Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Using AP English Resources

I just picked up a job teaching a few classes at a charter school, including AP English. As I cram to get up to date on what that class is all about, I'm discovering that a lot of it matches what we cover in 1010/2010 - which makes sense since the goal of AP English is largely to prepare students for college (and test out of our courses).

One of the most useful things I've found is that sample AP tests are excellent sources of teaching & practice material. 

For example, if the rhetorical analysis paper gives students experience critiquing academic papers, isn't it a good idea to give them a clear idea of how to do so on simpler material first?

Below is a sample question and three paragraphs of a source copied from Doesn't it seem easier for students to grasp as opposed to starting with a very formal academic journal article where bias, strategy, audience awareness, ethos, pathos, and other rhetorical aspects are far more difficult to identify?

If you successfully interest them in this game of analysis and critique, they'll launch into their papers with greater interest, enthusiasm, investment, understanding, and will thereby learn more. Nearly as important - your job satisfaction will increase due to more engaged students and better papers at grading time.

Alfred M. Green delivered the following speech in Philadelphia in April 1861, the first month of the Civil War. African Americans were not yet permitted to join the Union army, but Green felt that they should strive to be admitted to the ranks and prepare to enlist. Read the speech carefully. Then write an essay in which you analyze the methods that Green uses to persuade his fellow African Americans to join the Union forces.

The time has arrived in the history of the great Republic when we may again give evidence to the world of the bravery and patriotism of a race in whose hearts burns the love of country, of freedom, and of civil and religious toleration . It is these grand principles that enable men, however proscribed, when possessed of true patriotism, to say, “My country, right or wrong, I love thee still!”

It is true, the brave deeds of our fathers, sworn and subscribed to by the immortal Washington of the Revolution of 1776, and by Jackson and others in the War of 1812, have failed to bring us into recognition as citizens, enjoying those rights so dearly bought by those noble and patriotic sires. 

It is true that our injuries in many respects are great; fugitive-slave laws, Dred Scott* decisions, indictments for treason, and long and dreary months of imprisonment . The result of the most unfair rules of judicial investigation has been the pay we have received for our solicitude, sympathy and aid in the dangers and difficulties of those “days that tried men’s souls." 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Lesson Idea for Evaluating Resources

I've been a fan of Mignon Fogerty's Grammar Girl podcast for a couple of years now. It's the perfect podcast to keep you fresh and up-to-date on grammar controversies. It's short, sweet, and very well-researched/well-argued.

Yesterday's episode was quite germane to those of us who teach academic writing because it was about how to evaluate the credibility of your resources. In this episode, Fogerty talks about a link that she was sent by one of her listeners: Grammar Sticklers May Have OCD. The link discusses an article being published in Journal of Syntatic Cognition that people who go around correcting other people's grammar mistakes are suffering from a genetic disorder known as Grammatical Pedantry Syndrome. The link has a lot of markers to suggest that it's credible:
  • --It's published on a blog that is hosted on the University of Illinois's website
  • --The author, Dennis Baron, is a legitimate professor of English and Linguistics
  • --It cites its sources (The Journal of Syntatic Cognition)
  • --And it has a lot of other markers of a scholarly blog: formal citations, the use of fairly technical language, fancy brain imaging diagrams, etc.
The problem? It's a total hoax. If you read the article closely, there's a lot of subtle signals that it is a work of satire. For example, one of the researchers is named "Hi Ding Lo" (hiding low).

Grammar Girl goes through and discusses in-depth all of the ways she was able to verify that it was a hoax (such as Googling the journal name to find out it didn't exist).

I think it might be a fun activity to give the students the link and have them work in groups to decide whether they think it is credible or not and why. You could introduce it as being a fairly benign activity in which you are getting them to apply the concepts you've taught in class about evaluating resources.

My guess is that most of them will determine that it is credible for all of the reasons that I mentioned earlier. Then, you could play the Grammar Girl episode for them to help them realize they need to be a little more media-savvy and skeptical. Nobody likes feeling duped and so this will be a good lesson in the importance of using credible sources.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Grammar Litmus Test?

Some interesting points in this article from the Harvard Business Review. I may share it with my students.

I Won't Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar. Here's Why.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Portrait of Part-Time Faculty Members

Here's an interesting new study on adjunct faculty:

Friday, March 30, 2012

Professional Development Meeting Notes from March 19-20

1. Announcements

--The Human Resources Department requires that all adjunct faculty re-apply for their positions on an annual basis. This year, you need to re-apply before May 15. This process should be fairly easy for you to do. On the UVU Job website, go to the job posting for: Adjunct Instructor – English and Literature. Click the button that says “Apply for this Posting” and login to the UVU website. You should have created a username and password already when you first applied to be an adjunct instructor. This process shouldn’t take very long because your Curriculum Vita (CV) and other documents should still be on file in the system and you can just re-attach them during the application. However, it’s generally a good idea to update your CV if you have the time.

--Fall Schedule teaching assignments should be available mid-April. The process has been delayed from previous years, so please be patient.

--The WPAs receive complaints from students from time to time. Whenever they receive a complaint, they will always contact you as an instructor to let you know about it. Many times the complaint can easily be resolved by scheduling a brief meeting with the WPA, the instructor and the student. That being said, there are a number of things you could possibly do to help prevent student complaints early on. We brainstormed some of the ways that we as instructors could help prevent complaints. One of the suggestions was that you could consider including a statement in your syllabus about the importance of coming to you first to resolve any concerns you might have. You could also make an effort to respectfully respond to any emails you receive from students and make a genuine effort to listen to students when they come to you with a concern. Sometimes students complain about class being cancelled too frequently, so it could help to keep class cancellations to a minimum.

