2 Ways FYC Does Not Match Student Expectations

Increasing difficulty:

In most courses the assignments are level. The information across assignments is different, but the level of difficulty stays somewhat consistent. Unless there is a clear jump (such as between a regular exam and a comprehensive mid-term), students assume that they did the last assignment well and they know everything they need for the next assignment.

This is not true in second-semester freshmen composition. The course is scaffolded, so that the easier assignments are earlier, but the assignments throughout the course get increasingly harder, even while building on previous assignments.


Students in writing (and other) classes assume that the first assignment will let them know how the teacher grades and that the next assignment, done the same way, will allow them to earn the same grade.

This is NOT true when the assignments are scaffolded. Each assignment increases the level of complexity. That means that if the student does not learn and apply the requirements in equally increasing complexity, the grades will decrease with each assignment.

Waiting for Answers

When you ask a question, “wait until he answers before you say anything” (Humes 166).

“After you ask, keep your mouth shut like a clam” (Humes 168).

It is HARD to ask a question and then wait for the students to answer. Time yourself (or have your child or spouse time you). How long are you willing to wait after you ask a question for the answer? It probably isn’t much more than a few seconds.

Practice waiting for answers.

Humes, James C. Speak Like Churchill, Stand Like Lincoln. Three Rivers Press.

Avoid Passive Voice

“[A]n official from the General Services Administration presented Franklin Roosevelt with a copy of a notice that would be placed in every room of every government office across the land. The bureaucrat read this aloud to the president: IT IS OBLIGATORY THAT ALL ILLUMINATION BE EXTINGUISHED BEFORE THE PREMISES ARE VACATED” (Humes 155).

“Roosevelt, known for his clear communication, wryly replied, Why the hell can’t you say “Put out the lights when you leave”? [sic]” (Humes 157).


“The acronym ‘WHAB’ can help you find words that sound a warning bell for potential overuse of the passive” (Humes 158).

Humes, James C. Speak Like Churchill, Stand Like Lincoln. Three Rivers Press.

Beyond Rhetorical Arts

Moving Beyond the Rhetorical Arts: Refiguring Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening

Christopher Foreé, TCU
“Reading in the Public Sphere: Reimaging the Content and Context of Comp Classrooms”

Habermas described public sphere as public space where private discuss in public…

Rhetorical public spheres as described by Gerard Houser…
Active members forming around issues.
Rhetorical public spheres digital and physical spaces. Students participating in and reading these spheres.

What and how students read has resurgence?
Pedagogy January 2016 looks at reading and transfer

Corillo (in Pedagogy)
Mindful reading.
Students create mindful reading—thinking about how they are reading.
Create mindful readers, rather than mindful reading.
Examine ideas.
Teach HOW to read in order to make reading visible.

Invisibleness of reading in classroom.
Reading as a tool to differentiate between composition and literature

Nancy Atwell
Simplest and most powerful innovation = giving choice and option

Assigning readings…
Reading difficult texts = cohesion
Coherence = connect the reading networks of information outside the text

Reading and Writing for Student Literacy
Critical reading, writing, and thinking skills needed to fend off and be able to understand inundation of public sphere rhetoric

Reading as a way of making meaning.

My experience is that students can come up with arguments in the news. Real world examples.
They avoid superficial. Discuss HOW they are being used and how they are effective.

Expand the aims “Expanding the Aims of Pedagogic… Writing Letters to the Editor”
… situational binary of privileging “real world” over classroom space

public shares civic literacy
nuanced form of civic participation

shift reading to the public sphere
don’t look at academic writing only
Look at other kinds of writing.
Read the public sphere.

What could I have the students do to encourage looking at public reading without allowing them to use those as sources?

Restore idea of public intellectual.
What do students read and how do they read it?

Notes from CCTE 2016: Rhetoric 4

Long-term Subbing in FYC

Sara Hillin, Lamar U
“Seeking Rapport: Emotion and Work of Long-Term Substituting in FYC”

for student discourse, require sincere and appropriate academic level

safe space for students: risk-taking, playing with language

What about when an instructor has to pick up classes?
Happens more often than expected.

Labor and learning issues…
Ft prof teaching 5 = 5 instructors
Consequences of not transitioning…

FYC students being asked to write in genres don’t understand (Melanie Kill)

Invite emotion –Laura Micciche’s work
Real-world human perspective who subbed during last 2 years

Ramifications of word “substitute” or “subbing”
Students will use that word.
That’s terrible. Think of what subs are viewed as.

Some of the subs had taken over more than FYC. Wider range of responses.

Subs—less surprised by self-examination

1. what subbed? FYC, lit, etc
2. when took over?
One exam with essay response, had to handle grade complaints, but hadn’t graded the paper.
3. first substitute?
One “by far not the first substitute”… fourth… further complicated by students attending a library workshop, which added another instructor (by student perspective)

Almost everyone transitioned to their own syllabus.

Why should this issue be on interest?

Can’t compare sub course with day-1 classes.
Writing is risky.

