From the category archives:

Papers: Models and Exercises

Revision or Editing

by Dr Davis on April 3, 2016

Rebecka Scott, Abilene Christian U
“Holistic Revision Instead of Afterthought Editing”

connecting rhetoric, composition, and WC theories to editing and publishing

incorporation of scaffolding and peer review, becoming increasingly aware of writing process

would not recognize term re-writing
instead revision and editing separated in classroom
useful for helping explain: re-envision

creates inconsistencies
also we ignore editing as a recursive process

many comp students do not understand rewriting as a complex stage of writing

initial steps of evaluation

writing considered linear. Writing still linear. Comp studies, though, it is recursive.

Rhetoric for Writing Teachers, Lindemann
Not separate stages. Instead, the writers are prewriting, writing, and editing during the experience.
Defines rewriting as including revising and editing. These tasks are separate but equally relevant for rewriting. (RS includes proofreading)
Wants to draw rewriting back into the end. Revision isn’t the last stage of composing.

Lack of connection between revision and editing. More space given to revision than editing.
Revision supersedes term rewriting.
Editing = final check for formatting

Looked at various freshman composition textbooks on topic.

Rewriting is part of the writing process.

Books don’t show how they are cyclical. Books don’t even use language consistency.

Emphasis of one over the other in classroom can influence students.
Students are most concerned with grammar.
Organization and syntax matter.
Essentially the same act with a different focus.
Limited research on best way to teach these.

Initial steps:
Realign by evaluating language we use
Engage in discussion of recursive
Editing as a purposeful task of rewriting

Evaluate the purpose of rewriting as presented in textbook
Rewriting may be one element of the text that can be supplemented

Being aware of what may be lacking in our textbooks is essential for success.

Have language discussion even if confusing for students.
Part of the recursive writing.

Students are not receiving consistent presentation.

Many profs avoid. Students are unfamiliar with terms and have negative experiences.
These discussions can lead to better understanding.

Give adequate time to editing, revision, and rewriting.
This re-enforces that revising, editing, and proofreading are unimportant and part of the end-process only.

Notes from CCTE 2016: Teaching Strategies


Personal Literacy Digital Narrative

by Dr Davis on January 25, 2015

While traditionally literacy has meant reading and writing, we have begun to discuss math literacy, digital literacy, and research literacy.

The first composition in one of the fyc classes I am teaching culminates in a personal literacy digital narrative. Students are allowed to choose to present on anything they remember learning, though I recommend having it be something that they learned vocabulary for as well.

These can be quite well done. I have received excellent videos on such diverse topics as learning to sight-read music and moving to a new country. One student did one on how she learned to enjoy reading and another did one on how to train Pokemon (which you would have to have learned how to do in order to provide an instructional video).

While I had quite an interesting collection of examples to show, I somehow managed to misplace the main USB file the digital narratives were in. Because of that, and time constraints, I only showed three examples before asking the students to think about topics for their own videos. Unfortunately, the topics they have come up with all follow the examples fairly closely. That means they won’t be particularly good or varied, I think.

I am trying to find the other videos and sending emails to last semester’s students, asking if they would mind sharing their videos again.

I am also going to put up a list of potential topics, including the two that I considered for my own video last semester.


Email Etiquette Reminder

by Dr Davis on January 23, 2015

Every semester I review email etiquette with my freshmen. Then I require an assignment that has them send me an email and I grade both the assignment and their email etiquette. Throughout the semester I pick at least two other emails to assign grades to regarding email etiquette. (I do more if the students are not doing well with the email etiquette–and I let them know I am going to.)

Here is a review I sent for a student who was not in class for the email etiquette:

1. Pick a good subject title. (Don’t just respond to an email I wrote, usually. When you are asking a question about something specific I wrote in an email, you can respond to that email. Otherwise start a new email.) Something like “topic for 106” or “question on 106 homework” will let me know how important it is to read the email as soon as I see it.

2. Address the email with a salutation. For school, that would mean “Dear Dr. Davis” or “Dear Dr. Lynn.” If you don’t know if a professor has a doctorate, assume they do. No one is insulted by being presumed to have more education than they do.

3. Make sure all the information needed is in your email and write in the best English you can. Don’t use things like u for you or b4 for before.

