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.

The WasteLand discussion-10/30/18

Tuesday’s discussion on how to teach T.S. Eliot’s “The Wasteland” made me think of how hard it is to teach a poem of that magnitude and the planning that needs to be done.  In other words, it made me think of how context is so crucial with this poem and how that comes into play.  When I first read the poem in Professor Hanley’s English 528 class about a year and a half ago, I didn’t realize how complexed this poem is with students until we really came up with ideas yesterday on how to make sure the students understood it.  For example, I remember coming up with some visual annotations for the poem and going further into the symbolism with each section.  However, this was such a good idea to come up with fresh new lessons to look towards authentic learning with the students.

One thing that I really thought was extremely resourceful was Veronica’s idea of looking at the pre-war/post-war connections to “The Wasteland.”  I would have never thought of that.  It made me think in the class of the literature that could be compared/contrasted to the poem.  For example, even though this is not an American novel, but what if the students read excerpts of All Quiet on The Western Front and contrasted it with the poem?  To me, I think of “The Wasteland” as this pre-war struggle in the world and All Quiet on The Western Front as this post-war struggle.  However, both of them discuss this sort of fear occurring in the world.  That is the connecting theme that could be looked at when teaching “The WasteLand.”

I really thought it was interesting when Professor Hanley simply explained that poems are transactions.  Poems exchange ideas throughout the whole piece and present fragmented ideas.  When we use dialogue in our daily lives, we blurt out fragmented phrases and rarely do we have precise sentences in our verbal language.  In other words, poems reflect the language in which we have learned ever since we were born.

I think this discussion taught me ways to formally come up with a lesson plan for “The Wasteland” because it teaches us grad students to look beyond just coming up with our own assignments and look deeply how we can benefit the undergraduate students in literature.  In fact, this will help me when I take the teaching creative writing course this spring because one of the main projects in that class is to formulate a syllabus.  It stood out to me when someone brought up the syllabus being your thesis for the class.  To me, that is so significant because of the texts being discussed in class reflect your teaching philosophy.  I loved going back to the “Conversations with Text” article because it helped me with how much it is crucial for students to think about the poem and how it makes them feel.  This is something I would want to implement when I get a chance to teach this poem.  I truly wish our graduate seminars included more of this because it gets us thinking about how to really authentically teach these texts and make them learn/unlearn the poem.  We need more student input on how to teach challenging texts like “The Wasteland.”

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/

Reading Room 10/16- Student-teachers Across the Curriculum Learn to Write Feedback Does it reflect on their writing?

Journal:  The Journal of Effective Teaching

Feedback is extremely crucial in the writing process and all writers need noted elements to improve on.  However, there are often times where people may not give the best feedback and it doesn’t constructively respond to authentic learning.  In the Journal of Effective Teaching article “Student-teachers Across the Curriculum Learn to Write Feedback Does it reflect on their writing?” by Esther Cohen-Sayag, Cohen-Sayag focuses on feedback on quality writing (more than themes and language aspect of writing).  Feedback is very crucial for teachers in their classrooms.  But do many teachers truly practice accurate methods to give/receive feedback?  Cohen-Sayag looks beyond the English teachers in this study and based off of other subjects.  Sayag gives an overview of this study by looking over how feedback changes with writing competency.

Writing down feedback is one of the ways a teacher-student relationship creates a conversation with their work.   In other words, the teacher may give quality notes on how the student could improve their writing or possibly the teacher will give questions for the student to think about on this assignment.  Feedback enables the students to have a chance to put more effort into their work and truly dive into the material.  What seems to be the challenge with receiving feedback on writing is that students want to appease their teacher and not writing based on authentic learning.  The intentions are not clear for students that feedback should be a consistent conversation between a teacher and student to express the writing.

In this article, Cohen-Sayag delves into the complexities with feedback, “The complexity of feedback writing depends on the context of the writing circumstances, teachers’ perceptions and goals and on the writing assignment” (Cohen-Sayag, 6).  The teacher’s goals on this writing assignment shouldn’t be highlighted during the feedback process.  If the goals truly do not match the feedback given by the teacher, the student is not authentically learning.  However, this is where Formative feedback comes in handy for students.  Formative Feedback relies solely on looking at the goals they want with their writing and how could they project their writing to the readers.  They would need to forget about on all the spelling mistakes and everything relating to syntax as well.

