An overview of how I see my Composition 1101 class playing out, including themes, assignments, and ideas.


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ENGL 1101 satisfies one of KSU’s general education program requirements. It addresses the written communication general education learning outcome(s). The learning outcome states: students will write & communicate at a college level in various modes, media, and/or rhetorical contexts.

Upon completion of English 1101, students will be able to…

-Practice writing in situations where print and/or electronic texts are used, examining why and how people -choose to write using different technologies. 

-Interpret the explicit and implicit arguments of multiple styles of writing from diverse perspectives. 

-Practice social aspects of the writing process by critiquing your own work and the work of your colleagues. 

-Analyze how style, audience, social context, and purpose shape your writing in electronic and print spaces. 

-Craft diverse types of texts to extend your thinking and writerly voice across styles, audiences, and purposes.

My Goal for My Students: My goal for you in this class is to become a better writer. I do not expect or require perfection from any of you. This is a class that is meant to teach you how to write at a college level. We will learn and grow as writers together.



Course Overview and Description

Engaging Student Audience

My goal to keep my students engaged is to have them constantly thinking about what they are doing and how these skills can be applied elsewhere. I feel like so many students see all of their courses as individual vacuums with skills and knowledge that apply only to that class, never to be used again, and that is simply not the case. I am hoping that if I can help my students realize this early on, they will stay more engaged in the class. I also plan to incorporate reflection activities throughout the semester that will prompt students to think about what they have written and how these skills might be transferred to other areas. For example, in their Argument Paper, I am going to require at least 1-2 sources to support their claims. Due to the nature of the prompt, these will not necessarily be “scholarly” sources – although we will spend time in class discussing types of sources and how to integrate them into the paper. I could potentially incorporate a reflection activity that includes thinking about how they found/determined credibility of their sources, which will absolutely be something they will use throughout their college careers.

Themes

I have thought a lot about what I want my theme to be for my class to be. I have discussed it in detail in Practicum and with my shadow professor, Dr. Livingston, and my theme will be centered around the idea that writing is everywhere. What that means is, I plan to structure my course around the idea that these are skills you will always use, even if they aren’t necessarily being used in the form of a “Research Paper.” I want students to see that writing skills are transferrable to every area of life, and through this I will be structuring lesson plans that include low-stakes and less formal modes of writing. For example, in my Audience Lesson, I will have the students learn about intended audience through an analysis of movie trailers, as well as practicing writing for different audiences besides your professor.

Skills

The skills I want to focus on are mainly the rhetorical strategies in the form of an argument. I will be building up to the student’s ability to identify strengths and weaknesses by first having them identify their favorite and least favorite pieces of writing, tasking them with the identifying the why’s. From there, in the Rhetorical Analysis, they will again be thinking about their favorite or least favorite book or movie. I will now be asking them to identify the why’s more formally, using the rhetorical strategies. From there, they will write their Argument Paper, where they will again be choosing a side, although they will not be limited to books or movies. The skills I want them to take way from this are: (1) the ability to formulate an argument and (2) explain their argument logically.

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Benefits

The benefits of structuring my class around these themes and skills is that it will essentially be setting them up for the rest of their college careers if they can grasp these concepts early on. They’re going to be invoking the rhetorical strategies and effective research all the way up to their Senior Capstones and beyond, and I have yet to find a career that doesn’t require some sort of writing skills/audience appeal/rhetorical strategy. One thing that I’m very adamant about in integrating these skills and benefits is not to beat them over the head with it. There’s nothing more frustrating for a student to hear than “This is helpful for you because x,y,z,” where “x,y,z” is essentially Because I said so. I might hint at how these skills can be helpful later on, and incorporate that into some of their reflection activities, but I’ve learned/observed that if you just tell the student this is helpful, they will probably see to find ways that it isn’t.

Interests

I want my students to be interested in what they’re writing about. I also want them to understand that a “good” paper doesn’t need to tackle global warming, abortion, or the like. You can construct a well-written, thought provoking argument about which Power Ranger is the best one. (In fact, it’s my personal opinion that you’re more likely to produce a well-written paper about Power Rangers as a college freshman than about global warming. Sorry.) Because of this, the Rhetorical Analysis will focus on their favorite book or movie, and the Argument Paper will include a list of low stakes arguments (RE: Power Rangers) for the students to choose from, with the caveat that they are allowed to select a similarly low stakes topic of their choice if they wish. I think the students be more engaged in the research process if they are researching a topic that they are actually interested in and not what they think they are supposed to be interest in (RE: Global Warming). This is not to say that I don’t think students have an interest in these topics or that these topics or not important. Rather, I am hoping that by practicing constructing an argument about ice cream flavors or Disney princesses, when the time comes for the student to write about a higher stakes topic, they will be more prepared to construct a sound, logical argument.


