Class Report: SPCH 275, 21 March 2018

After addressing questions from the previous class meeting, discussion turned to concerns of visual aids. Examples of speeches employing visual aids were considered, along with their expected audiences. Live speech practice was postponed again due to low attendance.

Students were also reminded of upcoming assignments:

  • Discussions, due online before 0059 on 26 March 2018
  • Week 4 Homework, due online as a Word file before 0059 on 26 March 2018
  • Week 4 Course Project Discussion, due online before 0059 on 26 March 2018 (remember that the class has but one group)
  • Week 4 Presentation, due online before 0059 on 26 March 2018

Submission guidelines for the assignments are in the course shell.

The class met as scheduled, at 1800 in Room 108 of the San Antonio campus. The course roster listed six students enrolled, unchanged from last week; two attended, assessed informally. Class participation was excellent. No students attended Monday office hours.

Class Report: ENGL 135, 17 March 2018

After addressing questions from the previous meeting, discussion turned to thesis development before addressing matters of citation. Examples from professional contexts (previously sent to students by email) were examined, offering models of theses and citations for student consideration.

Students were also reminded about upcoming assignments:

  • Discussions, due online before 0059 on 19 March 2018
  • APA Module, due online as a Word document before 0059 on 19 March 2018
  • Course Project: Research Proposal, due online as a Word document before 0059 on 19 March 2018

Submission guidelines for the assignments are in the course shell.

Students are advised to be at work in preparation for the Annotated Bibliography assignment, due at the end of Week 4.

The class met as scheduled, at 0900 in Room 114 of the San Antonio campus–although facility difficulties interfered with class meeting, leading to early dismissal. The course roster listed 13 students, unchanged since last class; six attended, assessed informally. Class participation was reasonably good, given circumstances. No students attended Monday office hours.

Class Report: SPCH 275, 14 March 2018

After addressing questions from the previous class meeting, discussion turned to concerns of audience, returning to some materials from the first class meeting and expanding upon them. Examples of speeches were considered, along with their expected audiences. Owing to low attendance, the planned practice speeches were postponed.

Students were also reminded of upcoming assignments:

  • Discussions, due online before 0059 on 19 March 2018
  • Week 3 Homework, due online as a Word file before 0059 on 19 March 2018
  • Week 3 Course Project Discussion, due online before 0059 on 19 March 2018 (remember that the class has but one group)
  • Week 3 Presentation, due online before 0059 on 19 March 2018

Submission guidelines for the assignments are in the course shell.

Student please note that the grade for the Week 3 Course Project Discussion will back-fill the Week 2, accounting for earlier access issues.

The class met as scheduled, at 1800 in Room 108 of the San Antonio campus. The course roster listed six students enrolled, a loss of one from last week; three attended, assessed informally. Class participation was good. No students attended Monday office hours.

Class Report: SPCH 275, 7 March 2018

After addressing questions from the previous class meeting, discussion turned to historical and other patterns of argument, thence to what audiences expect from speakers and what speakers expect from audiences. Practice in being both speaker and audience was then offered in the form of a largely impromptu in-class speech.

Students were also reminded of upcoming assignments:

  • Discussions, due online before 0059 on 12 March 2018
  • Week 2 Homework, due online as a Word file before 0059 on 12 March 2018
  • Week 2 Course Project Discussion, due online before 0059 on 12 March 2018 (remember that the class has but one group)
  • Week 2 Presentation, due online before 0059 on 12 March 2018

Submission guidelines for the assignments are in the course shell.

The class met as scheduled, at 1800 in Room 108 of the San Antonio campus. The course roster listed seven students enrolled, unchanged from last week; three attended, assessed informally. Class participation was reasonably good. No students attended Monday office hours.

Class Report: ENGL 135, 3 March 2018

For the first class meeting of the session, discussion focused on introductions to the course, the instructor, and foundational concepts of rhetoric and composition. The course project, particularly the preferred alternative topic, received attention, as well. So did upcoming assignments:

  • Discussions, due online before 0059 on 5 March 2018
  • Course Project: Topic Selection, due online as a Word document before 0059 on 5 March 2018

Submission guidelines for the assignments are in the course shell.

The class met as scheduled, at 0900 in Room 114 of the San Antonio campus. The course roster listed 14 students; six attended, assessed informally. Class participation was reasonably good. No students attended Monday office hours.

Class Report: SPCH 275, 28 February 2018

For the first class meeting of the session, discussion focused on introductions to the course, the instructor, and foundational concepts of rhetoric as applicable to public speaking. The course project and its assigned topic received attention, as well. So did upcoming assignments:

  • Discussions, due online before 0059 on 5 March 2018
  • Week 1 Homework, due online in two parts (PDF and Word file) before 0059 on 5 March 2018
  • Week 1 Presentation, due online before 0059 on 5 March 2018

Submission guidelines for the assignments are in the course shell.

