Josh Scheidler (recommended by Brian Gogan) is pursuing his MA in English with an emphasis on Medieval Language and Literature at Western Michigan University (WMU). He expects to finish in May 2021. He teaches WMU's first-year writing course, Thought and Writing, as a graduate teaching assistant. His research interests include ethics and politics in medieval literature, first-year writing pedagogy, rhetorical analysis, and new materialist environmental rhetoric.
What is your greatest teaching challenge? Right now, connecting with students the way I could face-to-face is proving to be challenging. There are often delays in internet connection that create a distance between students and their peers, and students and me, which also proves challenging. Right now, I’m working with students to help them become familiar with online spaces and how to navigate that learning curve; I know it took me a period of time to become acclimated to the online infrastructure we use in our program. But the work I’m doing with students to familiarize them with our online platforms and the resources we are using for remote instruction has allowed some connection with students. I’ve been pleasantly surprised that students have reached out to me, and one even called me early in the semester. Making connections online is challenging—especially considering we are working from a distance and with seemingly indiscriminate internet lag—but the vast amount of energy needed to build and sustain relationships requires us to be all in.
How will online or remote learning affect your teaching? Remote learning is slow. The first two class sessions I have in Fall 2020 are 75 minutes each, but time has seemed to just disappear with these classes. It’s almost as if class is over just as soon as we’ve started. So, I am trying to give students exercises and activities that don’t ask them to traverse the various online platforms we are using so their time can be spent writing rather than navigating unfamiliar places. Remote teaching has truly highlighted the necessity of a writing instructor, or indeed any instructor, to demonstrate everything , give clear instructions, and explain what is being asked of students simply and thoroughly. The many ways to miscommunicate or misunderstand with online learning underscores the need to continue practicing with and developing written communication skills. Remote learning is making me work harder to ensure my students are given instruction and practice that will help them develop useful skills for the future.
What projects or course materials from Bedford/St. Martin's most pique your interest, and why? What is exciting to you about Achieve and why? I think Achieve is really cool. Being able to view a timeline and visualize progression through the peer review process is extremely helpful and can give students a way to plan their homework more efficiently. Having to finish one step before moving to the next step is critical in making sure students take the time they need to complete one task before moving to another task. Most importantly, though, the timeline functions as a visualization of a writing process, which is crucial for those who think writing is nothing but a product or a paper turned in for credit. It can demonstrate writing to be something that is shaped by place, time, iteration or need.
The depth of the revision planning in Achieve is absolutely fantastic. I enjoy there being a built-in reflection too. That there is an entire process for writing that is streamlined in this way — with revision plans built from peer reviews and a means for clearly tracking the changes from one iteration of the writing to the next — is incredibly useful for gauging student progress, development, and need. Having all of this integrated with an online learning platform or LMS is awesome to me. It really deals with the problem that I’ve encountered where students are being asked to go from one platform to the next, with peer review in one place and assignments submitted for a grade in another; this back-and-forth gets confusing for students and takes valuable time away from writing and developing successful writing habits. The activities that students have to do online should not obscure their endeavor to learn writing.
Josh's Assignment that Works During the Bedford New Scholars Summit, each member presented an assignment that had proven successful or innovative in their classroom. Below is a brief synopsis of Josh's assignment. For the full activity, see Paragraph Cohesion Activity.
This activity asks students to consider how paragraphs work with one another at the sentence level. The goals of the assignment are two-fold: I want students to practice working with another to solve writing problems, and I want to play an enjoyable game in class with students to give them individualized instruction when they need it. This activity approximates the peer review students will engage in with each other to determine what works in writing. It also lets me practice working with students somewhat individually, despite being in groups. This activity is something I do near the beginning of the semester as students are still developing relationships with one another and with me, and it has helped students to become comfortable working with one another.
