Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Conversations: Time Management and Remembering Information

Robert Talbert writes about his experiences with "flipping" a college calculus class in a recent Chronicle post. He explains that one of the biggest challenges his students face isn't with the material of the class, but in crafting a time and information management system that allows them to be successful, particularly when there are so many little projects involved in their class work.

 Broken Clock

Talbert explains that he would create an online system of reminders for each part of the project (since all of the deadlines are given in advance), but his students handle it differently (and less effectively):
"But for students? Most of them simply try to remember what they need to do, and this is a terrible idea. The brain is an excellent tool for processing information but a terrible one for storing information. Students misremember what they need to do and when, or just forget it. As a result, the #1 negative comment about the class so far from students is having to 'remember several different websites' for their work--which in fact is not the case, as there's one website that puts all the resources and assignments within three clicks of each other. But in their minds, it's not one project but half a dozen disconnected tasks."

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Writing is Like Metaphor Series: The Mess of Writing is Like Thanksgiving Dinner

One of the biggest challenges I face as a writing teacher is getting students to trust in mess. Writing is messy, but most of the finished products we see are neat, tidy, and easy to follow. Students start brainstorming and tell me that the draft they've produced is "a disaster" or "terrible." I try to tell them that the draft they've produced is perfectly fine, just unfinished.

To help drive that point home, I often compare it to Thanksgiving dinner.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Conversations: Overcoming Dispositional Barriers

                 Phone with Arabic Numbers.

How to Overcome Dispositional Barriers in Developmental Education? Make a phone call.

When our students are absent from class, do we call them or not?  I say yes, and I do call my absent students.  I call all of my college-ready online students too, in order to put them at ease with the course. Sometimes the absent students return to class and sometimes they don't, but I've always been able to establish a connection that leaves the door open for that student to return the next semester.  When I see my absent students on campus or in my community, I ask them where they have been.  I invite them back to class. I have had a few successful outcomes where students who thought they had no chance to complete their studies return and do well. This is known as intrusive advising, a practice that faculty and advising or counseling staff can do to help students adjust to college culture.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Conversations: On Which I Do Not Bash Textbooks

This is not a post bashing textbooks.

It could have been. I, like every teacher I've spoken to, have my textbook frustrations. I worry about the places where they deviate from my own philosophies, the times when they seem to talk down to my students, the times when they seem to talk over my students' heads, and--perhaps most of all--making sure that I use them enough to justify the (often astronomical) cost my students incur by purchasing them.

But I'm not going to bash textbooks.

Stack of Books

Friday, August 23, 2013

Writing Is Like Metaphor Series: A Writing Class is a Way to Stock Your Toolshed

This post is part of the Writing is Like Metaphor Series.

When we discuss the writing process, sometimes my students seem a little overwhelmed. We start by talking about all of the different ways that we write in a day, everything from text messages to professional emails to research papers.

So when we then start talking about the potential steps of the writing process (brainstorming, outlining, drafting, feedback, revision, more feedback, more revision, etc.) some of my students get wide-eyed with horror: "I'm supposed to make an outline for a text message!?"

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Writing Is Like Metaphor Series: Semicolons Are Like Jewelry

This post is part of the Writing is Like Metaphor Series

Often, my students are not sure how to use semicolons correctly when they come into the classroom. Once they've learned, it's as if they want to make up for lost time and throw them into every other sentence. It's fun to see them learn to use a new writing tool, but you know the old saying: "when all you have is a hammer, everything's a nail." 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Writing Process: Introducing the Writing Metaphor Series

Metaphors are powerful. Peter Elbow explains that "[w]hen you make a metaphor, you call something by a wrong name. If you make a comparison, an analogy, or an example, you are thinking of something in terms of something else. There is always a contradiction" (Writing Without Teachers, 53). Contradictions are where we learn. It is when we use one idea to sharpen the focus of another that we get to our strongest understandings.

Metaphors force a tension, and tension is necessary for arriving at our best understanding.

Pool Balls

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Conversation: Fake Poker and Having No Stakes, How Do We Manage Audience?

When I was in college, we had a friendly poker game where people would pitch in their spare change. It was tournament-style play. Winner and second place took home some cash.

It wasn't much. In fact, it was usually less than ten dollars, but we were poor college students, so there was one day when no one had the spare change to pitch in, but we still wanted to play.

