and Gavriel Salomon

5. Multimodal Composition

“Multimodal means multiple + mode. In contemporary writing studies, a mode refers to a way of meaning-making, or communicating. The New London Group (NLG) (1996) outlines five modes through which meaning is made: Linguistic, Aural, Visual, Gestural, and Spatial. Any combination of modes makes a multimodal text, and all texts—every piece of communication that a human composes—use more than one mode. Thus, all writing is multimodal.”

– excerpt from “All Writing is Multimodal,” by Cheryl Ball and Colin Charlton

6. Multiliteracies

“Because the way people communicate is changing due to new technologies, and shifts in the usage of the English language within different cultures, a new ‘literacy’ must also be used and developed.”

– excerpt from the entry for Multiliteracy on Wikipedia

7. ePortfolios

“E-portfolios are a valuable learning and assessment tool. An e-portfolio is a digitized collection of artifacts including demonstrations, resources, and accomplishments that represent an individual, group, or institution.”

– excerpt from “An Overview of E-Portfolios,” by George Lorenzo and John Ittelson, Educause.edu

8. PLN: Personal Learning Network

“A personal learning network is an informal learning network that consists of the people a learner interacts with and derives knowledge from in a personal learning environment. In a PLN, a person makes a connection with another person with the specific intent that some type of learning will occur because of that connection.”

– excerpt from the entry for Personal Learning Network on Wikipedia

By Peeragogia (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Peeragogia (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

9. Design-Thinking

“Classrooms and schools across the world are facing design challenges every single day, from teacher feedback systems to daily schedules. Wherever they fall on the spectrum of scale—the challenges educators are confronted with are real, complex, and varied. And as such, they require new perspectives, new tools, and new approaches. Design Thinking is one of them.”

– excerpt from Design Thinking for Educators website

By Wikimedia Deutschland e. V. (Wikimedia Deutschland e. V.) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Wikimedia Deutschland e. V. (Wikimedia Deutschland e. V.) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

10. Translingual / Multilingual

“Translingual refers to phenomena that are relevant in more than one language.”

“Multilingualism is the use of two or more languages, either by an individual speaker or by a community of speakers.”

– excerpts from the entries for Translingualism and Multilingualism on Wikipedia

11. Community-Based Learning

“Community-based learning is the broad set of teaching/learning strategies that enable youth and adults to learn what they want to learn from any segment of the community. It may also be defined as experiential learning where students and lecturers collaborate with communities to address problems and issues. Simultaneously both are gaining knowledge and skills and advancing personal development. There is an equal emphasis on helping communities and providing valid learning experience to students.”

– excerpt from “Introduction to Community-Based Learning” on Wikiversity

12. Flipped Classrooms

“In essence, ‘flipping the classroom’ means that students gain first exposure to new material outside of class, usually via reading or lecture videos, and then use class time to do the harder work of assimilating that knowledge, perhaps through problem-solving, discussion, or debates.”

– excerpt from “Flipping the Classroom,” by Cynthia J. Brame, Vanderbuilt University

Photo credit: “The Flipped Classroom” by AJC1, Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Lindsey is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Georgia. Her research interests include rhetoric and composition, creative writing, and digital humanities. You can find her on Twitter and online.

The 12 Days of Composition: Day 11

By | Composition, Fun | No Comments

Here at Marca, we’re bringing you the 12 Days of Composition. We’re excited to share some of our favorite ideas, stories, and resources with you!

  • Day 1: An online app for your writing class
  • Day 2: Pair of classics
  • Day 3: Trio of resources
  • Day 4: Set of CFPs
  • Day 5: Bunch of books
  • Day 6: Composition conversation starters
  • Day 7: Series of sayings from Sirc
  • Day 8: Exercises galore!
  • Day 9: Nurturing a critical technology literacy
  • Day 10: A reading list from Medium

Day Eleven: Events to Energize 2015

Today, we’re featuring eleven amazing opportunities devoted to writing, learning, and teaching. Join colleagues and peers. Meet fellow learners. Connect with other writers. These can be fun ways to spice up your syllabus, recharge your pedagogical batteries, and get involved. Open up your Google calendars; you’re not going to want to miss these days. If you know of any upcoming events we may have missed in this round-up, email me, leave us a comment below, or tweet it to us.

events image

The Events

1. Digital Learning Day: March 13, 2015, online and across the country.

“Started in 2012, Digital Learning Day has provided a powerful venue for education leaders to highlight great teaching practice and showcase innovative teachers, leaders, and instructional technology programs that are improving student outcomes. This grassroots effort blossomed into a massive nationwide celebration as teachers realized that Digital Learning Day is not about technology, it’s about learning.” – excerpt from DLD’s website

2. Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Conference: April 8 – 11, 2015, Minneapolis, MN.

