Interview Course Design Questions and Answers

  1. First tell us a bit about the basic writing and freshman composition courses that you’ve designed for use at our school.


The theme of basic writing course that I have designed for use at your school is monsters, dystopias, and society. I have chosen this theme because it allows for students to begin studying two things that most incoming students are afraid of, writing and monsters, in a way that builds from distant and singular connections to closer and more complex relationships with writing and society. Students in this class will engage in genuine inquiry and critical reading, writing, and thinking by considering what a monster is, how they can relate to monsters, how and why we make monsters, and what we can learn about social fears and issues through monstrous dystopias. This class will challenge students to go beyond the features and examine their own fears about writing and larger societal fears and issues through analysis of and arguments about socially and historically situated texts.

The other course I have designed for use at your school is a more popular theme in composition classes: autobiographical explorations. I have chosen this theme because it allows students to write about their lives, which they already have authoritative knowledge about. However, this theme also allows us to explore the genre of autobiography and its conventions interact with other genres, like more traditional scholarly research. In this class we work together to understand our selves and other communities working with texts by authors such as Edward Said and Richard Rodriguez, using these authors as models and lenses for examining our own and others lives. In this course students will be considering the complications one encounters when writing about topics they are interested in and connecting those topics to their own and others’ lives. This course is built on the idea that students learn through apprenticeship, which means that students learn from myself and other more experienced writers. Thus, students will be carefully studying the structures, organization, and stylistic choices and techniques the authors we read use and then try their own hand at writing in a similar genre, making them their own.


  1. What’s your definition/conception of “good student writing” and how do your course designs, your unit design and your writing prompt foster that kind of writing?


To start off, I want to acknowledge that everyone has a different perception about what “good student writing” is, which is why I am open about what exactly it is that I expect of my students and I am also open to changing my own perception about what “good student writing” is according to the situation. What I mean in that last statement is that what I consider “good” is liable to change depending on the circumstances. But if I were to break down the basic qualities of “good student writing,” I would break it into six categories:

  1. Purposeful – good student writing should convey a clear sense of the author’s purpose.
  2. Strategic in development – good student writing should have a particular and logical order or structure based on the author’s purpose that develops points and arguments
  3. Readerly – good student writing should consider its audience and craft arguments and tone with the audience in mind
  4. Coherent – good student writing should flow and fit together around the author’s purpose at a sentence and paragraph level
  5. Correct in grammar and conventions – good student writing should be nearly free of errors in grammar and punctuation, and depending on the context, should follow the conventions of Standard American English
  6. Creative – good student writing should find ways to push beyond what has been already said to make their own contribution


My basic writing course design fosters these six tenants of good student writing by having students study a variety of texts surrounding monsters, dystopia, and society, looking particularly at how these texts develop their purposes in regards to their audience and achieve their goals. My Freshman Composition course fosters my six tenants of good writing by providing good models for students to study and engage with and then pushes students to go beyond these models in terms of content and create their own texts that strive for these six qualities of “good writing.” The units that I have created support these six tenants by building up each week and taking time to point out and discuss examples of these tenants in their own and others’ work. I also make sure to specify on my prompts how one can be successful in developing and structuring their essays. For example, I specify what kinds of information should go in their introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion in an attempt to help guide them in their effort to produce “good student writing.”


  1. What’s your definition of “the writing process” and how do your course designs and unit designs foster that process.


Before explaining what I consider as the basic stages and steps of the writing process I think it is important to note that there has been much research on the topic that suggests that many of the writing processes occur concurrently and can double-back on itself or happen out of order. That being said, I consider the writing process to go through five concrete stages, with about six sub-steps:

Stage 1: Invention or Pre-Writing Stage

  • Step 1: Read, then annotate, take notes, and think about purpose
  • Step 2: Brainstorming and/or outlining

Stage 2: Composing

  • Step 3: Drafting the first “shitty” version of the text

Stage 3: Revision

  • Step 4: remove, add, and rearrange words, sentences, paragraphs and sections.

Stage 4: Editing

  • Step 5: Proofread the text for grammar, spelling and punctuation errors

Stage 5: Sharing/Publishing

  • Step 6: Sharing text with others, receiving feedback, and possibly beginning process over again or repeating certain steps as necessary.

My unit designs scaffold and support the composing process in the traditional method by using the first week to work on the pre-writing and invention stage, the second week to work on the composing and sharing stage with peer review workshops, and the third week to work on revision and proofreading. Something a little less traditional that I do in both of my courses is during each unit I will focus more overall on one of the 5 stages I have identified. Furthermore, I also incorporate opportunities at the end of the semester for students to turn in revised and more polished versions of their previous essays.


