As a reflective practitioner (clear demonstration of my NWP affiliation) Natalie Houston's suggestion on ProfHacker to reflect on the past semester as I prepare for the new one fell on fertile ground. I agree it is important to look at what worked and didn't in the past to make sure that my experience informs my future practice.
What Worked Well
Focusing on Writing About Writing with my Writing II students. As I used the more traditional approach for my Writing I class I didn't want to simply mimic that for Writing II. What I chose to do was have my students focus on writing about writing in their intended profession. This made the work more interesting and more meaningful. While a few students did not enjoy it, the majority reported learning a lot about their future profession.
Using a variety of different types of reading including a book required by my department plus readings from the web that I suggested and peer-reviewed journal articles my students located in the journals of their intended profession. This allowed us to have both breadth and depth of coverage and have conversations about the different kinds of text available and how to determine which is appropriate for the task at hand.
Using Twitter and Blogger to develop audience awareness and increase communication channels. In general, I was pretty happy with my use of Blogger but our use of Twitter kind of petered out in the second half of the semester so I will need to work on that a bit.
The way I worked out assignments for our class annotated bibliography. It was messy and time consuming and dragged on far too long.
Not giving more specific Twitter assignments throughout the semester.
Allowing too much time and flexibility with early assignments. I was trying to allow for that early semester roster fluctuation but in the end it just caused confusion.
What I'm Changing
I have changed the way I'm assigning reading this semester. I'm still allowing students to make requests but I'm not going to worry so much about the back and forth haggling. They will get a shot to ask and then get what they get. Also, I have compressed the whole timeline for that early reading and annotated bibliography assignment so it doesn't drag on like it did last semester.
I am folding Twitter into the metawriting assignment and will give more prompts and require more posts beyond the reading assignment. Making it part of a grade will give it more importance and linking it to this particular assignment (I hope) will show how/why I value it. In general I was happy with the way I used reflection and metawriting but this could be tweaked a bit more as well to emphasize what specifically I want from my students.
I'm going to try to be more explicit about my goals for my students and teach toward those in a more explicit manner. Last semester I was focused on those goals but perhaps was more implicit than I should have been.