When Talking about Sentence Length

Here is a demonstration of the effect of sentence length, which I usually do in my FYC classes just talking. I found it at themetapicture.


This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It’s like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety.

Now listen. I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length.

And sometimes, when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals–sounds that say listen to this, it’s important.

Teaching Comics

I attended Collin College’s Trends in Teaching Composition Conference. This particular session was primarily informational, but there were hands-on activities, as the presenters had us engage with activities they use in their classrooms.

Teaching Comics Workshop
Michael Baker, Lauryn Angel, Jonathan Evans

Collin College

How to Utilize Comics in the Comp Classroom
Jonathan Evans

Evaluation, Norton’s ch. 103, English 1301 (111)
Minor writing for students with article analysis. Major for evaluation.
Students were often confused.
Then changed to minor assignment with presentation and group work.
Walked through textbook with Ppt.
Key features of evaluations
Concise presentation
2-sided sheet. One side was a comic-book page. Back side was varied levels of context.
Typically ended with a question, which helps set up criteria for evaluation.
You answered the question. Why did you pick that answer?
w/ expanded version of key features
pass out examples—varied versions

one group criticized Lois Lane, even though they thought it was good
no words was problem
Also the students were not aware of Christopher Reeves.

One of the Superman’s was supportive against suicide ideation… Superman is relevant. 1936/46? Episode where Superman stops a mentally ill man from jumping out of window.

Literacy narrative
Akkarian games with her father. “He was the one who fell.”
You have no idea. You have to read on to find out.

What is a literacy narrative?
Attempting to incorporate images into assignment sheets.
Has a friend who is artistic who created an avatar.
Do further research. Is there engagement?
Students are excited by visual images. But is

marvel_heroesLauryn Angel
Superheroes in American Culture, 232

Reading comics since age 11
Discovered would get students who had been reading since youth, expected Avenger movies, some who had never picked up comic book in lives.
One of the things I did for folks who have been reading.
Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics. Ch. 2 introduces language of the comics.
Also Making Comics for final assignment
Studying Comics and Graphic Novels by Kukkonem

Activity inspired by Kukkonem.

Cut up copied of pages from comic book
Then had them organize in multiple ways, decide on the preference idea, and write a paragraph
Action Comics #1—introducing Superman

Second part of activity is Why did the story go differently if it did…
Promote the close reading of comic books, get people who have been reading it a lot out of the “just is just for fun.” Makes them pay attention.
Not just for fun.

Class Comixology account. Doesn’t let you print pages.
All of our comics are digital. Takes them out of that sensory. I paid for all the comics.

Did not use more complex panels.
Might not reflect story in traditional narrative, chronological

Read comics as literary text

superfriends Sat morn cartoonsMichael Baker
Visual Rhetoric and Comics

Super symbols—simple or complex?

McCloud calls iconography, ch. 2
Everything in a superhero costume can be read rhetorically.

Wonder Woman, Superman w an American flag, Batman dark with family lit

Let’s play a matching game (image and words)
WW = feminist icon
Superman = American hero
Batman = orphan

Superman = illegal immigrant
WW = marginalized/sexualized
Batman = mentally ill

Symbols are complicated.
In 2014 child murdered by grandparents. Then DC Entertainment allowed Superman S to appear on gravestone.

Jeffrey Baldwin, 5, starved to death by his gradnparents….

Who decides what that symbol means?
Symbol (visual iconography) abstract rep of characters
Clear link btw character identity and symbols
Even comic companies want consistency, authors/writers portray characters differently
Aud’s experience places meaning on symbol.

Problematic when characters have been through iterations.
Look at WWs costumes.
WW in white long super agent costume –right after Star Wars

WW original was patriotic motif, with eagle.
WW can copyright two w’s.
Shift in the costume cut in regard to coverage

First got pants in late 2000s. took away. got again. Took away.
Was eagle a symbol of Roosevelt’s new deal—ideology supported

At end of each comic you had WW advertising for people to buy war bonds.