“The AWP Conference & Bookfair is an essential annual destination for writers, teachers, students, editors, and publishers. Each year more than 12,000 attendees join our community for four days of insightful dialogue, networking, and unrivaled access to the organizations and opinion-makers that matter most in contemporary literature.” – excerpt from AWP’s website

3. Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) 2015: March 18-21, 2015, Tampa, FL.

“The 2015 CCCC Convention in Tampa, Florida, is an amazing opportunity to learn about the latest ideas in composition instruction, connect with other composition professionals from around the country, and explore the ways in which CCCC members are transforming the work of writing and composition.” – excerpt from CCCC’s website

4. Computers and Writing 2015: May 28-31, 2015, University of Wisconsin–Stout.

This year’s theme, Technoliteracy In(ter)ventions, seeks to explore how technological innovation continually forces us to redefine what it means to be a “literate” society in the 21st century. Personal, professional, and academic spaces are perpetually co-opted by new inventions. At the same time, interventions are often required—for those who fear these new technologies, as well as for those who succumb to digital addiction.” – excerpt from C&W’s website

5. NCTE’s Literacy Education Advocacy Day: March 5, 2015, online and across the country.

What happens on Advocacy Day? NCTE members and officers meet education policymakers, take NCTE messages to legislative offices, and gain in-depth insights about key policy questions. Prior to Advocacy Day, NCTE’s Government Relations Subcommittee writes their Legislative Platform. As soon as the 2015 platform has been finalized, it will be posted.” – excerpt from NCTE’s website

6. ISTE 2015: June 28-July 1, 2015, Philadelphia, PA.

Big things happen at the ISTE Conference & Expo. Groundbreaking ideas are shared, new learning technologies are unveiled and seeds are planted that will impact education for years to come. Take your place among the trailblazers who are revolutionizing learning at ISTE 2015.” – excerpt from ISTE website

7. Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Commons Conference: March 25-27, 2015, Savannah, GA, hosted by Centers for Teaching and Technology.

The conference has an international scope but an intimate feel: Listen to high quality presentations from nationally and internationally recognized speakers. Join in conversations and collaborations on SoTL with a community of scholars from around the world.” – excerpt from SoTL Commons Conference website

8. #TeachWriting Chats: every other Tuesday evening, 9pm ET/8pm CT, on Twitter.

The #TeachWriting chat is a bi-weekly (every two weeks) chat about the teaching of writing. We started this chat because we think that writing teachers need to talk, too. We’re writing teachers, and we’d love to hear your ideas about how you teach writing.” – excerpt from #TeachWriting website

9. National Education Association’s Read Across America Day (aka Dr. Seuss Day): March 2, 2015, all over the country.

Oh, the Places You’ll Go when you read!. March 2, 2015 is NEA’s Read Across America Day and this year, the book is the Seuss classic, Oh, The Places You’ll Go. Start your planning and get ready to read this spring as NEA prepares a Seussational Read Across America celebration.” – excerpt from NEA’s website

10. Flipped Classroom Open Houses: March 13, 2015, across the country, in conjunction with DLD 2015.

On Friday, March 13, 2015, experienced educators in flipped classrooms across the globe will literally open their doors to allow interested educators and students to visit the classroom and see how flipped learning works and what happens when students are at the center of learning. Flipped Classroom Open Houses are intended to shed light on this approach to learning and encourage other teachers and administrators to give flipped learning a try in their own schools/districts.” – excerpt from Flipped Learning Network website.

11. National Grammar Day: March 4, 2015, everywhere!

Language is something to celebrate, and March 4 is the perfect day to do it. It’s not only a date, it’s an imperative: March forth on March 4 to speak well, write well, and help others do the same!” – excerpt from National Grammar Day website

Lindsey is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Georgia. Her research interests include rhetoric and composition, creative writing, and digital humanities. You can find her on Twitter and online.

The 12 Days of Composition: Day 10

By | Composition, Fun | No Comments

Here at Marca, we’re bringing you the 12 Days of Composition. We’re excited to share some of our favorite ideas, stories, and resources with you!

