Class Report: ENGL 135, 17 December 2018

Following up on the previous report, students were asked to comment on issues of design for their final papers (focusing largely on images and their integration into the text), as well as concerns of APA formatting. They were also asked to complete and submit their final papers; the present week asks for reflection on their work and its connection to their future plans.

The course roster showed 18 students enrolled, one fewer than last week; 16 participated in online discussion during the week. No online office hour was held on Monday, 10 December 2018, owing to other concerns.

Students are reminded that an office hour is scheduled for tonight, Monday, 17 December 2018, at 6pm CST. Students are also reminded that the following assignments are due before the end of day (Mountain Standard Time) on Saturday, 22 December 2018:

  • Discussion Thread: Looking Ahead
  • Course Project: Career Connections (due online as a Word document)
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Class Report: ENGL 112, 12 December 2018

After addressing a procedural concern and asking about questions from the previous week and before, discussion turned to concerns of revision. Concepts were discussed and a practice in the process offered. Upcoming assignments received attention. Time was allotted to students to conduct their own work and to complete surveys of instruction.

The class met as scheduled, at 1800 in Room 106 of the San Antonio campus. The course roster showed 10 students enrolled, a decline of one from previous weeks. Five attended; student participation was good. The regularly scheduled office hour on 10 December 2018 was canceled.

Students are advised that the office hour scheduled for Monday, 17 December 2018, at 6pm Central Standard Time is expected to occur. Students are also reminded that the following assignments are due before the end of day (Mountain Standard Time) on 16 December 2018:

  • Discussion Threads: Revision Process and Peer Reviews (3 posts/thread, rubric online)
  • Commentary Final, due online as a Word document

Sample Assignment Response: A Commentary Essay for ENGL 112 at DeVry University

To continue on from earlier work (here, here, here, here, here, and here), I will do more to round out the assignment sequence expected of the students in ENGL 112: Composition and develop the assignment students in the class are asked to do for their seventh week: a finalized commentary paper. I continue to hope that, despite the errors that are in any work, what I do will help my students and others to better understand what they are asked to do and so help them do it better.

Keep on doing it.
Image from tenor.com.

For the exercise, students are asked to revise their work from the previous week as needed and to add to it the remaining bulk of their papers, bringing their commentaries to a full five pages (1500 to 1750 words) plus title page and references list.  To complete it, I began by opening the document I’d made for last week’s exercise and saving it again as a new file for the final. (Keeping the earlier version separate allows for more radical revision in some circumstances.) Looking over it again, as it had been a few days since I had last done, so, I noted that I still had not settled on a thesis because I was still puzzling through my issue. I noted also that I had addressed appropriation but not appreciation; it was to the latter that I set myself.

I picked up writing where I had left off, moving directly into drafting as I thought through the issue and angle I had set for myself in the earlier work. As I drafted, too, I was able to determine a thesis, which I inserted into the usual place for such statements in first-year composition papers–the end of the introductory paragraph–before ensuring that connection to it sufficed throughout the rest of the text. I also made sure I offered the kind of conclusion to the paper–not filling out the repetitive “tell ’em what you’re gonna tell ’em, tell ’em, and tell ’em what you told ’em” model, but moving ahead from the thesis–I want to see from my students and, indeed, from most of the writing I read.

The content made ready, I reviewed my document for style and mechanics. After making the adjustments that needed making, I put the document into an accessible format, which I present here: G. Elliott Sample Commentary Final. I hope it will help others.

Help me keep doing this, please!

Class Report: ENGL 135, 10 December 2018

Following up on the previous report, students were asked to assess each other’s work on presentations related to their ongoing projects and to submit the same for instructor review and feedback. Presently, they should be working to complete their course projects, which are due this week.

The course roster showed 19 students enrolled; 18 participated in online discussion during the week. An online office hour was held on Monday, 3 December 2018; no students attended.

