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.