  1. How do your themes/topics build intellectually across each course? In other words, how does the intellectual (reading/discussion/thinking) done in each unit build upon prior intellectual work? And how does it prepare students for intellectual work in subsequent units?


In my Monsters, Dystopias, and Society course the intellectual work begins at a personal and individual level where students examine their own experiences with Monsters. Then with each subsequent unit the scope of the theme expands so that students are exploring how we define monsters and what these monsters have to say about American culture and society. We expand to discuss dystopias so that students can discuss and think about larger issues and how we might address these issues in the future. Structuring the class this way, from closer and more personal relationships to the theme to larger and more abstract thinking allows students to begin to build up their writing skills and authority, so that when they are asked to discuss what humans might do to address some of the issues presented in dystopias, they will feel confident and knowledgeable on the subject.

In my freshman composition course where my theme is autobiographical explorations, builds in a similar fashion to my basic writing course. The movement is not so much telescoping out in terms of topic, as we do discuss autobiographic texts the entire course, but instead each unit builds in its complexity in terms of the ideas that the students must engage with. First, they will attempt to use Richard Rodriguez’s “The Achievement of Desire” as a lens to interpret a moment of their life that is of particular importance to them. Then, students move on to writing an essay using photographs that tries to capture the complexity of a group of people that they are unfamiliar with. This movement continues away from the self until they begin to write about something important to them for other people. Writing about themselves, then others, and analyzing how authors achieve their purposes provides the students in this course with the proper support they will need in order to write their final opinion article that explores something important to them that they want their particular audience, their classmates, to know about.


  1. How do the writing skillsbuild across each course? How do the skills in each particular unit build upon the prior units and prepare students for subsequent units?


In my Monsters, Dystopias, and Society course the writing builds from personal narrative to definition paper. During this first transition students will be able to bring their personal experiences to bear in their writing, allowing them more confidence and authority to begin. This shifts as what they discuss in the personal narrative becomes complicated by what we discuss in class and so they must write a definition paper that asks them to take a deeper look at the complexity of what a monster really is. Then, we move on to a rhetorical analysis where students will be looking at how society demonizes mental health patients and the actions of marginal groups. While opening up students eyes to how the media can manipulate language to the detriment of others, it will also show them how writers use language to make an argument. The final portion of this assignment, which asks students to evaluate the article based on the rhetoric used is the first step in getting students to put forward their own ideas, something that comes into play during the next assignment. In their final major assignment students are asked to argue for a social issue or fear that a particular monster or dystopia represents, and then suggesting what we can learn from this monster or dystopia. The writing builds between these two assignments because students will be writing about how others structure and go about making their arguments and then they will be taking that knowledge and using it to write their own arguments and analysis.

In my Autobiographical Explorations course, the writing builds from each assignment become more complex and containing more challenges as the course and students’ writing develops. They begin with a personal narrative essay that asks them to use a lens to analyze one of their own life experiences, which cultivates students’ analytical skills. They will use and build on these analytical writing skills as they write their second essay where they seek to represent a group of people unfamiliar to them. In this essay they will gain more analytical skills as they examine photographs and begin to write about something unfamiliar to them. They will then take those analytical writing skills to examine different kind of autobiographical texts and compare how they achieve their goals and what is lost and gained in the different styles and forms. This exploration of different styles and forms will help them to write their own paper about a topic that interests them for their second to last paper. The last paper in the course asks students to go over their previous papers and find parts they are most proud of and places that they could use work. Moreover, it asks them to consider what points of view are missing and what kinds of issues they faced as a writer trying to write in the genre of autobiography.


  1. How do reading skillsbuild across each course? How do the skills in each particular unit build upon the prior units and prepare students for subsequent units?


In each course our readings



  1. How are reading and writing integratedin your courses and in the unit that you designed?


In my basic writing course about Monsters, Dystopia, and Society, I integrate reading and writing by having students annotate and write online blog posting responses to the texts we are reading. Also, students will be engaging with ideas and concepts in their readings when they write their papers. For example, in the fourth unit students will be reading The Walking Dead comic and the short story “Bloodchild” by Octavia Butler, and then writing about what social fear(s) they see represented in these stories. In constructing their arguments, students will be analyzing the texts – reading as a part of the writing process. Additionally, we will be reading some scholarly essays on the The Walking Dead and “Bloodchild,” working with them in jigsaws and finding issues they had while reading these texts. I will also be having students write difficulty responses where they grapple with aspects they found difficult in the academic papers.

