Back to school reading assignments.

Confession time.

I was going to write a post for today entitled “Why I didn’t celebrate Labour Day” but Ben Zimmer not only beat me to the article by three years, but he also beat me to the similar title of “Why Americans Celebrate Labor (and not Labour) Day.”

I snoozed and I lost. This is why I’m not making the big bucks.

Instead, I will share some of the links that I’ve been saving for y’all. Some of these articles were published as far back as 2009, but you know what they say about reruns: if you haven’t seen it, it’s new to you!

So to kick off the new semester, here’s your homework:

And now, a pop quiz!

There won’t be any more quizzes – for you, anyway. Promise. My students won’t be so lucky. But I will ask you: What did you think of these links. What was your favorite one? Should I really think about adding blogging to my writing courses?

6 thoughts on “Back to school reading assignments.

    • Thanks for taking the poll! I liked that idea the best too, and I put it to my students yesterday but a lot of them seem hesitant. I think they’re too insecure about their writing right now, but what I might do is set up a blog for us anyway and make it private. Once they see some of their work up there, they might feel more confident to make it public. If nothing else, it only took me 2 classes this semester to establish myself as a little bit of a loony teacher, telling them all they were going to be my guinea pigs ;) It usually takes me 4-5 classes for that…since it usually coincides with the first time I show pictures of Zelda and Mrs.Parker…

  1. I’m thinking about many of the same things. I will work with one of the students taking Leadership Communication this semester to turn some homework she submitted last week into a guest post at tomorrow. And I have another student coming to see me in a few minutes whose assignment for Management Communication Projects will be a post about our elective communication courses on the University’s MIS Program blog. Because I teach workplace writing (and communication), I don’t assign essays. But I honestly wish all writing teachers would stop assigning them and get students to write for a purpose other than displaying knowledge to an already knowledgeable teacher. It’s one of my pet peeves ;-)

    I’m eager to hear how you proceed!

    • Sorry it’s been taking me so long to respond. The first week of the semester is always crazy and this time, it came along with a migraine, so I’m just getting around to feeling human again :)

      I totally understand where you’re coming from in terms of getting students to do more “real world” work, and I do try to incorporate different types of writing into the class. In the classes I teach, however, I have a very specific purpose: to get them ready for the academic writing that they will need to get their degrees. I do often teach good ole ENG 101, but the classes I most often teach are for non-native speakers who need remedial work before they are ready for ENG 101. A lot of what I do is of course focused on grammar because of their particular needs, but I try to get them to approach writing as not just a set of rules that they have to follow, but as a means of expression. Sometimes that expression needs to be more formal and follow certain templates, but other times it can be more fluid. Whatever it is, the purpose is communication (only the message and delivery of that message differs.)

      I asked the class yesterday how they felt about blogging and putting their work up on the internet. Some weren’t sure what that even meant. Others were wary because they thought they were going to be forced to write in a blogging style that they didn’t like (they saw it as just one more way they had to change their style or voice when they write). The rest I think were just scared because they don’t feel confident enough to have other people read their stuff. I’m going to experiment with a private blog and maybe have them read some blog posts to get used to the idea and see how it goes. I need to make it voluntary and it might be tricky to find enough time to do the experiment. These students have to pass a departmental exam to pass the class and it’s hard to say how the project will fit into the work we need to do to prep them for the exam. Maybe the blog would get them excited about writing and motivate them to work harder if they finally feel more of a connection to writing – an investment to improve it enough to clearly convey the message they have in their minds. Or maybe it will be too distracting. Not sure. Fingers are crossed!

  2. Hi Leonore! My youngest daughter is a senior in college this year and as a mass. comm. major she’s had several professors that have required her to blog. She and her clasmates have individual Blogger accounts that they give their teacher and classmates the link to. She usually has to post a blog once a week. You could have your students do something similar, and maybe choose one post a week or every other week to feature on your blog. (Unfortunately, even though she’s good at it, my daughter’s not in love with blogging. She has some learning disabilities that make her work a bit more slowly than some of her peers, and she sees the blogging as just one more thing being added to her workload.)

    Hope you’re doing well. It’s nice to see you posting again! :)

    • I’m afraid of the blog turning into just that – another homework chore. I’m also afraid that it will be a negative experience for them. Since they are ESL students, a lot of them feel very insecure about their language skills. I think each of them having his/her own blog would be a bit overwhelming for them at the moment. I think it needs to be a class blog – private to start with – and it needs to be voluntary. I might even tell them they can post anonymously. It might also totally depend on the class. I’ve only met this class twice so far, so I’m still getting a handle on what kind of personality the group dynamic will have. They might be adventurous and so we might soon be seeing some of their work!

      Love seeing you around again too! (I probably owe you a good old fashioned letter, too, don’t I? :)

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