Emotion as a mitigating factor.
How well we acknowledge our own and students’ emotions makes a difference.

Pathos as a rhetorical technique is essential.

Lots of references to Bonding with student/not having developed bond
Second sub to take over “poor stepchildren”
Orphans being shuffled around.
Not a reflection of them by any means.
Humor useful. Jr level Creative Writing… pop instructor left… “Well, I’m not so-and-so and I never will be; you are stuck with me.”
Break the tension with humor.
Humor can be an aid to learning: book on pedagogical benefits

Essentially, arguing that emotion can be used actively as a category in investigating FYC situations.
“emotion determines how we orient ourselves to the world”

Take emotion seriously. What can we do to make sub situations better?

Notes from CCTE 2016: Rhetoric 4

Gaming the Classroom

Gamification: Engaging Students With Narrative begins:

When looking at how engaged students are in playing games, it makes sense to capture some of the ideas that game designers use to engage the player. This idea of applying gaming mechanics to non-game situations is known as gamification.

What defines a game is having a goal or objective. However almost all games also have some sort of theme or story.

Interesting. Relates to book read three years ago and book on game design read two years ago.


Begin with the end in mind. This is a truism. Begin with what you want to accomplish and you are more likely to accomplish it.

Some history
I have always wanted to be a teacher and have been a teacher for a good portion of my life. My teaching experiences range from toddlers to senior adults, from biology to rhetorical history, from homeschooling to public university. I have been teaching, in one form or another, for 39 years.

Over the last six years, I have had several mid-life crisis periods. I have wondered if I am a good teacher, if I should have done something else with my life.

I have sometimes despaired because, despite my concerted and diligent efforts to be the best, I am not the best teacher nor the most beloved (which somehow somewhat equates in my mind).

New Beginning
Each semester offers me as a teacher (and our students) a new beginning. We can start over and be all that we can be or at least make a new attempt.

PCA Harry Potter Learning Communities

Kate Fulton and Alicia Skipper
San Juan College
Harry Potter Learning Community

Love and Tokuno provide a set of categories:
Common cohort of students taking class
Interdisciplinary teams of faculty teaching courses around a common theme
Students forming study groups and socializing together

Students were interested in HP. Will be teaching 4th time this fall.

13/16 said theme was what drew them to the course.

Lack of understanding about learning community
Unfamiliarity of theme
Expectations of easier courses because of theme

Ways to overcome challenges
Embracing the theme

First step: The Letter
Young witches and wizards get an invitation from the owls
Significant—formal invitation
Lets them get a wand
Helps them become full members
We send a letter in same format, same font.
Received letter with HP postage.
They were psyched.

HP and the Sorcerer’s Stone
The Psychology of Harry Potter
Exploring Psychology
Laura King

Include information that you should watch the HP movies…
Movie marathon with their family so will be refreshed/familiar.

Policies Connected to Theme
In red have the related points…
Leave early, you’ll be hunted like a horcrux.
Plagiarism, not even Hermione, should be doing your work for you.
Group work “even a suspected Deatheater, is unacceptable… We don’t take that even from Slytherin.”

Creating a Community: Sorting into Houses
Sorted on first day with Myers-Briggs type assessment, link personality theory with their sorting
House points by knowledge and discussion “5 points for Ravenclaw”
Students really hold each other accountable.
Peer review by houses sometimes doesn’t work.
Really want to win the house cup. Who knew that Chocolate Frogs was so motivating?
One student created a poster so could visually move up and down… So she could see visually who was in the lead.
Competed up until the last day of class.

Common assignments
Good aspect of a learning community

Easy- sleep and dreams play an important part of the HP series. You have been reviewing consciousness and dream theory. Take concepts and analyze one dream from HP using two different dream theories.

Reading response…
Discuss chapter in psychology, read related essay in Psych of HP.
Explain to HP and to their own lives.

Theme helps them understand…
They get it, when HP.

Multigenre research project:
Collection of documents in different genres that relate to a concept.
Write a research paper, annotated bibliography, and 3 creative pieces. Bind those together. They present to class last day.
Have to show they understand English concepts and psych concepts.
Letter to the reader to introduce the concept.
Last reflection…

Because they get to do creative stuff, they get really excited about it. Publishing it and presenting it to the class.

One student created a contract on wand use and bystander effect. Also made wands for every student. She said they had to read the contract before they could get a wand.

Project keeps students involved.

Benefits for psychology
Every concept covered in Intro to Psych can be related to HP and the lives of the students
Personality theory
Psychological disorders
Social psychology

Split on Harry and PTSD
Ron has arachnophobia
Dobbie has anxiety

Benefits for English
Minimizes fear factor
Provides clear connections
Makes research more meaningful (doesn’t just only relate to English, also psych)
Holds student interest

Instructor Benefits
Classroom support
Immediate feedback on teaching and lessons
Makes class more fun

Students don’t want to leave.
In fall we’re doing Intro Psych/freshman comp
Advanced psych/advanced comp
“Now I just have to find a way to do the rest of my degree this way.”