Poker Chips

So we divvied up the chips and played anyway. It didn't work. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

In-Class Assignment: Rethinking Failure

When I told my students that we were going to spend the class period talking about failure, they immediately started responding with tried and true platitudes. "Failure is not an option!" Their enthusiasm for college success is bolstered by such claims.

The truth though? Failure is not only an option, but often a likelihood.

Bad Grade

Monday, July 15, 2013

Reading: J.K. Rowling's Secret Identity Teaches Us About Voice

Recently, famed author J. K. Rowling was revealed to be the truth author behind the mystery novel The Cuckoo's Calling, which she penned under the pseudonym of Robert Galbraith.

A post from Time allows a linguistic analyst the opportunity to explain how researchers uncovered Rowling's true identity, and it gives us an opportunity to talk about voice and style.

Ellie of White Bait

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Writing News Links

Lots of reading here in an archive on The Atlantic: http://www.theatlantic.com/debates/education

The link above will take you to a series of articles about teaching writing, published on The Atlantic Online in September and October 2012. Some of the entries include:

A High Tech Solution to the Writing Crisis

What Poetry Teaches Us About the Power of Persuasion

What Aristotle and Stephen Colbert Have in Common

The Best Writing Teachers are Writers Themselves

Monday, June 17, 2013

Conversation: Is Parenthood a Barrier to Education?

This is anecdotal, I realize, but a summer class started this morning. Like most classes, the full roster in front of me did not correlate with a full classroom. Each first day, some students don't show up. There's been a nagging trend: most of the people who don't show up are women. In fact, almost all of the ones who didn't show up to my class this morning were women.

Obviously, being a woman doesn't necessarily mean that you're a mother, and being a mother doesn't necessarily mean that you're the only caregiver available for your child. Still, it seems that a lot of the students who disappear mid-way through the semester are also women, women who have often been struggling to find stable childcare.

Empty Desks

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Dev Ed in the News: Does Remediation Need Remediation?

Leticia Bustillos, a remedial education consultant, has a post over at Huffington Post about the problems with the way we talk about remedial and developmental courses. She suggests our conceptions of remedial education are too limiting, especially on a policy level:
Unfortunately, policymakers and their outdated definition of "remediation" stubbornly cling to a perception that does not fully account for the issue's complexity. Rather than asking the question, "What does it take to successfully serve students considered underprepared?" policymakers are more inclined to ask "What does it take to make remedial education programs most efficient?" In doing so, policies emerging from this imprudent focus do not make allowances for the "development" of students as learners and impose arbitrary timelines and restrictions for the mastery of knowledge.
Read the whole thing here. 

Do you agree with Bustillos? What would be the best way to remediate our discussion of remediation? 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Conversation: Remembering What It's Like to Be "Developmental"

This post has been cross-posted from Balancing Jane

I love to write, and I have been doing it for as long as I can remember. When I was in elementary school, I used to scribble stories on napkins. When I was in middle school, I kept hundreds of pages of angst-filled journals. In high school, I hid in the back of math class and wrote poems in the margins of my notebook (I still studied for math; don't yell at me, math teachers). Writing has always been something that I just do. Sometimes I get the urge to write and literally cannot sleep until I get up and do it. I've learned not to fight it.

But my students don't always feel that way. Some of them do. In fact, I am always blown away by at least one or two students every class who just clearly love writing and have a very clear talent for seeing the world through a creative and unique perspective. They are a joy to teach.

But so are the ones who hate writing, and there are a lot of them. See, I teach developmental writing, so my students have often been told (or have told themselves) that they "can't" write. They sometimes hide behind that "can't" to protect themselves from the sting of failure. If they don't believe they can do it, an F on a paper isn't a big deal. More often, though, that "can't" isn't just a shield; it's a block. It stands in the way of everything else they will do in my class.

I give them analogies, of course. I tell them that too many people treat writing as a one-shot thing. It's like they decided to try being basketball players without practicing, walked onto a court for the first time, picked up a ball, shot it from half court, missed, and said "Oh, I guess I can't play basketball."

City-Boy Assembly

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Writing and Time: Summer Teaching and Scheduling

There are idyllic images of writing. Picture Hemingway leisurely strolling the streets of Pamplona or Thoreau overlooking Walden Pond.

Walden Pond at Sunset 

Time is an inherent factor to the creative process. Things need to soak, to marinate, to become something. The ideal picture of creativity is often one with loose deadlines or perhaps none at all. 