The resulting effects of feedback from the teacher in this study found behaviors and methods was very crucial for these student writers.  Second language writers felt feedback on condensed writing qualities was more helpful than non-condensed notes on their writing.  Second language writers found it extremely challenging to find those spelling/grammar mistakes and that their feedback had to be directed at their writing.

Other problems with writing feedback can cause so many challenges for teachers.  This one has to do with teachers look at specific lines they point out in an assignment and ignore the importance of comprehending the writing process each student uses.  The other one has to do with a teacher being extremely critical and do not give too much positive feedback on their writing.  Lastly, teachers are too bogged down on the technicalities of writing and completely disregard the ideas included in the assignment.

The course for teachers to practice accurate feedback and make sure they are ready to give notes for their future teachers.  The feedback should give the teachers to look back at their writing themselves.  However, it gets very tricky when it is strongly stressed this process is very formal.  The teachers should authenticate their learning by giving feedback in order to read the children writing.  All of this will be based on the child’s point of view in the writing.  The teachers need to read the writing aloud the written text with their colleagues so that accurate discussion is met in this course.

I found this article to be relative to my experience as a graduate instructional assistant in the creative writing program because it helps pose questions for me when I give feedback.  I have had creative writing professors tell me to always give positive notes and where they could expand in regards to craft.  However, in my practicum seminar, I hear my peers tell me it is challenging to continue to praise the students’ work all the time because not every paper they turn in will be great the majority of the time. In addition to that, I have to continue to stop myself from giving them formal notes on their writing and look more at their ideas.  How could their ideas be improved on by using craft elements?  To me, that is authentic learning inside the classroom because as an instructor, you are interested in their ideas.  We are taught by our former instructors/teachers that we have had in the past to put emphasis on grammar.  Correct grammar and spelling should be crucial for a student because you do want the writing to follow, but are we too engrossed in that aspect?  Shouldn’t we be fixated on their concepts that work with their writing?  That is something that I learned with this article.  It is something I need to continue to work on as a graduate instructional assistant.

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

Reading Room October 9th-Role-play in Literature Lectures: the Students ’ Assessment of their Learning.

Journal: International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

Role-playing causes nervousness and stage fright in Literature classes.  However, role-playing becomes less stressful once an effective method is used in the class.  In the International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning article (written by Isobel Ryan, Ciaran Dawson, and Marian McCarthy) titled “Role-play in Literature Lectures: the Students ’ Assessment of their Learning,” the authors delve into the research with role-playing in a literature classroom at the University of College Cork, Ireland back in 2015.  This whole module dealt with folklore storytelling and the author(s) collected from all 18 students for the research project.

The authors based all their rhetoric on several theories involving theatre arts.   With drama, role-playing is used when a person acts out a persona completely different from who they are in real life.  That is pure storytelling theatrically because they are able to portray fictional scenarios by imitating someone different from themselves.  Back in the early days in Ireland, storytelling was something you saw outside and physically was seen.  By using this folkloric method of storytelling, students were able to be grateful to be in this new role telling stories.  Using Manfred Schewe’s idea of physicalization, the students are coming to terms that some of these concepts are very foreign and odd to them at first.  Each of the others now discusses the idea/theory of Teaching For Understanding (TFU).  What this discusses is a sense of purpose and includes form as well.  It involves the skills being naive, a novice, an apprentice, and possibly the master.  With this research, the authors look at student’s feedback on the emotional replies, stressing the crucial significance of group work, and gaining new friends being formed working in groups.  The authors use Classroom Assessment Techniques (CAT’s), essays, and several groups to center in on what they experienced with role-playing.

