Skip navigation
All Places > The English Community > Bedford Bits > Blog
1 2 3 Previous Next

Bedford Bits

1,037 posts

Hailed as a "must-see" movie for the apres-weekend water cooler crowd, and warily monitored by everyone from local police departments to survivors of the Aurora, Colorado massacre, Joker has surpassed its opening box office predictions and has already succeeded in becoming the current cinematic talk of the town. Such movies always make for student-engaging essay and discussion topics, and I expect that many college instructors across the country are already crafting assignments about this latest installment in the comics-inspired universe of Hollywood blockbusters.

 

But while many such assignments will be likely to invite debates on the advisability of making such a movie as Joker in the light of an epidemic of lunatic-loner mass shootings, while others (especially in film studies departments) will focus on the revival of the Scorsese/De Niro "character study" formula that made Taxi Driver a movie classic (heck, Joaquin Phoenix even channeled his inner-De Niro by losing a ton of weight Raging Bull style for the role, and, of course, De Niro's in the film too), a cultural semiotic analysis of the movie would take a different approach, which I will sketch out here.

 

To begin with, we can ask the question, "what does the enduring popularity of the Joker in American popular culture tell us?" For alone among the multitudinous villains of comic book history, the Joker returns again and again, now to star as the protagonist in his own feature film. Where's the Penguin, we might ask, or Clayface? What is it about this character that has captured the American imagination?

 

As with any semiotic analysis, let's start with the history of the Joker. In the beginning he was a Dick Tracy-like gangster in the tradition of Conan Doyle's evil genius Professor Moriarty, heading his own organized crime syndicate. Given a camped-up star turn in the Batman TV series of the 1960s, the Joker joined with Burgess Meredith's Penguin and a host of other really funny, but essentially harmless, villains in the days when fist fights (SMASH! BAM! POW!) were considered sufficient violence for a prime time children's television program.

 

The key change in the Joker's portrayal (the critical semiotic difference) came in the 1980s, when Frank Miller and Grant Morrison darkened the scenario considerably, turning the quondam clown into a psychopathic killer. This was the Joker that Jack Nicholson channeled in Tim Burton's Batman, and which Heath Ledger took further into the darkness in The Dark Knight. It's important to point out, however, that while Nicholson's Joker is a merciless killer, he is also very funny (his trashing of the art museum is, um, a riot), and his back story includes an acid bath that has ruined his face, providing a kind of medical excuse for his behavior. Ledger's Joker, on the other hand, isn't funny at all, and his unconvincing attempt to attribute his bad attitude to childhood abuse isn't really supposed to be taken seriously by anyone. The point is simply that he is a nihilistic mass murderer who likes to kill people—even his own followers. And unlike the past Jokers, he isn't in it for the money, incinerating a huge pile of cash with one of his victims tied up at the top to prove it.

 

The trajectory here is clear, and the makers of Joker were very well aware of it. Rather than turn back the clock to introduce a kinder, gentler Joker (you're laughing derisively at the suggestion, and that's precisely my point), Todd Phillips and Scott Silver quite knowingly upped the ante, earning an R-rating that is quite unusual for a comics-themed movie. Well, Deadpool got there first, but that's part of the point, too.

 

For in spite of the film's attempt to pass itself off as a study of the pathologizing effects of socioeconomic inequality, that isn't its appeal at all, and it doesn't explain why this particular character was chosen to be the protagonist. Just think, what if someone made a movie called Marx: the Alienation Effect in Contemporary Capitalism, based on the best-seller Das Kapital? No, I'm afraid that the Joker's popularity isn't political in any truly revolutionary sense. He's way too much of a loner, and too weird. There's something else going on here.

 

Before one succumbs to the temptation to simply say that Joker is a movie for psychopathic wannabes, let's just remember that the domestic box office for the film's first weekend was 96 million dollars. There just aren't that many psychopaths out there to sell so many tickets. No, the desire for an ever-darkening Joker is clearly a very widespread one, and the success of the afore-mentioned Deadpool franchise—not to mention Game of Thrones' wildly popular funhouse-mirror distortions of Tolkien's primly moralistic Middle Earth—only amplifies the evidence that Americans—especially younger Americans—are drawn to this sort of thing. But why?

 

I think that the new detail in the Joker's origin story that is introduced in the movie, portraying him as a failed standup comic and clown, is a good clue to the matter. We could say that Arthur Fleck's great dreams—at least in his mind—have been betrayed, and there's a familiar ring to this as a generation of millennials, burdened with college debt and college degrees that lead nowhere, faces a country that many feel is betraying them. It is significant in this regard that the darkening of the Joker began in the 1980s, the decade when the American dream began to crumble under the weight of the Reagan tax cuts, massive economic "restructuring," and two recessions from which the working and middle classes never fully recovered. What happened in response wasn't a revolution: it was anger and despair, spawning a kind of Everyman disillusionment with traditional authority (including moral authority), conspiracy theories, and fantasies of breaking loose and taking things into one's own hands.

 

Which makes characters like the Joker rather like Breaking Bad's Walter White, whose response to economic disruption was to become disruptive. White's Everyman revolt didn't instigate an epidemic of middle-class drug lords; it simply entertained an angry America with the trappings of vicarious fantasy. The success of Joker just a few years after the end of Heisenberg shows that the fantasy is getting darker still.

 

Smash. Bam. Pow.

 

 

Photo Credit: Pixabay Image 1433326 by annca, used under Pixabay License

 

Ernest Hemingway is said to have remarked that “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” Enigmatic, for sure. But also probably pretty good advice. I’ve been thinking about trust a lot lately, since it seems to be in very short supply. Who can you trust? According to pundits, everyday citizens, and lots of students I talk to, the answer is discouraging. Can’t trust the media. Can’t trust the government. Can’t trust politicians. Can’t trust . . . just about any institution or group. The failure of trust is no doubt related to the rise of tribalism, in-groups, be-and-think-just-like-me “friends.”

 

Pretty depressing. Yet I also sense a longing for trust—for true confidence in someone or something (or both). This summer as I was talking with students in several settings, I asked them about trust and who they trusted. Most mentioned a family member or friend first, but when it came to second or third on the list, the name of a teacher came up a number of times. In a couple of instances, students said they trusted a teacher because “he’s always honest with me,” and because “she always follows through; if she says she will do something, she always does it. I like that.”