In my freshman writing course: Autobiographical Explorations, I integrate reading and writing by having students engage with the ideas of the different authors we read and use ideas from the readings as lenses to analyze their own lives and other experiences. Additionally, I integrate reading and writing in this course by having students examine different writing styles and then use these styles and structures in their own writing.

8. Finally, since we can’t do everything at once as teachers, we know that every course design and every unit design involves numerous trade-offs. What tensions, trade-offs and compromises have you had to work through in making decisions about these two courses you designed?


Chapter 7 Informed Choices 

7.4          The one bullet point from the Developing Critical Thinking Through, Writing, Reading, and Research section from “The Framework. . .” was the bullet that says, “conduct primary and secondary research using a variety of print and non-print sources.” The reason that this bullet causes tension for me is because I feel like it is less important to focus on whether sources are primary or secondary in a more basic writing course. I think what is more important at the basic level is being able to evaluate sources, whether they are print or non-print. I think simply focusing on using both types of sources and identifying the difference isn’t enough to help students. Also, I think learning about the differences between primary an secondary sources is something that should be reserved for more advanced classes when they will be focusing more on individual research. I recognize that this could also just as easily be argued the other way, which is to teach students this early. While I do see what proponents of this approach mean, I just think that trying to teach students the differences between primary and secondary sources while also trying to teach them how to distinguish credible sources might be trying to do too much. I think it is better to focus on one here before focusing on the other.



            I tend to go back and forth between assigning long sustained pieces of work or literature versus assigning a cluster of small readings that has different viewpoints. I think this causes tension for me because I can see the value in both of these approaches. Being a Literature major and MA student I am inclined to choose longer pieces of literature for students to engage with. I think it prepares them for future work and forces them into longer modes of engagement. However, I also really want students to see multiple perspectives and get a feel for using counterarguments. I think one way I can balance this is to include a book club in my class so that students must read a longer piece of literature and then I can assign more short essays and other multimodal texts so that I can achieve both of my goals. This may change depending on what my institution mandates or prefers. Some institutions will value or mandate certain texts or types of writing, which may cause me to have to focus more on one or the other of these two outcomes.



            My philosophy about integrating reading and writing is simple, students need to learn ways to engage their texts in conversations. This includes a focus on critical reading strategies like annotation and short response or difficulty papers, but more than those, students need to be in conversation with texts in their major writing assignments. I believe the best way to do this is to have students apply theories, frames, or terms from the readings to their own experiences and to have students take up issues that other authors bring up through argument. One way I can bring this into the classroom is by having students write papers that have them directly engage with the reading and asks them to talk back to the readings in their essays.

Chapter 8 Informed Choices & Response to Sample Course Sequence

 8.3The pair that caused me the most tension is workshopping versus including lots of discussion of readings, strategies, and other activities. The reason that I have tension between theses two things is because I honestly believe that students can benefit from lots of workshopping. I feel that they need a lot of time to think about their writing and learn to give and use feedback. I also think that more time spent on revising will lead to more quality writing in the end. However, I also feel strongly about using in class time to do group activities and have group discussions. I think that it can be hard finding a balance between these two things and that often workshopping gets thrown under the rug in favor of doing things together as a class. I think that workshopping vibes with my philosophy because I believe that students should have ample time to work through their ideas and get others feedback or viewpoints in order to improve their writing. Doing in class activities also jives with my philosophy because I believe in the importance of modeling and scaffolding things for students. I believe that these two activities can be bridged by spending a little time on each thing and building scaffolding and modeling activities into the workshopping process.


Blog Response to “Example Sequence” of Units


I suppose I am weary of three things reading this course sequence. The first thing is that this set of assignments can get very boring. All they do is discuss education and while it may be good for students to be focusing on one topic over the entire semester, it can also be extremely boring for them. The second thing I noticed is that the students will be doing an awful lot of writing in the argumentative genre. While it can be argued that this genre can also include other genres, I still think it might be good for students to gain experience in writing in and studying other genres. I think the sequence needs to be a looser connection to the topic of education and change the topics up a bit. The second thing that concerned me as I read this course sequence was that it was designed for an FYC class and not a DW class where students will need more scaffolding. However, I do think that it can be easily modified to meet the differing needs of students at different levels. Other than these issues, I really liked how the topic widened in scope with each assignment. There was a telescoping sense that I would also like to achieve in my own course sequence. 

