My main goal within the composition classroom is not to create perfect writers but, rather, to teach students how to navigate different rhetorical situations so that they can authentically represent themselves and their interests. A large portion of this is the discussion of audience-appropriate genres and rhetorical analyses of current news articles and media.
In both composition courses, I have encouraged students to find research that excites them. However, to protect the safety of my classroom, each semester my students and I have conceptualized a list of "off topic" research subjects due to their extremely delicate nature or "basicness." In Composition II, I emphasize the validity of absurd or seemingly ridiculous research interests.
As a young scholar and writer, I aim to be transparent with my student about my own writing processes and struggles.
For Composition 2, I chose to frame my course around performance studies, specifically the performances of race, gender, and sexuality in America. Through this course and the necessary writing exercises in it, I am aiming to bridge the gap between my students and their conceptualization of their community identity. My goal is for students to begin investigating the rituals and performances around them in order to decipher and judge how the dominant performances in the Auburn community define, create, or fail to encompass, their personhood.
To help emphasize the unique perspective my students are offering to the conversation surrounding their research, I utilize mind maps. These visual supports are a space for students to draw connections between scholarly work and position themselves within the conversation.
Photos of submitted mind maps.
Photos used with student permission.
Pedagogically, I view writing as a recursive process — an experience that is rarely perfect on the first try. For that reason, I have a process for student revisions as outlined in my syllabus. This returns the power to students for a two week period in which they can revise, edit, and reconfigure their first two large papers for the course. I have found that allowing students the time to sit with their thoughts and reflect leads to stronger arguments and thoroughly explicated perspectives.
Working with Media
Once students delved into their research for the semester and become comfortable with academic articles, I encourage them to utilize other forms of media — both as a research basis and to support their writing. For this reason, we did a collaborative activity where student groups were encouraged to create/employ media to an academic article we read in class.
Photos of student collaboration to create media for an article in class. Students can be seen siting in circles, drawing on large poster paper, and sharing their work with the class. Photos used with student permission.
For the final project, students are asked to "remix" their research into another genre. For example, several of my students are looking into creating YouTube videos, pamphlets, board games, and fake public service announcements. I am excited to see how students engage with this project and their peers through this process.