this syllabus: http://www.ilstu.edu/~shspove/145syllabus.html
has some good ideas about design of a composition course.
I like the way the instructor has the students refelct on the writing process after each essay, I want to do that more.
I like the art history assignment, I’ve been doing something like it. If I could find a small selection of works and essays about those works, that would be good. (Maybe that essay about Andy Warhol’s Last Supper, I think I might still have it?) I would like to develop this section of the class and I like the way this instructor has combined a sort of reader response assignment and reading and responding to a critical work.
I like the idea of having a separate peer editing day that focuses on grammar and mechanics, polishing the essay into perfect copy. I might do that one day next week.
I like the idea of having a sequence in which students write separate papers evaluating sources in their field, analyzing a text in their field, and then write a formal research paper on a current issue in their field. The major problem with this assignment for my student population is many of them do not have a particular field. Also I wonder if I might be getting in over my head trying to help students in non-humanities fields. How do I know whether a topic is relevant in a field which is not my own.
This is one of the biggest problems of trying to teach research at the freshman level. Good research must be discipline specific. Their research frequently cannot be discipline specific because many of them are still undecided. I know I could solve this by assigning a topic within the discipline of English, but for students who are not inclined to be English majors, this kind of assignment can be torture and actually alienate them further from enjoyment of literature. Many teachers try to avoid this problem with a “current events” kind of topic, but that comes with its own enormous set of baggage, most prominently conflicting cultural values I am not always equipped to deal with.
I’ve been avoiding the issue by leaving them to pick their own topics, and trying to steer them away from the flakier things, but it hasn’t been working. Perhaps I could tell them to do something in their major OR find a subject within another discipline they would like to explore. So a literary nursing major could write a paper on a poet if she desired.