 

The last couple of weeks I’ve written about teachers who seemed to me to be trusted by students—even those who didn’t always agree with them—and who reciprocated that trust. (Click here or here to read those posts.) I’ve been thinking about how trust arises in a classroom setting, how it can grow from small seeds. So being honest with students and always telling the truth seems like a good way to begin. But right behind that is the kind of reliability and consistency that the student above mentions regarding “follow through.” I don’t think this kind of consistency is what Ralph Waldo Emerson had in mind when he said that “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” In other words, this kind of (non-foolish) reliability or consistency doesn’t obviate spontaneity. Rather, by helping to establish a trusting environment, it makes room for spontaneity.

 

And what else? I’d say giving everyone a fair hearing, listening hard, being able to admit it if you don’t know something, taking time to explain and explain again, and demonstrating care even while holding to a high standard—these are the building blocks of trust. Not rocket science, but hard nonetheless. And time consuming: Teachers instinctively know that this kind of trust isn’t generated in a day but only through persistence and through classroom talk—open and caring talk.

 

That can be hard to come by in these cynical and often hateful times. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible. And our students are hungry for such trust, for the safety that it engenders, for a place they can be fully themselves and fully open to learning.

 

Do you have ways you build trust in your classroom? Do your students have insights into what such trust means to them? If so, I would love for you to join me in a guest blog post. Please do!

 

Image Credit: Pixabay Image 3470201 by rawpixel, used under the Pixabay License

Ive been teaching writing for 28 years, and I still wrestle with how much reading to assign in a writing class. Hopefully, I'm not alone. Theres an alchemy between less is more if we want students to do deep dives in texts, and more is more if we want our students to understand that reading often and widely is crucial to becoming stronger writers. Perhaps its worth thinking more about the purposes of reading in a writing classroom, and whether every reading should feed directly into a writing assignment. 

 

In a recent article titled Needed: More Reading in First-Year Writing, Rachel Wagner reflects on her own rationale for assigning reading in a writing class, starting with the embarrassing experience of being observed by a colleague on an awkward class day that wed all recognize, I suspect: A paper was due, and so she had not assigned a new reading, anticipating that students would not read a text they were not using in their papers. So, after some conversation about the drafts, there was no new text to spark class discussion. Wagner reflects how often she has trimmed back on readings, particularly later in the semester when students are busily writing longer papers, to give them time to focus on their writing. She then critiques this impulse, noting that reading always feeds the writer, even if it doesnt feed a particular assignment:

Not asking the students to read regularly is like telling them its OK not to explore. Even if its the week that their papers are due, they should still be reading things that they don’t have to be quizzed on or that dont have to be analyzed in their papers. Why? Because thats part of the writing process.

 

I appreciate all the perspectives at play here, from the crunched schedules of our students to the instructors impulse to get students in the habit of reading often and widely because thats what good writers do. Whats a thoughtful instructor to do?

 

As Stuart Greene and I have been developing the readings and guiding questions for the next edition of From Inquiry to Academic Writingwe have worked to include different kinds of texts to address this pedagogical challenge. We have selected lively, shorter selections that students might read just to keep mental sparks flying for a classroom discussion, even on a day when a paper is due. That kind of fast reading to feed ideas might be just the fizz on a low-energy class day, and could even be done on the spot, with a few minutes of silent reading or read aloud, in turns. We have also included more challenging scholarly selections that provide students plenty to think through, slowly, in relationship to other readings and their own ideas, and with methods and evidence that will give them the practice they need to analyze texts in other courses. For every text, we provide footholds for readers patterns to look for, questions to keep in mind, methods for evaluating rhetorical moves. After all, your classroom may be the only space for students to build these analytical muscles in the company of others who are interested not only in the ideas but in the experience of reading with writing moves in mind.

 

As with most pedagogy, the key is to be transparent with students about our rationales for what they are reading, as well as what they are writing. Just as sources serve different purposes in an academic essay (providing a theory, an example, a counterpoint, etc), readings serve different purposes in our classrooms though students may not grasp this unless we invite them into the pedagogical conversation. 


Sometimes, slow thinking with complex texts is just what the occasion requires. But sometimes, a shorter, sparkling text to feed the writers mind is just the thing. Sometimes less is more. But sometimes, as Dolly Parton has said, more really is more.

 

 

Photo Credit: April Lidinsky

Traci Gardner

A Note to Readers

Posted by Traci Gardner Expert Oct 16, 2019

This blog, Teaching Digital Natives, is currently on hold. Please stay tuned for more information soon! 

 

Last week, I wrote about the remarkable work Jeanne Bohannon is doing to help her often deeply conservative students reach beyond their own boundaries and engage with differences. I’m writing today about another remarkable teacher, Maria Roberts, whom I’ve known for a very long time from the Bread Loaf School of English but who also responded to my call to survey students about what they thought helped—and hurt—their ability to engage with people who held differing views than they did. And Maria was gracious enough to speak with me, at length, about her experiences (as a potentially vulnerable but also fearless and indomitable part-time instructor), her students (80% white with small percentages of African American, Hispanic, and international students), and her school (small, and in a rural area of Colorado). The students of color and international students tend to live on one side of campus; the white students on the other side. And last year at Halloween, some white students came in Klan robes and one faculty member in blackface.

 

In this atmosphere, Maria says, being able to speak is “all about courage.” In her classrooms, she strives to create a safe space where such courage can be seen and engaged and rewarded. She says that if she provides a place that is understood to be a safe place to talk, they do talk, open up, and are honest with one another. But doing so requires constant work and vigilance on her part—she must be aware of where everyone is, literally and metaphorically, all the time.

 

For Maria, the connection between teacher and students is key and it takes time to establish the trust that will allow that connection to grow and solidify. Clearly, she and many of her students have such relationships—and she is always reaching out, opening doors, and hoping to reach others. After our conversation, Maria shared a message she had from a former student who was reflecting on her experiences engaging with difference.  Here are some of her extraordinary remarks:

            I’d say in general I was uncomfortable talking to people who “looked” different from me (i.e. minorities) because I really had just never done it before. Our school is pretty homogeneous and a lack of exposure to other cultures puts people at a disadvantage. Mostly, though, I was afraid of saying something wrong or coming off as racist. Now [that] I’ve moved to one of the most diverse areas of the country, it’s gotten easier. I still catch myself being intolerant of other people’s experiences because I don’t understand: like a person of color talking about being treated unfairly, I might think “that doesn’t happen now.” BUT I then try to think from the other person’s perspective and recognize my blatant white privilege. When it is to politics or religion, I absolutely don’t feel comfortable talking about those things to people I don’t know and often not even people I do know. There’s too much hate and intolerance of differing opinions today. I would love to have productive conversations about these topics, but it seems impossible to do so.