Theoretical Justifications

Thresholds

Writing is a Social and Rhetorical Activity

Students will be interacting with each other throughout their major assignments via peer reviews and guided discussions – utilizing D2L Discussion Posts for reflection activities that will prompt the students to share ideas with each other on topics. We will also be focusing on the idea of identifying rhetorical strategies in all things, not necessarily just the Rhetorical Analysis.

Writing Involves Making Ethical Choices

I want my students to understand that, while most of the subjects we will be writing about are low stakes topics, this will not always be the case. They will sometimes be tasked with discussing/writing about a sensitive subject where being cognizant of your audience is crucial, so we will be practicing that in the writing activities that we do. To address this, I will be using our low stakes topics to talk about audience. I will explain to them that, even though these topics are not necessarily as sensitive as something like abortion or same-sex marriage, some people may have different opinions about them, therefore it is important to be mindful and respectful of opposing points of view.

All Writing is Multimodal

By having students produce reflective writing activities about their major assignments, I plan to incorporate the multimodal/metacognitive idea of “writing about writing.” This will help them think about the topics they are writing about outside of the papers themselves. I also plan to turn the Argument Paper into a multimodal final project, where the students will be asked to present their arguments in different forms, such as PowerPoint or PSA videos.

All Writers Have More to Learn

While I will obviously be grading students’ papers and assessing their writing, I will also be stressing to them that everything isn’t grammar and there is no such thing as a perfect draft – especially a first one. I will be incorporating checkpoints in their writing on all of their papers in the form of first drafts and peer reviews. I will also focus on the improvement of their grammar – meaning that if they continually make the same comma errors in their first paper, for example, I will not mark off for it. Instead, I will provide explanations of why it is wrong and perhaps resources for them to look at (like Writing Center handouts). Part of their grade on the next paper will be to see if they have improved on their specific errors. I intent to incorporate a few Grammar lessons into the early part of the semester, so there is at least a foundation to build off of in the student’s grammar growth.

All Writing is a Cognitive Activity

This will go along with the previous threshold and my idea of grading on growth. I want to see that they are cognizant of the mistakes they make and that they can grow from it. This has been especially important to me given my experience in the Writing Center of trying to get students to identify what specifically they need help with outside of “just check my grammar.” I want my students to be thinking not only about what they are writing, but how they can improve as writers going forward.

Teaching Philosophy

The two main tenants of my teaching philosophy are: (1) there is no “right way” to write and (2) assessment is an opportunity for growth, not punishment. These are both heavily reflected in the thresholds I will be incorporating into my classroom. I want my students to understand that writing is not just something you do, or rather something you just “do well.” It is about constantly growing and learning and practicing and reflecting. It is about expressing your own identity logically and thoughtfully. I want my students to not be afraid of revisions or “grammar errors” like so many of them currently are.

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Learning Theory

I am largely in favor of the Socratic Method, which includes an open classroom discussion. While I will not have discussion leaders, I will set the expectation that students should come to class prepared to discuss the reading or flipped presentation that was assigned to them. I chose not to designate discussion leaders because I feel like this can turn into a largely one-sided presentation with just the discussion leader speaking, but if I notice that certain students are participating more than others, I might call on those who have not participated. I want my classroom to be a place where students feel like they can share their writing experiences in class. Writing papers can be very difficult; I want them to know that they aren’t alone in this and they can help each other.


Major Assignments

The Literacy Narrative

Assignment Overview: Students will be asked to think back on their previous writing experiences, either for school or personal writing. This can be any piece of writing at any time. I would like them to select one piece of writing that they consider their “best” writing or that they are especially proud of, and one piece of writing that they struggled with – the criteria for “best” and “worst” writing is entirely up to them. This can be the paper you got the best/worst grade on, a short story you wrote that you are really proud of, or a paper that you just hated the topic with a passion. I would like them to explain the pieces of writing, identify why it was their favorite/least favorite, and then draw conclusions from each piece of writing.

