Composition Pedagogy

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Argumentation: Pedestrian Rules

Fairly soon, we're going to be discussing informal fallacies in my first-year composition class. We've touched upon them already, but I want to set aside a day just for talking about them. I'm toying with the idea of adding a list of mostly tacit debate commonplaces to supplement our study of fallacies of ethos, pathos, and logos. Here are the ones I have so far; they have already come up in class obliquely, but it doesn't hurt to spell them out:

  1. The first person to get mad loses the debate. (Inspired by one of the Tutor's comments here.)
  2. Anecdotes about "my black friends," "my gay friends," etc. don't hold up as evidence to support your points. (Inspired by one of Harrison's comments here in response to this post.)
  3. Comparing those who disagree with you to Hitler or the Nazis really hurts your ethos. (Inspired by countless arguments on various message boards.)

Got any to add? Ought I to chuck the idea altogether? I'm not particularly attached to it and am open to suggestions.

More Rhetoric & Composition-Related Articles Wikipedia Needs

Move along, nothing to see here. These are really just my bookmarks for when I eventually teach a rhetorical theory and methods course that I can design myself and make Wikipedia articles part of the required work: when, not if. 'Cause the students in my first-year composition class would be flabbergasted and would not like it at all if I waltzed in there tomorrow and said, "Hey, you guys, change of plan! Instead of doing the research papers you've been preparing for all semester, we're going to do Wikipedia articles on the following list of topics instead!" Anyway, on to the needed articles:

I searched for Toulmin out of curiosity, but I'll bet there are easily a hundred compositionists, rhetoricians, and pedagogical theorists who aren't represented in Wikipedia. Those searches are for another evening, though. By the way, I searched for myself too, but alas, there was nothing. :( :P

More Preparation for Weblogs in Education and Training Lecture

Today I've been struggling with what readings to assign to the class I'm guest lecturing in a week from tomorrow. I haven't been working on this all day, actually; the weather was gorgeous, so I went rollerblading on the trails in Como Park for a while, after which I felt remarkably serene. Anyway, I had originally intended to have the students read the pedagogy articles in Into the Blogosphere and Michael Angeles' presentation notes. Then I realized that I'd be assigning them about 100 pages of reading, so I decided to use the KISS approach and just have them read a few short articles and look at a few weblogs. Many of them haven't heard of weblogs anyway, so they might have been lost had I assigned the Angeles and ITB pieces. Here's what I'm having them read:

Jill Walker, Definition of Weblog

Jill Walker, notes for “Weblogs: Learning to Write in the Network”

Meg Hourihan, What We're Doing When We Blog

Then I'm asking them to look at Kairosnews, Chez Miscarriage, and this semester's Rhetoric 1101 weblog.

I hope they'll appreciate this basic overview of weblogs. I'll draw upon the Angeles and ITB articles for what I'll talk about, but I definitely want to put them in small groups and have them brainstorm some ways they might use weblogs in education and training; perhaps they can synthesize possible application of weblogs with the material they've already covered in the class.

Takeaway Prep for Weblogs and Writing Pedagogy Presentation

I'm still preparing for Friday's presentation, and starting to stress about it, as I have several other deadlines this week. Clay's marvelous suggestion to put all projects in a spreadsheet is working wonders for me; I am a machine right now, knockin' it all out. Eh, not exactly, but I know I need to be making progress on this presentation, so here are some items I'm planning on including in the takeaway. I'm planning on doing ~100-word annotations of them, but one step at a time. These are some of the pieces on teaching with weblogs and wikis that have stood out in my mind over the last couple of years. In no particular order:


Falling out of love ... by premmell at Kairosnews

Moving to the Public: Weblogs in the Writing Classroom by Charles Lowe and Terra Williams

Remediation, Genre, and Motivation: Key Concepts for Teaching with Weblogs by Kevin Brooks, Cindy Nichols, and Sybil Priebe

A Course About Weblogs

(this) Space by Austin Lingerfelt

When Blogging Goes Bad: A Cautionary Tale About Blogs, Email Lists, Discussion, and Interaction by Steven D. Krause


Wiki by Matt Barton

Embrace the Wiki Way! by Matt Barton

My Brilliant Failure: Wikis in Classrooms by Heather James

Posts on Kairosnews about Wikis


And, just for my own edification, a crash course on Writing Across the Curriculum:

Purdue's WAC handout

WAC links

I think the information on WAC will help me to create better "If your objective is ______, weblogs and/or wikis can help fulfill it by doing _____" statements. Any other thoughts? Your comments on my last post about this were very helpful!

