End-of-Semester Wrap-Up, Friday, 12/01/2017

Opening/Closing Thoughts

At the end of each of my courses I ask students to reflect in a number of ways about the work they’ve done over the past several weeks. While the specific questions I ask vary a bit from course to course, I tend to return to some version of the following:

  1. Narrative: Tell the story of your work in this class this semester. Where were you—as a reader and a writer—at the start of the term? Where are you now? How did you get there? What were some key turning points (or stuck points) in the unfolding of this story?
  2. Snapshot: If you had to pick one moment or event to stand for your experiences in this class, what would it be? Try to describe that moment as vividly as you can.
  3. Accomplishment: What piece of work for this class do you feel most proud of? Why? What did you learn in doing it?

I thought it might be interesting if you spent 10 or 15 minutes thinking in writing about these questions in relation to the course you’ve just taught. Don’t feel you have to respond to all three questions. A full answer to one or two of them would be great. We’ll read and talk about your responses when you’re done.

And from there, we can move on to talk about whatever concerns may be on your mind—from practical issues in teaching, to issues that have been raised in your previous conversations, to job searches, to the state of the profession, etc.

I look forward to talking with all of you once again!

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Faculty Workshop, Thurs, 11/30/2017

Getting Started

Fastwrite: Please tell us briefly what brings you here. What course are you working on that involves writing? What is the most pressing question or concern you have about that course?

The Accidental Writing Teacher [slides]

  • How to make writing part of a course without sacrificing content
  • How to offer students useful feedback as writers without being overwhelmed by the paperload

Some Guidelines

Lunch with Maggie Sokolik, Director of College Writing Programs

What can be taught in first-year writing? What needs to be taught in the disciplines?

 

 

 

November Meeting Recap

The latest and greatest from the minds that are reshaping composition teaching as we know it:

Our meeting started out with an informal conversation about language around assignments. Are we assigning “papers”? “Essays”? “Projects”? We briefly touched on the merits of teach of these terms, though Jordan point out something interesting about the term “papers”: for all its uninspired mundanity, it does exist as a “common language” that students can grasp and appreciate. Jennifer noted that “essay” can often suggest too much on the side of experimentation. “Projects” might seem foreign to some students, and I don’t think students always equate projects with the medium of extended prose writing. But I suppose the point is that all of these are loaded with certain suggestions that it might be worth leveraging. Can we get students to produce more engaging and interesting work if we get them to think of their writing as more than just a “paper”?

We began in earnest talking about Jordan’s evocative post about research in the R&C series. We all concurred that, yes, research can definitely be an unwieldy topic to approach. As Jordan articulated, there are so many different expectations from instructors about what a research lesson or unit should look like, and much of these discrepancies hinge on what someone thinks “good” research looks like. We noted too the emotional reactions that research can evoke in students: Lisa’s students have been loving it this semester; I find that students do as little as possible in an attempt to get it out of the way. Upon reflection though, I sympathized with this a bit: the actual act of research is existentially unnerving as it forces you to put you and your ideas out there. That is to say that research can very well make you less, rather than more, sure of yourself when it is all said and done. Who would want to do that when you can sit back and just be content with the untested validity of your thoughts?

But we did move on to more practical concerns. We all agreed that it is just plain important to show students how to use the library, and therein may be the ultimate fruits of any research lesson. Julia noted that her most successful research exercises have always had a lot of “scaffolding” and mentioned a particular exercise: put students into groups, give them a research question that is relevant to the material, ask them to find an article that relates to that question, but constrain them to a specific scholarly database.

We then shifted to our own writing processes and how they might be used for the purposes of teaching writing. Jordan and Julia mentioned sharing chapters from their own dissertations and giving students a tour of their evolution. As Jordan described, he gave students not only the draft but also samples of comments he had received and the revision plan he composed in response. It sounds like students really love this, and as Jordan also pointed out, it demonstrates to students that the criticism we are giving them is part of a very real, not contrived, academic process.

