#WYOA: week two

The third week is over, and I’m just now writing about the second week. This is an ominous sign.

Monday was lost to Labor Day—nice to have a long weekend, but it has always seemed counter-productive to take the second Monday of the semester off.

Wednesday we diagrammed sentences. I decided to add this exercise after reading this Opinionator piece; I’d intended to practice over the summer, maybe teach my ten-year-old how to diagram, but that didn’t happen. So when I walked in, I sort of knew what I was doing, but not really—and the students knew about as much as I did. In spite of our collective ignorance, class went pretty well: the students were fairly involved—some of them, anyway—which doesn’t always happen for me. I was trying to reinforce some ideas from Fish’s How to Write a Sentence (which the students did not like, btw)—specifically the idea that a sentence is a structure of logical relationships—but I’m not sure how much of that I got across. We’ll probably diagram some more sentences later, if/when I have clearer idea how to do it.

Friday … what did we do on Friday? *consults notes* Wait, apparently we diagrammed sentences on Friday, not Wednesday … so what did we do Wednesday? *consults other notes*

Oh, right. Wednesday I tried to get them talking about a number of things—the rhetorical triangle, their introductory emails, the xkcd assignmentHow to Write a Sentence … I did most of the talking, I think, which rarely makes for a good class. I did find out that they perceived the “introductory email” assignment as “casual,” which surprised me. I’d intended it to be a bit intimidating—I gave them very little direction, just “send me an email introducing yourself,” and I thought that would be anxiety-producing (but, you know, in a good way). Of course, I’d also told them the story of getting thrown out of college the first time I was an undergrad, so…

Finally, I assigned their first paper—a book or movie review—and had them hunt down three example reviews. They had varying levels of success with this, corresponding to how closely they were listening when I told them what I wanted. After some editing, we had a list of thirty or so, of which they had to read about a dozen, and which we talked about during the third week.

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