Monday, March 10, 2008

In which we conclude

Tomorrow's the last day of the first-year class I've had since fall. I kept 17 of them in the transition between quarters, and I'm really glad to have had the extra time with them. Fall was very much about them moving from being the smartest kids in their high-school classes to just another average brain in a very smart place. For some, they were just managing to keep their heads above water, but others were flopping back onshore, gasping, just about every day. While I really liked teaching those classes, every one was a challenge; I could never tell what they'd immediately get and what would take some hammering on to make sense of.

This quarter has been a really fruitful continuation of the work we started last quarter. I've leaned pretty heavily on the collection of ideas that we've built up and the continuity of discussion. I know this sequence doesn't follow the standard freshman-composition structure, but I've seen marked improvement in the critical-writing and -thinking skills of just about everyone. I feel ok sending them off into their real interests, which mostly lie outside Humanities.

We're doing an in-class peer editing thing tomorrow, and I'm still working out the structure of it. I've never done this kind of in-class work on argument, though I've done small workshop versions of it. This is why it's nice to have C. around; even though he's incredibly burned-out on comp, he's a good teacher of writing, and he has some good suggestions for how to run such things. I think I'll have them do some mirroring of claim and organization of evidence in pairs, and then have the pairs turn into quartets and do the same thing. Or maybe after the pairs, I'll have the "listening" partner present the "speaking" partner's argument to the class as a whole.

(This reminds me that I need to bulk up my bag o' tricks when it comes to composition-based teaching, as I know that's inevitably in my future. Tips welcome.)

No comments: