In English 100, we begin in Sequence 1 by investigating how our own stories reflect broader national or global concerns, breaking from the “Engfish” style of writing often encouraged in high school, and reflecting on the relationship between the academic and the personal. In Sequence 2, we tell the story of doing research, often for the first time, both in the field and the library. In Sequence 3, we bring our rich, concise prose and investigative orientation under the lens of persuasion, engaging in both online and academic argument informed by the juxtaposition of classical rhetorical theory and political comedians like John Oliver and Hannibal Buress. A student explains in my AEFIS review that “the final paper I would never have been able to do as a first paper.”The course concludes with a week of TED-Talk-meets-Intelligence-Squared style presentations where speakers have the chance to make a demonstrable impact on their audience by way of student responses to their argument both before their presentation and after.
In English 201, we engage in some of the central work of the academy as nascent academics, studying literacy both as content (what is the nature of literacy?) and as practice (what are the literate practices of the academy? how do we engage in such practices?). As apprentice scholars, we consider what it means to engage in scholarly conversations, create and complicate knowledge, and share that knowledge with others. Ultimately, the goal of this class is to introduce students to the literacy practices of upper-level undergraduate and early graduate-level work. Because of the demanding nature of the course, students are evaluated using a grade contract. You can read more about this grade contract in the report on my informal teacher-research project on grade contracts.
Rather than traditional weekly meetings, we decided to re-structure the proseminar for English 201 instructors into a series of professional development activities. During the Fall 2016 semester, we designed a pre-semester orientation, three all-staff meetings focusing on discussion of instructors' classes, two goals meetings, and series of four workshops on topics of particular interest to English 201 instructors: service learning, multimodal composition, collaboration, and contract grading. During the Spring 2017 semester, we asked instructors to undertake a teacher-research project for which we designed three 1.5 hour workshops in addition to staff meetings, individual meetings, and an end-of-semester colloquium. I developed the website linked below to give instructors better access to program information and support materials.
The PEOPLE program is a college-prep program for students of color and low-income students beginning in middle school and continuing through college, where students have earned a five-year tuition scholarship. This class served students entering eleventh and twelfth grade and emphasizes the development of critical literacy skills through a curriculum focused on social justice. Because students are not assigned homework in PEOPLE courses, we read, analyzed, and wrote about M.K. Asante's memoir Buck as a class, using group work, outdoor activities, and other active-learning strategies to foster critical literacy skills. Upon passing the course, I wrote each student a personalized recommendation letter to (optionally) use in their college applications.
As a writing center tutor, I develop individual lessons on writing for students based on their own concerns about their writing. From mapping out a potential essay to learning more about paragraph structure, writing center tutoring has helped me develop a truly student-centered approach to the teaching of writing.
As an online tutor, I apply these same principles in new modalities. As an email tutor, I address student concerns (which students offer through the online submission form) and use concrete examples from their texts to help students understand how to revise their writing. As a Skype tutor, I interface with students both through video and using google docs. After the student expresses their concerns, we work together in the text to develop strategies for revision.
As an outreach instructor, I co-develop and teach lesson plans on writing with instructors across campus. After meeting with an instructor to discuss their course and their expectations for the lesson, I develop a lesson plan, revise with the instructor, and then teach the lesson. Through outreach, I've led classes on a wide variety of subjects to a wide variety of audiences from writing abstracts for undergraduate research scholars, to personal statements for pharmacy students, to promoting our services at university events across campus.
Madison Writing Assistance is a grant-funded community program which provides free writing center services to local residents. As an MWA tutor, I offer writing and computer help at a local Madison library for children interested in writing short stories, K-12 students wanting help with homework, adults applying for jobs or writing memoirs, and seniors interested in developing computer literacy.
English 098, a non-credit accelerated course, focuses on easily-digestible, high-traffic concepts that help students to improve their reading and writing. This does not mean, however, that the pedagogy of the course grows out of the assumption that students of basic writing are taught to master a “simpler version of a universal writing process” that calls for a “mechanical” response to simple prompting (Bartholomae). Students in English 098 dive immediately into the writing process and into relevant and challenging texts as they would in any writing class; English 098 students, however, receive more support as they embark on the process of composing college-level work.