Both Sarah and Lisa spearheaded a most welcome conversation about “paper” prompts and the kind of response–maybe pushback–students had been giving. Many mentioned that they have tried to make their classes “open ended” as to give students freedom to explore a myriad of intellectual possibilities. Lisa mentioned that her students have loved this freedom. Sarah mentioned that students can sometimes get frustrated when there isn’t a specific request coming from the instructor, encapsulated by the complaint, “this prompt has no prompt!” Marianne noted that any response may very well be dependent on the skill of the student. Indeed, some can thrive under this freedom. Others, however, may not know how to generate a good question–or if they do generate a question, it may not be an analytically viable one. (E.g. what’s the significance of green in this text?) As Marianne put it, students often create questions that almost have a preconceived answer that they can “back into.” This is counter to a question that forces you to assess evidence and come to a conclusion.) We did collect some practical solutions for those students who struggle with generating good analytical questions: it may be important to propose an answer for a student; or, frame their intellectual interest as an “either or” in which they have to make some sort of commitment to a single answer. Lisa, conversely, noted that she has always strived to use students initial responses–no matter how seemingly unfruitful–as a means to get students to a relevant question. I suppose that this raises the central contention: do we need to encourage students to abandon the unusable questions? Or is there a way that we as pedagogues can develop those initial questions into better ones?

Perhaps another answer has less to do with anything we do but a culture of writing that we can create in our classrooms. Several persons mentioned that they have emphasized how writing and research allows you to change both your question and answer, and it may be this realization that is most important for students. Lisa mentioned that she has had great success with re-writing this semester. Her students are into it, and much of that has to do with the fact that they see their writing as a malleable product.

I couldn’t help myself and shared my experience reading Mina Shaugnessy’s Errors and Expectation: A Guide for the Teacher of Basic Writing (1977) this week. I really like this text, though I noted that who it best serves is not entirely clear to me yet. It’s not for students–it’s not a handbook like Writing Analytically. And while it is explicitly for teachers, its most effective answers often feel more philosophical than practical to me. I was struck most by the reason Shaugnessy gives for writing the book, one that doesn’t seem so far from our own: “in response to the protests of [the sixties], many four year colleges began admitting students who were not by traditional standards ready for college.” (That was the phrase I was trying to remember: students “not by traditional standards ready for college.”) But I was also struck by her articulation of the “basic writing” (BW) student’s experience with writing for class: “For the BW student, academic writing is a trap, not a way of saying something to someone….writing is but a line that moves haltingly across the page, exposing as it goes all that the writer doesn’t know, then passing into the hands of a stranger who reads it with a lawyer’s eyes, searching for flaws. By the time he reaches college, the BW student both resent and resists his vulnerability as a writer. He is aware that he leaves a trail of errors behind him when he writes. He can usually think of little else while he is writing.” Julia responded by noting that it may serve us well to get away from “grading for correction” and finding a more holistic way to respond to students writing. Rather than telling students, “you don’t have a thesis,” it may be more successful to note to students, “this is what you’re doing…and this is how you can do it better.”

We ended with a discussion on lecture…or the importance of being bored. Marianne wrote an excellent post about the merits of lecture, and most of us echoed sentiments about “liking” lecture from undergrad. Julia mentioned that she herself has used “mini-lectures” in her class to give students the necessary context they need to have effective discussion or engagement with material, and it has worked well. But we concluded by noting how the best lectures, in effect, demonstrate what a good essay should do. In this sense, there is nothing about lecture that is antithetical to the writing of a paper/essay/topic. Lecture may be its very reflection.

We Need to Talk about “Research”

This past summer in our seminar, I recall that there seemed to be a consensus that teaching research—or at least teaching “the research paper”—was not an effective or desirable form of writing pedagogy. I remember that one of the former participants shared that he does everything he can to sidestep the research component of R1B, instead introducing students to texts that could only loosely be considered “secondary materials.” It also seemed like there was some frustration among instructors regarding the approach of librarians who emphasize the importance of “peer reviewed writing” when introducing research skills to their R1B classes.

On the other hand, I also remember being very heartened by Joe’s comments on the first day that we as instructors should be aware (and forthcoming) that we are teaching a specific genre and form of writing—in my case, literary criticism. We are thus imparting to students the skill of taking part in a writerly conversation that also happens to be a scholarly conversation. I was also inspired by Joe’s project description in which he laid out for students precisely what it means to engage with a text as a critic among other critics.

Say what you will about academia as an institution, but it strikes me that this is, after all, the utopian vision of university discourse: scholars sharing their ideas, their interpretations, their data analyses, their theoretical reflections with each other, mostly in written form. Having edited a scholarly journal, I am quite aware that the material reality of this discourse—austerity-driven publishing pressures, paywalls, the decline in fair use, hyper-specialization and auto-referentiality, exploitative presses–in fact tends toward the dystopian. But I have also seen scholars attempting to address this through moves toward independent publishing, innovative approaches to the production and dissemination of knowledge, and appeals for the idea of “public humanities.”