That's not, however, the reality for our students, and it is even less so in the summer. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Conversation: Flipping Out: Flipped Teaching Models

I mentioned in my review of Blackboard that it could be an excellent tool for developing a flipped classroom model, but I wanted to explore that idea a little further. Here's an infographic from Knewton that explains the concept and why it's getting so much attention in discussions about education.
Flipped Classroom
Created by Knewton and Column Five Media

Basically, in a flipped model, we record our lectures for students to watch at home at their own pace (and technology advancements in PowerPoint and Prezi make that pretty easy to do). This frees up the classroom time for more actively engaged learning and group work. 

What do you think of a flipped classroom model? What concerns do you have? Are there any concerns particular to developmental students, or could a flipped model be even more helpful for these students?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Tech in the Classroom: Blackboard

This is part of a series of reviews of websites, platforms, and social media sites. Some are useful for teachers in a SMART classroom (with a teacher-station computer, internet connection, and projector). Others lend themselves more to a lab where each student has her own computer. Hopefully these can help us communicate with our students, present information effectively, and encourage collaboration, feedback, and active participation. See our previous review of WordpressFacebook, PB Works, and Google Drive.

I know that not everyone shares my unbridled enthusiasm on this topic, but let me just get it out there: I love Blackboard!

It's true that the layout can be a little clunky, and the visual aesthetics sometimes aren't where I'd like them to be, but Blackboard is my go-to tech in the classroom tool. There are a lot of moving pieces to Blackboard, so it's really easy to create the level of functionality and usage that you want out of it. It could be simply a place to store documents for students to access, or it could essentially be the place where your students go for much of the course content, giving it the potential to be a tool for a flipped classroom model.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Conversation: Txtng is killing language. JK!!!

If you're a writing teacher, perhaps you've been asked if your students write in "text-speak"; or you've been asked if texting has ruined student writing; or perhaps someone wants to know exactly how you get your students not to text in their papers.

The truth is, my students have no illusions or misunderstandings that texting is the same as formal writing. Yes, they may slip in a "u" or "thru" once in a while. They do this because they're moving fast and they make typos, just like we all do. When I point it out to them, they smile with embarrassment, apologize, and then they fix it. They are not choosing text-speak over formal academic writing; they are not resisting academic conventions because texting is "easier" or "more comfortable." Speaking for my own students, and from my own experience, none of the accusations of laziness, instant gratification culture, or language decline hold true.

So, when I recently watched this TED Talk by the linguist John McWhorter, I felt great relief, excitement, and an even deeper admiration for my students who are learning to communicate effectively with the exploding number of technologies and expectations.

Here's the talk. How do your students learn to navigate and/or violate genre expectations? What do you think about McWhorter's claims?

Txtng is killing language. JK!!!
John McWhorter

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Assignment: The Professor & The Cell Phone


In class, we first watch this YouTube video:


We have a discussion about what happened (a cell phone goes off in a lecture hall; the interrupted professor takes it, then slams it to the ground before continuing with his lecture), and students' responses. Several say that student deserved to have his phone destroyed. Some say the professor should have taken the phone, but not broken it. Others say the professor was out of line completely. It's usually a spirited debate.

Then, we get to the assignment.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Tech in the Classroom: Google Drive

This is part of a series of reviews of websites, platforms, and social media sites. Some are useful for teachers in a SMART classroom (with a teacher-station computer, internet connection, and projector). Others lend themselves more to a lab where each student has her own computer. Hopefully these can help us communicate with our students, present information effectively, and encourage collaboration, feedback, and active participation. See our previous review of Wordpress, Facebook, and PB Works.

Today, I'm reviewing features of Google Drive (formerly Google Docs).  Here's my Google Drive page:

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Education News Link: Why Computers Can't Grade Writing

Doug Hesse's article in the Washington Post offers a quiz and an argument for why computers can't grade essays.