English 099 reviews the concepts taught in English 098 and takes them a step further. After English 098, students are familiar with some basic conventions of essay, paragraph, and sentence structure. English 099 adds to this knowledge an awareness of genre, a more focused attention on audience, and encourages students to experiment with structure and argument in more drastic ways, becoming more independent writers.
These English 101 courses were heavily reliant on multi-modal composition, engagement with students' professional and academic discourse communities, and civic awareness and engagement. Through role play, group discussions, peer tutoring, and critical reading discussions, English 101 aimed to prepare students for the academic and professional writing of their futures.
In my English 101 course at SIU, the first class I ever taught, I encouraged my students began to take their knowledge of rhetoric and dexterity with inventive, critical thinking out into the community. Though the program shared a common syllabi, one of my classes expressed the desire to share their inventive solutions regarding student debt; I used this desire to rewrite the course with related assignments with genuine audiences which culminated in an end-of-the-semester campus demonstration.
In teaching English 102, I developed a course model featured at the SIU Pre-Semester workshop the following year. In this class, students were given two weeks at the beginning of the semester to choose a topic (they were free to change it at any point in the semester). They then have four scaffolded assignments: three smaller essays and one larger, in-depth research paper allowing them to dig deeply into one issue and continue to develop one piece of writing over the course of the semester. This course, as a result, took seriously the idea that writing is a process and encouraged students to do the same.
My course structure for English 291 has been adopted by many new 291 instructors. My 291 courses were structured chronologically so that students applied for a mock position at a mock company, interviewed, accepted the position, and performed both large and small writing assignments in the context of our mock company. The class was run much in the same way as a workplace and students developed the rhetorical, digital, and personal skills necessary for workplace writing.
In Stuart Greene’s edited volume Literacy as a Civil Right: Reclaiming Social Justice in Literacy Teaching and Learning, the authors explore and envision alternatives to structural inequalities in the American educational system that distribute knowledge and opportunity unequally. This seminar takes up these questions at the college level, asking how understanding literacy as a civil right for college students might inform questions of access, intelligence, and deservingness at American universities.
The first half of this seminar, then, will provide an introduction to literacy studies, moving from the autonomous theorists and new literacy studies to more recent materialist critiques of new literacy studies. In the second half of this seminar, we will apply our knowledge of literacy studies to the central question of the course: How does understanding literacy as a civil right complicate our own beliefs about access to higher learning and college composition?
Specifically, this course will address the following questions:
What is literacy? What does literacy do?
What counts as literacy?
What does it mean for literacy to be understood as a civil right?
What does the principle of literacy as a civil right offer the study of composition and rhetoric?
This course introduces students to some of the core methods of study design, data collection, and analysis in the study of writing. Students in this course will have the opportunity to design, perform and analyze data from a small-scale pilot study related to their area of interest.
In the first unit, we will review some of the core qualitative methodologies in writing studies, including (but not limited to) ethnography, participant observation, literacy history interviews, and discourse analysis. To this end, we will read work about these methodologies and work that takes up these methodologies including work by Theresa Lillis, Paul Prior, Shirley Brice Heath, Beverly Moss, John Duffy, James Gee, and others. Students will also present in groups on a methodology of their choice.
In the second unit, we will begin to develop our own research projects. In addition to reading some sample study proposals, we will read work on developing strong research questions, designing study methods, and aligning methods with those research questions, including work from Herrington and Curtis, Bob Broad, Deborah Brandt, Haas & Takayoshi, and Peter Smagorinksy. At the end of this unit, students will compose a proposal for their pilot study.
In the third unit, students will collect and analyze their data. We will read work on collecting and analyzing qualitative data including work from Kathy Charmaz, James Gee, and Emerson, Fretz, & Shaw. We will also practice grounded theory data analysis with sample qualitative data. At the end of this unit, students will report on their methods and findings and point toward directions for future study.