Reading Room 11/13: Creating the Teaching Professor: Guiding Graduate Students to Become Effective Teachers-The Journal of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

Journal: The Journal of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

Heading into graduate school, the goal should be becoming an effective college professor and make sure you are adequately prepared for each class.  This is exactly what the article entails here and systematically goes through step by step.  In the article “Creating the Teaching Professor: Guiding Graduate Students to Become Effective Teachers” by Ronald J. Weber, Ann Gabbert, Joanne Kropp, and Patrick Pynes, this group of researchers demonstrate their learning experiences with being a History Professor.

The alterations are being put in place when it comes to helping graduate students become college professors.  Weber, Gabbert, Kropp, and Pynes compiled a bunch of stories on their journey into teaching at the University of Texas at El Paso.  All of this became beneficial because this study is being done on the History Teaching and Learning Seminar in the History Ph.D. program at the University of Texas at El Paso.  The research being made in this article looked at the teamwork with graduate students and how they found great teaching tools.  With this process, the graduate students (who participated) found out that being a listener is monumental in teaching, effectiveness outweighs the idea of finding new teaching skills, and that the system for teaching college teachers needs so much work in which sets up student academics to be a teacher.  The researchers primarily worked with Scholarship, which was extremely crucial in this process because it made sure these students moved up with the material.  For example, the researchers said this about teaching, “Teaching was broadly conceived as the dissemination of content knowledge to students” (Weber, Gabbert, Kropp, and Pynes, 2007).  Professors are not supposed to know everything when it comes to their field of study.  In fact, they are just as much of a student of education as undergraduate students.

This seminar gave students different aspects which helps practice becoming a teacher and blend the dynamics of teaching and scholarship as well.  However, what the problem is that graduate students try to imitate their professors from the past and blend their teaching methods as well.  This is very concerning because the graduate students ignore the current undergraduate students’ routines to learn.

What the researchers did in this study is that they asked all of the graduate students in the course to gather a portfolio in relation to academia.  In other words, they would include their method of researching and what their goals are in teaching.  To have a comparative look at teaching vs learning, these graduate students have only just begun thinking about how a student improves.

What the researchers found is that the graduate students adapted effectively as they shape who they are as a person.  For example, the researchers commented on the seminar’s goals even further, “In addition to treating young academics as students, the seminar also leads them to think and act as teachers by planning and organizing a college class”(Weber, Gabbert, Kropp, and Pynes, 2007).  Graduate students should look at young students as human beings in education because it removes this dehumanizing notion of becoming a college professor.  The relationship between a student and teacher needs to have clarity and more importantly, these graduate students in training should be organized with their field of study.

I found this article to be very helpful as a first-year graduate student in English Literature/Creative Writing because I am taking a seminar class on something similar to the study. The class is called the teaching practicum in Creative Writing.  In this class, we voice our concerns as a graduate instructional assistant and provide ample case studies.  Within these narratives, it sets us up to become future professors at the college level.  However, after reading this article, my anxiety level as a graduate student decreases a bit.  I know many of my peers in that class have been nervous about giving a lecture for the first time and sometimes they are critical after the presentation.  But what this article taught me is that you need to know the culture of the classroom.  It is so imperative to ensure your teaching philosophy is consistent throughout your career.  In the end, it is all about practicing and training graduate students to be the future college professors of the 21st century.

This article gives me a new outlook on how I want to conduct my last case study for the semester in my practicum class.  I need to think of this question: do I truly understand the class?  Do I understand them and can relate to them as a student teacher when we do group work?  It is something I need to explore deeper and further as I transition into my second semester.

