Saturday, April 30, 2005

The End of Poetry Month

April began with the NAACP ACT-SO competition. It's held at MC and I've participated in it for years-- first, as a sponsor in the high schools, and then as a judge at the college. Generally, I wind up judging poetry. This year was no exception, and it was hard to choose a winner. Really. My only quibble is that there needs to be two categories for poetry: written and spoken. It's difficult to judge the best poem when one is written and shows a keen sense of the conventions of written poetry, and the other looks sloppy on the page, but when spoken comes to life in a burst of energy and meaning.

And the month ended with poetry reading at school--part of a year-long series. I read with another colleague, and we were both introduced by a fellow teacher who did us the honor of writing limericks about us. I give him props for using "pirana" and "manna" to rhyme with "joanna," thereby avoiding the much -used "banana."

I read four poems that I'd been working on this past year, including "Song of a Nobody, or, Walt Imitates Emily," which got a quite a laugh.

Would love to write more, but I hear those essays calling me to be graded.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

The Sounds of Silence

Must be the end of the semester. It's awfully quiet around here.

Sunday, April 24, 2005


How come the spellcheck for Blogger catches the word "blogger" as misspelled? I mean . . .wouldn't ya think?

Thursday, April 21, 2005

With the End in Sight, Thoughts on Next Semester

I think one of my primary coping mechanisms for end-of-the-semester burnout and craziness is to start thinking about the next semester--what I'll do better, what I'll do new, what I'll undoubtedly end up doing the same (though Aunt Joanna's tonic sounds promising, too). Somehow, the paper grind at the end and its accompanying disappointment as I discover how many students just didn't get "there" is easier to deal with if i fantasize about the future. So, I've been thinking about the fall and some of things I'm looking forward to doing, like teaching Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried and Diana Son's Stop Kiss. But mostly I've been thinking about whether or not to blog in the classroom, and if so, in what manner--individual student blogs, group blogs, a community blog, etc.

There's been a lot of talk recently--much of which I haven't fully read yet from lack of time--about whether blogging is best for what we do here: connect as academics who teach in a particular discipline. As someone who started blogging because it looked like a great classroom tool but then became a blogger for its own sake, I have to admit that I'm leaning toward that philosophy--that blogging works best in spaces like these. But am I right?

I want you guys to help me decide whether to use blogs in the fall, so I'm asking. Who intends to blog in the classroom in their next semester and in what form? And why?

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

And Now a Word From Our Sponsor


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"Slippery salesperson," you ask," what is in Sabbatackle that makes it so darned effective? Well, Aunt Joanna refuses to say, but this much I can tell you: Made with only the finest snake oil, Sabbatackle cannot be gotten in any pharmacy here in the US. Not legally.

But I digress.

And so will you! So will you! All it takes is a bottle of Aunt Joanna's Sabbatackle Tonic to put some perk in your work and pep in your stride. It'll unclog your blog and light up your links.

[Hope that you all are having a calm end-of-semester, ; ) Joanna]

Sunday, April 17, 2005

BlogHer Conference

In its first year, this conference is for women bloggers from all walks of life. If you want more information, go here.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Blogging Thoughts, Week Two, Down From The Clouds

I decided that instead of one main blog, I'd have the students use Blogger and create their own blogs. Already I can see that I don't want to use Blogger again because I want something that would hang together as a course platform and give us more options. I'm asking you all to let me know what you use with your classes.

The students, however, got into the spirit of blogging, and I think that for the four-week experiment that this will be, we'll be fine.

Lanette Cadle has created a website for a 4C's workshop that she participated in called "Promoting Student Success With Digital Tools: Remediating Access,"
and I'm parking myself there this summer. Now that I've figured out what I'm doing in a networked classroom and how to blog, my next step is to figure out what blogging is doing for my networked classroom. Lanette's website offers some concrete direction.

At Composition Southeast, Sharon Gerald responds to Will Hochman's article in IHE. She makes some sound points about how the lack of technology, funding, and training makes the issues raised by many of us seem moot. It shouldn't be that way--what can we do as a profession to address the issue and push for change?

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Call for Materials Re: Visual Rhetoric

Please note the following request from Kathleen Hardiman at Red Rocks Community College:
I'm currently working on a website project as part of a technology-related Fellowship and I'm in the process of collecting material related to visual rhetoric (aka visual literacy) exercises. This website will be a useful portal offering resources in writing, literature, and creative writing geared toward community college instructors.

If you have any exercises that bring visual or popular culture into your classroom, I'd love to add them to my growing archive. These can be handouts, worksheets, or just ideas that have proved successful.

Please email any exercises to Many thanks!!

Monday, April 04, 2005

Blog Observation

This past week I've had too much of a good thing, writing for four different blogs, and while I'm sure that there's a paper waiting to be written about the experience, I'll hold off doing on it.

One thought that I've been gnawing on for the past month has been the idea of blogging bringing about something new by way of critical thought. I have gathered that most teachers using blogs in the classroom have not seen blogging move beyond being like a discussion list, and that we haven't had what I believe Jocalo termed the "AHA!" moment with blogging.

But I think we're getting there--Mike E. has been speculating about comments on blogs, and Steve Krause, responds by observing that the string of comments following Mike's post seem more like "letters to the editor" than conversations or discussions. Meanwhile, over at Yellow Dog, Jeff is "ragging" on an article about teaching with technology that appeared in Inside Higher Education for not going far enough in thinking beyond the computer as a tool. And to round things out, Jocalowrites today about distinguishing between information that should be kept to oneself or be part of public knowledge.

Here are my hazy thoughts:
In order to analyze how a blog functions, I think you have to analyze a blog community,or a series of blogs, not just one. It's not even enough to think of the multiple responses and responders on a single blog, or that they have left their blog address with their message. We have to look at the idea and see where it has been, what happens to it, how many blogs it has been picked up on, the kinds of blogs that pick it up, and so on. And then, the conclusions that you make, well, that's where I'm stumped. Do I ask my students to blog about Fathering Words as a prewriting or prereading tool or do I ask them to blog about it to blog? Do I use blogging as an end in itself even though I, a Sputnik baby, have no idea what that end is? And then do I teach another book in a more "traditional" way, sans blog, as a way of contrasting the experience of working out ideas about books? I just might.

I think, too, if we look at the conversations on blogs, we have to keep in mind that the discussion may start here, move on to another blog, garner some comments there and some mentions on other blogs and then return. For instance, during the faux hoax of Laura Krishna last week, I responded to some of Mike's ideas on his blog and then at Rhetoric and Democracy and finally back at Vitia. The tenor and tone of my comments varied, but I was aware that I was talking to him, and I can see how Steve K could view some of the comments at Vitia as being like a letter to the editor, as I wasn't connecting to comments from the others. (though I'd read them. Every one ; ) )

I can hear one of my grad school profs asking, "So what?" And right now I shrug and respond "I don't know. But I'll find out."

Always Thinking,


Saturday, April 02, 2005

The Research Paper

In what course(s), if any, do you teach "the research paper," and how exactly do you define that term?