Students are reminded that no office hour is scheduled for tonight, Monday, 10 December 2018; other obligations have called the instructor away at that time. Students are also reminded that the following assignments are due before the end of day (Mountain Standard Time) on 16 December 2018:

  • Discussion Threads: Designing the Course Project and APA Workshop (3 posts/thread, rubric online)
  • Course Project: Course Project, Final Draft (due online as a Word document)

Class Report: ENGL 112, 5 December 2018

After addressing a procedural concern and asking about questions from the previous week and before, discussion turned to concerns of theses and integrating sources in support of the present week’s writing assignment.

The class met as scheduled, at 1800 in Room 106 of the San Antonio campus. The course roster showed 11 students enrolled, unchanged from previous weeks. Eight attended; student participation was good. An online office hour was held on Monday, 3 December 2018; no students attended.

Students are advised that the office hour scheduled for Monday, 10 December 2018, at 6pm Central Standard Time is canceled against an event the instructor must attend. Students are also reminded that the following assignments are due before the end of day (Mountain Standard Time) on 9 December 2018:

  • Discussion Threads: Position-based Writing and Integrating Research in APA Style (3 posts/thread, rubric online)
  • Commentary Draft, due online as a Word document

Sample Assignment Response: A Commentary Rough Draft for ENGL 112 at DeVry University

To continue on from earlier work (here, here, here, here, and here), I will go further along the assignment sequence expected of the students in ENGL 112: Composition and develop the assignment students in the class are asked to do for their sixth week: a draft of a commentary paper. I continue to hope that my efforts will assist in my students’ work and others’ to write better and help still others to do the same.

From teachingenglish.org.uk, which seems reasonably appropriate for discussing discussion in a college English class…

For the assignment, students are asked to generate the first three pages (excluding title page and references) of a five-page commentary essay–in effect, a position paper of the sort I’ve taught in one form or another before (here, here, here, and here, among others). Introduction, thesis, and an at-least-cursory overview of current discussion of the topic are requested, as is the beginning of the argument’s development. More will follow, of course, but three pages should be enough to establish the idea to be borne out, to provide it context, and to start developing it. Additionally, the project is a continuation of last week’s work, so what was done previously should still fit the current purpose.

To begin my response to the exercise, I opened my proposal and summary from the previous week. I also opened a new document, formatting it for submission; I set up a title page, main text, and references list, putting the whole into double-spaced 12-point Times New Roman type with one-inch margins on letter-sized paper. The title page, running heads, and page numbers were set as they ought to be, while the internal title and references note were centered horizontally, and lines for references set up with half-inch hanging indentations.

With the formatting set up, I began to bring things into the new document from the old. The specific issue, the balance of appropriation and appreciation in my topic, was the first to come over; although not a thesis, as such, I copied it twice, highlighting the second in green and positioning it to serve as a moving target as I developed further materials. I also stubbed out space in which to position the thesis to come, as well as for some items I knew from the earlier work that I would want to put in place: definitions of terms relevant to the discussion. Those were highlighted in teal to remind me to attend to them.

From there, I moved to fill in context for my discussion, giving a description of my topic. I looked through earlier work done in the present session to begin with, since I could reasonably include that material in my current work without trouble.  Some details in that line were forthcoming, and I was happy to incorporate them into my work to offer background. I supplemented them with my own experience, as well, since I have it to bring to bear.

A passable attempt at an introduction started, I moved to insert my relevant definitions, working from the two sources identified in the previous exercise. Citations pulled earlier also made their ways into the appropriate part of the paper, developing a short references list. I found that I needed more material for my definitions to make sense, so I ran another search for material in Academic Search Complete and found a particularly useful piece, which I incorporated similarly to the other pieces I’d noted.

It also occurred to me that I would need to incorporate primary source materials into my project. Knowing that I would be making use of it–a thing cannot be discussed without reference to that thing, particularly in a scholarly context–I incorporated the primary source into my references list. And with that done, I used the materials to offer an overview from which to conduct further discussion.

With context reasonably established, it came time to begin to reason out the argument and to work towards a thesis. When I entered the project, I did not know how the matter would fall out, so I began writing with the intent to learn as well as to convey information and understanding to my audiences. And I had to address what I saw as a glaring issue; it seemed to need doing, and it seemed to emerge well from the way in which I had established context. Too, it allowed me to meet the requirements of the exercise and position myself to undertake the next.