For me, it’s a little more complicated because as a journalist I’m supposed to portray a façade of neutrality. I recently was assigned to write a story about comments some parents made during a public meeting essentially saying that Black and Hispanic students couldn’t perform at the same level as whites. Since that story was published, some people said it sparked important conversations and changes, but other people were hurt and offended and mad. Without having these conversations, I don’t think people can understand these are real issues in today’s society. Rather, they assume the issues are just legends and they don’t “happen here.”

 

 

In fact, Maria said, the backlash against this young journalist was severe, requiring her to have protection.  This former student shows the kind of courage Maria described earlier, courage that often or always comes with a cost. But this student knew one safe haven she could always turn to: her former teacher. Hence a lengthy conversation, back and forth, as Maria listens, encourages, and most of all understands.

 

I think of Maria and teachers like her every single day who are slowly but inexorably making a difference in students’ lives. Yes, it is all about courage. But before that, it is all about listening and all about trust. About building a place that is safe.

 

Image Credit: Pixabay Image 3488861 by congerdesign, used under the Pixabay License

When I think back to my high school writing instruction, I remember red ink, error codes, rules written by hand (it was the early 1980s) ten times in an effort to earn back half the points deducted for rule violations on initial drafts. By my senior year, I had great confidence in my ability to deploy semicolons correctly, avoid phrasal verbs, and resist the urge to write a fragment for effect. I could generate error-free writing with very little trauma. But I was terrified to say anything creative or unexpected, because the secondary lesson of my instruction was that writing presents a million ways to make mistakes, and mistakes should be avoided above all.

 

It’s difficult to explore ideas and meaning—doubting and then believing yourself in turn (Peter Elbow had not yet made an impact on secondary writing instruction at that point) when you edit each line as it appears before you, even before a proposition has reached its final punctuation, to ensure that subjects and verbs agree.

 

I had not yet understood (or could not verbalize) that writing concerns meaning—and identities, relationships, and social expectations, among other things. Implicitly I must have known something of these concerns, for I recognized that writing “correctly” would open academic doors for me, as it eventually did – doors that bypassed first-year composition courses. But “correctness” for me entailed writing without a number of language resources that could have been helpful in clarifying meaning for different audiences and purposes: passive voice, phrasal verbs, first and second person pronouns, some sentence-initial conjunctive adverbials, and there is/are constructions.

 

My current composition classes are working on revisions to literacy narratives, and I am working to create classroom spaces for metatalk about writing and grammar, encouraging students to consider their language and writing resources, the choices they have made in this particular paper, and how they are assessing the effectiveness of those choices.  Similar to my own concerns in high-school, much of their talk revolves around rules and errors—and the fact that I have told them they can violate “rules” they learned in previous courses, as long as their decision to do so fits the purpose and evolving meaning of the paper (which requires them to think about purposes and meanings and how language might either align with or work against them). I am trying not to restrict their writing or language resources in any way.

 

But an upper-level student challenged me on this “no linguistic restrictions” policy during a discussion in my advanced grammar class recently. We were looking at the functions that be plays in English, particularly in the progressive aspect and the passive voice, as well as in there is/are constructions. Students were exploring the rhetorical and discourse purposes of these constructions—backgrounding/foregrounding, creating cohesion, denying or reducing agency, introducing topic shifts, etc. I casually mentioned that I hated to hear that be verbs were restricted in some composition classes, given what be-based constructions can accomplish within a text. Why would we ever want to restrict students from using legitimate linguistic resources, especially when avoiding those resources might lead to less than optimal prose?

 

One of my students suggested that he had found a restriction on using be verbs helpful to his development as a writer. When not allowed to use be in a paper, he became aware of the extent to which he did use be verbs. And in the course of our conversation, it became evident that not using be might help a student develop skill at using other structures—just as an athlete or musician might restrict the use of a dominant hand in order to strengthen a weaker or less-practiced hand. When assignments are framed strategically, as exercises designed to target a particular linguistic “muscle,” then such restrictions might make sense.

 

Indeed. I have done such exercises—framing them as ways of playing with language, especially at the paragraph level. To the extent that these exercises highlight and illustrate language-meaning relationships and the ways in which language choices can affect a reader’s experiences, they also support my goal to expand and explore metatalk in developmental and first-year writing courses. 

 

The student’s comments challenged me to consider yet again the way I frame instructions for assignments—both major papers and smaller classroom exercises; the nature of the framing language can either make my purpose clear or leave students bewildered, sensing that they’ve just encountered another idiosyncratic and arbitrary rule. The advanced student’s comments—and the lively metalinguistic and pedagogic discussion that followed—also reminded me of the value of opening spaces for first-year writers to talk about their writing with each other, not just with me.

 

What language restrictions do you give student writers? Are these restrictions part of a specific assignment? What is your purpose in restricting linguistic choices in that assignment? Do you explain that purpose explicitly to students? How?

Shannon ButtsShannon Butts (recommended by Creed Greer) received her PhD in English with a concentration in Rhetoric and Writing Studies at The University of Florida in August 2019. Shannon teaches courses on digital rhetoric, multimodal composition, professional communication, technofeminism, and first-year writing. She also serves as the Assistant Coordinator of First Year Writing and mentors graduate instructors. Shannon's research examines how digital and mobile writing technologies, such as augmented reality, locative media, and 3D printing, author new literacy practices for public writing and community advocacy.

 

How does the next generation of students inspire you? 

 

The students coming through my courses seem to have a hustle that understands the larger ecology of work, play, and education. College is not necessarily their end game but part of a growing skill set that will position them for more opportunities in the future. And that looks different for different students. People coming in from high school are hustling to make grades, get internships, start businesses – hustling to participate in an economy that has diversified the paths that people can take to make money and be successful. Similarly, students coming back to school or working on graduate degrees are hustling to build a portfolio of experiences that will help them advance in their current careers or start new ones. The hustle can be tiring, or seem disorganized. Yet, most of the students that I see are working to create a well-rounded set of skills to be not only competitive but happy in their work and life. The hustle includes physical fitness, growing plants, joining clubs, taking days off, having families, developing apps, caring about public issues, and fighting for equality and balance in new ways. The students I see now inspire me to hustle for both myself and others. 

 

What is the most important skill you aim to provide your students?

