I love teaching English 101. Students get college credit for the first semester of English composition in college, and they satisfy their high school junior or senior English credit at the same time. And, thanks to Advanced Opportunities, it costs them nothing.
They understand the trade-off, though: there’s a lot of homework and outside-of-class reading, which the “normal” English classes don’t require. Consequently, the students are often a little stressed but they see the value and don’t complain to me about the work. They hold themselves accountable, and I don’t have to. I love seeing them come to realize that and — with very few exceptions — grow and prosper as people.
My favorite unit in this year-long course (in college, this course is done in one semester, but I take all year and incorporate other things in it, and we get a bit more time on some of the more complex material) is the Digital Story unit. Students create a blog intended to “sell” their intended college major. The blog gives them an authentic space to synthesize material we’ve worked on for the first three quarters of the year: rhetorical moves, argumentation, use of evidence, narrative structures, documentation, recursive composition process, metanoic revision, and more. They can choose their own “theme” and when and where to include audio and visual elements. Plus, they “get” to figure out how to use a digital platform such as a blog that is much more complex and taxing than Snapchatting or Facebooking (some on the more technophobic end of the spectrum learn from the “nerdier” of the bunch). They also peer review each other’s blogs, and I’ve been impressed with the constructive level of their comments. And, although I don’t usually do this in classes, I have a competition for the “most effective” blog (a combination of views, visitors, followers, and comments). This year we’ve got a class with a few hard-nosed competitors who are making it fun. Take a look at their blogs, and feel free to comment on any of them. Thanks for reading!