Quarantine is a Great Time to Write

You, like the rest of us, are stuck inside, due to what the park near my house refers to, in deliciously euphemistic terms, as “current circumstances.”  We are fortunate(?) to live inside an abyss, wide without measure and deep without bottom, of ways to amuse ourselves. Aldous Huxley would be so proud of himself.  But … Continue reading Quarantine is a Great Time to Write

Writing Exercise: Tonal Mix ‘n Match

Hello, loyal (or occasional, or brand-new) readers!  You’re all craving some good news, right? We may be smack in the middle of the times that try men’s souls, but there is a silver lining to it all, which is that I’ll be updating the blog more often now that I’m stuck at home!  There, you … Continue reading Writing Exercise: Tonal Mix ‘n Match

Paper Prompt: Connecting

My lit students across my three seminars began their spring semesters with two of my favorite books to teach: Euripides’ The Bacchae, perhaps not the best of the Greek tragedies but without a doubt the most bonkers of them; and Dostoevsky’s psychological doorstopper Crime and Punishment, wherein we learn how exhausting it is to spend … Continue reading Paper Prompt: Connecting

Teaching the Strong Thesis Statement, Part Three

Well, we took another break, because we went on our winter vacation, and then we chaperoned a four-day school trip.  Such is teacher life. Back to work we get! When last we left our heroes, we were discussing strategies for teaching students to write thesis statements that won’t cause you to beat your head against the … Continue reading Teaching the Strong Thesis Statement, Part Three

Teaching the Strong Thesis Statement, Part Two

After the usual end-of-semester descent into grading hell, we are back with the promised Part Two of our series on thesis statements!  One of my projects with my students this month has been to get them to write shorter introductions, so in the spirit of that exercise, let’s get to the point: 2. Ask questions … Continue reading Teaching the Strong Thesis Statement, Part Two

Teaching the Strong Thesis Statement, Part One

This week, I asked my Facebook readers to suggest a topic for the blog and several people, especially my teacher pals, hit me with a lot of simmering angst about thesis statements and how students can’t write them.  There are dozens of online guides about how to write a good thesis statement, so I’m going … Continue reading Teaching the Strong Thesis Statement, Part One

Writing By Hand Is Good For You

I can take notes faster with my laptop, they tell me.  I can write down everything you say.  I can transfer it onto a Quizlet. I can spellcheck.  Taking notes by hand is slow! Yep.  I know.  You’re one hundred percent correct about all of those things.  And they add up to exactly why I … Continue reading Writing By Hand Is Good For You

Paper Prompt: Noticing

It’s a new dawn and a new day for the 2019 - 2020 school year!  I have new groups of students and new classes to teach, and for those lucky enough to be enrolled in my literature seminars, that means new papers to write, coming up fast. I always begin literature seminars by assigning short … Continue reading Paper Prompt: Noticing

The Thing *Is* the Idea, Or: Dogs in the Writing Classroom

Picture, if you will, a dog. No particular kind of dog.  Just the first dog that pops into your head.  I’ll wait. Got a dog in mind?  Good. Which of these specimens would you say is most like the dog you have pictured? When I give my students this exercise, I ask a few volunteers … Continue reading The Thing *Is* the Idea, Or: Dogs in the Writing Classroom

Why Composition Classes Should Be Discussion-Based

The gospel of discussion-based teaching is nothing new and nothing particularly revolutionary.  You can find plenty of arguments for its virtues all over the Internet.  Discussion-based teaching is so hip that last year, my Esteemed Place of Employment brought in consultants for a full two-day workshop on the Harkness method.  So what can I tell … Continue reading Why Composition Classes Should Be Discussion-Based