Blogs on Informed Choices Ch. 6 and on Assignment Sequenc


One aspect of the Framework for Success in the Rhetorical Knowledge section that causes tension for me is that it wants students to practice and analyze a variety of different texts. What causes tension for me is when they list out all the different texts. I think that there are certainly ways to hit on all of these but I am not sure how to have students practice spatial texts in their writing. I suppose having them create a brochure might be a way to have them engage and practice a more spatially oriented type of writing. I could also have them write a blog or magazine article in which they would be required to use an interesting and realistic layout with pictures and blurbs to give them more practice with the spatial aspect of texts.


I want to write detailed assignments that break up information and do not overwhelm students. I try in my assignments to spell out what students need to do in each assignment and what my implicit expectations are for them. I would rather them feel a little overwhelmed and challenged than confused or unsure about what it is they need to do or what it is that I expect. I tend to try to build revision in to most of my assignments. I also aim to provide my students with the goals and objectives of each assignment so that they can see why they are doing a certain type of assignment. In my assignments I attempt to strike a balance between allowing students some freedom between different topics or approaches and giving students a set of standards, a general topic/theme, and format. Finally, I also feel that it is crucial to create a context section to connect the assignment to things we have been doing in class and to their readings so that students also make these connections and realize that they have knowledge on the topic.

I think that this fits into my philosophy of both offering students a safe space where they feel that their knowledge is valued and affirmed, and challenging students by asking them to answer critical questions and giving them very clear objectives and directions.

1. Which individual assignments (or types of assignments) appealed to you most? Why?

The first assignment that stood out to me was an argumentative paper about technology and whether it would lead to a dystopic or utopic society as depicted in their readings. I think I like this assignment most because I find it intellectually stimulating and engaging. I also think that students would have fun writing this essay. This essay isn’t just fun, but it asks students to think about a complex topic and use their readings as evidence and even their own experience to create a sound argument. This is still low stakes enough that they wont feel weird about having a certain view about this topic. I am somewhat surprised that I choose this as my favorite assignment because

I usually dislike how much argumentative essays get hit over the head in composition classes.

Another assignment that I enjoyed was “Making Sense of the ‘Other,’” an ethnographic essay. I enjoyed this essay because I thought it did a good job of exposing students to different points of view and life styles, which will be good as they write argumentative things in the future.

2. Which individual assignments (or types of assignments) seemed problematic or confusing to you? Why?

The assignment I had the most trouble with was assignment #4 from the first sample. This essay was a “research-based” essay on a conspiracy or apocalyptic theory. While it may be interesting for students, I think this assignment is a confused mix of a rhetorical analysis and a research paper. This assignment as is will be confusing for students and ask them to do too much.

I also took issue with assignment #5 in the 2nd sample, which is an ethnographic and reflective essay. I do not see how this essay will help students, except give them an idea of what another person thinks about a certain field. I think that it makes sense to pair it with a reflection because it says to discuss how this person inspires you, but I am just not sure that it is the best way to end the class. Some issues I saw in sample number 8 were that the assignments often times stipulated an audience, but the purpose of the assignment often didn’t reflect that or it didn’t feel real enough to go along with the audience the teacher stipulated. Finally, in sample number 9 I thought that the approach of focusing the essays for skills such as thesis statements and using sources, rather than intellectual inquiry with those skills did not do a great job. That class in particular felt boring and prescriptive.

3. Which courses had the best progression and sequencing of assignments? Why? (most logical, easiest to follow, most useful for students, etc.)

I feel that the class with the theme of “the Other” had the best sequence of assignments. Each assignment seemed to build off the previous one and the placement of each assignment seemed logical. For example, I liked how the rhetorical analysis was placed before the two essays that call for a presentation of a topic and then a conversation on wider societal norms. I feel like the rhetorical analysis will give them the opportunity to see how others present and enter into a conversation, which it seems they will be doing in the next two assignments. Furthermore, the ethnography allows them to consider different viewpoints, which is something that will be crucial if they are going to build a conversation.

Even though I am not personally a fan of the argumentative course, I feel that it has a good sequence of assignments. All assignments seem to be centered on argumentative writing with other genres placed inside of it. I think it really focuses on honing students’ skills with using evidence to support their arguments in any situation, as the final in-class essay seems to address. Still, I do find the first diagnostic problematic. Do you straight up say this is a diagnostic? It seems like little more than that.

