This Is How My Composition & Culture Class Preps an Oral Presentation

Instead of delivering a formal speech for my approval, my students are off in groups, listening to each other. I should note that I don’t let all my students go off like all semester long. They’ve worked hard to get to the point where they know what they need to do, and they are ready to be critical and supportive peer audiences. A healthy democracy is full of people who…

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“What Teachers Make” Sequence of Assignments

Every year I rewatch Taylor Mali’s passionate defense of “What Teachers Make.” As part of a sequence of assignments designed to help students write a more engaging personal literacy narrative, I use Mali’s speech. Yes, it’s my job to teach composition, but composition is a term that applies to music, photography, choreography, athletics, etc. Students already have an intuitive sense of what makes a good Vine, what makes a good…

How to Disagree

If we’re all going to be disagreeing more, we should be careful to do it well. What does it mean to disagree well? Most readers can tell the difference between mere name-calling and a carefully reasoned refutation, but I think it would help to put names on the intermediate stages. So here’s an attempt at a disagreement hierarchy: Truly refuting something requires one to refute its central point, or at…

Republican National Convention: Scrutiny of Melania Trump’s speech follows plagiarism allegations

As a college English teacher, I come to the table with a nuanced professional stance on the value of originality in writing. In a given discourse community, I can refer to common ideas without making it look like I am claiming original thinking. For example, when I was an undergrad with a work-study job in the theatre department’s scene shop, I saw a tired grad student scowl at the lopsided chicken-wire…