4. Sign your email with the name you use in class, both your called name and your family/last name.

5. Somewhere make sure you indicate the class you are in (and the time if the professor might have more than one class of that kind). For 106 this semester I only have one class. As long as 106 is in your email, after your name or in the subject line, then you are good. However, last semester I had two 106 classes, so those students had to write either the section number or the time that the class met as well as 106.

These are good tips for writing emails to professors in any department. Using them shows respect for the instructor and the course, which enhances your credibility and lets your discussion with your professor start off well.


DWme: Music

by Dr Davis on January 22, 2015

While I like music, I often don’t listen to it.

I haven’t made a whole playlist of songs I enjoy and could just call up on my computer or phone. Perhaps I should. I might enjoy it.

My husband actually has a specific playlist of “happy” songs. He plays it in the morning while he is getting dressed for work and it helps him to start the day off with a positive attitude. I think that is an excellent idea, but I have not gotten around to doing it. At the rate this semester is going, I won’t, either.

Maybe I’ll ask him to create a set for my birthday. Or not. It probably wouldn’t be hard to do it myself.

Yesterday I needed some music while I was grading the fyc papers. So I pulled up my reggae collection and listened to that. I need more reggae, because on my computer I only have one album and that music quickly finished.

Usually when I am driving around in the car I listen to country-western music. However, as I mentioned in class, lately all the songs have been about bars and cheating. I don’t really want that kind of music to get in my head and stay there. I am not an alcoholic and am happily married, but no one needs those ideas in their heads.

I am not as fond of alternative as my husband but I do like rock, so maybe I need to temporarily (at least) reset my radio buttons to rock.


DWme: After the first week of school, I…

by Dr Davis on January 20, 2015

I have rearranged my office twice. We got new furniture because D left and C’s desk is now outside in the vestibule, mine is back in my office, and C has D’s nice desk. Her office looks better–even though it looked good and mine looks way better because KC helped me figure out how to rearrange and improve it. I still have to put up the saris for drapes and the picture that fell down, but it is back to being useful, functional, and gorgeous. Always a good thing in an office.

Spending time with my dad and not working at home is cutting into my class preparation and grading time. I will need to be far more careful about getting the work done, even if it means coming back to the office after dinner. I am glad Dad is here and I am glad I have a chance to spend time with him again; I missed those lunch dates these last three and a half years. HCC had me spoiled for that.

I really am enjoying my students and the classes, though just like me some of the students are having trouble getting back into the swing of school. I never like to dock points at the beginning of a course, so I am letting some things still get full credit right now. By next week that will not be happening.


HOF: Not Plagiarizing Metaphors

by Dr Davis on December 21, 2014

On quoting folks in conversation:

Here’s how I explain it to my students: if you dress in sweats every day, but suddenly you show up to class in a ball gown, I’m going to notice. Generally speaking, it’s the same with writing.

Love that analogy, Dr_A. May I steal it from you in a non-plagiarising sort of way?

Of course. I prefer to be cited in MLA format, which means you must gently cup your hands to form parentheses as you say my name aloud to your students. I am not paginated.

Just as well you don’t prefer footnotes, or poor Llanfair would have to leap in the air after presenting your analogy, and only reveal your identity once she reached the bottom of the page several paragraphs later.

And I have two left feet, so that leap would be ungainly and possibly result in personal injury. Not to mention that my students would flee the room in terror of this weird woman at the front of their classroom.

From dr_alcott and llanfair


HOF: Limiting Topics Brings Knowledge to Life

by Dr Davis on December 13, 2014

Here’s why I and my composition-teaching colleagues do not let students write arguments about certain topics.

First, let’s remember that I’m talking about first-year students who are learning about argument–about logic, fallacies, good evidence, bad evidence, finding common ground with opponents, refutation, and so on–for the very first time in their lives. The three or four short essays that my students have already written for me are the most writing they have ever done in one semester and perhaps more writing than they did in all of high school. Nearly all of my students enter our community college underprepared for high school, much less first-year college work. Many of these students have never used a library and none of them has used a college library.