There was one role-playing exercise the students acted out in this research.  It was all traced back to a short story that has roots of oral traditions and connecting all the way back to the modern short story format.  This story was written by Donncha Ó Céilleachair and took place during the 1830’s.  The plot was around a woman who died at childbirth and the family had a conflict on where she is supposed to be buried.  Within society, there are lingering questions (dying at childbirth) if she should be laid to rest with her father or laid to rest with her husband.  What the students needed to do was change the turning point within the story at the point where the father gives the coffin to his son-in-law; the father gives him the opportunity to bury her with his family.  The two actors would involve a woman and a man in this role-playing performance.

Some of the methods had to do with the authors’ “pretexts” in class and how the students reacted to the role-playing.  In turn, the students developed their own classroom assessment techniques (CAT’s) before participating within the group.  After they participating in the group, the students began getting into role-playing. But at the same time, they were given questionnaires during the process.  What this did was give the researchers a chance to query students on what they thought about several problems.   The students’ essay responses had a lot to do with their role-playing in class.  The authors’ made the essay 50% of their final grade on this module. All of the essays were set up so the students had time to thoroughly go into further detail on the classroom assessment techniques.

I found this research very interesting because I come from a creative writing background during my undergraduate program.  I have studied and acted out some plays/scenes during class.  At first, I truly understood why role-playing can cause stage fright because it is so foreign and different.  But after writing scenes during the past 3 years, I come to realize it can pose so many questions for students and give them a chance to go outside their comfort zone.  This is something I would love to implement as a college professor down the road because there is so much creativity throughout the process with literature.  It is always fun to pull the creativity out of students because you make them the co-creators of learning (thinking back to Paolo Friere).

https://digitalcommons.georgiasouthern.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1722&context=ij-sotl

Annotation Comrades: Final (Elements of Craft)

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 and ilearn 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

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

Decoding Deviance

Some Television shows can be used as pedagogical teaching methods for a certain course in literature.  In the article “Decoding Deviance with The Sons Of Anarchy” by Joseph Kremer and Kristin Cutler from Washington State University, the authors delve into the sociological theories found in the TV show Sons of Anarchy. Sons of Anarchy is a television show based on the fictional depiction of a 1 percent motorcycle club set in Northern California (real-life motorcycle  clubs like the Mongols or the Hells Angels come to mind).  In fact, some of the cast members are actual Hells Angels members in the show.  This storyline puts Sociological Deviance to the test and how it can be coded with each episode. For example, the authors of this article define Deviance like this, “Deviance encompasses criminal acts but also a variety of things that might be considered amoral (e.g.,pre-marital sex, abortion) or just rub people the wrong way (e.g., people chewing with their mouths open, people wearing sandals with socks)” (Kremer and Cutler, 92).  Now that could be the closest to defining concepts of deviance in Sons of Anarchy academically.  These ideas correlate to deviance and how to rate deviance with some characters from the show.  The article goes into further detail with the method being presented in this study.  A Sociology of Deviance course at a University in the Pacific Northwest was being held during the summer, with the Sons of Anarchy as being the main source material during the entire semester.  The students in the course were in charge of coding each episode, focus on all the categories related to deviance, and were required to read specific practical articles on 1 percent Motorcycle gangs in history.  This class was designed as a seminar course (meeting Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays).  The days the students did not meet in the class were meant for coding and extra reading in relation to the course.  A final project resulted in the culmination of data collected from the entire season of Sons of Anarchy.  This included the students most hated character, how the character’s actions connected to deviance, and how did this tv show help the students form their opinion on deviance itself.  Many students went as far as saying that watching Sons of Anarchy helped them connect to the sociological examples of deviance and to real life scenarios.  This entire course was a huge benefit for students to make connections to Sociological Deviance in Literature.  However, it is very important to know that this concept of using television shows for a class is solely reliant on a smaller class size.

 

This entire article reminded me of a conversation I had with the creative writing instructor I work with as an Instructional Assistant.  One of the things she primarily stressed was the importance of using multimedia as a tool for class.  Not only does this provide benefits to students staying engaged in the class, but lets them connect to real-life situations as source material for their writing assignments throughout the semester.  The Sons of Anarchy is a great television show to implement new pedagogical lessons being taught inside the classroom.  What a better way to study the sociological concepts of deviance than learn about a motorcycle club?https://scholarworks.iu.edu/journals/index.php/josotl/article/view/22515/30909