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Learning Objectives: This assignment will help students begin to think about their own writing, as well as begin to formulate ways to identify strengths and weaknesses. By being asked to explain what they did or did not like about their writing, they will be writing a very rough version of a rhetorical analysis. They will also be learning how to edit and revise and conduct a peer review.

Thematic Focus and Conceptual Ideas: As previously stated, the Literacy Narrative will be focused on their own writing. The theme will be incorporated because the students will be asked to think about their writing for other classes and how that writing might help them in this and future classes.

Incremental Steps: Students will be responsible for turning in a draft of their paper for peer review. To ensure this is taken seriously, part of their final grade on the paper will be how they used feedback from their peer reviews, or explaining why they didn’t use it if chose not to in a reflection assessment. This will be part of the reflection at the end of the paper, but it will also help students understand that not all feedback or revisions needs to be implemented. It is still your paper.

Writing Processes: The brainstorming for this paper will include a journaling activity as well as a discussion post where the students can reflect on what past writings they might use, which may help some of them formulate ideas they may not have thought of. They will also be required to submit a draft for peer review and reflect on what changes they made based off the feedback from the review.

Low Stakes Assignments: The low stakes assignments for this paper will include the brainstorming discussions, as well as the reflection journal and reflection activity at the end.

Multimodal Components: I will have the students incorporate multimodality through their reflections and discussion. I want them to be writing about their writing outside of the paper so that they are more confident about what they actually want to say when they sit down to write it.

Readings and Resources: One reading we will be using for this paper is the section about audience in Everything’s an Argument to help students begin to understand what it means to write for a specific audience.

Collaborative Activities: The collaborative activities for this assignment will include peer review and discussion posts to share ideas with each other on possible topics.

Skills Emphasized: Writing for a specific audience, self-reflection and explaining reasoning, which will build into forming and supporting an argument.

Professor Bomely’s Example: My worst piece of writing in my opinion was a literary analysis of Mrs. Dalloway. I did not like the book at all and struggled to read it. What I took away from this paper was that I need to be more careful about selecting topics and do some preliminary research on a subject before I commit to it.

The Rhetorical Analysis

Assignment Overview: The students will be tasked with selecting their favorite or least favorite book, movie, TV show, video game, or song. They will then conduct a rhetorical analysis on what does or does not work about the piece.

Learning Objectives: This exercise will help students understand the four rhetorical strategies – Logos, Ethos, Pathos, and Kairos – and how to use them to construct an argument utilizing them as evidence. They will also continue to learn about editing and revising through peer reviews.

Thematic Focus and Conceptual Ideas: The theme of the class will be tied in by the students being allowed to select the media they are analyzing and whether or not they are arguing for the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of it – this will help them understand that they are already thinking about the rhetorical devices to some extent because they will have previously dubbed this piece as their favorite or least favorite.

Incremental Steps: The students will begin with simply selecting their favorite or least favorite whatever and writing about why it is. I will have them do this before they even learn about the rhetorical devices, in the hopes that some of them will have unknowingly invoked some of the devices in their explanations. From there, we will do a lesson about each rhetorical strategy, with the students writing about each one for homework assignments. Then they will use these assignments to construct a draft of their rhetorical analysis, which will follow the same process of editing, revision, and reflection as the Literacy Narrative.

Writing Processes: There will be several pre-writing assignments for this paper that will focus on different parts of the rhetorical devices that will help serve as an outline of what they will talk about in the actual paper, followed by a draft that will undergo a required peer review, and then reflection at the end.

Low Stakes Assignments: As stated previously, many of the low stakes assignments for this paper will include homework assignments where the students are tasks with writing about one rhetorical device in regards to their chosen media. It doesn’t need to be a formal assignment, just getting them used to identifying each device and writing/talking about them. There will also be a guided peer review, with an additional component of the review where the peer must respond to whether or not they were convinced that the media was effective/ineffective and why. This will help both the writer to strengthen their argument as well as the reviewer by having them further practice identifying the rhetorical strategies.

Multimodal Components: The multimodality of this paper will be the multiple writings about writing that will tie into the paper mentioned above, as well as several reflection checkpoints.

Readings and Resources: We will be reading and discussing each rhetorical device in Everything’s an Argument.

Collaborative Activities: The students will have several discussion posts to complete throughout this assignment, starting with just simply discussing their favorite or least favorite media, and then, as we continue to learn about each strategy, more focused writing activities where they will work together to identify the strategies. They will also be completing a guided peer review similar to the Literacy Narrative.