Reflections on the Annotation Comrades assignment

This assignment was so challenging and quite a risk because I knew Creative Writing professors have never used online annotation as a tool for their courses.  I truly understood that some of my ideas with the annotation comrades lesson plan could be taken as outlandish and unusual.  As someone who has taken English Literature and Creative Writing classes at San Francisco State University for 3 years now, it was a worthy chance to be able to make online annotation a great useful assignment just because there are options to make the activity interactive.  When I mean interactive, I look at the authentic way in which students look at a piece of poem/short story/monologue/excerpts from a novel contextually and practice more close reading to this assignment (I was reading an article in the Writer’s Chronicle on the Midrash method in Jewish culture when I was thinking about that).  However, after reading my peer’s feedback on this assignment (and talking at great lengths with my Creative Writing Professor), hearing and reading the feedback was beneficial.  For example, my comrade made note of “students need guidance- they might need to be told what to do and how to do it” (annotation comrades).  My Creative Writing professor said almost the exact same thing where I truly need to look at where I could direct them towards metaphor.  This is where my article from Hastac was one of those moments that happened for a reason (the article is called “Using Collaborative Annotation to develop Creative Writing Prompts”) What I meant by that is reading the article on annotation ideas for students in a creative writing course and make this experience (especially for creative writing) relatively engaging in this lecture.  I believe if I stuck with my plan here in the final (which I posted weeks ago), some of the key points would be lost in the lecture and my whole presentation could be dry.  This is where I found feedback from two people especially helpful in this sense and where I can revise this as I get closer to my presentation date on December 10th (to be exact).

One thing I really enjoyed reading my from peers’ thoughts on the assignment was the research aspect.  That is something I truly value when it comes to creative writing and English literature course because I don’t think you can get a great sense of what the author’s voice based on just one poem or one novel.  My whole understanding is that the students should get that chance to do outside research of the author so that they have an in-depth profile of the poet/novelist.  That way you can separate yourself from the speaker vs the author.  For example, my comrade pointed out that “As student’s carry out the rest of this assignment, the research requirement serves as a tool for concise and thoughtful annotations” (Annotation comrades).  This is where feedback is so beneficial for writers and students of literature because the person gets constructive information to work from.  Feedback should be a chance for students to learn about the process and not be stressed over reading these comments from several people.  In addition to that, I felt my comrade was very creative with the writing assignment portion here just because how many images and metaphors are embedded in the poem.  For example, the speaker said this on one of the lines, “loneliness is lying awake at night, trying to fetch snores” (annotation comrades).  To me, this is a strong line just because the purpose of this exercise was a stream of consciousness and the result was these two metaphors.  I think if the students really use this method in the exercise, it will be very exciting to hear what they produce writing wise and how it is an imitation of Billy Collins’s poetry.

Overall, I felt very optimistic about my assignment (after reading the feedback from my comrade and agreeing with Creative Writing professor on switching the direction for the lecture) because I think this assignment will turn into an engaging lecture.  One of my Creative Writing professors once said: “Perfection is for sick people.”  Likewise, it would be very counterintuitive to expect perfection on this assignment (after conducting two drafts of the plan) and there is always room to grow here.  After all, that’s why we are in graduate school because we have amazing peers to work within the department and it sets us up to succeed once we become English Literature professors.  If all my graduate classes were like this, I truly think the students would find comfort in knowing there is unity in creative writing and English Literature.  I really look forward to shaping this lecture and taking note of other articles we read in class to use as resources for it as well.

Reading Room #8- Using collaborative annotation to develop creative writing prompts

Journal: Hastac

All of this talk of online annotation has gotten me to reflect upon our previous discussions in class on different formats.  I continue to look back at the methods set forth between Genius and Slate; these different methods to authentically use online annotation had set me up for my annotation comrades assignment.  However, this article, from the journal Hastac titled “Using collaborative annotation to develop creative writing prompts” by Rachel Shields, was something I found by accident.  I was talking one on one with my Creative Writing professor, that I am a graduate instructional assistant for, and she really made me really find ways to give direction to the students.  In other words, it was a challenge for her to wrap her head around teaching online annotation to 100 students (who have different majors other than creative writing and english literature) in a lecture hall.  In this article, Sheilds reiterates that many of her students in her short story class found it so hard to come up with creative writing projects.  This is where Shields came to the conclusion that working together as a class with online annotation suited better for the students.

Within the time frame of the course, each group would have 20 students and strongly read (and reread) unique texts for the group they are in.  Some of the stories included: Virginia Woolf’s “Blue & Green”, Katherine Mansfield’s “Miss Brill”, and James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (selections).  With these texts in mind, the students would post the versions of the story on google docs, look for the correct group they are in, and come up with 3-4 annotations (similar to the ones from the big class group,  and look at a craft strategy that suits you well as a writer.  On their own, they would read the annotations they have seen their peers reply to within the exact story.  However, going back into groups, the students would relatively look at a craft strategy they need fine tuning with as a writer.

