Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The English 101 Fall Cruise: Week 3- Literary Circles

CAPTAIN's LOG: September 29, 2015


This week no major assignments were due. I only needed for my crewmembers to submit on a sheet of paper that had their choice for their research theme. The choices were:

  • 3 aspects about a religion that is not well-understood by many in the United States (be sure to name the religion)
  • 3 aspects about the culture of one of the countries that is a major economic competitor of the United States (indicate the country)
  • 3 aspects about the profession you wish to enter (indicate the profession
  • focus on 3 causes, 3 effects, and 3 solutions to lessening bullying
  • 3 benefits of space travel (you must use the thesis sentence on page 177 and the 3 points indicated in the thesis)

Their submitting their choice should help every crewmember to recognize that they need to start thinking about their research topic early in an academic cruise. 

I’ve always believed in the value of small group work. So, if you recall, I had them write a paragraph based on the outline we developed in last Thursday’s class. The various grammatical errors that they made, I retyped and placed on four pages. On Tuesday, I placed them in small groups to work to make corrections and find pages in the handbook, Bare Essentials, that provided information to help them make those corrections. 

On Thursday, they submitted their choices for their roles for the Literary Circle task. Now, what is the Literary Circle? Another captain has introduced this exercise to discuss literature. Each person should take on a role. Each role has a certain responsibility:

They function in a discussion group—a literary circle. There will be 2-3 circles. Each member in the circle will have a role. You send write on a sheet of paper your 1st, 2nd, and 3rd role choices on Sept. 24. I shall let you know your role on the same day. What are the roles? They are:

  1. Discussion Director (raises questions—5-10 questions)
  2. Summarizer (summarizes reading selection—one paragraph)
  3. Illuminator (selects a key passage from each short story & comment on why you selected these passages—no more than 5 sentences per passage)
  4. Illustrator (creates visual aids such as graph or storyboard—comment in one paragraph why you chose your aids)
  5. Connector (relate on personal level to the works—no more than one paragraph) 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The English 101 Fall Cruise: Week 2 - Outline and Theme

CAPTAIN’S LOG: September 22, 2015

On the second day of the second week of this cruise, I found myself with five more crewmembers. Wonderful! I gave them the syllabus and the class policies. The meeting was ready to begin.

I returned to every member who wrote in class last Thursday his/her outline and theme. This first assignment helped me determine how well each student actually understood how the outline and theme should relate. Also, each crewmember who wrote the outline and theme could see if they were writing this assignment correctly. I spent time explaining the common errors with those outlines and papers. I encouraged questions. 

Near the end of the meeting, I asked them to propose three questions for me to set up an outline. I have always found this to be an effective exercise. I walk out of the meeting; upon my return they have come up with and written on the board the questions. I explain why my choice of the one out of the three. This helps my crew see what is “going on in my head” as a writer. I set up the outline; they see that what I am asking of them, I, too can do. Also, as a captain I give them a model to follow. 

At the first meeting, I shared that the cruise would serve as a metaphor for a marriage. They were all my academic spouses. And unlike, unfortunately, many marriages, there would be no divorces; I would not ever walk out on my academic spouses. Yes, I recognize that this is not the regular way a captain conducts his/her meetings or commands his crew. One thing is very true; I am not a captain that commands her crew in conventional ways. I begin it by making it clear that “I cannot teach you unless I love you.” 

This captain would not be capable of loving her crew if she did not know their names. And, most assuredly, this marital metaphor would not work. The first step to making the metaphor real is letting my crew know that I knew each one’s name. So, when I returned each one his/her outline and paper, each recognized that I knew each crewmember by face and name. I had established the basis for trust in this academic cruise marriage. 

An on-campus beginner’s English Composition training cruise is very different from an online or creative writing cruise. The different dynamics require creative ways to establish trust between captain and crew. With that trust the crewmembers will trust the captain’s efforts to help them develop their writing skills. It is very important that crewmembers trust that the captain knows them as individuals and will be working to support their journey to learn.

On Thursday, I reiterated how a theme should be developed. However, most especially, in a beginner’s composition cruise, the captain needs to be certain s/he does not lose anyone. Many times, crewmembers may shake their heads affirming an understanding, but, when the next outline and theme are submitted, the captain and crew learn they do not really understand. 

So, like in any marriage, there must be communication. Since this is a writing cruise, I have them communicate by writing. First, I asked the question of my male crew how would they know they were loved. General answers—ugh!  No specifics.  As expected my female crew could provide specifics. So, on the board I wrote a cursory outline for just a paragraph:

Sarah loves him.

  1. she gives a kiss before class
  2. she shares her last chicken wing
  3. she does not emasculate the guy when he makes an error

Sarah loves him because she kisses him, shares her last morsel, and does not emasculate the guy.

Now, for thirty (30) minutes, each crewmember was to write a paragraph developing the specific ideas placed on the board. No, I did not expect them to complete the paragraph. I needed to see if each of my academic spouses really did understand how to follow an outline and develop a clear paragraph. 

