Philosophical Thoughts

Interactive Compositional Classrooms

Active Learning

One of the courses I am taking this semester focuses on compositional pedagogy in high school and college settings. As I prepare to enter an English 1101 classroom next fall as part of my graduate-level training, I am beginning to strengthen and hone in on my philosophical approach. Each week consists of required readings and analysis of those readings to include “takeaways.” As a student, sometimes it seems like an over-abundance of information while searching for the needle in a haystack, so to speak, or rather, the fundamental components of classroom pedagogy that resonate in some way with one’s perceived educational platform. However, that moment when you read something that seems to vibrate on a frequency so profound that you want to shout with excitement, is, well, EXCITING!

Discovering Your Frequency

Chris M. Anson’s discussion found in chapter one of First-Year Composition: From Theory to Practice is one such piece for me. Anson discusses a pedagogical approach known as WAW (Writing About Writing – see video below), which defines and addresses writing as a process. Following the WAW approach, the focus is less about the ability to write and more “ . . . on thinking about the thinking that writing involves . . .” Anson further states, “Developing ‘mindfulness’ and meta-cognitive awareness becomes one of the most important aims . . .” (5).

Wardle and Downs (WAW)

Any many of you know, last semester involved studying Adler-Kassner and Wardle’s threshold concepts from Naming What We Know, specifically, threshold concept five: Writing is (Also Always) a Cognitive Activity. As I read through Anson’s excerpt, I found myself shaking my head, yes! over and over. Anson structures his classroom to feature “extensive, low-stakes and reflective writings” (6). This process of giving students many opportunities to participate in “low-stakes” writing is something I most definitely want to incorporate in the classroom. I feel as though “de-stigmatizing” the process of writing is essential for students to become comfortable with approaching writing as a process —not something that is easy for those that enjoy writing but a process that writers of all levels can use to develop the skill.

I believe just about every college student has experienced the “PowerPoint lecture” classroom design that seems to go on for eternity. No matter how awake you may feel or how artistically designed the presentation may be, the lights dim, and the eyes get heavy. The advancement of classroom technology and the emergence of digital course discussion boards demand a change in how the class time is structured. When I read Anson’s “course delivery reversal” (CDR) (10) design, I wanted to jump up and down. Instead of professors spending the entire class period lecturing in front of the students, Anson takes an interactive approach. Presentations can be posted to the online digital boards, and students then have the opportunity to engage, discuss, and learn through interactive projects. My goal is to incorporate this same type of pedagogy in my English composition classroom. Since writing is known to be a social and rhetorical activity, the more time students spend conversing, the more enhanced the process of writing will become. Below is a video where Anson discusses the importance of this concept in regards to interaction between teachers and students in the field of writing.

Chris Anson – 2013 CCCC Convention Interview

Works Cited

Adler-Kassner, Linda, and Elizabeth Wardle, editors. Naming What We Know: Threshold Concepts of Writing Studies, Classroom Edition. Utah State University Press, 2016.

Anson, Chris M. “Writing, Language, and Literacy.” First-Year Composition: From Theory to Practice, edited by Coxwell-Teague, Deborah and Ronald F. Lunsford, Parlor Press, 2014, pp. 3-19.

“Chris Anson – 2013 CCCC Convention Interview.” YouTube, uploaded by NCTEvideo, 19 March 2013, youtube.com/watch?v=Bd12JROKWJ4.

Clker-Free-Vector-Images. Pixabay, 2020, pixabay.com/vectors/teachers-meeting-books-reading-23820/.

Coxwell-Teague, Deborah, and Ronald F. Lunsford, editors. First-Year Composition: From Theory to Practice. Parlor Press, 2014.

Geralt. Pixabay, 2020, pixabay.com/illustrations/banner-header-person-silhouette-997373/.

“Meet the Authors of Writing About Writing.” YouTube, uploaded by Macmillan Learning, 1 November 2014, youtube.com/watch?v=UDyPE2IMD68.

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