40 Years Teaching College Composition


I’ve been fully retired for a year and a half now, and I deleted all my teaching files a couple of months ago, so I can’t pass along any specific course materials. For Labour day, though, I’m going to share the distillation of my 40 years of teaching college composition and other language skills to college and university students, and my studies on how people learn to write from two advanced degrees in mid and late career.

1. Many community college students come in already resistant to taking English,… Read more 40 Years Teaching College Composition

Facebook and Me

I have a Facebook life that I live differently – I think – than my day-to-day, face-to-face life. I check my Facebook account several times a day, looking first at “Notifications” to see who has been talking to me, and/or what those who I have identified, somehow, as important to me have been posting, and whether I should respond. I almost always “Like” those who have commented on my posts, and I notice how many people have liked or reacted to them, sometimes checking the names.

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Grammar and Writing

When I was in grade 7 we got to use coloured pencils to underline and label the different parts of speech. I enjoyed both the colour and the naming of the parts. When I was teaching writing, I accepted the going theory that teaching grammar didn’t help people learn to write better; direct feedback on their writing helped students improve as writers.

I always felt a bit guilty because I liked knowing how the sentence worked, and being able to name the parts.

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Man on Skype

Skype and Learning

How to learn how to use our devices: if at first you don’t succeed, ask for help and try again.

My 92 year old father and I Skype almost every night. We tell each other about our days, and keep up with each other between our face-to-face visits. The other night, he wanted some help. He’s teaching himself and learning how to use his smartphone for more than just calling. He’d taken a number of pictures and wanted to email these pictures to friends and family.

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Driveway with Painted white arrow Pointing Down

Smartphone Pics & Videos

I went to a workshop given by Wayne MacPhail – – yesterday and I know I learned a lot because my behavior has changed. On my morning walk, I took photos with my smartphone, as usual, but I took way more, and with a different conscious ‘eye’.

Wayne is both very knowledgable in a range of fields and excellent at explaining. Plus he’s very generous in sharing the material he created for his workshop, ‘Content in Hand’. I found what he showed us about taking shots with our smartphones very,

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Great Wave off Kanagawa

Learning in a Tsunami of Information

For writers who want to write and publish their own work, it is not enough to simply make it accessible online, writers now are involved in their own publicity, and that is done increasingly through knowledge of how to use social and/or connective media. The urgency for greater digital knowledge for communicators is clearly evident in the leaked NYT memo – – For writers who get employed as journalists or in public relations, knowledge of how to use social apps is an increasingly required skill.

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