Here's an excerpt:

Any piece of writing is good or bad within at least five dimensions:

*how well it fits a given readership or audience;
*how well it achieves a given purpose;
*how much ambition it displays;
*how well it conforms to matters of fact and reasoning; and
*how well it matches formal conventions expected by its audience. 
No writing teacher can be a walking encyclopedia, but all must have a flexible broad knowledge and a keen ear for things missing or ringing not quite true.  They ask whether claims have evidence and whether reasoning is sound, then suggest ways to improve.
Of course, teachers must also judge how students handle conventions: matters of grammar, usage, punctuation, spelling, citation, formatting, and so on.  I list these features last, when many people assume they most occupy English teachers, but of course they’re vital.  My point is that so are the other dimensions.  The art of grading requires judging how all five together describe a student’s performance.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Tech in the Classroom: PB Works

This is part of a series of reviews of websites, platforms, and social media sites. Some are useful for teachers in a SMART classroom (with a teacher-station computer, internet connection, and projector). Others lend themselves more to a lab where each student has her own computer. Hopefully these can help us communicate with our students, present information effectively, and encourage collaboration, feedback, and active participation. See our previous review of Wordpress and Facebook.

Here's a review of the very first content management platform I ever used: PB Works. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Assignment: Group Grammar Worksheet

Grammar worksheets have always been a point of contention in my teaching. When I hand them out, even students who do well on them seem unable to explain the rules they're using, which then means they have trouble applying them in their own writing.

I began to think that grammar worksheets were a waste of time.

I decided to try something new last year,and since then I have used it several times. It has worked really well, and I think it could be adapted in several ways to encompass a variety of grammar lessons.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Tech in the Classroom: Facebook Review

This is part of a series of reviews of websites, platforms, and social media sites. Some are useful for teachers in a SMART classroom (with a teacher-station computer, internet connection, and projector). Others lend themselves more to a lab where each student has her own computer. Hopefully these can help us communicate with our students, present information effectively, and encourage collaboration, feedback, and active participation. See our previous review of Wordpress.

You might be most familiar with Facebook as the distraction that keeps pulling your students' attention away from their work in computer labs or even on their phones. You also might also know Facebook as the distraction that keeps pulling you away from your own work as you're supposed to be grading papers or lesson planning. It has a pretty bad reputation as being a procrastinator's swirling vortex of material, with people going so far as to create apps that block it from computers for specified lengths of time so that they aren't tempted to "like" their friend's latest dinner pic when they're supposed to be writing a term paper.

Setting aside that bad reputation for a moment, though, there are some creative ways to harness the usability and ubiquity of Facebook to be a classroom tool rather than a classroom menace.


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Tech in the Classroom: Wordpress Blog Review

This is the first in a series of reviews of websites, platforms, and social media sites. Some are useful for teachers in a SMART classroom (with a teacher-station computer, internet connection, and projector). Others lend themselves more to a lab where each student has her own computer. Hopefully these can help us communicate with our students, present information effectively, and encourage collaboration, feedback, and active participation.

When I first began teaching in a computer-mediated room, I thought the height of technological advancement was that I could load a typed lesson on the overhead instead of scratching it in chalk on the board. Now, of course, there are a multitude of technologies for the writing classroom. 

At my college, students sometimes struggle with access to computers. More often, they struggle to get internet access. It's getting easier and cheaper to get both at home or on their phone; they're catching up with their digital-native peers. Despite the challenges, students seem to understand that technology is an unavoidable part of school, and are more than willing to learn and practice.

Wordpress Blog Review:

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Assignment: In-Class MLA Explanation Exercise

Since I'm teaching exclusively developmental writing classes, I don't spend a lot of time talking about citation styles. My papers don't generally require outside sources, and I tend to work individually with students who want to use them to get the citations right.

Style guides come up, though, because students know that they are out there, but they generally don't have a very firm grasp over what they are or how they work. I do require some familiarity with MLA style because I require its formatting for paper headings and things like margins and spacing. I make formatting a (small) part of my grading criteria, and there are inevitably several students who lose a few points for not double spacing their lines or not putting a title on their papers.

Students don't like this. They think that it's nit-picking and frustrating. It's not "real" writing; it's just annoying. I know what they meant, they insist, so I shouldn't take the points off.

To help demonstrate why paying attention to these details is more than just a place for me to penalize them, I remembered an activity the SLU Writing Center had used when I worked there. I adapted this activity for my developmental writing students, and I was happy with the results.

I divide my students into two groups and then tell them that we're going to have a contest. They need to imagine that they've just entered a busy restaurant.

3 cheese & chiles vegetable soup with salad

Thursday, April 11, 2013

CFP: Gateway Writing Project Fall Conference 2013

The Gateway Writing Project is pleased to announce its 2013 Fall Conference, to be held at the University of Missouri – St. Louis, October 23, 2013.