The content made ready, I reviewed my document for style and mechanics. After making the adjustments that needed making and eliminating highlighted passages, I rendered the document into an accessible format, which I present here: G. Elliott Sample Commentary Draft. May it, like its predecessors, be helpful!

I continue to appreciate your support as I develop yet more material for my students and others to use to improve their own.

Class Report: ENGL 135, 3 December 2018

Following up on the previous report, students were asked to assess each other’s work and to submit an expanded draft of their ongoing projects for instructor review and feedback. Much the same thing is asked of them presently, though a presentation rather than a static paper is requested.

The course roster showed 21 students enrolled, a loss of one from last week’s 22; 17 participated in online discussion during the week. An online office hour was held on Monday, 26 November 2018; no students attended.

Students are reminded that another office hour is scheduled for tonight, Monday, 3 December 2018, at 6pm Central Standard Time. Students are also reminded that the following assignments are due before the end of day (Mountain Standard Time) on 9 December 2018:

  • Discussion Thread: Presentation Peer Review (3 posts/thread, rubric online)
  • Course Project: Presentation (due as a PowerPoint or similarly accessible file)

Class Report: ENGL 112, 28 November 2018

Following the cancellation from last week, class resumed with consideration of earlier meetings’ events and the exercise from the online presentation that replaced the previous class meeting. It turned afterward to a review of formatting before plunging into discussion of upcoming assignments. Students were afforded time to work on their projects.

The class met as scheduled, at 1800 in Room 106 of the San Antonio campus. The course roster showed 11 students enrolled, unchanged from previous weeks. Eight attended; student participation was adequate. An online office hour was held on Monday, 26 November 2018; no students attended.

Students are reminded that another office hour is scheduled for Monday, 3 December 2018, at 6pm Central Standard Time. Students are also reminded that the following assignments are due before the end of day (Mountain Standard Time) on 9 December 2018:

  • Discussion Threads: Beginning Research and Introduction to APA (3 posts/thread, rubric online)
  • Proposal and Summary, due online as a Word document

Sample Assignment Response: A Topic Proposal and Summary for ENGL 112 at DeVry University

To continue on from earlier work (here, here, here, and here), I will go further along the assignment sequence expected of the students in ENGL 112: Composition and develop the assignment students in the class are asked to do for their fifth week: a topic proposal and source summary for a commentary paper. As previously, I hope that my efforts will assist in my students’ efforts and others’ to write better and help others to do the same.

If only it were so simple a choice…
Image from Giphy.com.

For the assignment (which aligns fairly neatly with the ENGL 135 Topic Selection assignment), students are asked to answer a series of prompts in advance of drafting an essay. The prompts–identify a topic and outline personal involvement in it, summarize two perspectives on it–are meant to help students identify a current, complex topic in which they have some personal investment and to refine their understanding of the topic and the ongoing conversation of which it is part before moving into writing a commentary-style essay on that topic. The University explicitly discourages topics “overly emotional or rooted in religious or moral subjects,” to which proscription my teaching traditionally adds political ideology, gun control, abortion, and the legalization of marijuana.

The first challenge in addressing such an assignment is to identify a field of inquiry. Experience teaches that students, particularly students in first-year writing classes, will try to treat too broad a topic and one for which they are not necessarily well-equipped–not because they are stupid, but because they believe they have to treat major philosophical and cultural concerns to do “real” work. The truth is that working on a narrow topic will yield better results than trying to grapple at a pass with questions that have been debated for millennia without resolution; it is more true in the short sessions at DeVry than at many other schools.

I decided to address the matter by falling back on the topic I seem to have been treating throughout the sample responses I’ve been developing for the present session: roleplaying games, specifically the Legend of the Five Rings Roleplaying game, with which I have ample experience, as I’ve attested. It is, admittedly, not a topic of serious heft, but it is one I am confident is little treated, which will help me produce an example for my students–both because it will help me to show them that they can move beyond simple reporting and that they can pursue topics relevant to their interests even when those interests seem to be relatively minor concerns.