 

I want the students in my classroom to understand that writing is a process that grows and changes throughout their lives. As such, I want students to develop analytical skills that evaluate the nuances of any rhetorical situation or ecology. If students understand the complex components of an issue, then they can best evaluate how to respond and make change. Learning how to analyze arguments, identify evidence, and trace the connections between conversations can help students actively participate in the public sphere—where they not only receive or disseminate information but understand how to assemble new publics, to read and write for change, and to evaluate information for accuracy as well as applicability. If writers can map rhetorical ecologies and trace the relationships between evidence and argument, then I think they are better prepared to understand the complex systems that we all read, write, and participate in.

 

What is it like to be a part of the Bedford New Scholars?

 

Participating in the Bedford New Scholars programs provides a look behind the curtain of educational publishing. More than merely understanding how to test or market a text, the program has shown me how Bedford works to identify what is important to students, writers, and teachers in different schools and demographics. Through online resources, publishers have new opportunities to create platforms and curate content that works for diverse groups of students and instructors. While institutions may adopt one central text or program, Bedford has shown us how to work within the larger system to find what can best help students and instructors meet their goals for a classroom or course. By showing us multiple texts and platforms, the Bedford staff creates a forum for helping us understand the publishing process, but also gives a voice to the people who are in the classroom everyday. They not only wanted my feedback on existing projects but my critique and suggestions for change, and Bedford New Scholars offers an opportunity to participate in shaping emerging resources. 

 

What have you learned from other Bedford New Scholars?

 

I found the Bedford New Scholars experience empowering. Not only did I get the chance to meet some incredible teachers and scholars from different fields and institutions, but I also was challenged to continually evaluate my own teaching strategies and tools. By sitting down around a table and discussing the different dynamics of each Scholar’s school and experience, I was able to consider how my pedagogy might change while also affirming many of the common issues that instructors currently address: How can I make my classroom more inclusive and accessible? How can I empower my students through public writing? What kinds of emerging tools can help address inequality in the education system? The Bedford New Scholars offered a range of experience and insight and created a small community where instructors could share methods, critiques, tools, and camaraderie.  



Shannon’s Assignment that Works

During the Bedford New Scholars Summit, each member presented an assignment that had proven successful or innovative in their classroom. Below is a brief synopsis of Shannon’s assignment. You can view the full details here: Know Your Meme: Finding the Exigence

 

The “Know Your Meme” activity draws on research, analysis, evaluation, and remix skills to transform popular memes into detailed claims. Composing arguments requires an attunement to exigence—understanding an issue, problem, or situation and how best to address a public to motivate a response. For this activity, students are introduced to several popular memes asked to find the first time the meme was used as part of an argument. Instead of focusing on the isolated image, students should look to the rhetorical ecology of how a meme responded to a particular issue or idea. By asking questions like “What are the basic elements of the issue?” and “How does the meme engage a key component of an argument?,” students begin to define the exigence for the meme and the specifics of the rhetorical situation. Practicing good research skills, students can analyze the different arguments surrounding an issue and evaluate how their meme engages specific viewpoints.

 

After analyzing how a specific meme has responded to arguments in the public sphere, students gain a familiarity with the media as well as the details of the involved arguments. Memes are fairly simplistic in construction and can reduce complex arguments to pithy forms. The next step has participants evaluate memes for missing elements or logical fallacies and rewrite the media as a more complex claim with supportive details. Focusing on one specific use of their meme, students can ask, “What is missing to create a detailed response to the issue?” Drawing on their own research, students can then address the exigence of an issue by rewriting a meme as an argumentative claim with supportive details. Paying attention to research, exigence, and arguments, students learn to map the larger rhetorical ecology of public issues and craft detailed claims that participate in evolving conversations.

 

Learn more about the Bedford New Scholars advisory board on the Bedford New Scholars Community page.

 

Jack Solomon

The Panopticon 2.0

Posted by Jack Solomon Expert Oct 3, 2019

Michel Foucault's application of Jeremy Bentham's panoptic proposal for prison reform to the modern surveillance state has become a commonplace of contemporary cultural theory. And heaven knows that we are being watched by our government, by our computers, by our phones, and televisions, and automobiles, and goodness knows what else. It is also no secret that current and prospective employers monitor the social media imprints of their current and prospective employees—all those promises of airtight privacy settings and Snapchat anonymity notwithstanding. As I say, all this has become a commonplace of life in the digital era.

 

But a new wrinkle has entered the picture, a fold in the space/time fabric of modern life if you will, whereby the pre-digital past has come to haunt the digital present. For as the governor of Virginia and the prime minister of Canada now know to their cost, what goes into your school yearbook doesn't stay in your school yearbook. And thanks to an array of yearbook-posting alumni websites, anyone with an Internet connection can access virtually anyone's yearbook and immediately expose online those embarrassing moments that you thought were safely hidden in the fogs of time.

 

(A parenthetical autobiographical note: I would be highly amused if someone dug up my high school yearbook—yearbooks, actually, because I was on the staff for three years, the last two as editor-in-chief. The first of the three was a conventional celebration of football players, cheerleaders, and homecoming royalty, but I changed all that in the next two when I got editorial control, dedicating the first of them to the natural environment— including two photo essays complete with an accompanying poetic narrative—and the second devoted to a contemplation of the mystery of time itself, which included repeating reproductions of El Greco's "Saint Andrew and Saint Francis," which were intended to convey an ongoing dialog between a wise man and a seeker of temporal wisdom. You get one guess as to why I don't have to worry about any embarrassing party pics in my yearbooks.)

 

So it isn't enough to cancel your Twitter account, max out your privacy settings on Facebook (good luck with that), or simply take a long vacation from the Internet, for the Net's got you coming and going whatever you do. I expect that one's reaction to this state of affairs (which is itself of semiotic interest) is probably generational; that is, if you grew up with the Internet, none of this is likely to be particularly alarming, but if you remember the days when personal privacy was at least a value (if not always a reality), then it could be disturbing indeed. And there is no escaping the situation, for just as it is impossible to avoid the consequences of major cyber hacks by refusing to conduct any of your business affairs online (if you have any sort of bank account, credit/debit card, health record, or social security number, you are vulnerable no matter how hard you try to live outside the Web), there is no controlling what may surface from your past.