4. Which courses has a problematic progression or sequencing of assignments? Why? ( confusing sequencing, disconnected assignments, strangely ordered assignments, etc.)

In my opinion sample number 8 has an okay sequence until the last assignment. Many of the assignment’s wordings in number 8 need work, especially in regards to the real purpose of the assignment for the students. The ideas or topics seem to flow well, discussing literacy and education. However, I’m not sure the summary and response essay is the best idea for a second assignment because it may be too simple, but I think it could work there. I think the biggest issue is having a compare and contrast essay as the final assignment. They are building towards either a more advanced argument paper or a simple research paper.

Another assignment sequence that I think needs work is sample number 1. In this sequence they place an argumentative paper before an ethnographic assignment and another assignment that is half research and half rhetorical analysis. In my opinion it makes more sense to place the rhetorical analysis before the argumentative paper because analyzing the rhetoric of an author will give students insights into how they might structure their own arguments. Also, the ethnography should come before either one of these assignments as it is branching out slightly from a personal narrative, but does contain some analysis. Actually, I’m not sure the first assignment even works here. I think that the author should substitute a rhetorical analysis to start with something more expressive and personal and then branch out to the ethnography.

Reflection on Writing Basic Writing and Freshman Composition SLO’s and Course Descriptions

One of the main challenges I found when writing both of my course descriptions was how to make the courses sound authentically interesting for students. I want my courses to be interesting. My test was that if I thought my freshman self would have found the course interesting. Of course, I cannot speak for everyone, and my past self didn’t really have the best taste, or so I think now. I found that it was easier to make my freshman composition course sound interesting. I think that the other developmental writing course examples influenced me to much as I wrote my own. Looking back, I think that my developmental course description sounds dry, much to generic and course schedule-like.

I suppose what may have caused me to write a boring course description for developmental writing, was my own reading of the other courses, as well boring. With the exception of one or two, they mostly seemed like boring courses focused on grammar and structure rather than inquiry. I did try to balance out the need to address academic goals with a spirit of enthusiastic learning, but I think I might still need to inject some fun into the course description. I suppose the hardest part for me about writing the student learning outcomes was how to not simply repeat what others had said, make the learning outcomes my own, and make a clear distinction between DW and FYC outcomes. As I surveyed the different examples we were given, I tried to take bits and pieces from each. At first I compiled a list much longer than I needed for each set of outcomes. Then I revised some of the outcomes to try to pack a few more things into some and get rid of others. I didn’t want the outcomes to be too long and get lost either, so I tried to simplify others. I set a limit to ten outcomes max and began cutting down to the outcomes I absolutely could not let go of, the ones that were most important to me. After doing this with each set, I then compared the DW outcomes with the FYC outcomes to make sure there was a sufficient differentiation. I want my DW course to push the students, so I want to expect similar things of them. However, I understand that the DW course needs a larger focus on scaffolding the beginning steps of critical reading and writing, and even more care with conventions and construction. I think this might be an area that I need to firm up in my course description. As much as I hate to admit it, this course might need a stronger focus on some smaller issues like creating a clear and organized paragraph and thesis. Teaching and designing a course is much like writing a paper, you have to understand what others are saying and then find your way to insert some of yourself into the work.

Chapter 5 Informed Choices – Teaching Journal


To be honest I agree with all of the learning goals from the document. One part that did cause tension for me was in the first learning goal where they discussed students using their “uncertainty productively,” rather than reaching “hasty conclusions.” My issue with this statement is minor. I’m not sure what they mean by productively. I think that the statement is too general and discounts how reflecting on hasty decisions can also be productive. I think that part of why the writers of this document included this statement was to emphasize that they believe working with difficulty and uncertainty is important. They value working with uncertainty more than looking for easy answers. I would incorporate this idea in my class by using difficulty papers, while also encouraging on reflection on times when maybe we came to hasty conclusions.


Again, I agree with all of the learning outcomes. However, the outcome that causes the most tension for me is “Write in several genres.” While I think this learning outcome is certainly possible to achieve, I do think that teachers can run the risk of privileging quantity over quality. I think it is more valuable to go over a couple of genres, maybe the ones that they will use most, and give students time to perfect them. I believe the writers added this learning outcome because it is beneficial to give students practice writing in many genres, so that they will have that experience in the future. I think that I can find a balance by pushing myself and my students to write in 3 or 4 different genres, but also give them the opportunity to work on one or two of those genres for extended periods of time.