  • Day 1: An online app for your writing class
  • Day 2: Pair of classics
  • Day 3: Trio of resources
  • Day 4: Set of CFPs
  • Day 5: Bunch of books
  • Day 6: Composition conversation starters
  • Day 7: Series of sayings from Sirc
  • Day 8: Exercises galore!
  • Day 9: Nurturing a critical technology literacy

Day Ten: A Reading List from Medium

I’m a big fan of Medium, a writing platform that makes it easy to publish, share, and read beautiful articles. Clean, simple text and full-width images create an immersive and compelling reading and writing experience. I’ve written one post on Medium, and I usually start my day by checking out the latest and greatest Medium has to offer. I’m a big fan of the collections Teaching, Learning, & Education; General Writing: Idea, Thinking, Opinion; and, Writing about Writing.

Medium Logo

Today, I’d like to share ten articles I’ve found on Medium related to writing, teaching, learning, and living. Grab some coffee and enjoy!

The Articles

An Old Fogey’s Analysis of a Teenager’s View on Social Media

by danah boyd

Subject: Teens on Twitter

Date: January 12, 2015

Read more here.

“Let me put this bluntly: teens’ use of social media is significantly shaped by race and class, geography and cultural background.” – danah boyd

The Limits of Loyalty: When Habits Change, You’re Toast

by Nir Eyal

Subject: Microsoft Office vs. Google Docs and changing habits

Date: January 12, 2015

Read more here.

“When it comes to even our strongest technology habits, we’ll make a change when a new interface forces us to look for new solutions.” – Nir Eyal

What I Learned About Teaching from Listening to Serial

by Ricky Alcantar

Subject: Storytelling and teaching according to Serial

Date: December 17, 2014

Read more here.

“Craft still matters.” – Ricky Alcantar

The Crossroads of Should and Must

by elle luna

Subject: Life and making choices

Date: April 8, 2014

Read more here.

“Must is what happens when we stop conforming to other people’s ideals and start connecting to our own.” – elle luna

Wikipedia challenges us to adopt a pedagogy of questions: Notes from David White’s talk at Wikimania 2014

by Peter Sigrist

Subject: Wikipedia and pedagogy

Date: August 10, 2014

Read more here.

“There’s no point setting work to find answers, where the answer has already been written on Wikipedia. Education needs to be about the questions. This needs to become the way we educate 7–10 year olds, not wait until final undergraduate year.” – Peter Sigrist

How to become an Agile writer: Taking a rapid development approach to document production

by Dawn Henwood, Ph.D.

Subject: Writing process

Date: June 6, 2014

Read more here.

“Step 1: Open a blank document in Word. Step 2: Write. Step 3: Rewrite. Step 4: Get feedback. Step 5: Rewrite.” – Dawn Henwood, Ph.D.

5 Ways Writing Flash Fiction Might Improve Your Writing: Overcoming writer’s block with micro fiction.

by Jevon Millan

Subject: Affordances of flash fiction for writers

Date: April 28, 2014

Read more here.

“Perhaps the greatest benefit has been overcoming writer’s block. In my case it was a simple matter of going from ‘not writing’ to ‘writing.'” – Jevon Millan

Don’t write to teach, write to learn: “Write every day” is the answer, but what was the question?

by Roberto Estreitinho

Subject: The value of writing

Date: May 28, 2014

Read more here.

“Are we writing to teach others or writing to learn about ourselves? Is the goal of those words to confirm what we already know, or to question what we thought we knew?” – Roberto Estreitinho

Book for a Book

by Carina Sitkus

Subject: Reading and sharing

Date: December 16, 2014

Read more here.

“IT’S AS SIMPLE AS THIS: You get a book in the mail. You send away one of your favorite books to another reader.” – Carina Sitkus

Teaching Philosophy 2013: Education must keep up with technology, and educators should help students build their own canons.

by Gerald R. Lucas

Subject: Teaching Philosophy

Date: December 19, 2013

Read more here.

“In an age where we are inundated with information, it’s the educator’s job to help students choose the information over the noise, synthesizing it into knowledge.” – Gerald R. Lucas

Lindsey is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Georgia. Her research interests include rhetoric and composition, creative writing, and digital humanities. You can find her on Twitter and online.