I am thus somewhat torn about the idea that we are not teaching our students how to write “research papers.” Yes, I agree that the terminology of the “paper” is stultifying, evoking the idea of a document written only to be printed and perfunctorily “handed in” to an authoritative reader. I am also somewhat sympathetic toward those who wish to shield their students from engaging with bad scholarly writing, or who feel that focusing on “research skills” detracts from the purpose of R&C, which is to teach composition. At the same time, as my co-teacher has pointed out, “peer review” is also literally something we ask our students to do in our classes. Much to my horror, I have also discovered that if we don’t ask students to conduct at least some research for our classes, they may never check out a book from the library during their entire four years at Berkeley. Finally, it strikes me that perhaps there is at least a hint of academic self-loathing in the idea that exposing students to scholarly writing will bore them or corrupt them into being bad writers.

For next semester, I have designed an R1B that reformulates the idea of the “research paper,”: I ask students to engage with nonfiction works we read in the middle part of the course to build interpretations of poetry we read in the final segment. But I actually got some pushback from a course administrator, who asked me to include language about secondary sources and “the academic research paper” in the course description. It left me wondering: what do you all think about this debate?

-Jordan

November reflection

As most of you know, I’m not teaching R&C this semester; instead, I’m teaching Comp. Lit. 41E, the cinema survey class in our department. I only have 24 students, but the course was billed as a lecture, which has led to some interesting experimentation. Out of that have come some doubts about a principle I’ve long taken for granted: the need for as much interactive student engagement as possible.

To be fair, I didn’t always take this principle for granted. When I was a college student I loved lectures. They were best when it was snowing outside and I could stare out the window and think about how nice it was to be in a cozy heated room and let my mind wander over associations I had with what the professor was saying. This may sound like a sarcastic condemnation of the disengagement lectures allow, but I swear it’s not. I remember an inordinate number of things that happened in lecture, like the time a professor spent several minutes drawing dots all over the blackboard and then announced that if these were all the objects in the universe, and we thought about how few of them man had put his foot upon, that was how little we knew of the human soul. (I’m not sure why the dots were necessary, but it was a captivating dramatic touch.) There was the professor who explained all of modern literature through Simone Weil’s dictum that imagined evil is glamorous and real evil boring, whereas imagined goodness is dull and real goodness intoxicating. And there was the professor who made me want to teach: a young woman who happened to be giving a lecture on abjection and vomit the day a public relations team came to the class to photograph it for the college prospectus, and who kept insisting on asking them how they liked the material. I came to a lot of realizations, both intellectual and personal, in lectures, and I still do. My dissertation topic crystallized while I was sitting on the floor of a room in Wheeler listening to a visiting speaker lecture about boredom, of all things.

When I did my public school secondary ed certification, though, I learned that all that was wrong, and I was an aberration: lectures were the worst of all evils, and no one got anything out of them. Listening was the lowest form of student engagement, and taking notes only a step higher: no one wanted to be lingering down there in the depths. Accordingly, during my time at Berkeley, I’ve prided myself on cultivating more intensive forms of student engagement than some of my colleagues. My R&C classes have always been built around student-centered forms of learning: student-led discussions, group work, and lots of in-class writing. While I still fully believe in the value of these practices, this semester has allowed me to revisit—from the other side—some of the wonderful and unpredictable consequences of lecturing. My class this semester is probably half and half: half student-centered forms, half my presenting material. I’ve been amazed by what comes out of my lectures, particularly the thoughtfulness of the questions students raise. After I took the class through Dziga Vertov’s technophilic view of cinema, for example, a student stayed after class to say, shyly, that he hadn’t wanted to interrupt, but he wondered what Vertov would think of CGI, since he hated easel painting but loved the new modes of seeing that cinema allowed. I was stunned by the extent to which the question both assimilated the concepts I had been discussing and added the student’s own idiosyncratic spin.

