Revising the Resources List on My Syllabus

Stack O' Books by Kurtis Garbutt, on FlickrThis week’s post on Bedford Bits describes the work I have begun on revising my course documents to make them more visual. The ultimate goal is to make them more engaging and more useful to students.

I started with the required resources, which has been nothing but a glorified book list for as long as I can remember. My revised version still lists books, but I have tried to add some negative space and color to make it easier to read and a bit more friendly.

Read the full details in the blog post on the Macmillan Community site.

 
Image: Stack O' Books by Kurtis Garbutt, on Flickr

Finding Persuasion in Unexpected Places

SLC2As I did last summer, I spent twelve days this month with my sister on a road trip from Virginia to Utah, with a stay in Salt Lake City for the Stampin’ Up convention in the middle. I learned a number of interesting ideas at the convention, both for my hobby of scrapbooking and cardmaking and for teaching and creativity in general. The most interesting thing that I came upon, however, was the garbage and recycling bins (shown right) in the Salt Palace Convention Center where the event was held.

Read my full post on the Bedford Bits site.

Twitter Resources Round-up

Amazing Blue Mountain Bird photo from Feast by Brad Hill http://beatymuseum.ubc.ca/events#feast @beatymuseum 2012-05-20-4463I’ve been using Twitter for years for everything from keeping in touch with colleagues to sharing professional development and curriculum materials with other teachers. In the years since I’ve joined, I often first learn about current events from Twitter (@BreakingNews is my favorite).

Since I’ve been doing this for a while, I have some links I can share, from blogs that I’ve written for NCTE, Bedford/St. Martins, and my own site. They were written over the past few years, so forgive any links that are broken please.

If you’re interested in collecting Twitter links in a simple way for students, Paper.li can be a useful option. The tool gathers Tweets from your feed that include URLs and lays them out in a newspaper-style format. I’ve written several pieces about using Paper.li:

Most recently, I’ve written a series of posts on using Twitter Chats, which are real-time, online conversations that use specific hashtags to help organize the discussion. Twitter Chats can be a powerful tool for students and colleagues. You can read more about them in these posts:

Also, if you’re even slightly interested in how you might use Twitter in the classroom, take a look at William M. Ferriter’s essay “Why Teachers Should Try Twitter” from Educational Leadership. The article explains, “For educators who use this tool to build a network of people whose Twitter messages connect to their work, Twitter becomes a constant source of new ideas to explore.” It includes some tips and how-to’s as well as a personal story on how the experience affected the author’s understanding of differentiated instruction.

Hope that helps any readers who are interested in expanding how they use Twitter. I’m willing to share whatever advice and experience I have, so contact me if you need more or have a question I might be able to answer.

Bits December Blog Flashback

ComicsBedford/St. Martin’s Bits bloggers posted on topics ranging from working with new TAs to how we teach research projects. Be sure that you check out all the great ideas for talking about pop culture (like reality TV shows) and how to teach with comics—and don’t miss Holly Pappas’s reflection on the end of one term and the beginning of the next in the Classroom Strategies and Resources section:

About Writing and Being a Teacher of Writers

Classroom Strategies and Resources

Analyzing Popular Culture and Current Events

Teaching with Technology

For regular updates from Bedford Bits, be sure to sign up for the Ink’d In newsletter (and other resources), like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

[Photo: Comics by Ryan Brunsvold, on Flickr]

 

Bits November Blog Flashback

The first word is the hardestBedford/St. Martin’s Bits bloggers posted on topics ranging from our work as writing program administrators to how we teach digital natives. Be sure that you check out all the great ideas for talking about politics and how writing fits into general education requirements—and don’t miss Andrea Lunsford’s praise for short writing assignments in the Classroom Strategies and Resources section:

Writing Program Administration

About Writing and Being a Teacher of Writers

Classroom Strategies and Resources

Analyzing Popular Culture and Current Events

Teaching with Technology

For regular updates from Bedford Bits, be sure to sign up for the Ink’d In newsletter (and other resources), like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