Weblogs in Education and Training

On November 1, I'm to give a talk on weblogs at Metropolitan State University for a course on learning technologies. Unlike the weblogs and writing pedagogy talk, this one will have more of a focus on instructional design. The course centers on learning technologies in education and training that could take place in a corporate setting or a school. The instructor would like my talk to be a general introduction to weblogs and to cover ways they could be used for learning in each of these settings. She also wants me to offer tips on how to evaluate the effectiveness of weblogs. It's proving difficult! This discussion on Kairosnews is helping, and I want to do something with weblogs and WebQuests. In addition, I think Michael Angeles' work could be helpful. Do any of you have suggestions? I'd be grateful for them, as I'm somewhat out of my element here.

Intellectual Property Links for Compositionists

Several of us are working on revamping the blog for CCCC-IP, and part of what we want to do is to have a nice big portal of resources on authorship, intellectual property, copyright, public domain, open content, open source, and collaboration for people in composition. For my part, I'd like the CCCC-IP portal to be the best, most comprehensive IP portal on the entire interweb. We're eventually going to divide it into subcategories, but here are the links I've thrown together for now, in no particular order:

Arete and This Public Address also have a portal with some IP links that I'll have to check out. (NOTE: I will be adding links to this entry and reorganizing the links as I see fit.) We also need links to campus IP policies for instructors (for distance ed, etc.), more articles (esp. on theories of authorship, e.g. Foucault, Barthes, etc.), collections of public domain content, material on libraries and IP, articles on open-access scholarship, anything you think is appropriate. Please comment! Even just pasting in URLs would be great.

Push It, Grab It, and Dialectic

Am I the only one who sometimes thinks it would be fun to use Salt'n'Pepa's "Push It" and L'Trimm's "Grab It" to introduce students to dialectic? I wonder if it's crossed Jeff's mind before...the lyrics are a little risqué, and I don't know if I'd really bring the songs into class, but if any of you would like to try it, be my guest, and let me know how it goes. :) As you probably recall, the argument in "Push It" is simply, "Push it real good." But in the lesser-known rebuttal to "Push It," L'Trimm instructs us to "Grab it like [we] want it." The first few lines are as follows:

You say you want to push it but your pushing is through

Let's push you aside and show you what to do

You got to grab it, grab it like you want it

And then later in the song: "So take a lesson, and I hope you learn/That if you push it, it might not return." Listen to the songs, and please share your thoughts. Be sure to listen to "Push It" first, then "Grab It".

The Cluetrain Manifesto and Business and Technical Writing Classes

Okay, I've been thinking about this for months now, so I might as well blog about it. Here's my question: Does anyone teaching business writing and/or technical writing assign The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business as Usual? Based on what I know, my guess would be that either very few teachers assign it, or no one does. (If I'm wrong, please tell me; please set me straight.) So who cares, you might ask. Why are you sweatin' it, Clancy?

For me, it's about the disconnect between the way writing is taught and the way writing is, especially when it comes to business and technical writing. The Cluetrain Manifesto has been called "the most important book about communication written in the last 30 years." Many bloggers and other webby cognoscenti divide the world into pre-Cluetrain and post-Cluetrain. I'm not trying to say that Cluetrain should be treated as some sort of tech comm Bible or anything, but clearly it's a very important book worth at least reading and discussing in business and technical writing classes. I know it's not written by academic rhetoricians, but I think it ought to be assigned. I've been thinking about writing a review of it and sending it to the Journal of Business and Technical Communication. (Of course, if someone has already reviewed it for that journal, I'm going to feel like a real heel...a pleasantly surprised heel, though.) Consider some of the "95 Theses":

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