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Kalyn Prince (recommended by Roxanne Mountford) is pursuing her PhD in English with a concentration in Rhetoric and Writing Studies at the University of Oklahoma. She serves as the Senior Assistant Director of First-Year Composition and teaches first-year writing. She has also co-taught a composition theory survey course for graduate students in the OU English Department. Her research interests include public argumentation, nostalgia as ethos, and rhetorical analysis.
How does the next generation of students inspire you? I’m constantly impressed by my students’ inclination towards advocacy—both personal advocacy and advocacy for others. My students are not content to learn about rhetoric and writing in the abstract. They want to engage in the world and find solutions to the problems we discuss in the classroom. From Black Lives Matter to TikTok, this group of students actively takes a stand on injustice and is uniquely capable of doing so with their various social literacies. My job as their teacher is to help them think critically about the issues they care about, teaching them to thoughtfully analyze the arguments and stakeholders in the issue and consider their own unique abilities to intervene.
How do you hope higher education will change in the next ten years? My hope is that higher education will follow the lead of this generation and find better ways to leave the classroom. In the time of COVID-19 and worldwide Black Lives Matter protests, it can come as no shock that composition studies cannot only reside in the university. So many of us enter into higher education—both as students and instructors—hoping to make meaningful change for the communities we care about, but instead our work gets trapped in the halls of the university, never to breathe the air outside. It is my hope that those of us in higher education will continue to intervene in public discourse from our place in the university and that we will increasingly find ways of becoming scholar activists, joining our students in understanding and crafting arguments that will have a real-world impact.
What is it like to be a part of the Bedford New Scholars program? Being part of the Bedford New Scholars program has been such a rewarding experience. It’s been so encouraging to work with other graduate students with whom I share research and teaching interests, discovering that they have the same goals and frustrations that I do! The Scholars have shared insight from their home institutions’ writing programs, which provides a unique opportunity to get a sense of what is going on in composition classrooms across the nation. It’s uplifting to discover our mutual hopes and concerns for teaching composition in 2020 and exciting to think that these passionate, brilliant Scholars will be directing writing programs in the future. I’ve also loved getting to work with the editorial team at Bedford/St. Martin’s as they guide us through textbook, program, and catalog reviews. They consistently impress me with their thoughtfulness and intentionality, time and time again thinking of incredible solutions to challenges we face in the writing classroom and designing course materials that our students can find accessible and instructive. The entire experience has been a delight, and I’m so grateful to have this opportunity.
How will the Bedford New Scholars program affect your professional development or your classroom practice? This program has inspired me to be more intentional in how I craft my classroom activities. During our Summit Week, Kendra N. Bryant ran a session on teaching philosophies and Shelley Reid ran a session on assignment design. What both of these sessions had in common was emphasizing the imperativeness of having classroom practices that match teaching philosophies and student learning goals. While this should seem obvious, it can be easy to lose sight of our ultimate goals when building small classroom activities or homework assignments. But just because our project or essay assignments are sound doesn’t mean the rest of the course is. The Bedford New Scholars program has reignited my concern for backwards design in lesson planning and inspired me to be even more intentional in crafting smaller activities to ensure that I’m giving students every opportunity to thoroughly develop critical thinking skills that will allow them to make change in the world.
Kalyn’s Assignment that Works
During the Bedford New Scholars Summit, each member presented an assignment that had proven successful or innovative in their classroom. Below is a brief synopsis of Kalyn's assignment. For the full activity, see Synthesizing Primary Research.
I’ve found that when I ask students to engage with real-world social/political groups or organizations, they often have trouble synthesizing all of their primary research, secondary research, and analysis. Such synthesis is crucial for students to be able to develop in critical thinking, understand the nuances of a group’s political engagement, and consider their own stake in these issues. To help them practice synthesis, I run students through this scaffolding activity where they begin to consider how synthesis works in documentary-style television shows. Students watch a clip of Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown (any documentary-style clip could work) and then respond to a series of questions regarding the different research components being synthesized in the segment. For this activity, you can customize the questions and materials to better fit with your classroom language and the skills you’ve been developing with your students.