Using “Backwards Design” as a model, Shields states, ” Include at least one suggestion for content generation (ex: “go to a café and observe how people drink coffee, then put a description of coffee drinking somewhere in your piece” or “read the comments section of a NY Times article and incorporate two sentences from commenters into the dialog you are writing”)” (Shields).  Rachel Shields has goals with this assignment and that is useful for the students.

I found this article by accident and relatable to my lecture in my creative writing course because of how much of this I want to use for the course.  What better way to come up with new ideas on annotation?

Reading Room 10/23- Writing is Hard

Journal: HASTAC

Academia is all about the shared experience of learning between college professors and the students as well.  This is what leads to authentic learning inside the classroom.  However, sometimes an instructor needs to show the students how challenging tasks such as writing can be in the world.  In the article from HASTAC titled Writing is Hard by Cathy Davison, Davison reports on a lab experiment with John Hopkins and the Community College of Baltimore County.  This experiment consisted of 4 individuals at a shared computer screen and the goal was to help improve upon each other’s writing.  These tasks consisted of teaching each other how to construct a strong thesis and develop your voice as a writer by taking a stand.

 

On the other hand, this is where it is completely different.  Some screens included doctoral students creating their chapters and dissertations.  With the opposite screen, instructors were writing their books, grants, and abstracts.  All of this was completely next to each other to demonstrate to the student population how challenging and rigorous writing is for college professors.

 

In fact, one of Davison’s students provided at great lengths constructive feedback on her novel.  All of this goes hand in hand with the concept of professors and students collaborating on the writing process.  For example, Cathy Davison says this about the process, “The novel has been through three thorough rounds of revision and I anticipate three thorough next rounds” (Davison).  All of this is designed for the revision process to be a joint effort with several college professors identifying the complexities of writing itself.

 

I found this article to be very relatable to my experience as a creative writing student because I think writing is so challenging for instructors as well.  I have struggled trying to get my work even published this early on in my writing career.  I have done my best to submit to the creative writing transfer literary magazine, but get rejected in the process.  However, what makes it so promising to me is to hear the tribulations other Creative Writing professors trying to get published.  Writing is such a tough profession to get to into creatively and with academia as well.

 

Furthermore, this article has taught me the importance of collaboration for authentic learning at the college level.  To truly grasp this idea of what college professors go through with their writing and link it to the challenges a student writer has as well.  It is something I possibly would want to investigate further detail because I would want students to understand it is ok to struggle as a writer and that it is not easy for college instructors either.  This is the true importance of feedback in the world of academia.

https://www.hastac.org/blogs/cathy-davidson/2018/08/07/writing-hard

Here is the link to the larger story as well: https://hub.jhu.edu/2018/07/26/ccbc-mellon-summer-humanities-research/

Annotation Comrades: Final

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jK-NcRmVcw

Hello comrades,  I am going to be using some of the methods implemented in Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe’s chapter “What is Backwards Design.” I use their methods as a launching pad for the annotation partner assignment in this class.  To believe in one’s writing as a career path, the student writer would need to be a student of this poet’s work (I will explain more on that in further detail in the planning stage). However, from a literary point of view, these annotations will ensure the critical thinking juices are in full effect for the students.   I will expand on my goals (which specific craft elements are crucial in order to be successful with this assignment), the evidence (in this case what sort of annotations will help them think about craft), and finally planning (what will be required from the students to complete this assignment).  This course section is completely coming from a creative writing point of view, but at the same time, they will analyze the poem and be able to read poetry like a writer.

But first, a little background on Billy Collins.  Billy Collins was born in New York City on March 22, 1941.  His poetry has been featured in the Pushcart Prize anthology and was picked on many occasions for the best American Poetry Series.  The poet Stephen Dunn once said this of Collins, ” We seem to always know where we are in a Billy Collins poem, but not necessarily where he is going. I love to arrive with him at his arrivals.”  This rings true with Billy Collins’ work and can be said when you read his poem for this assignment.