The 12 Days of Composition: Day 9

By | Composition, Fun | No Comments

Here at Marca, we’re bringing you the 12 Days of Composition. We’re excited to share some of our favorite ideas, stories, and resources with you!

  • Day 1: An online app for your writing class
  • Day 2: Pair of classics
  • Day 3: Trio of resources
  • Day 4: Set of CFPs
  • Day 5: Bunch of books
  • Day 6: Composition conversation starters
  • Day 7: Series of sayings from Sirc
  • Day 8: Exercises galore!

Day Nine: Nurturing a Critical Technology Literacy

Cynthia L. Selfe defines critical technology literacy as “a reflective awareness” of all the phenomena associated with reading and writing in a technological environment (148). Listed below are assignment topics designed to help students consider “the socially and culturally situated values, practices, and skills involved in operating linguistically within the context of electronic environments” (148). The first eight come from Selfe’s book Technology and Literacy in the Twenty-first Century: The Importance of Paying Attention, and the final one appears in Janet Murray‘s Inventing the Medium.

The Prompts

1. Analyze the budget of the department’s computer-oriented spaces and services. Then revise the budget according to your goals. Be prepared to account for your decisions and be sure to stick to a “balanced bottom line.”

2. Analyze “commercial images that portray computer use on television or in magazines.” Or in online spaces.

Screenshot of Blackboard's landing page, taken Jan. 11, 2014.

Screenshot of Blackboard’s landing page, taken Jan. 11, 2014.

3. Analyze “campus computing policies concerning harassment, pornography, or racism,” or even illegal downloading and access.

4. Investigate “how much it would cost a family of four to purchase and maintain online access in the surrounding community.”

5. Investigate “the allocation of computer resources in surrounding school districts or schools.”

Serene Computer Lab at Seward Montessori School

Serene Computer Lab at Seward Montessori School, by Collin Knopp-Schwyn (CC BY 2.0)

6. “Analyze online class exchanges in order to compare the involvement of males and females, or native and nonnative English speakers.”

7. Engage in a service-learning project that offers “computer instruction and access to populations without such access.”

8. Analyze “statistics about the World Wide Web in terms of who does and does not have access to computers, both in and outside the United States.”

9. And one from Janet Murray’s Inventing the Medium: “Choose a digital or mechanical artifact you use regularly and identify the cultural values that have shaped it. Does the design incorporate assumptions about privacy, space, leisure time, or other aspects of life that might vary across societies or groups?” (47).

“Teachers need to recognize that they can no longer simply educate students to become technology consumers without also helping them learn how to think critically about technology and the social issues surrounding its use.” – Cynthia Selfe

Note: Quotes from Technology and Literacy in the 21st Century, by Cynthia Selfe, published by Southern Illinois University Press, 1999, pages 152-4.

Lindsey is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Georgia. Her research interests include rhetoric and composition, creative writing, and digital humanities. You can find her on Twitter and online.

#writingTeachers: Nicholas Provenzano

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Our interview with Nicholas is part of our #writingTeachers series. Read our intro to the series or meet other teachers we’ve interviewed.

Nicholas Provenzano image

Where do you work?

I teach HS at Grosse Pointe South High School in Grosse Pointe Farms, MI

How long have you been teaching writing?

I’ve been a Literature and Composition Teacher for 12 years.

What’s the coolest thing that you’ve worked on / that’s happened to you as a teacher recently?

The coolest thing I have worked on has been setting up 20 Time for my students. 20 Time is a program that gives students 20% of class time, one day a week in my case, to work on something that has always interested them. They will spend all year researching and writing about their chosen project and then they will give a speech about what they learned throughout the process. Last year, the project concluded with 12 of my students giving TED Talks at TEDxGrossePointeSouthHS

Ted Talks Logo

Tell me about a favorite teaching strategy, assignment, or resource.

My favorite teaching strategy is letting the students lead discussion. Sitting back and watching students go back and forth on a topic from a book we read is magic. Getting out of the way is not easy for teachers, but it can lead to some amazing conversations. Students always love when they get a chance to talk about the stories from their point of view, not just the teacher’s.

What’s your biggest struggle as a teacher?

To get all students excited about reading and writing. It’s tough because it does not come naturally to some students, and reading and writing are important skills for students to have. Convincing them of this is not always easy.

Catcher in the Rye in hand book image

If you could teach your students just one thing, what would it be?

To chase their dreams. Education is important because it gives you the tools to chase down your dreams no matter what they are.

