Student's Log – Scholastic/Quarantine date 03.23.2020

First day of online teaching. I didn’t really have anything to do except email my students. I have the week’s module all set, I’m trying to make this as easy for them as possible. (Which means no synchronous stuff!)

I also got emails/updates on my own classes. One professor is (as someone in my cohort described him) an academic angel. I swear there isn’t a nicer human being on the planet and is eliminating grades on our stuff for the remainder of the semester. We still need to do the work, but if we have issues, we don’t have to worry about our grades. My professor for my other 2 classes is giving us time to get used to the new way of life and has pushed back readings and project due dates. I love my program.

GIF of Captain America saluting

Not all heroes wear capes

Because I have been under so much stress the past few weeks, (I mean who hasn’t been?) I needed to get outside and run. We are under lockdown here in Ohio, but we can still go to parks. I had never run the trails at one of our parks, so I decided to go today. The best way to describe what happened is it was a beautiful disaster. Beautiful because I wanted to run at least 6.5 miles, and I ran/walked 7.1!

GIF of Barney from How I Met Your Mother giving himself a high five

It was a disaster because…well, just watch this video.

Strong language

Teacher’s Log – Scholastic date 11.07.2019

The discourse communities project went as well as expected. As typical, there are a group of students who have continued to take risks with their writing and have fully embraced the idea of writing isn’t limited to essays. I saw genres of news articles, informational pamphlets, emails, and Instagram posts. And there is another group of students who are doing the bare minimum. This is the group that I always feel I failed in some way. I know it’s probably not true, and the reality is that not every student is going to be as excited about writing as I am. But, I can’t help but feel as if I failed to reach them in some way.

While teaching, I’ve also been working on the projects my students will be doing next semester. Writing a critical incident analysis, creating a research question and a survey to test that question, writing a proposal, and lastly, creating a poster presentation of all of my work. These projects have been very interesting. I researched the link between writing anxiety, self-efficacy, procrastination, and microagressions of a patriarchal society. Procrastination is of interest to me, especially. As you can see, even though all of my blog posts have been written in class; guess who procrastinated in actually posting them?

You think I would’ve learned something in preventing that in all of this research. But, alas, I have not. What I did learn is that first-year writing students have A LOT of writing anxiety, and it contributes greatly to procrastination. I also learned that while those who identified as women didn’t believe they had been made to feel inferior due to their gender; many of them still heard microaggressions from men. These included statements that began with “what you should’ve done…” or “what I would’ve done…”

Now obviously, my sample size of 36 isn’t exactly representative of all first-year writing students, but it does create many questions for future study. Whether or not I will complete those futures studies remains to be seen. But, it would be very interesting to learn more about nonetheless.

Teacher’s Log – Supplemental

I can’t believe I forgot about the Doctor Who activity I had my students do!

On the last day before rough drafts were due, we watched the Doctor Who episode, “Midnight.” For those not familiar with the episode, it’s from season 4, episode 11. Amazon Prime’s description of it is…

The Doctor is trapped, alone, powerless and terrified, on the leisure planet Midnight. Soon, the knocking on the wall begins. Only a woman called Sky seems to know the truth – but as paranoia turns into a witch-hunt, Sky turns the Doctor’s greatest strengths against him, and a sacrifice must be made.

-Amazon Prime

It’s a bit of a spooky episode which is perfect for right before Halloween!

At a certain point in the episode (right after he asks “Could you really murder someone? Or are you better than that?”), I stop the video. Students must then decide if they would side with the Doctor, or throw the woman out of train. I give them 5 minutes to write a post to me, telling me their decision, and the reasons for that decision.

After their decisions are made and submitted, we finish watching the rest of the episode. The first question I asked when the show finished was “Would it have made a difference if I had added the constraint that your decision would have been on a discussion thread where everyone else in the class would’ve seen it?” They overwhelmingly said yes!

We spent the rest of the class time discussing all of the rhetorical moves made throughout the episode (there are a lot!). It’s always a fun way to end the first part of the unit.