Skills Emphasized: The use of the rhetorical strategies, as well as writing for a specific audience and continuing to formulate a sound argument.

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Professor Bomely’s Example: A rhetorical analysis on one of my favorite movies, Ever After, would look at how effectively the classic fairy tale Cinderella is retold for a modern audience by presenting the heroine as a forward-thinking and independent female (ethos), explaining the fantastical elements of the traditional fairy tale with historical figures and events (logos), and making the love story a relationship of equals where the heroine saves herself (pathos).

The Argument Paper

Assignment Overview: The students will be placed in teams of two. Together, they will come up with a low stakes topic to argue (low stakes topics will be defined in the guidelines and include a list of examples). They will each pick a side of their argument and write an Argument Paper that must include a counterargument. I will ask that they find 1-2 sources to support their claims. They will be working together to conduct research and peer reviews of each other’s papers.

Learning Objectives: I hope for the students to learn how to compose a solid argument and integrate sources, building off their previous experiences with audience and rhetorical strategies. They will also learn the importance of objectively identifying a counterargument.

Thematic Focus and Conceptual Ideas: The students will again be invoking their own lives and interests by writing about a topic of their choice. One of the major concepts I want to emphasize in this assignment is the idea that a topic doesn’t have to be earth shattering to create a sound argument and well-constructed paper.

Incremental Steps: The students will begin with selecting their topic, and then presenting what their sides will be and what points they plan to make to establish credibility. Thee will be reflection activities throughout this assignment about their research and what ideas they have gathered for their argument. The draft will follow the same peer review process as the previous papers, however they will be reviewing and responding to their partners’ draft.

Writing Processes: As stated above, this paper will include several prewriting components, including checkpoints for presenting their ideas and potential arguments for approval as well as research checkpoints. We will also spend time discussing credible sources here. The students will have a guided peer review as well as a reflection for the end of the assignment.

Low Stakes Assignments: The low stakes assignments will include the brainstorming and reflection checkpoints that I have stated above. I am also considering an informal annotated bibliography-esque assignment to get the students used to talking about their sources and practicing citations.

Multimodal Components: The multimodal component of this assignment will include discussions with their teammates on their argument. The should be able to explain their differing points of view with each other to help strengthen their own argument. They will also be presenting their arguments to the class as their final project. Although this won’t be completed until after the Argument Paper is completed, I will briefly introduce the concept here so the students can be cognizant of it as they work through their papers. The teams will swap sides and present their cases in different forms including, but not limited to, PowerPoint, PSA videos, class debates, and so on. This is multimodal not only because they are not writing a traditional paper, but they are also going to be expected to argue a point they might not agree with.

Readings and Resources: We will be heavily relying on readings from Everything’s an Argument for this paper. Students will read about structuring arguments and incorporating evidence.

Collaborative Activities: Most of this paper will be collaborative, as students will be expected to work together and come up with ideas for their research together. They should be using similar claims with differing evidence to support their side. Therefore, they will work together to come up with ideas of what to research. They will also be peer reviewing their partner’s paper.

Skills Emphasized: Presenting an argument, incorporating ideas, understanding audience, responding to a counterargument.

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Professor Bomely’s Example: If I was arguing why Ariel is the best Disney princess, I might research how popular she is through the many sequels, TV series, and adaptations The Little Mermaid has had – why would they make so many if she wasn’t popular? I might also look at how often she is marketed in merchandise in comparison to the other princesses to demonstrate her popularity, and analyze some of the important lessons Ariel’s story teaches. A counterargument would be examining why Ariel might be a poor role model and responding to this interpretation.

Reflection (Multimodal Final Project)

Assignment Overview: With the same partner the students had for their Argument Papers, the students will be doing a presentation on their argument topic. They will be arguing the same topic, but the opposite side that they argued for their papers. They are free to present this presentation however they wish, with suggestions of PowerPoint, PSAs, in class debates, etc. They will be using all of the skills they have learned throughout the semester – audience, argument, rhetorical devices, etc. to present their case.

Learning Objectives: Students will learn how to present research and arguments in a different medium besides a traditional paper. They will also be reflecting on and invoking all of the skills they have learned throughout the semester.

Thematic Focus and Conceptual Ideas: This project will tie into the theme because students will again be working with a topic that interests them, though this time they will be expected to argue a side they might not agree with. This will help them think about their arguments from opposing points of views.