The class met as scheduled, at 1800 in Room 108 of the San Antonio campus. The course roster listed seven students enrolled; five attended, assessed informally. Class participation was good. No students attended Monday office hours.

Since I Have It to Do Again–For at least One It…

Not too long ago, I made a post to this webspace in which I noted the perils of “If I had it to do again” and laid out what I might do if ever I did. Also not too long ago, I made a post noting that I received another teaching assignment from the small bit of academe in which I remain. As I thought about the latter, the former came to mind, and, since I have it to do again in at least one small area, I figured I ought to give some thought to how I would do it.

Now, for some context: the class that I was assigned is a second-semester composition class. Students enrolled in it are supposed to have completed the first-semester class, so they should have some introduction both to the college environment and to how college-level writing (a term which is nebulous at best) or academic writing works. The second-semester class is supposed to build upon that introduction, traditionally culminating in a conference-length paper (i.e., eight to ten pages of double-spaced, 12-point text, or some 2,600 to 3,250 words, plus references). At the school where I am assigned the class, the paper emerges from a series of assignments that center around a set of general topics from which the students are asked to select one–and therein lies the problem.

The issue is not necessarily in the assignment sequence itself. While it could be improved upon (as everything can), it is reasonable and seems to work decently. What the issue is is the selection of topics. For one, they are too broad, requiring students to do more work to narrow their focus than most who sit for the class are equipped to do–even with explicit, targeted coaching and prompting. For another, they are supposed “high interest” topics such as dieting and gun control, topics which have been exhaustively detailed and on which no real progress in discussion has been made in the United States that I have seen. Worse, they are topics with which most of my students–adults who already have formed and largely set opinions–do not engage with, having little stake in them. They end up parroting media talking points rather than actually generating new thoughts and trying to create new knowledge, largely because they do not feel they are in a position to do so.

Because the topics are promulgated by the school as standards, I shall continue to accept them, of course. I can hardly not. But what I will do, since I do have it to do again, is suggest to my students, strongly, that they take up an alternative topic, one in which they have some investment and engagement–and one with which I have had success with students in the past (such as here). In effect, I will ask my students to look at their curricula, identify one major change that needs to be made, and argue why that change is the change that needs to be made. As such, the students will have a topic with which they have direct involvement, which is a motivating factor; they will have a narrow topic, which allows for detailed work and more sustained argument; and they will have a directly discernible audience, which will allow both for analysis of that audience and more effective address thereof.

I’ll be working up materials in more detail, of course, but I know that the students will have easy recourse to primary source material (their own course catalogs and other schools’), secondary source materials (the contents of ERIC come to mind, as does the Occupational Outlook Handbook, particularly since most or all of my students seek their degrees specifically for job prospects and career advancement), and tertiary/critical sources (namely accreditation requirements and theories of education both academic and popular). And I know that at least one student will argue that the composition course requirements should be lightened or eliminated–there always is at least one–and I have a wealth of information about that particular line of inquiry for reasons that I think are obvious.

Not many people get the chance to do things again, I know. I have been lucky in that I have been given the opportunity, and more than once. (I am less lucky in that I have also blown it more than once, but that’s another matter, entirely.) I mean to seize upon this opportunity; I hope that it will lead to a good end.

More Early Comments for the March 2018 Session at DeVry University in San Antonio

Not long ago, I made a few comments about the March 2018 session at DeVry University in San Antonio, noting with appreciation that I had been offered a section of ENGL 135: Advanced Composition. I have been at work developing materials for that class, and I am happy with how things are proceeding in that line.

I am also happy to note that I have been offered another class, one I have not yet taught at the institution, although it is similar to one that I have taught elsewhere–namely SPCH 217: Public Speaking. From what I have seen of the course so far, it is similar to the HUM 110 class I taught at the now-defunct Technical Career Institutes, so that while it has been some time since I taught such a class, I am not coming into it all unaware of what I need to do and what I need the students to do. Materials are on their way to me now, so that much is to the good, and I look forward to seeing how I can make things better.

Initial Comments for the March 2018 Session at DeVry University in San Antonio

I know that I’ve had a lot to say about DeVry University this week, what with my usual class report and a recent addendum to an older post. But more news keeps coming in on that score, to wit:

Although I’ve not yet signed the contract for it, I have been offered a section of ENGL 135: Advanced Composition for the March 2018 session at DeVry University in San Antonio. The session runs 26 February through 21 April 2018; the class is slated to meet on Saturdays from 0900 to 1250 in Room 106 of the San Antonio campus. I still have a bit of time to begin to prepare and refine materials, and I look forward to doing again the work of teaching.

Among those materials will be an alternative assignment, one that follows the sequence prescribed by the University but that treats a different topic altogether. I have the hope that it will prove more amenable to students’ engagement than those previously assigned–and that they and I will gain more from it as a result.