The habit of mind that resonates least for me is persistence. The reason I choose persistence is because I think that it is a habit of mind that is not really teachable. I think people find persistence on their own, when they have a motivation to complete something even if it is hard. I don’t think that persistence is in conflict with my teaching philosophy, but thinking about how to encourage persistence does leave me scratching my head. I think I would be more comfortable with it if someone gave me some concrete ways to encourage it in class. The only things I can think of come off as coach-like, things like “You can do this! You can get through this class! And once you do, English and other college courses will be a little easier.”


The two sides that cause the most conflict for me are: “I want to let students play with language, take risks, and enjoy writing” and “I have to evaluate their work fairly.” The reason that I am conflicted here is because I am not sure if any teacher can actually evaluate work fairly because we are in different moods each day, have our own ideas about what “good writing” looks like, and feel like we are experts. One activity that might work is to ask students to take a style or form that already exists in a famous poem or article that they admire and then have them try to create their own version. I might call this the Imitation Game assignment. The would grade the students on how closely their form mimics their predecessor, and I would require the students to attempt to break from their form in a significant way at some point during their work. I think that this allows the students the flexibility to be creative, while giving me some fair grading criteria to use to evaluate their work. The evaluation is fair because it does not focus so much on the success of the content but how well the student can mimic the style, form, and take risks with their writing.


My key course goals are:

  1. I want students to learn and practice different writing strategies to find what works best for them. My rationale for this goal is that students will need to find a strategy that works best for them so that they can more easily and effectively compose in the future.
  2. I want students to be able to spot power relations in the world around them. My rationale for this goal is that students, and people in general, are often unaware of companies and other organizations that are trying to take advantage of them. Furthermore, the educational system and institutions are also places where being able to spot power relations are especially useful skills.
  3. I want students to become stronger and more confident readers and writers. If students feel more confident in their writing, they will almost inevitably become stronger writers. If they become stronger readers and writers, they will be more successful in their college careers and professional lives.
  4. I want students to experience and practice reading and writing in several different genres, written by a multi-cultural group of authors. By exposing students to different ways of being, thinking, and composing, they will be able to adapt more easily when they encounter different genres and rhetorical situations.
  5. I want my students to become curious and comfortable with difficult situations and discover that these situations are especially productive. By helping students see difficulty as an opportunity to learn and grow, they will be more inclined to persevere and overcome challenges in their lives.

On Framework for Success, WPA Outcomes, and the PSC Remedial Course Syllabus

What elements of from the Framework for success would you like to integrate into your own teaching philosophy and into the course that you design for 709?

I want to incorporate everything in the Framework for Success, but I know that at first it might be good to focus on a few things that are most important to me. For me, flexibility and openness are two habits of mind that I really want to focus on because I think that if students are flexible, then they will be able to figure out how to compose for a variety of rhetorical situations. I want to teach them different ways to approach writing assignments that will best fit their purpose and audience. I also think that students need to be open to learning about themselves and finding out that they may not know everything. I want students to be open to taking risks and trying to new things in their writing processes. I want them to be open to discovering new things about themselves, their writing, and about others’ positions in the world.

Something else that really stuck out to me in the Framework was the section on deepening rhetorical knowledge. I know that it will be important for my students to understand audience, purpose, context, and genre, and how those change in every writing situation. I want them to be able to analyze how others implement these rhetorical concepts as a gateway for them trying them out. I think that once students are able to analyze these things in others’ writing, they will be better able to write rhetorically. I want them to write for different audiences and get a feel for how their writing and even their process changes as they are writing for a different audience in a different rhetorical situation.

What elements of from the WPA outcomes would you like to integrate into your own teaching philosophy and into the course that you design for 709?

I was especially taken by the statement that “Writers develop rhetorical knowledge by negotiating purpose, audience context, and conventions as they compose a variety of texts for different situations” (1). I want to integrate into my philosophy and course design opportunities for students to analyze texts with a variety of rhetorical situations and audiences and then practice writing texts for various audiences in a few different rhetorical situations. I think that also having some metacognitive activities will be beneficial for students so they can understand how they are (not) making the appropriate shifts in their rhetoric.

I was also interested in incorporating a greater focus on the relationships between reading, writing, and thinking. I want to make sure that students understand how professionals converse with texts as they read and when they respond to them through writing. Then after students analyze how more skilled writers go about engaging with others in their reading and writing, I want to make sure that they practice doing so themselves. I think that studying conventions is important, especially because of how they change from discipline to discipline, but I think that I want my students to discover that as they choose to write for whatever discipline they are interested in.