 

Photo Credit: Pixabay Image 4031973 by pixel2013, used under Pixabay License

 

This summer I surveyed students at a range of colleges and universities, asking them to tell me about what they saw as barriers to communicating with people different from them and about what they saw as the benefits of being able to do so. I’ve written a bit about what the students had to say and will write more in time. But this week I want to talk about a follow up to this research with students, because I had an opportunity to interview some of the teachers whose students responded to the survey about these same issues.

 

I came away from these interviews deeply impressed with the work teachers across the country are doing, first to broach difficult and controversial subjects in the classroom and second to help students engage with them—and with each other. All of the teachers I spoke with recognize the urgency of this work; all feel the strain of teaching in a time of intolerance, misinformation, and deep divides. The two teachers I want to talk about today, both of whom have given me permission to quote them and to share their ideas, are heroes to me, courageous and absolutely steadfast in their belief in young people and in their determination to serve them well by, among other things, raising their awareness of—and the importance of—difference and diversity.

 

One of these teachers is Jeanne Bohannon, who teaches at a public university in a bright red state. During last spring term, several events targeted African American students for harassment and threats, acts which led some white students to defend the offenders and to harass anyone who spoke out against them, including faculty. In this atmosphere, Professor Bohannon continued her work: “The kind of work I do is civil rights rhetoric and working with the Atlanta Student Movement. And sometimes it is really tough, so I really started to embed a lot of my primary research with the Atlanta Student Movement into our first year writing courses.”

 

I took a deep breath and then asked, “So how’s that going?” Here’s what she had to say:

I have lost two students so far, and one of the students I lost because she didn’t feel like the work was valid, in her words. Another student I lost because she was afraid that her parents, who were supporters of Donald Trump, would see her work, and she would get in trouble. But everyone else has been wonderful… I have to tell you, this course is drawing students across different majors. I have communication majors. I have English majors. I have STEM majors who seek out this class so that they can work on this civil rights research.

 

Jeanne has been teaching this course for several semesters now, with equally good results. What specifically did she do, I asked her, to establish a classroom ethos of respect and openness?

One of the things I do first off is I talk with the students about how I practice democratic pedagogy, how I do contract grading with students. What that means for me is every semester on my syllabus, I have a community expectation statement that was written by me and students back in 2015 and every semester we tweak it depending on the class. We spend the first couple of days in class with everyone talking through what it looks like to be a part of a community. And we set out the ground rules of what it means to be respectful. And we stress that you can disagree, but you must think of people as your community members. And that is part of the syllabus and that is part of the contract they sign, saying “I’m staying in the class and this is part of what I am going to do.”

 

Here’s a brief description of the research project on which the course rests:

This course engages undergraduate student scholars in public, digital humanities research centered on the roles AU Center students played in the struggle for civil and human rights in 1960-1962. Student scholars are expected to conduct their work based on a contract model, where they will work in teams to produce public texts that they negotiate with each other and the professor.

 

And here’s the community expectation statement that the class co-constructed and revises term by term:

Community Learning Precepts

Writing and learning are methods of communication that are inherently dialogic, democratic, and sometimes digital. We practice democratic learning in our course, as a matter of community-building. What this means for you:

  • You are a vital and respected member of our community.
  • You will participate authentically in our work as a stakeholder in your own rhetorical growth AND the growth of your colleagues in this class.
  • Your voice is important because it drives our interactions as a group.
  • You will design and curate your own learning and work experience in this class as a "contract" with both your colleagues and your instructor.

 

Later in the interview, we talked about problems that can arise as students work together on what to some are very “touchy” subjects and about how they negotiate differences.

I wish I had a more codified, concrete strategy for managing conflict. But what we do when that happens, and it does happen—it especially happens with some of my white male students who really want to engage with the project, but who feel awkward or feel like they can’t join because they feel guilt or they feel some other emotion. They want to engage but they just can’t. And so what is important for me is to pair them up with some of the lecturers who come to campus [to talk about the Atlanta Student Movement] and to make sure that I’m always engaging with them and that their fellow students keep engaging with them and pulling them along. We do a lot of experiential learning. So we’ll take fieldtrips down to different museums and archives. And it is all about inclusivity. This is in our community precepts that we practice all semester. Everyone in the community has value. It is difficult content we work through, but as scholars, as professionals, and as community members we do this together. And that is how I embrace it. I just keep articulating it all semester long to them.

 

What stands out to me as I revisit this interview is that Professor Bohannon—Jeanne—doesn’t have some magic elixir that she uses, or some abstract theory she is working with to help her students engage across difference. What she has is openness to others, the ability to listen rhetorically, the goal of making students full partners in their classroom community, and the time to work through problems calmly and fairly and openly. What gifts! If you’d like to see some of the work that Bohannon’s students have produced during the course of this project (some of which was supported by a grant she won), you can find it here.   

 

I know that teachers all across this country are carrying out similar work in their writing classrooms in which they help students deal with some deep-seated biases and prejudices as they struggle to engage with people who are unlike them in some ways. And I know that the importance of this work cannot be over-estimated. It is urgent. It is real. And we must keep doing it.

 

Many thanks to Jeanne Bohannon for allowing me to share some of her experiences and some of her strategies. I had intended to write about another teacher, but you’ll have to wait for another week to read about her!

 

Image Credit: Pixabay Image 3380192 by Fun_loving_Cindy, used under the Pixabay License

This blog series is written by Julia Domenicucci, an editor at Macmillan Learning, in conjunction with Mignon Fogarty, better known as Grammar Girl.

 

Watercolors in a watercolor tray 

From all of us here at Macmillan Learning and the Grammar Girl podcast—welcome back to school! To celebrate the start of another semester, we’re going to look at some back-to-basics activities and podcasts that will work for classes of all levels.

 

Podcasts have been around for a while, but their popularity seems to increase every day—and for good reason! They are engaging and creative, and they cover every topic imaginable. They are also great for the classroom: you can use them to maintain student engagement, accommodate different learning styles, and introduce multimodality. 

 

LaunchPad products include assignable, ad-free Grammar Girl podcasts, which you can use to support your lessons. You can assign one or more of these podcasts for students to listen to before, during, or after class. Each podcast also comes with a complete transcript, which is perfect for students who aren’t audio learners or otherwise prefer to read the content. To learn more about LaunchPad products and purchasing options, please visit Macmillan's English catalog or speak with your sales representative.

 

In your LaunchPad, see the unit “Grammar Girl Podcasts” for instructions on assigning podcasts. You can also find the same information on the support page "Assign Grammar Girl Podcasts." 