Goals:

My goal here for this assignment with my partner (and for the students I assign this poem to) is to identify Metaphor as a necessary craft element.  In the book How to Read Poetry like a Professor, author Thomas C. Foster says this about metaphor, “Metaphors worm their way into our consciousness so that their first, overt meaning gets lost” (Foster).  Metaphors should be used as something the students question in the poem.  Of course, the students will be very confused with the metaphors in this poem.  But the purpose is to read the poem several times and make meaningful annotations relating to metaphor.  Metaphors are conscious deeply inside our soul.  The students truly need to understand how a metaphor is effective in a poem because they could get lost very easily.  Some writers (poets) have frequently placed metaphors in the poem.  In short, it is crucial to grasp the concepts with metaphors and understand how they are properly used.  This assignment is designed for entry-level composition or creative writing students in mind.   From a creative standpoint, critically pinpointing metaphors ensures they have the linchpin engrained in their minds.  Remember, the students (and my annotation comrade) needs to read this poem as a writer and study this piece diligently.

 

Evidence/Desired results:

Some of the evidence for this assignment will be based on completing this annotation assignment one week before we discuss the poem in class. This includes creating an account for the Hypothesis module on the blog and dissect the poem with your fellow classmates.  What am I looking for in their annotations?  Their annotations should be open to interpretations (remember poetry is very subjective in taste) but at the same time, I expect them to respond to craft.  The student needs to be centered on craft in order to be successful with this assignment and deviating from the main idea of this assignment hurts their learning outcome within the larger group during lecture. In particular, they really to be centered in metaphor in order to effectively participate in this assignment (going back to the previous stage here).  For example, a great annotation could be in response to why this line in Billy Collins “Snow Day” reflects effective uses of metaphor.    In order to have meaningful annotations on the craft elements, I expect the students to proofread their responses and implement proper use of grammar.  These annotations on Hypothesis should be formal but very subjective in their approach to craft strategies.  The annotations are designed to revolve around on how a metaphor works and how it challenges the reader throughout the process.  That is one of my keys to success in this assignment.  The second desired key to success is by researching other poems written by Billy Collins (which I will post the link on the blog).  The students should have a historical background and include a breadth of knowledge of his work.  Failure to do outside research Billy Collins will result in confusion on connections being used throughout the lecture and not following directions.  Therefore the research will have a performative evaluation as well.  All of the background information and annotations will affect student engagement because they depend on the outcome of the lecture.  These annotations are designed for metaphor as the element of craft.  Metaphors can be easily missed in a poem and I hope students look towards using these annotations effectively.

Planning: Hypothesis and an in-class writing exercise

The requirements for this assignment is very straightforward, but failure to follow the directions posted on the blog will lead to less student engagement during lecture. You cannot learn inside the classroom if you do not go through the motions throughout this course.  The students will need their laptop and be able to create their own account in Hypothesis.  I will provide the directions to properly create annotations via links from Youtube on the blog.  If any of the students feel they are confused or lost on Hypothesis, I will suggest they email me their questions or meet with me in my office hours.  I want all of the students to be able to work on this together and not leave anyone in the dust.  Lastly, the students will be required to have their writing journals for the end of this assignment.  All of the students will be required to participate in an exercise after we annotate and discuss the poem.

As I have mentioned before, I chose Billy Collins’s poem “Snow Day” because it reflects a massive amount of metaphors.  A poet will either have several metaphors in the poem or have only a select few.  In fact, some poets might even stack metaphors together.  For instance, William Shakespeare had stacked a bunch of metaphors in Sonnet 73, “In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire/That on the ashes of his youth does lie” (Shakespeare).  Examples like this one shows how easy it is to miss metaphors.  That is why understanding the germinal ideas of a metaphor is so crucial for this assignment.  This poem injects so many useful examples of metaphor as a useful literary tool and in turn, will help students when they write their annotations.  It is the student’s responsibility to critically think about the metaphors in this poem and diligently analyze the poem with metaphor in mind.