90s jean jacket
flat boots

have students read 2 or more different comics and then prompt a discussion about how the diff char reps effect their view of the symbol

Comixology provides a convenient digital environment

even indiv panels can work

3 different panels from WW

issue 8, relatively early, her eyes are taped shut—she refuses to escape the blindfold because tape will pull out her eyelashes

early 60s when adopted 2Wws—
WW’s mother giving her a W. W for women everywhere. “It doesn’t look half bad.”

90s WW reading fan mail “And this one wants my old underwear”

Does this feel like the same character to you?
So what is changing?
Different artist and writer
Costume major changes
Hair changes
Body issues—unrealistically proportioned
Compare to Barbie

Confusion that women have—given mixed messages
Be feminine. Be tough.
Is she smiling? Is she laughing?
Looking for context. (She sends an envelope. Is it underwear?)

Evolution of lasso
“encapsulate men”

WonderWoman as Disney princess?
Fairy godmother, Prince Charming, WW as princess w sword.

Comics are about sales.
Creators have to suit audience.
If doesn’t sell, have to change story.

Participatory audience.

Comixology – website and app for Apple and Android
Give class one log in
Digital comics are cheaper. $3.99 per issue is most expensive. $.99 for older.
Mostly mainstream, but some indie

To find paper copies of early editions is expensive.
Sacrifice sensory…

Superheroes only?
Yes. Iconography.

Teach Icon? Black superhero, conservative. Young woman sidekick who gets pregnant.
Teach Cyborg. New series.
Marginalized characters most fascinating because when their sales fail, audience and authors will blame each other.

You buy comic books and students have access.
Hit big 3 of golden age.
Students add to Comixology.
Students would purchase to add to the collection. Wanted other people to be able to look at comics.


Biggest challenge?
Why take the class?
Visual rhetoric of a required class
Biggest obstacle—thinking it will be fun and/or knowing all about it

Taught 112 through graphic novels
Young woman threw stink about 3 comics. “garbage and pornography”
She assumed it was a blow off class.
It was a fiction class about understanding human behavior.
Provided class with list of graphic novels. 3 questions: lit? suitable for composition class? Xx?
Used McCloud for intro

Similar exercise
Make small arguments on what kind of frame (interdependent, etc) it is…
To practice what McCloud explained.

Teaching Allison Bectell this year. Discussion of writing environment. Memoir discussion.
Also discussion of Virginia Woolf.
Use McCloud’s frame of 7 (handout with visual and comic version of it)
Very effective
Feminist relationships, lesbian rel, mother-daughter, father-daughter
Graphic environment forces them to think in a different way.
Bectell –half of strip is where she is when talking about it—driving, etc

Helps that most of our students are visually oriented.

?disability services?
Had to transpose Maus with blind student.

Most I’ve had is color blind.
Everyone looked at it in gray scale.

Would have to do research for blind.

–I spent weeks describing each panel. Audio discourse. No audio version of Maus. Typed the whole dialogue and whole description.
Also did an accounting textbook which is less fun.

–actually visual learner
had sight as a child, struggle to listen to text and not have visual

anything with Braille technology?
Designed geographic maps and geology experiments with tactile.
But not a company that is publishing things like that.
Huge portion don’t read Braille.

?3-D printing, raised images? Anyone doing that?

?how do you overcome resistance?
Reinforcing, fun but not just fun

Context of history
Captain America punching Hitler
1960s XMen marginalized from Marvel pair with Civil Rights movement versus DC “I am Curious Black” Lois Lane, blackface
more an interpretation approach

tried to find ways
Aristotle’s def of rhetoric
If I am trying to persuade, how can I use images to do that?

I love superheroes. But I have been trying to use images to connect with students.

How effective if do one assignment of graphic novel and rest is normal?
I don’t try to overwhelm them with it.