To chase their dreams.

Anything else you’d like to share?

When in doubt, ask the students what they think. They will always offer a different perspective that could prove helpful to you.

 

Nicholas Provenzano is a high school ELA teacher and runs his educational website, TheNerdyTeacher.com. He writes about educational topics with a pop culture twist. He is the organizer for edcamp Detroit and was named Teacher of the Year by ISTE and MACUL in 2013. You can find him on Twitter.

The 12 Days of Composition: Day 8

By | Composition, Fun | No Comments

Here at Marca, we’re bringing you the 12 Days of Composition. We’re excited to share some of our favorite ideas, stories, and resources with you!

  • Day 1: An online app for your writing class
  • Day 2: Pair of classics
  • Day 3: Trio of resources
  • Day 4: Set of CFPs
  • Day 5: Bunch of books
  • Day 6: Composition conversation starters
  • Day 7: Series of sayings from Sirc

Day Eight: Exercises Galore!

Remixing Composition by Jason Palmeri is full of teaching and writing exercises. When I first read the book last fall, I noted 42 different teaching strategies and composition assignments to support active, collaborative, and multimodal learning in a writing class. I continue to be amazed at how many ideas Palmeri manages to squeeze in!

Today, I’d like to share eight exercises Palmeri describes: three designed to help students engage with a writing task and five to inspire students to invent, write, and rethink composition.
Remixing Composition Book Cover Image

Exercises To Engage

Have students…

…work in groups “to read over a writing prompt, collaboratively generating a list of questions about aspects of the assignment that they find unclear or challenging” (80).

…work in groups to brainstorm approaches to an assignment.

…pair up to “audio-record their plans for drafting” (80).

microphone close-up image

Microphone by Ernest Duffoo, Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Exercises To Inspire

Have students…

…make/build something and bring it to class (a cake, a bracelet, a lego tower, etc.). Share and discuss what the students bring in in terms of composition.

…maintain a digital commonplace book where students can “collect snippets of material. . . drawn from a wide variety of print and digital sources” (111).

…“create a visual slideshow that tells the story of how they came to develop a particular identity or belief about the world” (142).

image slides image

…“read essays about creative processes in various art forms as well as to write reflections about their own experiences composing with differing modalities” (48).

…transcribe conversations.

telephone booth image

Note: Quotes from Jason Palmeri, Remixing Composition: A History of Multimodal Writing Pedagogy, published by Southern Illinois University Press, 2012.

Lindsey is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Georgia. Her research interests include rhetoric and composition, creative writing, and digital humanities. You can find her on Twitter and online.

The 12 Days of Composition: Day 7

By | Composition, Fun | No Comments

Here at Marca, we’re celebrating the holiday season by bringing you the 12 Days of Composition. In the festive spirit of the season, we’re excited to share some of our favorite ideas, stories, and resources with you!

  • Day 1: An online app for your writing class
  • Day 2: A pair of classics
  • Day 3: A trio of resources
  • Day 4: A set of CFPs
  • Day 5: A bunch of books
  • Day 6: Composition conversation starters.

Day Seven: A Series of Sayings from Sirc

Composition theorist Geoffrey Sirc is one of my favorites. His thoughts about writing and teaching inspire me. I wanted to share a few quotes from English Composition as a Happening as our final post for 2014. From all of us at Marca: Happy New Year!

Quotes from English Composition as a Happening, by Geoffrey Sirc

English Composition as a Happening Book Cover Image

To define a technology of composition by a 16-item list, made up of 11 basic activity-terms (planning, writing, silence, etc.) provides a poor translation scale for process, reducing the context around the production-event to “types” that are vague at best. (103)

To invent and perfect a new process, to discover new materials, to desire a radically new product. . . the only things that make composition worth teaching, perhaps. (107)

It’s writing as experience-exchange, text as process-action. (157)

Process becomes the indisputable fact of creation–persevering in the work, following a voice, tuning out the influence of interpretation. (170)

A pedagogy geared toward clarification rather than disorientation will never yield the sublime. To build a pedagogy on such a limited notion of titles dooms your curriculum (as well as the writing done within it) right from the start; it’s not so much the banking as the bankrupt concept of education. (215)

Writing as assemblage, with a structure based on association and implication; piling stuff on to create a spellbinding, mesmerizing surface. (284)

mesmerizing surface image

When there’s really only one heuristic that matters: the person who reads this–and it is one specific person, saturated in lived desire–will that person be changed? (11)

Lindsey is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Georgia. Her research interests include rhetoric and composition, creative writing, and digital humanities. You can find her on Twitter and online.

