Despite its obvious differences, this course has a structural similarity to English 110: The assignments are scaffolded to build from smaller low-stakes assignments to larger high-stakes assignments, so they are cumulative rather than discrete. That means that everything builds on everything else, and success in this course depends on sustained participation over the course of the semester. The practicum is a teaching community, and your colleagues depend on your thoughtful engagement in class, on the blog, and at the monthly First Year Writing workshops.
We’ll use the blog to gather our responses to the week’s readings before we come to class. With that goal in mind, each member of the practicum is responsible for posting every week. Three of the posts should be semi-formal reading responses, presenting an analysis or question about the day’s reading in about 300-600 words.
The remaining twelve posts will be responses to somebody else’s post, and they may be a bit less formal but probably about the same length. When you respond, you might identify a theme that you see running through several posts, or suggest the ways that your analysis of the reading resonates with—or doesn’t—one or more of the other posts. Your responses to your colleagues’ posts must be up on the blog no later than 11:59 on Sunday night so that we can read them before class on Tuesday.
All of your blog posts should identify an idea that merits further discussion in class. You might locate a theory or claim that puzzles you, or you might raise an objection to one or more of the readings; you might propose a way that one reading offers a corrective to another, or reflect on the way that one of the readings resonates with—or contradicts—your experience as a teacher or as a student.
One way or another, your post should provide a serious analysis of the text, and each of your responses will be worth 5% of your grade. Your full-length posts must be up on the blog no later than 11:59 on Friday night so that the rest of us have time to read them and respond. Obviously, you should read all the posts that precede yours for the week so you can write in dialogue with the other members of the practicum.
Once every semester, each of you will take responsibility for presenting the blog posts and responses to the rest of us in class. Your job on that day is to highlight the key themes and discussions that arose on the blog so that we can start our class discussion with your responses to the reading in mind. Those presentations should be about ten minutes long, and they should refer to specific passages from the blog that we should make sure to discuss.
In sum, hare are the blog assignments:
- Post three semi-formal response papers, each about 300-600 words;
- Post twelve less formal responses to the response papers;
- Make one presentation on the blog in class.
FORMAL WRITING ASSIGNMENTS
You will choose the one of your blog posts that interests you the most and revise it into a seminar paper that makes a more sustained (about ten pages) intervention into the scholarly conversation that interested you in the readings. You might put several of the readings in conversation with each other, or you might write a longer analysis of a reading with reference to your experience. The response paper should follow the usual conventions of academic writing (MLA format, etc.), and I will grade it by the quality of your intervention. You will also write a draft of your response paper, which is due on November 27, although you may submit it earlier if you prefer.
Over the course of the semester, you should keep detailed notes about the ways that your syllabus and your class plans work for you that you can revise your syllabus accordingly and annotate your revision to explain your thinking. Reflect on the ways the assignments fit together and also on features of your class that may not appear in the syllabus explicitly. The primary goal of this assignment is to think through what worked and what didn’t. What would you like to do differently the next time you teach this course, and what would you like to make sure to do this way again?