In the catalog, the title of the course is Composition I. But it could just as well be called “Basic Introduction to College through Writing.”

school_research computer martinI’ll begin with a banned topic that rarely has anything to do with religion: gun control. When I allowed students to write about gun control, those who chose this topic were almost without exception paranoid far-right survivalist/militia fanatics who see New World Order conspiracies everywhere, or the children of such people. It was a self-selecting group: those obsessed with the topic were those who chose to write about it. And to these students, the gun-control argument has two sides: people who love freedom, and people who hate America and want to destroy America and want this to become a land of mindless slaves. A person who wants any sort of gun regulations whatsoever belongs to the second group. A person who’d like to see 30- and 50-round detachable magazine made illegal isn’t merely incorrect; he is an enemy every bit as dangerous as any foreign terrorist.

And to those students, arguments that support regulation of firearms simply don’t exist. Any data used to support arguments for gun regulation are fake–simply made up–or come from some foreign dictatorship where the people are already mindless slaves. It’s not that my no-gun-restrictions students didn’t want to consider other points of view. It’s that they simply denied the legitimacy of those points of view, since the students already knew that such viewpoints are lies concocted by communists or fascists who hate America, and so on and so forth.

My gun-loving students simply couldn’t do real research or construct even part of a proper argument. I think the term is “epistemic closure.” There’s really not an argument to be made when the choices are Good and Absolute Evil, is there? It’s as pointless as explaining why one should prefer Mister Rogers to Hitler. The inevitable poor grade on the assignment merely proved that colleges are controlled by communists or fascists who hate America, and so on and so forth.

The same kind of thing happened when I and my colleagues let students write about abortion, same-sex marriage, or prayer in public schools. With those topics, the self-selecting group consisted of religious fanatics. Please note that I am not saying that all religious people are wild-eyed fire-breathing theocrats. But I live in a part of the country where we have lots and lots of fanatics and more than a few wild-eyed fire-breathing theocrats. Catch John Hagee’s or Rod Parsley’s act on television sometime. To many of my students, that’s what a real Christian looks like. Pope Francis? Not a Christian. Demonic, in fact. I’ve had to shut down such a diatribe this semester.

For the religious fanatics in Comp I, the argument over abortion has two sides: God’s and Satan’s. It ain’t complicated. They don’t write arguments. They write sermons. Other points of view simply do not exist. My students who wrote about abortion always repeated the usual claims: women who have abortions are more likely to get cancer; women who have abortions kill themselves; women who have abortions become sterile. Giving them evidence to the contrary–science-based evidence from good sources–accomplished nothing. The articles are lies; the data are fraudulent; it’s all the work of pagans or atheists who like to kill babies. There is no need to waste time considering the ideas of people who have already proved that they are demonically evil by having such ideas.

Some of our students have been taught to leave a room when ungodly or demonic talk begins. If, say, a beginning-of-class conversation about a science story in the news drifts into mention of evolution or the Big Bang, a student will quietly pack up his or her books and leave, because he or she has been trained to get out of a room when Satan starts talking. It has happened to me and most of my colleagues.

And as with abortion, so with same-sex marriage, prayer in public schools, and other topics with a religious component. The students who write about them will not, can not, consider ideas other than their own because they already know that those other ideas are quite literally lies from Hell. They don’t write arguments. They refuse to. They write bad sermons. And if they get bad grades, they know that the instructor is on Satan’s side.

Again, please note that I am not claiming that all Christians fit a stereotype or caricature. But I live where the stereotypes and caricatures originated. I live where it’s not hard to find ramshackle little churches–old single-wides, as often as not–on back roads, churches that fly the Confederate battle flag next to and sometimes above a cross, and where men go to worship service with their AR-15s slung over their shoulders.

So I proscribe some topics. I try to make students begin arguments and research papers not with an opinion, but with a question about an important topic about which they know little and about which they know that they know very little. Then they need to show me that they have learned to use the college library well enough to find sound evidence that steered them to a point of view on the topic, and that they have examined the evidence for other points of view, and that they can assemble the products of their research into a logical and coherent whole that meets the requirements of the assignment.

It’s easier to accomplish that by proscribing topics that begin and end with Us or Them, Jesus or Satan, Liberty or Slavery. If it’s a topic that sometimes leads to shouting and screaming, pushing and shoving, fisticuffs, or gun play, then maybe it’s a topic that first-year composition students will not handle well.