 

Going Back to Basics with Grammar Girl

 

Assignment A: Place students in groups of three, four, or five, depending on the size of your class. From the list below, assign a different podcast to each group for homework. Have each group meet during class to discuss their assigned podcast. Give them about ten minutes to write a brief summary. Each group will then present that summary to the rest of class.

 

  • Where Do I Use Commas? [7:16]
  • Apostrophe Catastrophe 1 [8:12]
  • How to Use Quotation Marks [7:51]
  • Capitalizing Proper Nouns [6:58]
  • Dashes, Colons, and Commas [4:41]
  • Compound Nouns [5:57]
  • Noun or Adjective? [5:43]
  • Preposition or Adverb? [16:03]

 

Assignment B: Read the blog post Grammar Girl Essentials as a class—perhaps you might also listen to one or two of the listed podcasts together. Then, discuss the selections or have students write responses to the following: 

 

  • Which of the podcasts address an issue that you have noticed in your own writing?
  • What other grammar rules do you struggle with that are not reflected here?

 

If your students share similar grammar struggles, consider assigning a podcast from the Grammar Girl library in LaunchPad for homework and having follow up discussions on that topic.

 

Assignment C: Ask students to indicate a grammar rule they find confusing or struggle with. (Alternately, provide the class with a list of grammar topics to choose from—for example, commas, apostrophes, capitalization, and colons/semicolons.) Tally up the results, then assign relevant podcasts from the Grammar Girl library in LaunchPad.

 

Have you used podcasts to address common grammar concerns in your class? Let us know in the comments!

 

Credit: Pixabay Image 1067686by padrinan, used under a Pixaby License

 

I’ve recently been working on revisions of some of my textbooks and have been reading more and more about how easily images can be manipulated or falsified. I remember reading Kenneth Brower’s galvanizing essay “Photography in an Age of Falsification” in The Atlantic over twenty years ago, and it’s an essay I often taught for the cogent argument it makes. But that seems like more than a lifetime ago now: I was concerned then about the issues Brower raised (he offered fascinating examples of images being manipulated, even in National Geographic, to make them “better”), but I couldn’t have imagined—and I don’t expect Brower could have imagined—the proliferation of technologies to aid in producing fake videos and altered images of every conceivable kind. It now seems important—imperative even—for us to ask students to examine their own use of images and to talk about and explore the ethical implications of the choices they and others are making today.

 

Among the books and articles I have read, Paul Martin Lester’s work really caught my attention. He is a professor at the School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication at the University of Texas at Dallas and has written widely on the ethics of photography. In an interview, he says he begins every class by describing what he calls the most unethical photo he ever took: he was assigned as a young photographer to cover a reunion of two long-lost brothers at an airport. He was there, with all his cameras, waiting for the brothers to emerge from the plane when a very famous movie star emerged. When she saw him and the cameras, he says, she screamed and turned her face to the wall before pulling herself together and walking toward him. Stunned, he automatically snapped photos of her in this very vulnerable pose, an action he has regretted ever since.

 

So I ordered his book, Visual Ethics, and have read it with great interest, even though it is intended for students and practicing photographers. In it, he describes what he calls every photographer’s “personal journey” and opens with this question: “How can you possibly be expected to be objective and subjective, impassive and emotional, uninvolved and engaged given the physical constraints, technological changes, and sociological pressures that the mass communications profession offers?” His one-word answer: “Ethics.”

The key to produce work that aids the common good and satisfies your need for storytelling is a continual, inquisitive, and consistent path toward ethical behavior. (xii)

 

Lester uses his own journey as an example throughout the book, but in addition it is crammed with additional examples drawn from his long career in the field, many of them mini-cases that make for challenging class discussion and examination. He also deals with issues of misinformation, focusing in chapter 7 on infographics and cartoons and sowing how inattention to detail, sloppy design, and overpowering “decorations” can mislead and confuse audiences, even if the designers are not intentionally doing so.

 

Lester concludes with a meditation on empathy—the complexities surrounding the concept and its embodiments, the need for more of it in all aspects of our lives, and the challenge to those he teaches. They should, he says, always attempt to 1) be empathetic, and 2) be ethical. The Professional Photographers Association of America agrees, and they have developed a code of ethics as a result. It makes for very interesting reading too—and provides additional material to bring to students, who need to be thinking hard (along with the rest of us) about how their own use of images and visuals follows such guidelines.

 

Image Credit: Pixabay Image 1239384 by Robert-Owen-Wahl, used under the Pixabay License

Metalanguage, metacognition, metadiscourse, metapragmatics, metagrammar – I am seeing references to all things meta in professional journals and conference presentation titles. In his overview of scholarship on metadiscourse, for example, applied linguist Ken Hyland notes that metalanguage “concerns people’s knowledge about language and representations of language” (17); metalanguage engages language’s ability to reflect on itself, to be employed for the purpose of language analysis.

 

And we, as writing teachers, are aware of the value of reflection, particularly in teaching for transfer. 

 

But over the past couple of semesters, I’ve watched students in corequisite sections of freshman composition wrestle with the task of articulating reflections, particularly reflections on their rhetorical and grammatical choices. I am wondering what makes this reflective task so challenging. Is it a lack of experience in this sort of thinking and writing? A sense that reflection is one more thing that they need to get right for me, the instructor (and thus another opportunity to fail)? Have I not illustrated to them the value of the process? Is there a lack of vocabulary—words to capture the concepts that shape their revising and editing processes? Or perhaps those concepts are still quite fluid and thus resist articulation?

 

These questions are shaping my reading, thinking, and pedagogical experimentation this semester, not only in my corequisite section of FYC, but also in my sections of the grammar courses that English majors at my institution are required to take. As one of my graduate instructors used to say, I’m taking time this term to muck around in the data and explore the context; I’m focusing on creating opportunities for metatalk in my classes, and listening—or reading—as attentively as I can to what my students have to say. 

 

I’m also fortunate to collaborate with some advanced students who are making space for metatalk about writing and language for my students outside of the classroom. My corequisite students, for example, are working weekly with two of our “Writing Fellows,” who are workshopping papers with them in a small group setting. In my sections of grammar classes, I have student supplemental instructors who offer sessions during the week for class members to talk through and apply concepts we are covering in class. In these relaxed sessions, they are asking composition students and sophomore grammar students important questions: what’s going on in this paragraph? In this sentence? Why do you feel uncomfortable with it? What could we differently here, and how would it change our response?

 

In all sections, both composition and grammar, I’m asking for more drafts with annotations, questions, and—of course—reflections.