—Traci Gardner

[This entry cross-posted as a Note on Bedford/St. Martin’s page on Facebook. Photo: The first word is the hardest by APM Alex, on Flickr]

 

Posts You’ve Gotta Read from Bedford/St. Martin’s

_MG_7158During October, the Bedford/St. Martin’s blogs posted over three dozen new posts on topics ranging from pop culture to teaching with technology. Be sure that you check out all the great ideas for talking about current events and the the election, and don’t miss Andrea Lunsford’s discussion of syllabus design in the Classroom Strategies and Resources section:

Writing Program Administration

About Writing and Being a Writer

Classroom Strategies and Resources

Analyzing Popular Culture and Current Events

Teaching with Technology

For regular updates from Bedford Bits, be sure to sign up for the Ink’d In newsletter (and other resources), like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

—Traci Gardner

[Photo: _MG_7158 by Neon Tommy, on Flickr]

 

 


Cross-posted as a Note on Bedford/St. Martin’s page on Facebook.

Aligning Composition with Student Interests

USMC Iwo Jima War Memorial at Night, World War II, Veteran Soldiers, American FlagI was lucky enough to teach a first-year composition course in the mid-80s that focused on the rhetoric of war. Admittedly, the topic was not one I had any deep ties to. It wasn’t one I would have chosen on my own. I took on two sections of the specially themed course as a favor.

I was not an authority on the topic. I hadn’t even reviewed all the texts for the course before I began teaching. I had to work to keep up with the readings and the films that the class watched. I designed the usual kinds of assignments and activities, which I have documented in a List of Ten and in my blog post Assignment: Naming and the Rhetoric of War. Frequently, the students in the classroom knew more than I did about historical battles and current military events.

Despite all the reasons the course could have gone wrong, I found myself with some of the most engaged students I have ever taught. Their personal interest in the topic made all the difference. Students had signed up for the course because they were interested in exploring the topic, so they came into the classroom ready to dig into the texts.

By contrast, the overwhelming majority of students signing up for first-year composition courses had no details on the courses they were choosing. It’s much harder in this more typical unthemed composition course to create contexts that will lead to personal connections for students. 

You can read the list of possible contexts for a generic composition course and my ideas on how to align composition with student interests in my post on the Bedford Bits site.

Gaming the Writing Process

The Art of Video Games 2012What would happen if we rethought the ways that we think and talk about writing and the writing process to use the kind of language and thinking that people use when they play games? That’s the question I’ve been pondering during the several weeks since Katie Salen’s webinar, Making Learning Irresistible: 6 Principles of Game-like Learning.

Last week I talked about how to make a curriculum relevant by thinking like a game designer when you structure your curriculum. This week I want to take that idea a little further by considering how a game designer might teach writing.

Read more about the 3 fundamental ways my teaching will change if I apply the strategies of game play to the writing process in my complete post on the Bedford Bits site.

 

[Photo: The Art of Video Games 2012 by blakespot, on Flickr]

Seeing Connected Learning

VFS Writing students workshop a scriptLast week, I shared some photos that demonstrate what I think students engaged in connected learning look like. Ultimately, I had to admit that the images might only complicate the issue, especially since none of the photos matches what you’re likely to see in the writing or literature classroom.

Writing last week’s post just led me to more questions: What does connected learning look like? For that matter, what does any kind of learning look like? How can we tell when (and what) students are learning?

Learning is never as obvious as we might wish. I’d go as far as to say that if it were, we wouldn’t need so many standardized tests to know whether students were reaching academic goals. So how can I tell when I’m seeing connected learning? This week, I decided to look back over all the images I’ve chosen and some that I rejected to try to decide what I’m looking for when I look for Connected Learning.

I explain what I see when I am Seeing Connected Learning in my full post on the Bedford Bits blog.

What Does Connected Learning Look Like?

Is this Connected Learning?

hackNY 2011 Spring Student Hackathon

How about this?

Engineering competition puts college students to the test

This week I go on a search for photos of Connected Learning, and I find out it’s no simple task. Read more in my full post on the Bedford Bits blog.