2. Strategies for Teaching the Synthesis Paper

Heather Tolen gave a presentation about an object lesson she uses to teach her students the basic concepts needed to complete the Synthesis paper. For this object lesson, she brings two purses with different items in each purse. The students analyze the objects in the two purses and then talk about what these objects say about the lifestyle, beliefs, and values of the person who owns them. They compare and contrast the two purses with each other. They then talk about how these same tasks are involved in writing the Synthesis paper. For a complete description of the activity, please see this handout.

Aleta Breakwell gave a presentation about how she uses a deck of Uno cards to teach her students about the Synthesis paper. One color represents the student’s discussion in their paper about Author A’s essay. Another color represents the student’s discussion about Author B. The last color represents the students own insights and analysis on the topic. Aleta talks about how she sees too many papers where the different colors are just “stacked up” on top of each other. She then has a student shuffle the deck and fan the deck out. She talks about how this is the ideal way to organize a Synthesis paper: mixing all the different ideas from the two authors and the student’s insights altogether.

3. Strategies for Encouraging Self-Reflective Writing

Catherine Ashton gave a presentation about how she uses Canvas to have her students post their Final Portfolios in an e-Portfolio format. For those of you who were not able to attend the professional development meeting, she’s posted her sample e-Portfolio online.

Alyssa Rock gave a presentation about how she does Self-Reflective Writing in her classes. She talked about how the value in self-reflective writing is that it helps students to meta-cognitively think about the actual process of writing and begin figuring out how they can make that process more efficient. It also teaches students how to analyze and criticize their own writing, which is an important step in the revision process. Lastly, it builds students’ skills in introspection (what Howard Gardner calls “intra-personal intelligence”), which is a valuable life skill that is necessary for cooperative problem-solving and for developing a sense of self. Alyssa has her students write a self-reflective piece as the first assignment of the semester. Then she has them write small, in-class self-reflective essays whenever a major paper is due. Lastly, she has them include one final self-reflective writing piece in the Final Portfolio. To read her specific prompts for these essays, you can view her handout on Self-Reflective Writing.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Announcement from Val Merit

This is posted on behalf of Val Merit.

Today, March 23, at 3:00 p.m. in SC 206 I am giving a paper entitled “From Homer to Shakespeare and the Moderns: Transmitting our Classical Heritage across the Disciplines.” It’s the last paper of the entire conference and late in the day on a Friday, so I am having anxiety attacks about there even being an audience. Aside from that, after having run into Grant today, who though some of you might be interested in the topic, I decided to post it here. The thrust of the paper is what we can do to help restore classical texts to their proper place in academia. If you’re interested, it would be great to see you there.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Professional Development Meeting Notes from February 21-22

1. Announcements

--Although we have lost FA 742 as a meeting place, there is now space available for adjunct faculty to meet with students. You may use the two designated carrels between the GT and CS building.

--If you have requested to teach in the Summer, the Summer Schedules should be going out in the next day or two.

--The WPAs will continue to observe classes in February and March. New adjunct faculty have a higher chance of receiving a class visit from a WPA.

--If you would like to have a particular topic addressed in our March Professional Development meeting, please let one of the WPAs or Alyssa know.

--The General Education Committee may hold an e-portfolio workshop during the Summer Attendees would be paid a stipend for attending. Which month would be the most convenient for you? (Most people present at the meeting said that May would be the best month.)

--There will be three new lectureship positions opening for the Fall semester. These are composition teaching positions and will require teaching 4 classes a semester. These positions have been officially opened on the Human Resources website. Please see the email that Grant Moss sent out about this position.

--The English and Literature department is planning to sponsor a Writing for Social Change conference at UVU during the Fall semester. If your students are interested in conducting research on a Utah issue or other social change issue, you may want to work with them and encourage them to prepare for this conference. More details about the conference will be forthcoming.

--A question was raised about whether adjunct faculty will have to re-apply for their positions on an annual basis. It is our understanding that this will be a yearly requirement. Gae Lyn will confirm this with Human Resources and let all of us know.

2. Edward Martinelli from the Accessibility Services Department

We were pleased to welcome Dr. Martinelli from the Accessibility Services Department (ASD). Dr. Martinelli spoke to us about the policies and procedures for granting academic accommodations to students with disabilities. Here are some highlights from the meeting:

--The main responsibility of the ASD is to review documentation of learning disabilities provided by students and then determine what academic accommodations should be given to each student. These accommodations are written up in a letter and are delivered to the teacher by the student.

--The letter will never tell you what the specific disability is. It is up to the student’s discretion whether he or she wants to disclose the nature of the disability to you. It is not appropriate to ask the student about the specific disability because that is a violation of the student’s privacy. You can call the ASD if you have a question about their accommodations.

--It is also inappropriate to suggest to a student that they have a learning disability. However, if you can see that a student is struggling, you can point out that there are many resources on campus for students who are struggling such as the Student Health Center, the Writing Center (for individual tutoring) and the ASD. If a student suspects they have a disability that has not been diagnosed, they can see the Student Health Center for testing. Other centers may be able to give them a diagnosis more quickly, but it usually costs more money.

--As a faculty member, you do not need to apply the accommodations retroactively. You only need to begin giving the accommodations from the time that you receive the letter. If you ever have a question about the accommodations or if you feel that the student is abusing the accommodations in some way, you are welcome to call the ASD and discuss your concerns with a member of the department. You can also call if you feel that the specific accommodations will be too difficult for you to provide.

--Students are strongly encouraged to visit the ASD at the beginning of the semester so that accommodations can be given as soon as possible. You should include something in your syllabus that encourages students to visit the ASD if they are eligible.

--The official law governing disabilities for college campuses is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Please be aware that speaking English as a Second Language is not considered a disability under the ADA.