These highly original yet incredibly pertinent questions and observations have come up again and again after lectures, and I can’t help contrasting them with the predictable arguments students often make in seminar-style discussions and in essays. I know this is partly a question of sample size: in a lecture, the students who don’t have something exciting to say simply don’t speak. But I also wonder whether being under pressure to participate actively at all times is blocking students from more original, associative modes of thinking, which happen best when they’re able to relax a little, as they can in a lecture. I know that lecturing goes against a lot of pedagogical research on retention and skill-building. But we don’t only want our students to retain information or to build skills: we also want them to become reflective, original thinkers, and I wonder how much space for reflection and association is lost in the drive for the flipped classroom. I’m not such a contrarian as to suggest that an R&C course should be mostly lectures, but I wonder how we can incorporate that sense of relaxation—even passivity—that allows ideas to come together unpredictably, and that makes intellectual activity feel spontaneous rather than forced.

(For a more polemical take on the same question: Molly Worthen’s “Lecture Me. Really,” where she argues that “Listening continuously and taking notes for an hour is an unusual cognitive experience for most young people. Professors should embrace — and even advertise — lecture courses as an exercise in mindfulness and attention building, a mental workout that counteracts the junk food of nonstop social media.”)

-Marianne

October Meeting Recap

Here’s what I can reconstruct from my notes about our helpful and cathartic conversation last week.

Aileen’s post and Joe’s response to a question from our previous meeting sparked a wide-ranging discussion of what kinds of writing we want to teach. Some of us were not so sure memes and tweets were useful genres of writing to show our students, but I’d say we mostly agreed that these formats could be fruitful for low-stakes creative projects (a la Jenn’s Prince/Benjamin memes). We dug into the related question of how we differentiate between creative and analytical writing, and whether this boundary even makes sense. Members of the group shared examples of creative projects that opened up new vantage points for their students to approach writing. We also thought about viewing our analytical writing as itself creative, perhaps using Shokoofeh’s verb “crafting” to focus on the process. Along these lines, we started collecting suggestions for writing that is not strictly academic to use in the classroom as a model for students, such as journalistic essays by Teju Cole.

Moving on to Jonathan’s post, we focused on disciplinary conventions and audience. We considered why students (and others) might not question the use of specialized vocabulary in the hard sciences while expecting the humanities (and to some extent the social sciences) to present material that is universally accessible. We also addressed the problem of students feeling the need to write only for the instructor and how we might avoid this. One suggestion I’d like to try is to ask students to identify their own audience for a larger writing project, rather than us telling them who to write for. This led us to more concrete examples of how we’ve been using student writing in class. We talked about our own reservations about using current students’ work as an example and how to take pressure off the students whose writing we discuss (e.g. by asking for volunteers, meeting with the students directly after class for a debrief of how to take the feedback, or collecting similar examples from across a number of papers). Many of us have been doing peer review workshops recently, so we surveyed the group about whether more open-ended discussions in small groups were more helpful than discussions structured around a worksheet – with mixed results, which left some of us ready to experiment with shifting the balance over the course of the semester from formal to open.

We ended with my (Lisa’s) post on laziness. The pressure to innovate can be both exciting and overwhelming, we agreed, but we also saw value in mixing our tried-and-true activities with new ideas we want to try out. We talked about the various demands on our time and energy as GSIs and PhD students – and how our labor is valued by our students as well as the larger institution. Thinking about managing our own time led us to share some great tips for in-class activities we’ve found really effective for students that also require minimal preparation on our end. We considered how powerful it can be for students to take ownership of their own learning, as in the example Sarah mentioned in the comment on my post about splitting the class in half and having them teach each other their respective texts. Other examples included Julia’s endnotes game, which she reports was successful; Jeremy’s line-by-line group close reading; Marianne’s mapping of student questions on the board; and Jenn’s final in-character symposium where students embody the authors they’ve read. We expressed (many times, actually) a desire for a shared database of activities and texts we’ve found particularly effective – which Aileen has now kindly set up for us.

The meeting was – at least in my estimation – a perfect blend of theoretical concerns, concrete recommendations, and a chance to vent. Thank you all for the great conversation! I feel invigorated, and perhaps even a bit less lazy.

-Lisa

For Tomorrow, Fri, 10/06

Hi, everyone,

From Julia’s post summarizing your last conversation, it seems clear that you don’t need much help from me in having a lively discussion of the work you’re all doing as teachers (in R&C or not). But Julia did raise one issue, on behalf of the group, that I wanted to respond to-—which had to do with concerns about whether the sorts of writing you’re teaching will “transfer” to other courses that your students will go on to take later.