Gradual introduction.
Visual and auditory learner…

Teach a lot of film… evaluation is movie review
Take a movie that is familiar, have a Prezi on Shining
Afterwards students say “Never thought about movies that way.”

Avatar version = modeling

By end of my class, they create their own.

Race issues…
Just come up.
Icon (conservative)
Reaction to new Star Wars character.
Right wing very upset that their heroes aren’t promoting the same cause.
Cpt America
Conservatives were identifying with Sons of Serpent

Intent is to be open, expressive, and inclusive –really?

Race is a continuing issue
Audience members do have a direct connection

Transgendered supervillain in Batgirl
Bunch of people tweeted at writer
Writer issued apology and said would do it right

?respective views of Nita Sarcussian (Sarcazian)
metamorphosis of Laura Croft character

Star Trek became a graphic novel—his vision of progressive

Did a presentation recently about lack of diversity (race and gender) body types, kinds of characters, variety of white male but not women…

Presentation on the online attacks on her—expose of the internet
How to be critical of what you see on internet

Ideas creeping into iconography
Icons of black Christ, female Christ

Multicultural Rhetorical Systems and Perspectives

These are my notes from the multicultural rhetoric session at the Collin College Trends in Teaching Composition Conference.

Multicultural Rhetorical Systems and Perspectives
Amy Myrick, Amy Rule, Marta Moore

Collin College

“Quick and Easy Mississippi Motor Mouth Quiz”

lack of facility with language
lack of cultural understanding (including history)
lack of understanding about US academics’ expectations (plagiarism or no comp in their country)
rhetorical approach differences
rhetorical expectations (Japan = thesis in conclusion)

Dr. Marta Moore
Working with non-native speakers of English in academic writing.
By 2020, huge number of international students.
Growing trend in comp studies that challenges domination of English mono-lingualism in FYC.

Positive classroom culture:
Don’t single students out as non-native speakers.
Language is not the sum total of a student’s identity.
A brief assignment that allows all students to write about their backgrounds can diffuse some of the emotions about being accepted into the group.
Much of what you will cover will be new to native and non-native speakers alike: academic literacy, genre, vocab, grammar rules (Lindsey Ives and Tom Pierce).

Eye learners versus ear learners

Ear learners:
Learned English more through interaction and not likely in formal school setting.
This category would include second language learners who attended high school in US.
Strength with spoken language that may conceal a lack of facility with writing. (Joy Reid)

Eye learners:
Learned English formally, often as L2.
Tend to struggle with spoken English, but may have more ability to use writing and to use grammar correctly.

Ear learners:
Normally resident born in US, parents speak a language other than English at home.
Probably learned English by listening to spoken English on the radio, on tv, in stores, at school, etc.
Speaking English with friends, so sometimes non-standard.
Common strengths fluency in spoken English speech and familiar with slang and cultural references.
Common challenges = less familiar with basic grammatical concepts, inaccurate word choice based on sounds (human bean), less familiar with academic register
–so teach them academic writing
Strategies = assign reading from academic genres and teach strategic reading
Two others

Eye learners:
Most international and go back home. Good students.
Probably learned English in school as L2. Little exposure to spoken English.
Common strengths = very advanced understanding of grammar rules, familiarity with academic register
Common challenges = difficulty understanding spoken English, cultural expectations, other discursive features in academic writing.
Strategies = use visual aids, record major points from class conversations in writing, speak at a deliberate pace, rely on rhet sit to explain expectations for org, level of detail, etc

How to treat errors:
Use rubrics that are clearly articulated and stick to rubric when grading.
Need clear expectations and no unfairly weighted elements. (Ives)
Don’t mark everything that appears to be wrong. Focus on patterns of errors.
Find patterns of error and help students improve by focusing on the most serious problems.
Use writing conferences as way to provide feedback before assignment is due.
Help students learn self-editing.
Some ideas include reading aloud, error logs, and reading backwards line by line. (Ferris)
Record papers and listen to them.