Then, once a student has constructed a reasonably good written argument, I can say, “See what you did here? This is what grown-up discussion looks like. This–this way of thinking–is how all of should approach everything we think and believe, because everybody believes at least a few things that just aren’t correct. What you did in this assignment is how we can make sure that the things we believe make sense.” And I repeat the old saw: If you never change your mind, what’s the point of having one?

And then, next semester or next year, my composition students can apply their new knowledge in other courses such as sociology and philosophy, and maybe even re-examine some of their own assumptions. My Comp I class, after all, is not the last one in which students will have to make arguments. They’ll have plenty of opportunities to tackle controversies in other courses. My goal is to help them take the very first step in learning how to tackle a controversial topic.

from eumaois


Problem-Solution Paper Idea

by Dr Davis on August 23, 2014

Have students map out the different paths for Choose Your Own Adventure Books… What if we did this for when they are working on a problem solution paper? Then make them figure out what the consequences would be.

It’s a potentially masterful brainstorming tool, at least.


Visual Rhetoric Assignment(s)

by Dr Davis on May 15, 2014

After presenting a particular textbook’s approach to images as a typical essay assignment about reading, rather than creating images (a point he has made a multiplicity of other times within the text), Rice in The Rhetoric of Cool asks,
Why don’t these authors ask students to write their own set of images? (152)

Possible Prompts
Rice suggests possible prompts to use with or instead of the reading image assignment in the book:
“compose with a series of iconic gestures” in a similar way to the ad presented
“critique the ad through your own ad”
“complicate the ad’s ..message by juxtaposing new images which challenge the ad’s stance”
“use the ad’s logic of juxtaposition to create your own series of ads” (152)

wordpress-icon“[A]ssemble iconic imagery into a space like a Web site … in order to construct an argument, present a position, express an idea, or perform any other rhetorical act” (152).

“[A]sk students to compose an autobiographical statement only with visual icons” (152).

For an example he presents the Absolut Vodka ads (which I have seen often in visual rhetoric presentations at PCA and SCMLA).
“These juxtapositions work with familiar icons” (153).
“[S]tudents use them as models in order to construct a series of iconic self-portraits, advertisements for themselves” (153).


Digital Presentations This Semester

by Dr Davis on May 10, 2014

The digital presentations are an important component of the writing classes I teach as they offer the students an opportunity to present information they have gathered (from the research paper for fyc) or created (for the commercial analysis for fyc).

They are also important components in my literature classes where they review what we learned in class (as students present their digital presentations on a work or aspect of a text that we read for class, where the videos serve as a unique review for the comprehensive final exam for British literature) or introduce students to an additional work (Old English Readings). They are rhetorically remixing and composing with a real-world medium.

These digital presentations have always been opportunities for the students to learn new technologies and to master information they have already been exposed to, but this semester, particularly, I have been delighted to see the students’ creativity as they have taken the assignments and used their particular giftings to make them phenomenal.

One of the students in my Old English readings course created all the images for her digital explication of the Harrowing of Hell (an Old English text that she read out of class and was introducing to her classmates). Whoo too!

One student in fyc created the video to parallel her research project out of a series of twenty interviews she filmed with teachers, administrators, and students at her high school alma mater regarding the soon-to-be-implemented school uniform policy. Last semester I had a journalism major who regularly interviews people for a television show and whose final project for Business Writing was a video; while it was good, this freshman project is another level beyond it.

One freshman student’s research was on the various forms of child abuse and the signs of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. Her video was particularly poignant, with students commenting on her incredible invocation of pathos through text, images, and sound. I had written in my notes that the music was perfectly aligned—in both rhythm and meaning—for the presentation topic; soon after the presentations were shown I learned that she created and performed the music for her digital presentation.

Digital presentations are a different type of composition and aren’t specifically “writing” as we have known it. These compositions, however, add a strong rhetorical component to the writing classes, allow for introduction and recall of texts for the literature classes, and add the possibility of students showing their creative gifts, in addition to encouraging students to develop the skills to use the types of media they watch and interact with all the time.