In keeping with the Writing Project's core beliefs, GWP Teacher Consultants will offer engaging presentations on promising practices in today’s writing classroom. We would love for you to join them in presenting a session at this year’s conference.

Consider which facets of your writing classroom you are excited to share with other teachers, and submit a proposal to present a session using the enclosed form. If you know other TCs who would make excellent presenters for our conference, feel free to send a copy of this form to them.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Education News Links

Teacher Knows if You’ve Done the E-Reading (NY Times, April 8, 2013)
You know if they've done the homework, but now you can see if they even cracked the (e-)book. Teachers already having mixed reviews to this CourseSmart feature.

Rigorous Schools Put College Dreams Into Practice (April 9, 2013)
What catching up with their peers looks like at Bard High School Early College. No review or remediation for these students.

Thursday, April 4, 2013


Thanks for stopping by Something's Developing!

This site is in its very early stages, but our hope is that it can serve as a place for us to share ideas, assignments, and research. There are several ways that you can get involved as a reader, a contributor, or both!

Become a Reader

We hope to update this page regularly with assignments, readings for students, resources for the classroom, and discussions about our profession as writing instructors. If you want to make sure that you keep up-to-date with our updates, please consider following us on any (or all!) of these social media sites.

You can find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

As you read, please join the conversation. Leave comments on posts to give us your opinion or experiences. If you use an assignment or presentation for your class, we'd love to hear how it went or what adaptations you made to make it work for you.

Become a Contributor

Please see our post on submissions if you have something you'd like to share. We are looking for assignments, reading suggestions, and guest blog posts.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

When Students Say, "You don't like me"

Last week, one of my students, when confronted with a bad grade, asked me why I don’t like him. In 8 years of teaching college writing, I have had several students ask some version of the question, “Why don't you like me?” They have asked with genuine confusion, hurt, and disappointment, either about a bad grade or my refusal to excuse a late paper.

I have genuinely liked all of these students, and many ended up acing my class. But the question from last week and semesters previous has me wondering: what does my students’ perception of my liking or disliking them have to do with their grades, meeting expectations, my role as a teacher?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Submission Guidelines

As an interactive resource guide for developmental writing teachers, we invite you to submit writing assignments, textbook reviews, and guest posts. Please see the guidelines for each below.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Conversation: Phones in the Classroom?

I'm young enough that I've had a cell phone my entire adult life and much of my adolescence. Sure, my first one was a Nokia that required Morse-code like skills to send a simple text message and contained only a pixelated Snake game for entertainment, but I still got in the habit of being constantly connected (well, as constantly connected as rural phone service would let my teenage self be). 

Now that I've got a more sophisticated phone, I love the ability to browse the news when I'm stuck in line at the bank, shoot a quick Facebook message to a friend while I'm walking to my car, and map my route home when I take a wrong turn. I am not anti-cell phones.

Assignment: Gaining Perspective

Perspective is a key part of understanding how to write well. As writers, we need to recognize that we approach each assignment with our own unique perspective. We also need to realize that we have the power to change that perspective. In addition, we need to recognize that our readers approach what we write with a perspective of their own, one that might or might not match what we had in mind.

Since perspective is mostly about the way we see things, it makes sense to demonstrate it through visuals. This in-class activity will give you a chance to explore your own perspective in a new way.

Conversation: Accelerated Classes

There are many different approaches to redesigning developmental classes. This article from Academic Impressions explores a few of them, focusing especially on the assisted learning approach (where non-credit bearing classes are eliminated and students are placed into credit-bearing courses with extra support) and accelerated courses (where developmental classes meet for longer class periods over a shorter part of the semester, allowing students to move through them faster).

Assignment: Writing Process Description

Overview- This paper will be a description of your own writing process. Using the terms we’ve talked about in class (prewriting, writing, rewriting, brainstorming, outlining, etc.), describe the writing process you typically use when you write. Once you have your typical writing process down, describe where you think your writing process can be improved.

Assignment: Does Grammar Matter?

Overview- A solid discussion of grammar will often leave students in a space of uncertainty. If we explain that all dialects have grammar and that no grammar is inherently better than any other, we can give them impression that grammar does not matter. At the same time, if we explain that students are held purely to the Standard Academic English grammatical standards, we can give the impression that grammar is the only thing that matters.