How much grammar instruction?
Integrate grammar into other parts of class.
Keep grammar instruction brief and narrowly focused. (Ferris and Hedgcock)
Some basic error analysis early on (Ives and xxx)

Contrastive Rhetoric:
Rhet conventions from L1 can impact writing in L2.
Phonological features of L1 impact speech in L2.
Students educated in cultures that value complex, sophisticated sentence structure or in cultures that expect the reader to fill in details for self might see top-down, straightforward American style of writing as overly simplistic or even insulting to the readers. (Ives)

“brief and bold” = American style

error analysis Dulay, Burt, and Krashen
contrastive analysis rested on L1 and L2 comparison
differences were thought to account for majority of L2 learner’s errors
behaviorist view created contrastive analysis
Chomsky focused on mental make up of learners (along with Piaget).

Is learner’s language a dialect? (S. Pit Corder)

L2 learner has special dialect
1. any spontaneous speech intended to communicate meaningfully
2. some of the rules need to account for L2

for linguistics
L2 create interlanguage = not native or target
Error Analysis
He told that he was tired.
He told me goodbye.
Tell a few words about your vacation.
I would like to tell my ideas about this problem.
I have to tell that Bartok was a relative of mine.
He said me to do it.
–In English “tell” must always be followed by a personal indirect object—we say who we tell.

John international = tense issues, article issues (Asian)
Hector = late arriving international student (older)
Idiomatic preposition usage, summary statement but no central thesis
Luciana = early arriving international student (young)
Organization stronger. Concise. Clearly focused. Ability to paraphrase. Has transitions. More academic language.

Amy Rule
Background African-American dialect and disability
Create assignments that allow students to use their own home dialect
Last year Mexican student “Bad Woman” myth of her mother, then her realization that her mom cared about her… magical realism conceptualization
Vietnamese/Chinese beautiful expressions of English –Please do not disturb the growing grass.
Value those. This expression works. Keep it.

On other hand, other languages borrow English words indiscriminately.
English is dominating all languages.

Texas as Norwegian meaning of wild/crazy, over the top. Been around since the late 80s.
Salutation on email, very beautiful, eloquent:
Howdy, Professor Smith!

L2 mostly international students, but also permanent residents, also long-term …

Favorite things to do was work with rhet appeals in children’s literature.
Children’s lit books look scary. Want your students to feel comfortable.
Dear Deer (English is hard.) –that book with king rains
Eats Shoots and Leaves (grammar)
Wanting common ground…
Good Luck, Mrs K. teacher is sick
Ruby’s Wish Chinese student, growing in culture, praised for being smart—no longer expected to go to school, expected to become a wife
Thank You, Mr. Falker girl who struggles with learning disabilities, different area within the US
Smoky Night no texts for adults, based on LA race riots… used for 9/11… neat mixed media

History of the English language
Shows that inclusion is a huge value
English has always been an inclusive language.
We add to it. Roots in many different languages.
Use a lot of examples from African-American English: ask, aks… where came from? Why preferred? Not wrong. Just different. Where are my errors and what is just different? (Really. Aks is okay?)
Can’t meet with 25 people every day. Look at individual writing differently. Help them personally.

Connection, learn some of their languages and incorporate that

Make effort to say names correctly.

At Ohio State every professor wanted to make sure that they pronounced my name correctly. In Texas no one cared.

How we model in the classroom… hear the names and listen to the students… pacing that we use… time we take to think…

Non-native students that assume they need to adopt an American name. Do you like that name?

Try to use humor. When I talk about figurative language, “raining cats and dogs.” French say “raining like cow’s piss.” We all say things differently.

Animal sounds in Korean as opposed to in American. Co-co-ri-co. phonemes.
Free writing. Dr. Elbow…

Free writing—no grammar issues marked

Praise and honoring their use of their native language

Errors and Expectations by Mina Shaugnessy

Lunsford Keynote

At Collin College’s Trends in Teaching Composition Conference Dr. Andrea Lunsford was the keynote speaker.

