A few folks emailed me in the past couple of weeks asking for more information around my Black Mirror-themed composition course, so I thought I’d post a few revisions and tweaks I’m working on as I prepare for the next iteration of this class. I focused on Get Out in the fall, but will come back to Black Mirror in both Composition I and our Liberal Arts capstone in the spring. I’ll post in the next week or so on the capstone class.
In case you are looking for additional resources on Black Mirror — both scholarly articles and/or reflections on teaching — I’d suggest you also check out the special issue of Supernatural Studies (4.2) devoted to Black Mirror that I edited.… Read more
I don’t want to quantify it because I haven’t conducted a formal study or anything, but an immense amount of teaching is about reflection.
Oh, students didn’t get something? A reading didn’t go over very well, or almost everyone struggled with it? Well, maybe you need to chuck it. Or create a reading guide, with questions to engage and prepare them before they dive in. Mark particular points in the text that you want them to focus on, paragraphs that are crucial to unlocking the text–and ask them, in advance, to mull over these passages in depth. Or tell them to embrace the messiness, and come in with burning questions (and, y’all: have a discussion and activity around what *makes* a good discussion question).… Read more
It’s been a minute since I’ve posted. My semester starts at LaGuardia this week, and with it comes my personal pedagogical ritual: taking a decent, pre-existing syllabus I conjured forth (that has been already tweaked and refined); putting it aside; and completely overhauling the content, usually within a mere week before classes begin. To be clear: I am constantly reflecting/tweaking prior assignments and in-class exercises — and many of these are fairly portable and can be recycled with ease into another section of composition. But I want to teach content that I find fresh and exciting, and that I hope will engage students.… Read more
This composition syllabus had a rather long gestational period. It was supposed to make an appearance in the fall of 2016.
Instead, Lemonade happened.
Which worked out fine. I had a great time teaching those composition sections around Beyoncé’s visual album, intersectional feminism, and pop culture more generally.
But because I get bored/distracted easily when teaching the same material repeatedly, I felt it was time to revisit my Black Mirror ideas, tweak as necessary, and roll out this sucker. Fortunately, the experience running those Lemonade sections – especially using student writing as course reading/response materials – helped me hone this iteration a bit more.… Read more
The semester starts in less than two weeks, y’all. So what did I do, with my ready-to-go-syllabi, numerous writing deadlines, and paper-/committee-work looming over me, vulture-like?
I posted a proposition on social media that would lead me down the last-minute-abandonment-of-already-developed-syllabus road.
And yet, that is exactly what I ended up doing today.
Of course, the major source of inspiration behind all this was Candice Benbow’s stunning, comprehensive, and wonderfully detailed/designed Lemonade Syllabus. I live in awe of this document.… Read more
Later today, I will be sharing some of the challenges of discussion forums in a presentation at LaGuardia as part of the Center for Teaching and Learning’s mini-seminar series on Engaging Web 2.0 Resources & Technologies (slides for the talk are at the bottom of this post). Discussion boards are something I have struggled with quite a bit over the years: I only recently came to terms with online discussions, mainly because I found a tool – the chat platform Slack – and a structure that seems to encourage the kind of student-driven conversations I was aiming for.… Read more
Yeah, I’m headed off to southern Illinois tomorrow for an archive trip. I’m staying at the Best Western Saluki Inn. There’s no wifi in the rooms. It’s right next to a Buffalo Wild Wings. Where does Indy go? Peru. Nepal. India. Egypt. Hangs in castles and temples. Crashes in beautiful hotels in Venice. My most exciting research trip to date? Gettysburg, so I could sweat my ass off during an incredibly humid July while watching a bunch of men run around in wool costumes and play with fake guns.… Read more
Ok, I will admit – this title seems like clickbait (in that a grand total of two more people than the usual five might read this). But I realized that this blog tends to present a rosy or optimistic depiction of my teaching. The constant self-reflection (mostly highly critical) and the failed attempts do not make their way into these posts as often as they probably should. This is probably a result of several things: a sense of self-preservation, the omni-present imposter syndrome academics tend to suffer from, and the fact that I tend to dissect and discuss the failures almost immediately with colleagues (typically over a shared bottle of wine, because I’m pretty sure this is the best way to discuss failure).… Read more
Faculty are given a lot of latitude when developing our sections for the liberal arts capstone class at LaGuardia, Humanism, Science, and Technology. The original impetus for this class was that I really, really wanted an excuse to teach the Battlestar Galactica reboot; that, and the theme dovetails with the NEH faculty seminar I was part of last year and will join again this coming year, Technology, Self, and Society. It pains me to say this, but BSG did not make the final cut: there were so many other excellent sci-fi films/shows suggested by colleagues and friends that more directly engaged with the debates surrounding technology and artificial intelligence.… Read more
As I prepped for the fall, I wanted to give students more agency in the grading process. And I wanted to clarify what college means for some of the first-year students who are grappling with the new academic venue. Without fail, at least a few students in each of my comp sections asks if they can miss a class, or step out, or leave early for whatever reason. It is not a moment where they are alerting me to their absence – they are asking permission. Some of this is indicative the high school mentality and lack of college-preparedness of first year students.… Read more