Since I may not be going back to the composition classroom anytime soon (or at all) I thought I’d do a series of posts about some of the things I taught as a composition teacher. This will also help me organize my thoughts for my AWP presentation just a month away.
Of course you start any course with an introduction, but we will kind of skip that and get straight into thinking about the basics for a composition course. My course introduction time often involves a scavenger hunt to learn how to use email, where my office might be (if I had one) etc. I had planned a major overhaul to my course design that would still hit on the same topics, but organized in a new way. The first unit was going to be called: Planning a Trip.
For this unit I’d start discussing Critical Thinking/Reading (this links to a video that makes a great discussion piece that they can also write about) and Genre, especially how many different types of writing their on in academics versus other types of writing. I’d planned to give an example of travel writing (I actually have more excerpts from this book, or I’d use something from the textbook so this is just an example. If anyone wants the other piece let me know) as well as basics for narrative/reflective type writing. Along with this would be some discussion on pre-writing and planning – how to flesh out an idea and where to go with your idea. Also where to go, literally, as you give someone instructions on how to get somewhere on campus that they must follow. This wasn’t just to do directions. This was also to think about how you could make a simple task like that interesting. They’d plan and draft their instructions and then swap with someone else.
Once they had swapped and tried to follow the directions they’d come back to write feedback and to reflect on the process before moving on to thinking about revising vs editing because of course many people think of revision as correcting typos (great video on world’s worst typos). Of course, we talk about peer review. I love the workshop process even if it doesn’t always go the way you think it will. After discussing the revision process they have a later due date to turn in a more final draft of their narrative/travel type piece. During all this we have discussions about other pieces I bring in to read, other videos, and I like to show examples of how to use technology to help them as college students.
This is how my basic composition course got itself starting. Love to hear from other people about how they start things out, and/or if you remember anything about what you did in your early weeks of a writing course.
Next stop on our trip would be to start thinking about using research . . .