This post is where I put my money where my mouth is in terms of “accountable talk”. On a few of my comments on the last assignment, I stressed the importance of teachers being held accountable for their students understanding of not just the assignments, but WHY the assignments are important. The “syllabi” below for three BW classes are just a rough draft, but know I understand how hard it is to explain not only an assignment, but why the assignment is crucial for the students writing development. I did enjoy the thought process behind coming up with classes that will benefit BW students, and will definitely be using this as a starting point for future classes!
Basic Writing 101
In this course, we will explore the process of reading, thinking, connecting, and writing.
The first week, there will be a free writing assignment, the purpose of which is to analyze the student’s writing level and knowledge of basic grammar, punctuation, structure rules, etc. Once these points have been analyzed, they will be used for assigning small work groups. Students will be grouped with others of similar skill levels so that progress can be gauged on the level on which they start.
Reading and comprehension essays will be assigned each week. I will assign a reading each week from the assigned text, which is yet to be determined. The text will focus on reading and comprehension skills and will include exercises of varying difficulty. Groups may be assigned different readings depending on the average skill level of the members.
The purpose of these exercises will be for the student to read and comprehend the position of the author, and then offer their agreement or disagreement. This will allow the instructor to track the student’s reading and comprehension abilities throughout the semester.
I came up with this idea when reading Fleming’s thoughts on the importance of textbook readers. He was touting the importance of composition textbooks, but I think that reading comprehension is a major issue that needs to be addressed in Basic Writing. I will, of course, be including composition lessons throughout the semester in class, so I think this will be a well rounded approach to teaching as many important Basic Writing skills in conjunction with each other as opposed to separately in units. I was also obviously influenced by Shaughnessy’s thoughts on knowing the students’ individual skill levels and working with them, thus the grouping according to skill level.
After the students have gotten more comfortable with reading and comprehending, we will begin focusing on the effectiveness of their writing as now that they have (hopefully) become comfortable in their abilities to comprehend what they are reading, they should be ready to begin working on effectively communicating their thoughts.
Basic Writing 102: Prerequisite is a passing (preferably at least a score of 80 or above) grade in BW 101
The focus of this class will be Writing and Research, and will build on skills learned in BW101. In this class, we will use the reading and comprehension skills learned in 101 to complete a Research Paper. We will discuss the types of scholarly sources that are appropriate for use in a Research Paper.
Inspired by Haller’s emphasis on the importance of the collaboration between librarians and faculty, and also for library instruction, the first (at least) two weeks of class will consist meeting in the library with librarians and/or library assistants to be instructed on the use of the reference section. This will include how to search for books/journals on specific topics and how to locate them.
As stated in Erik Drake’s piece, resources have moved to the digital environment. Students will also be instructed on how to use the online resources to find appropriate sources that are on topic.
Throughout the semester, students will be required to complete smaller assignments that will build up to the final Research Paper. These assignments will include finding appropriate sources, completing an annotated bibliography, completing an outline, etc. Students will be assigned a peer review partner to trade assignments with to discuss concerns and provide feedback and suggestions for improvement prior to turning in the assignments for a grade.
Basic Writing 103: Prerequisite is a combined B average in BWs 101 and 102
This course will continue to build on the skills learned in 101 and 102. Students will be left more to themselves in terms of the assignments, which will be three large papers. Leaving the students more freedom to pick their topics, do more research on their own, and write larger chunks of their papers at one time will allow the instructor to more accurately gauge the students’ progress in reading and comprehending, research skills, and effective writing.
Obviously the instructor will be available for assistance, but it will be more guidance based as opposed to just giving answers to specific questions. Comments on drafts will be those of the thought provoking nature, and students will be expected to have a more thorough knowledge in regards to grammar and structure.
By nature of this course, students should build their skills in analysis and constructing arguments. By the third assignment, students should be able to research, read and comprehend from their sources, and construct clear and concise arguments. The third assignment will be presented to the class.