#writingTeachers: Emma Kress

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Our interview with Emma is part of our #writingTeachers series. Read our intro to the series or meet other teachers we’ve interviewed.

Emma Kress image

Where do you work?

I teach English at Cicero-North Syracuse High School in Cicero, New York, a suburb of Syracuse.

How long have you been teaching writing?

This is my 17th year as an educator. I have worked in a Brooklyn private school, a Philadelphia charter school, and now at a large suburban public school outside of Syracuse, NY. I have taught English, History, and student leadership. I have worked with at-risk populations, students labeled with learning disabilities, and honors and Advanced Placement students. (Sometimes, students fell into all three categories.) I have taught every grade from 5th to 12th. I have been a classroom teacher, a learning specialist, and an administrator. Throughout, one of my greatest passions has been the teaching of writing.

What’s the coolest thing that you’ve worked on / that’s happened to you as a teacher recently?

I’m most very proud of my adaptation of writing notebooks. I worked closely with one of my colleagues, Scott Wright, a brilliant writing teacher, to integrate the research on wellness and consciousness by such leaders as Eckhart Tolle, Byron Katie, and Art Costa with the work on writer’s notebooks by writing gurus such as Ralph Fletcher and Lucy Calkins.

In large part, my interest in this stemmed from my own writing in my notebooks. I’ve kept writing notebooks for about twenty years now. I always knew that they were more than just seeds for future writing and yet it took me years to articulate the fact that they were valuable in their own right. So, we began to call them Noticing Notebooks. I came to realize that when I wrote regularly in my notebooks and noticed my every day life in a significant way, I was more awake, thoughtful, and attentive to the world. Writing in a Noticing Notebook doesn’t just make me a better writer; it makes me a better human.

Open notebook image

By Sembazuru (Flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Tell me about a favorite teaching strategy, assignment, or resource.Undoubtedly, my favorite teaching practice is to implement the Reading and Writing Workshop. While there has been a lot written about conducting workshops with elementary students, and even with middle school students, there has been less written about making the program work with high school students. And yet, I think it’s an essential approach if we are to nurture lifelong readers and writers.Essentially, the workshop model allows me to build student efficacy and capacity as readers and writers, incorporate student choice, and teach in a way that is authentic to the way real readers and writers operate in the world. Workshop allows me the space and tools to teach writing, rather than simply assign it. Students choose the curriculum. Students choose which books they read. Students choose what to write. I teach students HOW to read and HOW to write.

What’s your biggest struggle as a teacher?

I’m only allowed to pick one? [Insert nervous laughter here.] I struggle with a lot. I struggle to teach writing authentically in the face of increased high-stakes testing. I struggle to balance my own writing life with my teaching life. I struggle to attend to the emotional wellbeing of students as well as to their intellectual growth. I struggle to hold steady to my core beliefs about teaching and learning even as the winds of policy and testing knock me about. I struggle with the hardship in the world (such as what’s happening in Ferguson and around our country) and how to help my students make sense of it when I can hardly make sense of it myself. I struggle every time I write in front of my students because it takes courage, vulnerability, and faith.

We have writing that demands to be created and minds that demand to be nurtured. So much of teaching is about finding the right balance, the authentic mix.

I handle these struggles by being honest and vulnerable. It’s a powerful lesson in authenticity for students to know that adults don’t have all the answers. For, let’s face it, they won’t have all the answers either in twenty years. So, I try to model for them what it looks like to struggle in a mindful and healthy way. For me, that looks like owning the struggle without belaboring or lingering on it too long. After all, we have work to do. We have writing that demands to be created and minds that demand to be nurtured. So much of teaching is about finding the right balance, the authentic mix.

If you could teach your students just one thing, what would it be?

If I could only teach students one thing, it would be to notice.
If we all noticed a little more, I think the world would be a much better place. And, when students notice, their writing improves. So yeah…let’s save the world and become great writers!

Emma Kress teaches English at Cicero-North Syracuse High School in Cicero, New York. She was selected as the Teacher of the Year for North Syracuse in 2013 and one of four finalists for New York State Teacher of the Year in 2014. She also writes for parents and young adults. You can find her on Twitter.

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