After that exercise I asked three questions:

  1. What is one thing you have learned within the first two weeks of this “marriage”?
  2. Is there anything that I am doing that may be impeding your learning?
  3. What do you really want to learn?

During this weekend I became more clear about what they were understanding and what I would need to focus on to help them improve their content presentation and their mechanics presentation (grammar).

These first two weeks have begun well!

Now, how was it when I began my training to become a captain?

Dear Diary, January 29, 1971

I’m tired, beat, and exhausted! However, the day was quite rewarding. I think 
I’m going to like working at Jordanthorpe [that was the name of the school I
was assigned to do my student teaching.]. The teachers I am working under 
(Mrs. Beach, Mr. White, and Mrs. Woolley) all seem to hold ideals common to 
mine in teaching, especially, Mrs. Beach. I shall start teaching right off the bat 
Feb. 8.

I’ve got a lot of reading and preparation to do before then. I’ll need just about
all this coming week to get my lesson plans prepared. However, I feel that I’m
really doing something. Sure, my butt will really be working these next six weeks,
but, gosh, this is what I have wanted to do all my life.

Dear Diary, February 7, 1971

I’ve been hard at work. Tomorrow is the big day!

Just as I was excited to begin teaching, beginning my journey to become an academic captain, still, I have that excitement. What a blessing!

See you next week!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Come Aboard The English 101 Fall Cruise!

Captain's Log: September 15, 2015

Welcome to this Day English 101 Cruise!

Some of you have sailed with me in previous cruises, the Creative Writing Cruise and/or the Blog Online 102 Cruise. For those of you new to this blog cruise, you will see that I see teaching as a cruise and my students are trainees preparing to become future captains. I function as the Captain. I have sixteen weeks to get these rookies ready to transfer/pass to the advanced training of English 102 (Advanced English Composition). I am looking forward to the challenge and experience.

The crew and I meet together twice a week. The crewmembers and I have three hours to meet and have crew meetings/classes. Much has to be covered and accomplished. What many of them have to learn, very quickly, that the pace of how work is covered in a college academic cruise is much faster than their experiences in some of their high schools. There are expectations and rules that must be followed and will not be bent because of those who may be irresponsible with the unfounded, blustering support of their parents. Since they are on a college cruise, even if they are under eighteen, the rules for adult (age 18 or over) crewmembers apply to all. 

So, on Tuesday, the first day, twenty (20) individuals reported for duty. Then, I began my spiel regarding my expectations as I distributed the class policies for this cruise. Normally, I would distribute the syllabus for this cruise on the first day; I did not this time. I feel it would be better that everyone has time to take the policies home. I want no one on my cruise that do not want to be. So, for those who agree with the policies, they are to bring the third page of the policies that is the signature page to the ship/class on Thursday. On Thursday I shall give the course syllabus. For those who do not, it is clear that they need not return; they should find another cruise ship to join.  

On Tuesday, I explained one method they should try to implement for writing a college theme. I want them to set up an outline, too. There is a particular format I want them to use. I share that when I was in high school I “hated” setting up an outline before writing my themes. It was Sister Mary Dolores who discovered that I was not following her directions: outline first—then, write the paper. Eek! She tore up my paper, and I had to begin again, setting up the outline. Since I always wanted to become a teacher, I definitely wanted to either banish or improve outlines. As I continued my education, I began to recognize the importance of the outline; thus, I developed a different method to set up one.

So, on Tuesday, I showed my crew where on my textbook’s publisher’s website they could find a sample outline and a theme following that outline. This set provided the sample they needed. In addition, I gave them guidance about how to set up their introductory, body, and concluding paragraphs. Also, I suggested that they read Chapter 6 of the handbook for the course, Bare Essentials, 15th ed. The crew was required to bring to the Thursday crew meeting a typed, completed outline on one of the topics I assigned. On Thursday, I covered a few items. Then, they were to write their theme on that topic. Yes, all twenty returned with their signed class policy sheets.

Now, I have to say after the end of that class, I smiled. I reflected on my first steps to become a full captain/professor. And when I went home that eve, I pulled out my diary that has recordings when I landed in London and arrived by train at Sheffield, England. I was chosen by my university to be an exchange student to take my education courses and do my student teaching:

Dear Diary, January 7, 1971

I arrived in London. The people have been very kind.
I arrived at Sheffield, England at Mrs. Henderson’s home at about 4:35 in the af-
ternoon. She and Mr. Henderson seem to be very nice. My bedroom is very pretty. 
 I shall have a British student as my roommate. I do hope everything works out  fine
 [it did; her name was Cheryl Davies, and we developed a wonderful friendship;       
I only wish we had maintained it after I returned back to the US].

Dear Diary, January 28, 1971

Today we [all of us who were to be student teachers] were given instructions from 
our supervisors as to what we were expected to do for our teaching practice. I 
must say I am quite excited and looking forward to the experience. I do hope and
pray that I do well.

Um, this blog will chronicle the cruise of Fall 2015 and the cruise that initiated my beginnings of becoming a captain. 

Welcome aboard!