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

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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Posterous Imported into WordPress

I have been a Posterous fan since I discovered it early in its existence. I used it for class group blogs, for an easy blogging system for students to use individually, and for posting images I found and took pictures of with my phone. I worried a bit when Twitter swallowed  it, but kept on adding pictures. Now, with the announcement that Posterous will be taken down – – I wish to thank Sachin Agarwal  for all his work.

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Avoiding Learning Management Systems

I teach a couple of university courses in communications, and I don’t like to use Learning Management Systems (LMS). They are handy, but I think, especially for communications courses, students need to be learning the possibilities of the web and how to use them for their own purposes.

Now, when I want to give students feedback and marks privately, I want to demonstrate how we can do that outside of using LMSs. So I listen to their assignments (MP3s of brief podcasts posted on blogs on the open web) and I make notes about their strengths and weaknesses.

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Kindle App Academic Possibilities

After seeing, with some envy, what a colleague could do on her iPad 2, I decided I wanted to find out more about the academic usefulness of what I could do with the books I read on my Kindle app on my Galaxy Tab. I started adding highlights and notes on a book I was currently reading.

  • I held my finger on the text where I wanted to start and a box appeared with the text coloured blue. (It sometimes took a couple of tries to get the exact text.)
  • I continued dragging my finger,

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