When you read the traditional remedial course syllabus, what things did you find surprising, problematic, or perhaps even harmful for students? Are there any elements in the traditional remedial course that you like?  In what ways does the philosophy of this course seem to be different from that of the Chabot College course?    Keep in mind that both courses are aimed at exactly the same level and population: students unprepared to enter Freshman Composition — yet the two courses are worlds apart in how they approach underprepared students.

I found a several differences between the South Plains College approach to teaching a remedial English class compared to Chabot’s approach. SPC’s approach seems to be much more centered on learning grammar and conventions than Chabot. Also, SPC seems to break things down into much smaller pieces, asking students to master different parts slowly over the semester. Though SPC does discuss reading critically, the class schedule doesn’t present much about how they are interacting with the texts. Still, I’m guessing that they discuss certain readings that are part of their collection in the book, and then imitating those styles as they write their paragraphs. SPC seems to take a traditional approach that focuses on remedial writing as a process of mastering the basics of writing and convetions before moving on to more complicated writing, while Chabot wants to believe in and push their students to do work more similar to that of 4-year universities.

Now that I have got a better idea about how the two colleges are different, I suppose something that troubles me about the SPC approach is that it doesn’t have students writing actual essays. It is focused only on sentence level and paragraph writing. I think this doesn’t challenge the writers in the course enough or really give them enough experience in the kind of writing they will be doing in the future. I understand that they want to slowly transition them, which is why they have them write shorter pieces and attempt to give them manageable college skills, but I still think they could benefit from writing at least one full essay, maybe after working up to it. Another major difference between SPC and Chabot are their approaches to reading. Something problematic about SPC’s approach may be that students are not working with any book-length works outside of the course reader. I imagine that students will be less prepared to handle the types of texts they are assigned in college because they had no experience other than one with guided questions like in their course reader.

Something I enjoy about the SPC syllabus is that they focus on something related to grammar or style once a week. I’m not sure I would organize it every week, or do it in the order that they would, but I do recognize the importance of addressing the common patterns of error that occur in a class and having grammar and convention lessons that go over them as they come up in student papers.

On Chabot’s Integrated Reading and Writing Curriculum

Blog#2 (on your personal blog):  What elements of Chabot’s Integrated Reading and Writing curriculum would you like to integrate into your own course design that you will create for English 709?

There are two main elements or principles from Chabot’s Integrated Reading and Writing curriculum that I would like to integrate into my own curriculum. The first aspect that I would like to incorporate is the connection of each assignment back to the reading. I think that because each essay connects to and asks questions about specific readings and topics within those readings, that students are not just reading and then writing theme essays. Instead, students are entering into a conversation with the texts or with others about ideas from the texts. Of course, I also understand that it is crucial to find ways to hold students accountable for the readings, otherwise there’s no guarantee they will do the readings, thus increasing their chances of writing poorly. The teacher in the Chabot example holds students accountable with quizzes. I’m not really a fan of quizzes, so I think I might utilize blog posting as a way to hold them accountable for their reading.

The second element from the Chabot curriculum that I would like to integrate is how each essay is structured around a debatable or explorable concept from the readings. This set of assignments asks students to treat the texts their reading critically and gives them practice at entering a specific discourse community. My current curriculum seems a little too self-explorative and contained. I want it to reach out more towards ideas in the texts that are larger scale debates or questions.

On the Chabot English Department Philosophy and Teaching Practice

Blog#1 (on your personal blog):  What elements of Chabot’s philosophy/practice would you like to integrate into your own teaching philosophy/practice?

One aspect of the Chabot English Department’s philosophy and practice that I would like to integrate into my own philosophy an practice is active reading to directly address students’ reading practices. While I know that the texts I am assigning students share certain themes, I’m not sure I put enough focus on reading strategies. I originally wanted my students to turn in double-sided journal entries with quotations and then their own explanation of them, but I realize that one strategy may not be enough. I now think I want to expose them to other methods, like KWL+, chunking, and more “mindful” annotating styles like Paul Morris explains in his article, “Using Annotation to Promote a Dialogic Community.” I want to give them many strategies for reading effectively and integrating those ideas into their writing.

I am also committed to help students gain familiarity with academic culture and see themselves as participants in that culture. I want to make sure that students and I collaborate on defining success in the classroom, but I also want to temper that with a lot of exposure to and practice with academic conversations. I want my students to be able to imagine themselves as a part of the academic community. However marginalized they may be, I want them to be able to relate their life experiences to texts and bring that to bear in academic conversations.