The students will be reading the poem online a week before class.  The first time they read it will be solely on pleasure. Just enjoy each line and do not think too much on literary analysis.  The second time, Be in tune with the language and craft elements as you read the poem.  Jot down your original thoughts as a sounding board leading up to this assignment.  The third time, the students will be looking for metaphors to note in their annotation.  With that entails is how those metaphors are working craft-wise.  The fourth time, they will read it and identify metaphors that pop of the page in the poem. If they may do so, they could pick out the best metaphors (all subjective of course) and how they possess this sense of power.  I will pose these questions (if they get stuck):

  1. Which metaphors in this poem are useful?
  2. Did the poet provide powerful examples of metaphor?
  3. Which metaphors were the most challenging?

These questions are designed so that they can formulate good annotations.  A metaphor is supposed to challenge the students from a literary standpoint.  But at the same time, I do not want cram all of these ideas in a student’s head.  A student is supposed to be challenged in the most creative and productive way.

The students will then reconvene for class and we will all be discussing the poem line by line.  From there, I will call on students and get their responses from the annotations.

After we finish discussing this poem, I will begin my writing exercise.  The students will then close their eyes and imagine as many metaphors as they can.  They will control their breathing and be mindful of their thought process.  This exercise is supposed to be basic because all of these students are in an introductory course.  When they have finished, they will open their eyes and list all of the metaphors in the form of a poem.  This process will be part of the individual activity portion because the students will be working independently on their writing exercise and are required to turn in a typed version of the exercise. A real and authentic method of recording their writing in the journals is to not think too much about the writing.  The students must write and let it come from the heart.  However, I grade and evaluate this writing exercise based on following the directions and keeping those elements of craft in mind when the students write their poems.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/billy-collins

Thinking Beyond the Canon

Journal: Hastac

When we think about a syllabus, often there are visions of a packet full of background information on the course material, the required texts for the class, what is expected of the students, student learning outcomes, and a tentative class schedule for the semester.  However, this is not the case with this syllabus being discussed in this article.  In the article from the hastac journal titled “Thinking Beyond the Canon” by Flora de Tournay, Tournay identifies the complexities with this syllabus in regards to canon.  When you have several marginalized authors in the curriculum for the course, it is assumed that this would give students the chance to respond critically to the novels.  However, that is not always the case in some college classes and does more harm than good to the students.

With this new approach to the syllabus, it opens up possibilities for commentary, visual representations, and even notes left by the students.  For example, Tournay says this about the syllabus, “Self-authoring or -authorship, which here functions as the methodological manifestation of my own pedagogical approach, is also reflected in the course’s proposed content” (Tournay).  What this means is that the students are taking charge with the curriculum and in turn, the syllabus is a product to this activity.  In this course, the required readings are from African-American writers (which are either Queer or Female) that have been not discussed in your average English Literature college course.  All of these texts were mainly autobiographical, which includes the cultural history this author has endured in their life.  In a way, this gives students a chance to read the text like you are a writer.

Besides the texts being discussed during this course, the students are given essays that discuss the exclusion around the canon and what sort of hardships are faced when talking non-canonical literature.  Activities in this course would include group work, in-class free writes, and longer writing exercises; those writing exercises would be evaluated by their peers in class and several workshops would be assigned on the day of class.  The pedagogical goal is for the students to think deeper in literature at the higher education level and practice composition at the same time.  With revolving around the idea the marginalized authors and how the students can write about how the authors are not included in the canon, this affirms their chance to be co-designers of this composition course.

I found this article very relevant to Backwards Design because of the syllabus is designed to revolve around outcomes and desirable results (which is included in Grant Wiggins’s “What is Backwards Design?” chapter).  On top of that, in my creative writing course, I am an instructional assistant for, poet Tatiana Luboviski-Acosta shared with the class a crucial story.  She was a curator for a reading series, but only academics were allowed to this reading series.  To circle back to this article, Acosta and Tournay bring up a similar theme: exclusion.  The goal is to advise students to look at the deeper aspect of exclusion of these marginalized authors of literature and how to take authority over the discussion to focus more on inclusion outside of the canon.