Teacher’s Log – Scholastic date 10.16.2019

I started the rhetorical analysis unit a couple of weeks ago. It’s my favorite to teach. I mean, it makes sense because that is what I’m getting my PhD in, after all. I wanted to wait to post in my journal though until before rough drafts were due so that I could reflect on the first part of the unit as a whole. This is going to be a long one!

I started the unit by discussing exigence, Kairos, and audience/constraints. I had them read about and define the terms prior to our class discussion. I use an activity that I love that I call “The Situation.” My students in the past have always had fun with. I put them in the situation that while driving to their mid-term biology exam they are texting their friend, run a red light, and get in a car crash while driving their grandma’s car. No one is hurt, but both vehicles are towed away, they are cited for the accident, and they miss their mid-term. They then have to create an email to their professor asking for a chance to re-take the mid-term (knowing their professor is old and cranky and probably won’t allow it). They also have to create a text message to the friend they were texting at the time of the accident and ask for a ride. Lastly, they create a script of what they are going to say to Grandma when they Facetime her after they get home. I have them do this as a discussion post, so everyone can see each other’s writing. We then read through them as a class, discussing exigence, Kairos, and audience along the way.

This is always a fun way for them to realize the rhetorical situations they find themselves in on a day-to-day basis. It’s also a cool way to show how audience affects rhetorical choices.

The next class, we looked at the rhetorical appeals of ethos, pathos, and logos. After a short lecture/discussion, I had 5 stations set up around the room (I’m in a huge computer lab and have been really wanting to use the space to my advantage). At each station, I had different types of advertisements. Station 1 was a video Snickers ad with Betty White from a past Super Bowl; Station 2 was two activism ads (one from Moms Demand Action, the other from the ACLU); Station 3 was 2 cigarette ads from the 1930s; Station 4 was a political ad from a local primary election in Toledo; and Station 5 was a movie poster from the film Titanic. The students were in groups and had to work together to find one example each of logos, pathos, and ethos at each station. Afterward, they wrote their results on the whiteboards. This activity went long, so we ended up having to save the discussion for the next class. At first, I was happy about it because it gave me more time to review everything they had found. But the next class was a Tuesday, so there was a long break between the activity itself and discussion of it. That was not so great because many of them forgot or weren’t as excited about it after 5 days. Next time, I would either only have 4 stations, or limit the time they spend at each station, so we could cover it all in one class.

We then moved on to style, arrangement, and delivery. There was a short lecture, then I had them go back to their car accident discussion board and do 2 things. First, comment on their own post about how they used ethos, pathos, and logos in their email, text, and Facetime with Grandma. Second, discuss how aspects like appeals, style, and arrangement might change if the delivery method was different for each person. What if it had to be a phone call to the professor? What if they had to send an email to Grandma?

After this, they had time to brainstorm about their own project. I am having them do a rhetorical remix. They need to find a prior piece of writing, analyze it rhetorically, then pick at least 2 major aspects and remix them. After the remix, they are to write a reflection about what they remixed, why, how, etc.

As always, I wondered if my students were understanding the concepts of this unit. I would often get blank stares or a few head nods in response to what we discussed. But after reading what they wrote in their brainstorming session, I was so happy! Not only were they understanding the concepts, they came up with such unique and interesting ways to remix their old writing! Most are taking some piece of prior academic writing, but turning it into videos, presentations, social media posts, poems, short stories, so many creative things! I’m so excited to see the finished pieces!

Teacher’s Log – Scholastic date 09.24.2019

I’ve realized today that when I finish attending a class, I’m all geeked up about what was discussed or covered. Then when I get back to my office, I only want to work on that stuff!

Today was a workshop with James Schirmer (who was teaching a first-year writing course when the Flint water crisis broke). I already had ideas for how to incorporate the Common Read (What the Eyes Don’t See) into the curriculum, and I have even more now. So, all I want to do is work on the assignments and activities for my WRIT 1110 course, but I have so much other stuff I need to do first. This does not help with my procrastination!

Dean Winchester saying awesome sarcastically
The struggle to find balance continues…