Incremental Steps: Students will begin the assignment by brainstorming methods they might use to present their argument. There will be discussion posts where they can share ideas with each other. They will then go through a drafting stage where they will present a rough draft of their presentation. This will be open to what they are presenting, and it will largely be up to them with a creative way to present the draft – for example a storyboard for a PSA or an outline of a slideshow.

Writing Processes: Like the Incremental Steps, a lot of the writing processes will depend largely on the type of project the students choose. They will all, regardless of modality, be required to write a brief essay outlining how they invoke the ideas we have discussed this semester, like rhetorical devices and audience, to keep them constantly reflecting on how they are using what they have learned.

Low Stakes Assignments: The low stakes assignments for this project will be mostly discussion boards about their ideas and the “rough draft” check point where they need to present their planned presentation in some way. There will also be reflection activities, possibly in the form of additional discussion posts, where the students will be required to discuss how they are using certain elements from the class.

Multimodal Components: The project itself will multimodal, as all of the students will be presenting their arguments in different, multimodal ways. They are encouraged to be creative in how they choose to present their arguments, though a list of ideas will be made available to them.

Readings and Resources: The resources for this assignment will be the same resources the students have used throughout the semester. They will be encouraged to look back on their readings from our textbook as well as as any notes from previous papers to help them understand how to use each of the ideas form the class in their paper.

Collaborative Activities: This project will be more collaborative than the Argument Paper because the students will be working on the project and presenting their final products in teams, as opposed to producing individual papers.

Skills Emphasized: Reflecting on their previous work throughout the semester, creativity in how they present their arguments, and working together with a teammate.


Methods of Assessment

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I plan on using analytic rubrics for my grading that I will provide to the students ahead of time, probably after peer review to help with revising their writings. I plan to provide it as a checklist for revision as opposing to in the early drafting when they will be using the assignment guidelines. One part of my assessment that I really want to focus on is growth. I’ve mentioned previously that I want to identify grammar mistakes in the first papers, and grade on how they fix these mistakes in later papers. Grammar will not be weighed heavily, but it will be component of the rubric. There will also be initial grammar lessons for a foundation to build off of. This way, the points will not be deducting for making a mistake, but instead from not learning from the mistake. Some things this will not apply to, though. For example, I plan to spend a lot of time talking about how to incorporate evidence in their Argument Papers. Therefore, I will be looking for that in the paper because I will know that they have learned how do it and expect them to reflect this knowledge. I will explain to students my belief about growth, not because I want them to think that it’s okay to turn in a terrible paper, but because I want them to understand that I understand that this class is about learning how to write, not demonstrating that you already know everything.

Below is a sample of what an analytic rubric might look like that I would use in my class.

Literacy Narrative Rubric

Name: _________________                                    Grade:_______

 A = 18-20B= 16-17C= 14-15D/F= 0-13
 ExemplaryMeets ExpectationsDevelopingUnsatisfactory
      Follows the Prompt-Demonstrates a clear understanding of the prompt.
-Thoughtful responses to each question that demonstrate reflection.
-Answers the prompt. -Meets most requirements of the paper.-Prompt is not completely answered. -One or more of the ideas requirement is not clear.-Prompt is not answered. -Does not show understanding of the paper requirements.
Development-Paper has a clear introduction and conclusion. -Includes strong body paragraphs with clear subjects and transitions.-Introduction and Conclusion are present, but could be more developed. -Body paragraphs are present but could be more developed.-Introduction or Conclusion are unclear/under developed -Body paragraphs are not cohesive or follow the structure of the paper.-Introduction or Conclusion are not present. -Body paragraphs do not support ideas of the paper.
Formatting-Proper headers and page numbers that follow MLA conventions. Creative title. Meets length requirement.-Mostly follows MLA conventions. -Short of length requirement, but content is still clear.-Multiple errors in MLA formatting. -Well beneath length requirement.-MLA formatting does not meet standards. -Length requirement is not met, supported by content
Language-Includes strong language and knowledge of audience. -Writing is sophisticated and appropriate to the college level-Well-written, but language could be stronger. -Writing meets requirements of college level.-Language/tone was not in keeping with the audience -Writing shows opportunities for improvement.-Language is unacceptable. -Writing is below requirements of college level.
Grammar/Spelling-Little to no grammatical errors. -Shows knowledge of grammar appropriate for college level.-Few grammatical errors. -Shows knowledge of grammar convention.-Repeated grammatical errors that made it difficult to comprehend the ideas of the paper.-Excessive grammatical errors and conventions.  
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