My perhaps heretical reply is: Don’t worry about it. The actual answer is that the work they do with you will prove useful for some students in some other courses, and not at all for other students in other courses. And most of that will be unpredictable. So rather than trying to measure the value of what you teach in terms of what you think or hope it will prepare students to do elsewhere—to write in some other course, for some other teacher, at some other time—why not think about what makes this writing interesting and worthwhile right here and now? My sense is that if you can get students invested in the work they’re doing with you, and proud of at least a piece or two that they produce, then you won’t have to worry much about transfer. Because they’ll be more interested and excited about writing.

So that’s my pep talk for the evening! I hope you have a great conversation tomorrow!

Joe

October Reflections

Next week, the pedagogy class I’m co-teaching will be turning their attention from how to TA discussion sections for the English literature historical survey to how to GSI Reading and Composition.

On the one hand, I think folks new to teaching R&C would appreciate a sense of clarity about the topic—that is, what is R&C? how do we teach it in the English department? On the other hand, I’d love to have them engage in the kinds of open-ended, sometimes heated conversations we had this summer about what it means to teach R&C—that is, what genres should we have our students write in? what should be our goals for our students?

What kind of balance do I need to strike between being prescriptive and being open, so that I feel that I’m setting them and their students up for success?

I’ve been thinking about this more because on Monday, the English department had its second annual Pedagogy Poster Session, and I talked to a grad student who created a poster about writing activities that aren’t rooted in academic genres—for example, memes and tweets. She said that she brought this idea up when she was taking pedagogy (last year?) and that it was met with skepticism, much to her frustration. I encouraged her to apply to the 2018 Townsend Art of Teaching Writing (fingers crossed that it will happen again!).

—Aileen

October Reflections:

I want to talk about teaching close reading, the fundamental skill involved in analyzing a literary text, to students who are not sure about what matters or what is possible. First, some background: I am not teaching R&C this semester. (My dissertation chair and I decided that I should take some time off from teaching if I ever want to stop being a graduate student.) I nonetheless remain connected to questions of writing pedagogy and the teaching of literature through the Art of Writing Tutoring Program. I lead a team of four undergraduates who are majors in the departments English and Comparative Literature; each member of the team offers one-on-one writing help to students enrolled in Comp Lit’s R&C sections. (Ryan and Jonathan are running similar programs in Rhetoric/Film & Media and English.)

This week I met with each of the tutors individually to discuss challenges they were experiencing in their tutoring sessions. Many of these conversations had to do with reframing tutees’ approaches to close reading –– specifically, how to get students to “slow down” their thoughts while analyzing passages of literary texts and to use writing to artificially reconstruct their process for making language make sense. These conversations gave me an opportunity to revisit the way I teach close reading with tutors, and in doing so I was reminded of the limits to the way we, as Graduate Student Instructors in Comp Lit, are trained to communicate the skill of close reading. In general, close reading is difficult to talk about in the abstract because so much depends on the kind of text being read. That’s why instructors tend to rely on heuristic techniques like the following from David Rosenwasser and Jill Stephens’s Writing Analytically, which give students some basic questions to ask themselves when they don’t know what to write.

  • Notice and Focus + Ranking (pg. 25)

Step 1: List details. These should include formal elements of the text such as tone, mood, pace, genre, syntax, grammar, texture, rhythm, narrative structure, punctuation, ambiguity. Also consider diction (word choice), temporality, the relationship between the narrator and the characters, imagery, and literary/rhetorical devices like simile and metaphor.

Step 2: Choose the most important details. (This is already analytical.)

Step 3: Say why you think these details are most important.

  • “The Method” – Patterns of Repetition and Contrast (pg. 27)

Step 1: List the words or details that are repeated exactly, and include how many times they’re repeated. See the details above in “Notice and Focus + Ranking”

Step 2: List words or details that are similar (called strands).

Step 3: List the binary oppositions or organizing contrasts that you notice.

Step 4: Choose, one repetition, strand, or binary as the most important.

Step 5: Account for any anomalies (exceptions).

  • Asking “So what?” (pg. 33)

Step 1: Describe the significant details you find, paraphrase key language, look for patterns of repetition or contrast.

Step 2: Make what is implicit explicit (pg. 62).

Step 3: Ask “So what?” to push towards interpretive conclusions.

  • Paraphrase X 3 (pg. 36)

Step 1: Select a short passage.