With a general topic in mind, I set up my response document. As with the other planning materials I’ve developed during the session, I eschewed the template provided by the University in favor of addressing the prompts directly. I pulled up the most recent planning sheet–that for the Rhetorical Analysis from the third week of the session–and mimicked its formatting in the new document. I then transferred the prompts from the University’s materials into my own, formatting them for ease of reading. This included setting up hanging indentations for the sources the assignment needed summarized.

The document set up, I proceeded to address the prompts provided as I could from my own background knowledge and understanding. Those identifying the topic and my engagement with it were the easiest to address, being closes to me and longest established in my mind. (Too, since I was working as what amounts to an extension of previous work, I felt justified in borrowing from the earlier work I had done–something that I have had students ask after doing. It is a fairly common practice, although anything that is formally published will need to be cited and attested if it is used in another work.) Audience was also addressed fairly easily, as I have been working with a clear idea of whom I am addressing throughout the session.

The matter of the specific angle for me to treat was a more difficult one to address. There are many concerns attendant on roleplaying games, dating back at least to Michael Stackpole’s Pulling Report (I’ve noted addressing roleplaying games in my academic work before, and across a fair span of time, I believe.) While the ire of popular culture towards roleplaying games has largely cooled, it remains present, and those of us who were on the receiving end of that fervor remain wary of it. Too, games which concern themselves with emulations of cultures not necessarily those of their players always run into questions of appreciation versus appropriation–but it seemed that that issue beckoned for attention in the current project. It was therefore to that issue and angle that I attended; I will admit that my engagement with the material biases my angle and approach to it.

Consequently, I asserted a specific issue and angle to treat in my coming commentary essay, working toward what might well serve as a tentative thesis–namely, that the Legend of the Five Rings Roleplaying Game is more an issue of appreciation than appropriation, although there are certainly problems to be found in the manner in which it goes about incorporating materials into its narrative milieu. I knew, though, that my own opinion might well change based on research I would do, so I did not advance the idea as a formal thesis quite yet.

Instead, I went then to search the University library for materials regarding my prospective project. I first searched Academic Search Complete, pre-limiting my search to full-text peer-reviewed journal sources from 200 onward and searching for “cultural appropriation” in the hopes of finding a useful definition of the term. The search yielded 534 results, which was unworkable for the scope of the project and the time available to it, but I was fortunate that one of the early results was a philosophical piece–and such pieces often make much of asserting definitions before engaging with them. I pulled that source, taking its citation data and summary into my own document.

I then looked into the other term most germane to my treatment: cultural appreciation. A search of Academic Search Complete for the term with the same restrictions yielded 469 results; no stand-out among the early results was forthcoming, so I narrowed my search to “cultural appreciation definition.” Only 13 results returned, which was a small enough number to survey sources individually. One source was culled from that set of results, cited, and summarized into the document.

The content made ready, I reviewed my document for style and mechanics. After making the adjustments that needed making, I rendered the document into an accessible format, which I present here: G. Elliott Sample Proposal and Summary. May it, like its predecessors, be of good service!

I could still use your support as I develop more materials for my students and others to use as they further their own understandings of the world.

Class Report: ENGL 135, 26 November 2018

Following up on the previous report, students were asked to analyze sample arguments and to submit portions of their early drafts of the full course project for peer review. The latter were to be submitted for review and instructor feedback, as well.

The course roster showed 22 students enrolled, a decline of one from last week; all participated in at least one online discussion during the week. An online office hour was held on Monday, 19 November 2018; one student attended.

Students are reminded that another office hour is scheduled for tonight, Monday, 26 November 2018, at 6pm Central Standard Time. Students are also reminded that the following assignments are due before the end of day (Mountain Standard Time) on 2 December 2018:

  • Discussion Thread: Peer Review (3 posts/thread, rubric online)
  • Course Project: Second Draft (due as a Word document in APA format)