Day One…

What’s on the agenda for EN102 and EN200 today? Well, I’d like to start thinking about the coursework right off the bat–it’s always best, in my book, to begin challenging the class so as to set a productive tone. Especially in composition 2, where students generally need practice with managing time and approaching tasks effectively. But we’re also going to be watching a lot of films in that class, and I’ve learned from previous terms that requiring outside meetings can prove difficult–I’ve set aside time in class to watch our four films this term, or at least excerpts of them.

Today, in 102, I want to begin learning names and transforming the classroom into a comfortable space for discussion–but also into a challenging workspace. I want to start by having students introduce themselves and say a few words about their knowledge of the 1920s. Then, I’ll ask each student to write a similar introduction, so we can begin discussing some of the differences between spoken and written language (but also addressing some of the misconceptions about writing!). I also want to introduce the first assignment generally, paying special attention to the “no verb to be” clause; finally, I think it would be fun to challenge the students, in groups, to rewrite someone’s introduction without any verbs to be. For homework, reading the syllabus, visiting facebook and our wiki, the first project sheet, and the “Introduction” from The Modern Temper.

In Elements of Literary Study, I’m really excited to see what my students can do with a single poem, in a sort of diagnostic activity. We’ll be working with Stanley Kunitz’s “Among the Gods,” so as to begin introducing a few key themes of the course and techniques of close reading. After introducing ourselves, giving a basic overview of the course materials, and reading the poem aloud, I’d like them to begin discussing the poem in pairs, taking notes on the poem to look forward to the first part of the explication project. Then, individually each student will write for 10-15 minutes on the poem, trying to observe as many details as possible while beginning to suggest effects of those choices. I also need to show them the Literature Resource Center Online, to set up for the first homework assignment.

Don’t forget to go over the course technologies, either!

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