Freewriting with Peter Elbow’s Writing Without Teachers

Hey everyone! I ended up doing a freewrite for each Elbow chapter. As is the nature of freewriting, they are a bit messy. Enjoy!

Freewrite #1:

here i go writingthis freewrite this is the first time i have ever done anything like this . I always suggest it to a lot of people that sometimes freewriting can help you get your thoughts out, but im not sure if it will work for me and then at the same time I want to believe that it will work for me. I’m the kind of person who likes to believe in miracle pills and things like that. I dont know what to write about oh yeah maybe i should write about what i thought about peter elbow telling me that free writes work. I actually was qwuite moved by his descrioption of having a beleiveing attitued. I think that its actually a good idea that might actually keep you open to the world around you. I also think that it is important to recognize our waste, to let it out and acept it it is apart of who we are after all. I remember hearing a student give a paper at a conference about charles bukowski and another poet . Her paper or presentation rather was about how they want to change the way people see waste. That writing waste for them is not only okay but it is good. I remember it specfically because the author discussed shit and refuge as being metaphors for writing. I found that this helps me understand what Elbow was talking about when he said that people don’t want to waste. I also tend to be quite a wordy writer. I always write over the page limit and i have ever since i was younger. my mind just goes and goes and i just continue to write. I never have been very good at cutting things from my writing. I have definitely gotten good at having to add things, but I haven’t really learned how to “kill your darlings” maybe these freewriting excersies will help me kto keep my writing more spare and to the point. I find that when I am able to keep my writing short it sounds better. I think that I sort of take pride in my poetry for that reason. I am always trying to do more with less. Sometimes maybe I over compensate. I thnik I have this idea in my head that good poets go crazy over just a couple of words that they hang on them. I think that came from studying poets who did that like Louise Bogan. My professor told us that she did publish many of her poems for years and years because she would be constantly editing them. I also remember another poet, was it Lorine Niedecker who discousses hanging on a word. I think that I often do that myself when I write poetry, but maybe I should try taking qa freewriting apporach to poetry too and see what happens. Wow, I fel like I have typed a lot. I wonder if Elbow’s theory changes at all now that people are doing most of their writing on computers. I am composingthis on my ipad with a wireless keyboard.

Freewrite #2:

I feel like Elbow’s approach is very psychological, which makes sense since he is talking about things from a developmental point of view. I was so struck by his idea that editing needs to be cutthroat and that every word saps energy from the others . I am not that great at cutting words. I tend to do what Elbow did in one of his editing sessions. I avoid rewriting the sentence altogether and instead I try just to rearrange things so that it is the same but with less words. I think sometimes I just need to let go even if it’s hard. I’m not sure what to write about next, mayb its that when you take out words your real voice will be revealed, yeah, that’s something I think I might be afraid of. I think that I am afraid that my language isn’t refined enough or good enough my voacbulary is lacking. My ideas are not complex. At least that’s how I feel but at the same time, I prefer reading texts that do not speak in such high lanugage. I want my writing to be more simple. That’s who I am. I am a simple kind of guy. I know that of course doesn’t encapsulate me. I know that I am complex, but I am simple and I don’t need to be anything more than that in my writing. I think that Elbow’s metaphor of grwoth is quite appropriate. I think that maybe I would like to try this whole writing four different drafts in four hour thing. It would be an experiment. These days I don’t experiment with my writing processes much anymore. I know that I should though. I know that I don’t want to become an english teacher who doesn’t write themselves and so grows less accustomed to the kinds o things that their students are doing. I don’t want o grow . wow, I just said that. What I think I meant was, well, maybe I don’t want to grow. Maybe I should explore that first. Growing is hard after all. You have to shed parts of yourself and take on new and hard responsibilities. I think maybe I have been avoiding growing up for a while. M<aybe I have been avoiding growing in my writing too. I haven’t been giving it the necessary attention that it deserves. I need to be more responsible, but at the same time as careless as i have been. I have been mighty responsible in my writing of my thesis, but it turned out to be way longer than it needed to be. After doing this excercise and reading these two chapters, I understand that what was happening was my attachment to the words. I wasn’t able to let many of them go and I was trying so hard to get it right the first time. Every time I would get revisions, I would see them as new points to address but I wouldn’t consider cutting soome parts that don’t address those issues. How do I know what to cut? I’m still not sure how to figure that out.