This in-class activity is designed to explore that tension.

Monday, March 11, 2013

PowerPoint: Dialects and Discourses

At the end of a week-long discussion on dialects and discourses, I used the following PowerPoint in class to wrap up the key concepts and focus on what students need to know about dialects and discourses in academic and professional contexts.

The main takeaway from this presentation is that Standard Academic English is no more "correct" than any other dialect of English but that mastering it is often a necessity for participation in professional and academic discourse communities.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Reading: Do You Speak American?

PBS has a great resource on different dialects in American English. There are a lot of different entry points into the material, but one way to break it up and share it with students is to assign the section on "American Varieties" as reading. Students could then choose two or three of the different dialects to explore in more detail: Appalachian English, AAVE, Californian, Cajun, Chicano, Lumbee, Midwest, New York City, Pacific Northwest, Pittsburghese, Smoky Mountains, SpanglishSouthern, and Texan.


Since many of these individual sections are written by sociolinguists, some of the language and discussion of dialectical variations can be rather technical and dense. In order to help students discuss their readings in more detail, there are a variety of sources that could be brought into the classroom to help illustrate the way dialects work.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Reading: Bad Grammar? No Job.

CEO Kyle Wiens has a strict grammar policy, and he explains it in this Harvard Business Journal article. For Wiens, bad grammar is a professional deal breaker, no matter how qualified the applicant might otherwise be. He is also clear that this applies at all levels of the work for his business, not just the management or writing positions. If someone is stocking shelves, he believes, they should have to pass a grammar test to do it.

Wiens' blunt message seems to get students talking. In discussions I've had, students have called his policy into question as unfair and discriminatory. We've used this as a platform to talk about how grammar can be used to discriminate against someone and how grammar can be used to judge someone. Then we've talked about whether that judgment is fair or not.

briefcase man on a windy day

Reading: Grammar as Fashion

This NYTimes article compares grammar to fashion and provides a great starting point for a discussion on why grammar matters as well as when it matters and how to use it. This piece does an excellent job of re-framing what has often been pointed out as "errors." Instead of seeing unconventional grammar usage as mistakes, this article sees them as variations of language usage, much the same way people vary their clothing choices.


There's nothing wrong with wearing bunny slippers, but we wouldn't wear bunny slippers to a job interview because it sends the wrong message and doesn't meet the expectations of our audience.

Reading: Language and Culture

This Wall Street Journal article takes a look at how language differences mirror cultural differences. It examines how people from cultures that use words for directional terms (north, east, southwest, etc.) in everyday directions have a stronger sense of direction and that people from cultures that use passive construction are less likely to place blame on individuals for accidents.

It raises questions about the nature of language. What comes first: our thoughts about the world that then shapes the words we create to express it or the language that we learn that then shapes how we see the world? It also raises questions about what learning language means to us as we live our lives. How can we use what we know about language to make sure that we are aware of how it shapes our perceptions?

Prezi: Becoming a Lifelong Writer

This is a short, simple presentation that gives some basic tips on becoming a lifelong writer that might be used at the end of a semester to talk about how the tools we gained carry forward.

Assignment: Exploring Audience Expectations

Overview- Good writers adapt their material for their audience. Even if your purpose remains the same, your message will change when your audience changes if you want to deliver it effectively. A good way to see this in action is to explore the websites run by The Washington Post. The Washington Post is a nationally-renowned newspaper that provides information, analysis, and commentary on a wide range of topics.

Reading: Differences in Sign Language Highlights Discourse Communities

This article from The Washington Post demonstrates that there is a racial difference in American Sign Language usage. It traces the difference back to practices in segregation and could be used as a place to start a discussion on the way different dialects form. It is also a very useful way to discuss that there is no "right" way to use language and that language develops through usage.

Lisa Wade also talks about this post over at Sociological Images.

Reading: Exploring How Language Shapes Thought

Since language is how we make meaning out of our world, it makes sense that language would impact how we view the world around us. Many researchers have shown that the way we use language impacts the way that we think.

This article from Cracked (Warning: contains some profanity and sexual innuendo. For a more formal version of similar content, see this WSJ article.) puts several examples of language shaping our perception into a relatable, comical list. Everything from how we visualize time to how we perceive colors to how we follow directions is ultimately controlled by the words we use to explain those things.

Compass Inlay