Your Brain on Books

What You Read Matters More Than You Might Think

Seton Hill is revamping its freshman writing program, previously implemented as a pair of courses, “Basic Composition” and “Seminar in Thinking and Writing” (STW), and now called “Composition and Culture” (which students can take in one semester or stretch over two). The new design includes more focus on reading, and also seeks to erase what had been a sharp division between an emphasis on the personal essay (in the “Basic”…


Facebook is predicting the end of the written word

Facebook’s video push threatens the edited TV news package as much as it threatens the written word. I’ve definitely noticed a difference in traffic when I post a YouTube video (which generally gets modest attention on FB but often accumulates views over time) vs when I post similar content directly within Facebook (which FB seems to promote more quickly, but which disappears into the memory hole about 24 hours later,…

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Teaching Shakespeare in a Maximum Security Prison

Good essay by Mikita Brottman. When I read Macbeth for the first time, I understood almost nothing. The play’s immediate subjects (kingship, Scottish history, nations at war) did not engage me, nor did I have any interest in theater. I loved Macbeth not for its story but for its language. I was fascinated by the weight of the words, their sequence and rhythm, the way they made me feel, even…

MLA Style Paper: Layout of First Page

New Graphic for MLA Style Paper Handout

The other day, I noticed that if you Google for “mla style paper,” the first two images that appear are from my website — but out of context, they aren’t terribly useful. They’re just screenshots of sample papers. I’ve added some callouts with visual tips. Not the best graphic I’ve ever created, but certainly more useful than just a screenshot of a sample paper.  During the academic year, the MLA style…

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Education: Teaching teachers how to teach reading

I’m definitely seeing students in my freshman writing class and intro lit classes struggling with complex texts. I have more freedom to address the problem in my lit classes, where the focus is on reading. In the freshman writing class, where the goal is to produce a 10-page research paper by the end of term, students who do have the writing ability are struggling with academic texts (preferring instead to…