Step 2: Find synonyms for all of the key terms.

Step 3: Rephrase the passage three times.

Step 4: Contemplate the versions and prioritize them. Which seem most relevant?

Step 5: What do you now recognize about the passage? What does it appear to mean? What else might it mean?

 

As a somewhat mechanical way of producing analysis, these kinds of heuristics start to break down whenever they ask students to make some kind of judgment of what is “most important” or “surprising” or “anomalous.” They assume that a student’s way of prioritizing details in a specific passage of text will be commensurable with the values of the text as a whole. Prior to this, they assume that the students comes to the task of writing with a facility for naming priorities. In a way this is funny because the heuristics pretend to make the task of writing easier by frontloading the most difficult things that come out of the writing process: questions of value and what matters. I think this irony becomes especially pointed if we consider that many of our R&C students are in their first years of college and are already receiving mixed messages about the value of their educations.

But let’s assume that heuristic approaches like these can useful and even necessary. How would you go about supplementing a list like this with specific attention to these questions of significance, importance, interestingness, or surprise? Would you look at this list with students and ask them a series of follow-up questions? What would they be? If you set them to work on a particular example, how do you address the problem of constructing a context in which things like “importance” can be debated? Our group has had discussion about how to bring students’ own experiences into classroom discussions. How would you address students’ questions that are specifically directed at whether they can bring the circumstances of their lives to bear on what is important at this level of textual detail? Any other thoughts about how you use or would use this kind of list?

I am also preparing to lead a workshop with tutors specifically on how they give feedback to tutees. This has led me to think about the kinds of conversations that I have with R&C students in office hours. We have talked about how to structure written feedback to students in ways that are helpful to students while not proving too great a burden for instructors. I have a separate set of questions about feedback in office hours:

What form do your conversations in office hours tend to take? I think it helps to frame this in terms of specific activities. Do you lecture in office hours? Do you ask a lot of questions about the student’s writing or about the student’s understanding of the text? What other kinds of questions do you ask? Do you refer to lists like the one above? Do else do you do that doesn’t fit within these categories? How do you balance the contrary impulses of, on the one hand, not wanting to dictate the questions and aims of the student’s paper and, on the other hand, wanting to be a good reader with specific interests who also happens to be in charge of assessing the student’s writing?

I’m grateful for any thoughts you have about teaching close reading and discussing student work in office hours.

— Howard

October Reflections: Lazy Lisa

So far this fall, I’ve been fighting a losing battle with laziness. I haven’t touched my dissertation in over a month and I’m not particularly eager to get back to it. Granted, I’ve got other things on my mind (which I’m not going to get into on this public blog, but we’ve all had the experience of personal things taking priority over the professional). Laziness is creeping into my teaching as well. I find myself falling into old habits, mainly because it’s easier to rely on resources I’ve used in the past than it is to come up with radically new ideas for activities and documents. That’s not to say that I’ve completely abandoned all of the helpful things we discussed together this summer: my co-teacher and I have brought writing into the classroom in a big way, with a lot of fast-writes and reflections. These have been pretty easy to integrate into our existing framework; they don’t take me far out of my comfort zone. And so the laziness persists.

Another area in which I’m leaning on old, familiar techniques is in talking about writing. I find myself advising students to put sources “into conversation” and stressing the importance of addressing the “so what?” implications of a thesis (both taken from Writing Analytically, an old stand-by). At the same time, I have a new focus on revision and new ways to talk about it. We’re taking drafts through more stages, and communicating more clearly to our students what we see as the purpose of each stage. I think we’ve succeeded in conveying to them that writing is an iterative process; they seem a lot more willing to find ways to rework ideas – often involving mixing old writing with new – without seeing it as a devastating setback. Today we did our first substantial peer draft workshop, and I found myself mixing old with new as well: we randomly generated groups of 3-4 students and suggested Joe’s basic mark-up key, but we also included a more structured handout to guide their reading and commenting.

So overall, I would say that I’m finding ways to bring some of our Art of Writing ideas into my classroom – in moderation. I want to push more, experiment more, force myself beyond what is easy and lazy. But I also need to take care of myself right now. Anyone else struggling with this? I’m also just finding it hard to remember all of the great ideas I was so excited about this summer, at least in the moment of actually sitting down to lesson plan. I’d love to hear how others are bringing in what we learned this summer while still maintaining a classroom environment that feels safe and familiar.

-Lisa