 

As I meet with the writing fellows, supplemental instructors, and students in my class, I want to hear what obstacles they encounter engaging in metalinguistic discussions, and then consider how my pedagogy might address those obstacles in future semesters—or how students can investigate metalinguistic awareness with me. As this semester progresses, I will be blogging both about my observations and about some of the strategies we are experimenting with in class. 

 

What are you investigating in your teaching this fall? What has energized you about your return to the classroom for this academic year? I would love to hear from you.

 

Earlier this year, I participated in a conversation on collective feedback during a Faculty Office Hours session (an online chat for teachers of professional and technical writing). Collective feedback, a strategy examined by Lisa Melonçon (University of South Florida, @lmeloncon on Twitter) in a five-year study (see her resources online), provides the whole class with details on frequent errors found in the drafts for the course, replacing some, if not all, individual feedback on projects. The process gives the instructor the chance to review common errors with everyone, eliminating the duplication of explaining to each student individually.

Building on Melonçon’s research, Dr. Sara Doan (Kennesaw State, @SDoanut on Twitter) described an in-class activity that she uses to guide students through revision of their projects. She explained that she would tell to the class that she was going to review “Ten issues you all need to fix.” She then asked students to open a copy of their project on their computers. Once students were ready, Doan then stepped students through common errors that they should correct in their drafts. For example, she asked students, “Is your name the biggest thing on your résumé? If not, you need to fix it.”

I love this strategy. I have given students checklists and rubrics to use as they evaluate their drafts, but the same common errors persist. The challenge for me is that my classes are all online. I cannot gather students and ask them to all open their projects so I can walk them through revision strategies.

I created a Google Slides presentation (click on the screenshot below) to solve the problem, calling it a “Stop, Read, & Apply” activity.

Stop, Read, and Apply Slides screenshot. Click to view the slideshow.

The instructions essentially match those that Doan used: Students open their project, and then advance through the slides, stopping on each one to read the details on the common error and then apply that advice to their drafts. To focus students, the slideshow addresses only common errors in memo format. If the activity works, I will create similar slideshows for other common issues students can review as they finish their work.

Because the slides are online, I can also use them in feedback to students. All I have to do is open the Slides file in a new browser tab, advance the presentation to the slide I want to reference, and copy the link from the browser. For instance, I can link directly to the slide on eliminating opening greetings in a memo. So simple!

I hope that this slideshow-based system will slow students down, encouraging to check their drafts more carefully. Further, I can easily adapt it to any course and assignment I might teach. I am eager to see if the activity helps students address common errors. I’d love to hear your feedback on the strategy as well. What do you think? Would you use a similar resource in your courses? Are there “Stop, Read, & Apply” activities you would like to see in a future post? Leave a comment below and tell me what you think!

 

CORRECTION: Edited to add details on Lisa Melonçon’s research on collective feedback, with apologies for the oversight.

This semester, my classes  are once again reading James Baldwin’s “The Artist’s Struggle for Integrity,” a lecture that Baldwin gave in New York City in 1963 in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement. This year, I wanted to try a different approach to teaching analysis and interpretation. I hoped as well  to create an assignment that would actively demonstration Baldwin’s ideas of an individual’s responsibility to the community. 

 

With these goals in mind, the students and I collaborated on a crowd-source assignment, which is explained in detail below. Crowdsourcing would give many voices a chance to collaborate toward a common end: to allow students to do close reading and analysis of “The Artist’s Struggle for Integrity” and to work together as a community of first-year writers across classrooms and colleges to better understand Baldwin’s most significant ideas.

 

The crowdsourcing document is different from annotation because students must write several complete paragraphs that ask for analysis in depth rather than breadth. Students take responsibility for finding their own focus for contributing to the community’s analysis. Individuals receive credit through journal entries, while the community creates the document. In this way, the assignment explores tensions that Baldwin described between individual/community in “The Artist’s Struggle for Integrity.” 

 

Considered more broadly, students collaborated across my three classrooms (at two different colleges) to enact the work of analysis. This initial assignment was presented as follows:

  1. Choose at least 3 paragraphs from the list below, then respond in writing to both anonymously.   
    1. Summary: What does the paragraph SAY? 
    2. Interpretation: What does the paragraph MEAN?
  2. AFTER your response in the google.doc, write a journal entry on Blackboard explaining your choices. 
  1. Why do these paragraphs stand out to you? (200-500 words)
  2. Read the other entries in the crowdsourcing document. Describe your response to those entries (200-500 words)

 

Here are the steps that I took to present the assignment in all three first-year writing classes:

 

  1. Created a google.doc that listed the opening words of Baldwin’s twelve paragraphs.
  2. Invited students to write a brief summary and interpretation for at least 3 of the paragraphs in the text. Students did this anonymously so that there is no judgment of anyone’s interpretations or writing styles. 
  3. Added an end comment and marginal comments once the crowdsourcing document was completed.
  4. Acknowledged individual students’ participation: First, I express my trust in students to do this assignment, and to complete the assignment responsibly, without adding extraneous or inappropriate submissions. Second, in order to receive participation credit for this assignment, students needed to complete a 2-part journal entry. In the first part, students expanded on their interpretations of Baldwin’s lecture. For the second part, students read the crowd-sourced document and added their impressions.
  5. Observed students’ innovations to the original assignment. The most significant of these innovations is changing the font, size, and text color for their own submissions-- making sure that it is different from the submission above theirs.
  6. Asked students to complete anonymous follow-up exit slips with students assessments of the crowdsourcing document.
  7. Offered students the opportunity to cite the crowdsourcing document as part of the first writing project this semester.

 

The significance of community holds relevance through and beyond classroom collaborations, especially in class discussion of theClimate March in New York City on Friday September 20, 2019. The March took place on a day that I do not teach, and I photographed the above image as people gathered to begin the March at Foley Square in Manhattan. The March offers a wellspring of the inspiration of bearing witness to individuals of all ages and many different backgrounds gathering together in community. The students found deep connections between Baldwin’s Civil Rights era lecture, their own participation in the crowd-sourcing document, and the implications of Baldwin’s lecture for civic participation in the Climate March.  

Crowd shot of the Climate March in New York City, September 20th, 2019. Photo by: Susan Naomi Bernstein.

 

The students suggested that Baldwin urged individuals to participate in the life of their community. The crowd-sourcing document does this, the students said, by allowing students as individuals to take responsibility for learning and writing together as a community.

