Monday, September 03, 2012

The Shape of Things to Come

I'm teaching two new (or newish) classes this semester.  One is a senior seminar in early modern lit.  I've taught the senior seminar a lot, so I've got a good idea of how to balance various aspects of that, even though I've never taught this iteration.  And I haven't taught all the plays we'll be reading, though I've taught a couple of them in other contexts.

Still, I've got the whole course pretty much planned out.  I know when assignments will be due, how peer editing will fit, how one sort of assignment should build towards another assignment, and so on.  I have a sense of the whole shape of the course, if that makes sense, and how various parts are supposed to work with each other.  That doesn't mean things won't change or work differently than I expect, but I have a sense of having planned through the semester.  I've thought things through a fair bit, and have ideas of where I'm trying to go.

The second new class is comp.  I'm part of the second wave of a pilot program for a totally new comp course (which I've talked a little about previously).  We have to pick themes, and build the program through the theme, but the program is way bigger than the theme.

We had a week of professional development about it, and in that time I was pretty much able to map out the first two thirds of the course, pretty much.  But that last third, totally unmapped.

The pilots of the pilot have told us to do that, to leave the last third very open at this point.  And I understand that.  But it still makes me uncomfortable and wary.

I've planned out the basics of most of the assignments, and have the grading percentages together.  But that last part makes me a bit nervous.

And even within the first part (which I haven't had copied to hand out yet), I think there are things I need to change.  For example, for a long time now, I've done an exercise to get students to think about essays as essays.  We read two short samples, one a single paragraph making a point, the other five clumps of sentences, all more or less about the topic, but not really paragraphs, and not making a point.  The idea is to get students to think about making a point, recognizing that five clumps of sentences doesn't necessarily make an essay, and so on.  Do I drop that?  It doesn't quite fit in with the pilot.  On the other hand, it's really valuable to get students to understand that five paragraphs is not going to cut it as an essay for most college assignments.

I need to go over the calendar for the first weeks and really think about it some more. 

I haven't been very good at getting work done while the guests are here.  It's not their fault, more that I've been procrastinating.  The semester starts tomorrow!  Ack!

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