Andrea Lunsford Keynote
Attended CCCC in 1969.
That summer paid to write pamphlets for college on the types of essays.
Then read Corbett’s book.
Corbett was teaching at Ohio State, so applied there. When arrived, Corbett was teaching lit only. Convinced him to teach rhetoric.
Everything’s an Argument is the most fun book I’ve ever written.

“Only real alternative to war is rhetoric” Wayne Booth

argument = combat, idea was to win… traditional def based on agonism
this has broadened, however.
Argument as invitational, seeking common ground, respectful and attentive, as understanding.
“prayer is a potent form of argument”
Argument is a powerful means of explanation, figuring out meaning.
Argument is the first genre a child masters. Burke says humans inventors of the negative.

Showed a Chinese 5-year old’s English-language book.
Multimedia, writing an arg in L2 that his mother found persuasive.

Argument is ubiquitous.
Trending tweets. What are the arguments? How are they refined? What approach do they take to argument?

Migraine—different discourse communities present differently
Looked at Scientific American article, argument in cartoon, Hildegard von Bingen’s 12C mss illumination of migraine aura, “Car-Jacked” poem by Roey about migraines

Students don’t always believe everything is an argument.

Lanham Economics of Attention 2007
Style, all about the peripherals

Rheingold Net Smart: How to Thrive Online 2014
About reading. We need info-tention = computer brain and human brain working together.

What is it I pay attention to?

Students see the argument and unpack it, but students also need to present with style in order to gain attention.
Style has impact on what we remember, think.
Style is endemic to our arguments.

When students need to understand arguments:
Conscious of how focusing attention
Avoid multi-tasking
Turn off distractions
Monitor understanding
Style important for getting and keeping attention.

Ask my students to take ½ day and write down what you pay attention to and why. Rarely is it school.

Sometimes ask them to monitor their reading. Stop every 15 minutes. What do you know? What have you learned? Because sometimes I don’t do anything but “read words;” it doesn’t sink in.

3 big research studies show you should still due high stakes reading in print.
Going back and forth.

4 approaches to argument (basket of tools we can use) can help students attend well in both analysis and construction of argument.
1. classical = 6-part Ciceronian structure rhet appeals, clear claim supported by evidence, counterargument acknowledgement
–intro, background, overview, evidence, refutation, conclusion
2. Toulmin = analytic frame—claim, evidence, warrant (underlying assumption), backing for warrants, qualifiers
3. Rogerian = issues described, alternative positions explained, explain your own position, use respectful language, focus on commonalities, work towards compromise—as revised by Young, Becker, and Pike
4. invitational (Foss and Griffin) = foster conversation, aims at understanding and muted respect, begins with showing understand others’ position, looks for compromise where possible
resonates with students, takes pressure off

Most decisions are made emotionally, not rationally.

Rhetorical listening by Christa Radcliffe = deeply engaged listener, understand and engage with interlocutor
Have to give myself that lesson often.

Wayne Booth on Rhetoric Listening.

Invitational approach works best for panels (as opposed to debates)

Arguments are active, performative, participatory, and adapted to new circumstances, audience, and media.

FYC Digital Presentations

I presented at Collin College’s Trends in Teaching Composition Conference. Dr. Andrea Lunsford was the keynote speaker. There were three sessions of speakers.

I did not print out all the rubrics and assignment sheets I intended to, so I said I would post them here. This is the first day I have been online since the presentation.

Digital Presentation Peer Review 111 111 = 1301

Digital Presentation 112 S15 assignment sheet. 112 = 1302

Digital Presentation Rubric S15

Digital Essay S15 Prompt 106

Peer review

Listing Significant Events

Storyboard Example Literacy of the British Isles 106 digital essay