https://www.hastac.org/blogs/floradetournay/2018/05/21/thinking-beyond-canon

You can see the syllabus here:

https://www.hastac.org/sites/default/files/upload/files/post/writing_literary_history_syllabus_f._de_tournay.pdf

Teaching “Glocal Landon” within British Romanticism (Pedagogy)

Journal: Pedagogy (Project Muse Standard Collection)

It is important to realize that sticking to the canonical Literature being taught in College does not always work.  This concept gives us little chance to explore the “British Romanticism” period.  Jacqueline Labbe’s article from Project Muse titled “Teaching ‘Glocal Landon’ within British Romanticism” makes a strong case for teachers to use patterned themes from other cultures and connect to one of the Romantic Period’s poets Letitia Landon.  Labbe points out that Landon is not even considered high on the list of authors being discussed between the Romantic Period and the Victorian Period (With William Wordsworth, Samuel Coleridge, William Blake, and John Keats’ work being required for a course compared to Landon).  The author further makes it known that “By focusing on the historical period and how it organizes genre along with national culture(s), rather than attempting to confine its writings to a homogeneous pattern of writing, teachers can bypass some assumptions about canon and instead construct a syllabus responsive to the themes and aims of the course itself” (Labbe, 202).  Sticking to the cultural human aspect to relatable patterns to Literature of the Romantic Period is suited to be more effective in the classroom setting than fixating on everything canonical.

Most of Letitia Landon’s poetry circles in on romantic issues with unhappy relationships or marriages.  Landon had even created this “Love” characterization and from there, teachers can connect with a diverse amount of authors (from the east all the way to Italy); this would be an accessible way to discuss these stories in class and find different themes that circles back to Landon.  All of Landon’s work provides a voice for each narrative and in turn, realize this idea of Love being lost is seen in different foreign stories.  In fact, Labbe continues to point Letitia Landon was used as a starting point for an MA course on the Romantics.  One week students might be studying the British Romantics, another week India and The East, and the last week would be solely on the Britons and Italy.

During the week when students focused in on the texts relating to the East, the students were required to look at plays, novels, and poems that reflected the key ideas found during this time period with Landon’s poems.  For example, famous philologist William Jones (during this time period) said this about language in regards what the students looked at in his article ‘Discourses Delivered before the Asiatic Society’: “The Sanscrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of a  wonderful structure; more perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either, yet bearing to both of them a stronger affinity, both in the roots of the verbs and the forms of grammar, than could possibly have been produced by accident; so strong indeed, that no philologer could examine them all three, without believing them to have sprung from some common source” (Jones, 204).  In response to Jones’ discourse on language, it is very crucial to understand the importance of Sanscrit and the use of grammar with the language.  Students had a good look over Jones’s translations on hymns and provided a sense of the form being used.  All of the students came to the conclusion that his language in the poems have the correct names in the language and at the same time, trace back to the English.  Now how does all of this relate to Letitia Landon?  The students in this course focused on Landon’s poem The Zenana.  What was discovered is that the narrative is identified with the imagery found in Indian Literature.  No matter what language or culture the story comes from, the image is a strong craft strategy when it comes to writing.  The author’s job would be showing the readers, not telling them.  In The Zenana, Landon’s reoccurring character Love connects to so many cultures that it fits right into the India Literature during the time period.

By using close reading skills and identifying imagery with Landon’s poetry, students had been to be keenly focused on the author’s voice than continue to point back to canon.  Landon is commonly widespread diversely in Literature circles because of her common patterns with love and romance.  This course overall was based on making Letitia Landon’s work a level playing field compared to Lord Byron, William Wordsworth, William Blake, Samuel Coleridge, and John Keats’ work.

 

I found this article very interesting because I know some English Literature instructors follow the canon and others have several other works that follow a pattern with one another.  I really believe a student should learn about other diverse texts that pertain to the class.  Other cultures will circulate around a common theme in their stories and if applicable, teaching the students more about what is outside the canon seems like they would be able to engage more in a discussion.  Following the canon with all your classes seem tiresome after a while and while it might be effective in some cases, Labbe’s argument leads me to believe every culture seems to lead us back to the theme from the original author.

 

https://muse-jhu-edu.jpllnet.sfsu.edu/article/692968/pdf