 

Further, the students offered, Baldwin persuades his audience to take a stand on events in the larger world. The Climate March offered individuals an opportunity to draw attention to and participate in a larger community statement. When conditions are as serious as climate change, the students advised, the people need to rise up and take responsibility for the world in which we live. The Climate March is a striking example of taking responsibility, as Baldwin impelled his audience in 1963. Connecting individual action to community responsibility continues to make Baldwin’s lecture relevant for our own time. 

Marissa McKinley (recommended by Bryna Siegel Finer) is a recent graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s English Composition and TESOL doctoral program. Marissa now serves as an Assistant Teaching Professor of English at Quinnipiac University, where she teaches four sections of First-Year Writing (FYW) and assists with administering the FYW Program. Her research interests include the rhetoric of health and medicine, feminist theory and pedagogy, and writing program administration. Marissa’s scholarship has been presented at the Conference on College Composition and Communication, Feminisms and Rhetorics, and at the Rhetoric Society of America; and her work is currently featured in the co-edited collection Women’s Health Advocacy: Rhetorical Ingenuity for the 21st Century.

 

What is your greatest teaching challenge?

Undoubtedly, my greatest teaching challenge is sustaining student interest and energy after Spring Break. I have now taught for nearly eight years, and in that time, I have noticed that no matter the course I am teaching, and no matter in which area of the country I am teaching, student interest and energy typically wanes. I get it: When my students have the opportunity to head home for a week, they fall back into the comfort and regularity of their home routines. They spend their quality time with people and places they missed. To get through the rest of the semester, my students often have to temper their feelings of homesickness. They have to remind themselves that in a few more weeks, they can return to their homes and relive their former lives.

 

As many of us know, it’s challenging to focus on tasks that don’t completely occupy our interests. As a teacher, I try to put myself in my students’ shoes and remind my students that they will soon re-experience freedom outside of the college or university. They just have to take one day, one task at a time and keep in mind that their current feelings will pass.

 

What is the most important skill you aim to provide to your students?

Critical thinking. I recognize that some instructors believe that critical thinking skills cannot be taught, but I believe they can. I am not so naïve to believe that critical thinking skills can be taught and mastered during a single course; rather, I know that teachers from across the disciplines must create and integrate learning opportunities that help students acquire and develop their critical thinking skills. One such way is to offer students opportunities to reflect upon what they learned after completing an assignment and to explain how what they learned can be applied in not just their other classes, but also to tasks outside of the college or university. This act of reflection helps students to build metacognitive awareness and to apply, or transfer, their knowledge across contexts. In the act of reflection, students must connect the dots between their learning in one class and the value of that learning in other areas of their lives. It is the connecting of the dots that makes up a part of critical thinking.

 

What’s it like to be a part of the Bedford New Scholars program?

It is an honor and a privilege to be a part of the Bedford New Scholars program. I have had the opportunity of conducting editorial reviews on composition titles, along with previewing digital learning tools that are in development at Macmillan Learning. These opportunities have provided me with behind-the-scenes insights into textbook and resource publishing that will serve me as I embark on the writing and publishing of my own academic book in the near future.

 

As a Bedford New Scholar, I have also had the pleasure of collaborating with new, upcoming scholars in the field of Composition and Rhetoric at the 2019 Bedford New Scholars Summit in Boston, Massachusetts. There, I met the nine other Bedford New Scholars, and together, we demonstrated our writing knowledge and expertise to Macmillan Learning staff and each other by introducing assignments that we deemed successful in the writing classroom. Additionally, we provided Macmillan staff with a look into the processes that we undertake as we plan a writing course and select a course textbook. The insights we provided will ultimately aid Macmillan Learning staff in developing future course materials and digital learning tools. I feel fortunate to be recognized and a part of the Bedford New Scholars 2019 program.

 

What have you learned from other Bedford New Scholars?

Thus far, I have learned the most from fellow Bedford New Scholar, KAREN TRUJILLO. On the final day of the summit, Karen presented her “Assignments that Work” lesson, a social justice project that she uses when teaching First-Year Writing. Consisting of three parts, Karen’s assignment asked students to “select a topic they were interested in, to research it, and to advocate action or policy to further their passion” (Trujillo). Simply, Karen wanted her students to “link [their] advocacy topic/issue to a social justice issue” (Trujillo).

 

When Karen introduced her assignment, I couldn’t help but be captured by its brilliance. Karen’s assignment assignment takes students through the writing process and helps them to become familiar with a variety of research-related tasks, such as locating sources and even selecting information for a source that will support a research argument. The most impressive part of Karen’s assignment, though, is the social justice aspect. By completing the assignment, students locate social justice issues, learn more about the issues, and learn how to advocate for a form of action through writing. Karen’s assignment highlights the importance of voice, experience, and the need to fight against injustice; it is one that I plan to adapt and use in my future Research Writing course.

 

 

Marissa’s Assignment that Works

During the Bedford New Scholars Summit, each member presented an assignment that had proven successful or innovative in their classroom. Below is a brief synopsis of Marissa's assignment. You can view the full details here: Rhetorical Analysis of a Text Writing Project.

 

The Rhetorical Analysis of a Text assignment asks students to summarize and rhetorically analyze a text of their choice (e.g., a speech, a print advertisement, a commercial). The assignment enables students to 

  • practice their critical reading skills;
  • summarize a print or digital text;
  • familiarize themselves with rhetorical terminology; 
  • apply rhetorical terminology during analysis; 
  • engage in secondary research; and
  • practice citing.

 

Students complete the Rhetorical Analysis of a Text assignment over a series of six weeks. This pacing allows students time to engage in various low-stakes writing activities, all of which lead into and help prepare students for the rhetorical assignment. For example, during weeks one and two of the course sequence, students read texts to familiarize themselves with rhetorical terminology and to practice applying that terminology to print and digital texts. During weeks three and four, students choose the print or digital text that they want to pursue, read or watch their text and take active reading notes, and write and workshop their text summaries. Finally, during weeks five and six, students rhetorically analyze their texts, locate sources to enrich their analyses, cite their sources, workshop their analyses, and reflect upon their learning throughout the sequence. 


The Rhetorical Analysis of a Text sequence is incredibly busy, and there is much to be taught. Students are easily overwhelmed with the assignment, so it is important to take a lot of time for learning and practicing the skills that are being taught throughout the sequence.

 

Learn more about the Bedford New Scholars advisory board on the Bedford New Scholars Community page.