I am teaching two very different writing classes this semester and I am excited about my plans but a bit worried about juggling the two without dropping balls (combined with the flaming swords and sharp knives I am already juggling as part of my administrative duties for the National Writing Project). I am teaching first-year writing (aka Writing I or Eng 100 at my institution) and professional writing (which is a 300-level class).
I have two primary goals for my first-year writing students. I first and foremost want them to develop as reflective and self-regulating writers but I also hope to increase their understanding community and collaboration. I think focusing on those two aspects of writing development will set a strong foundation for their continued growth and development.
Our first week of classes (which officially begin tomorrow) will include elements of both. I will continue to use Twitter to help us develop classroom community which includes individual and class Twitter feeds, introducing ourselves via Twitter, and socializing via Twitter. In addition, I’m asking students to keep a journal to record their reflections on weekly topics, discuss those topics as a class, and Tweet about those topics as well.
Our first weekly reflection and discussion topic will focus on writers. I posted a prompt on the class blog that included the National Conversation on Writing’s video “Everyone’s a writer” and some interviews with students about how they define themselves as writers.
My goals for my professional writing students are more sophisticated versions of those for Eng 100 (at least I’m consistent). I also want my professional writing students to develop as reflective and self-regulating writers, but our focus in this class will be on discourse community, audience, and genre.
I am also using Twitter for this class and they have the same initial Twitter assignments and, in fact, will engage in similarly-structured reflective assignment that includes a cycle of reflective journal posts, class discussion, and Twitter posts.
Our first weekly reflection and discussion topic for professional writing will explore what we mean when use the term professional writing and what they hope to learn from the class. I share some definitions that others have given and then bring it back to the study of rhetoric sharing with them a personal blog of mine about rhetoric as well as the "In Defense of Rhetoric" video. I then conclude with a selection of Drucker’s “The Age of Social Transformation” about knowledge workers. Hopefully I haven’t set too ambitious of an agenda. I guess I’ll find out this week.
I can’t wait to begin our discussions. Do you think my students are excited, too?