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Christopher Peace (recommended by Louis M. Maraj, on behalf of DBLAC) is pursuing a PhD in English with a concentration in Rhetoric and Composition at the University of Kansas. He expects to finish in May 2022. He currently teaches Composition 102 and plans to teach a 203 course on Digital Storytelling in Fall 2020. He has also taught online first-year composition and world literature. His research interests include rhetorical genre studies, (African-derived) religious rhetorics, writing ecologies, spatial rhetorics, digital storytelling/mythmaking, and ecocomposition. He also serves as a professional tutor for the KU Gear Up program and is an affiliate of the Project on the History of Black Writing.
What do you think is the most important recent development in teaching composition? The recent materialist turn in rhetoric and composition is important for teaching composition because it provides language to describe the multifaceted spatial dimensions of language and composition. Engaging with the spatial dimension of language is articulated through genre, which is the dimensions of typified communication that responds to the rhetorical situation. Rhetorical genre theory and mapping allows for a spatial engagement with composition in innovative ways, especially for multimodal composition. I’m interested in multigenre projects in composition: writers compose in multiple genres that are connected rhetorically, and they explain how different genres circulate differently in discourse communities. I think projects like this ask students to engage materially with certain discourse.
One of the most important pedagogical shifts in composition studies has been the move from product-centered teaching to process-centered teaching. Instead of student writers focusing on the product of writing, process-centered pedagogy focuses on the multiple processes that occur during the act of writing. A focus on materiality expands on the situatedness of writing in an academic context, and I think it has given students more options in completing the tasks they must solve in coursework.
What is your greatest teaching challenge? My proposed class for the Fall semester was canceled due to low enrollment, and I am now teaching a Professional Writing class. The Professional Writing course is divided into two eight-week online courses, and the modules for the courses are already set up for me. Therefore, I don't have as much control with this course as I did with my proposed course. I have some control over the syllabus, but my department has suggested that I shouldn’t change anything because everything is already set up for the online course.
Currently, my difficulties with teaching involve moving around content to make it more comfortable for me to navigate. With the syllabus already designed, it feels like I have to learn just as much as the students, and it places me in a less stable situation when speaking through the course material. This course is generally online, but I want to make sure my students access the learning goals of this course in a way that is just as effective as an in-person course. I enjoy small-group conferences, so I will definitely find a way to implement that more into this online course.
What is it like to be a part of the Bedford New Scholars program? I’m sure my experience with the Bedford New Scholars program has been unique due to the current pandemic, but our distanced situation hasn’t stopped the success of the program. Reviewing Everything’s an Argument was one of my first experiences as a Bedford New Scholar. First of all, I was surprised that my opinion mattered enough to be asked to review a well-known textbook. I’m really excited to be a part of that process as an upcoming academic, and an instructor who teaches argumentation frequently in composition courses. I believe that reviewing textbooks at this level is necessary for the cultural inclusion needed in the texts we normalize in academia.
The BNS Summit was engaging and made me aware of my pedagogical leanings. It was really great to share teaching experiences with other Scholars. Although we couldn’t meet physically, the breakout sessions during the summit were personal and added a layer of closeness needed to have a successful experience. I didn’t feel out of place when it came to interactions with others. I know this experience will be beneficial to my future in rhetoric and composition, and to any editorial opportunities that may come my way.
What have you learned from other Bedford New Scholars? I learned the most from other Bedford New Scholars during the summit. During the “Assignments that Work,” I learned a lot of practical moves from other Scholars. One Scholar reviewed a student information sheet—I had never thought to do the assignment in the way the Scholar presented it, especially since the assignment was geared toward preferred learning styles. I think more assessments like this could impact how my semester is set up toward the beginning of the course. I enjoyed another Scholar’s assignment that scaffolded synthesizing primary research by asking students to identify the rhetorical situations present in interviews, observations, and analyses. I’m always looking for ways to make primary research easier for students to follow, so having them see another person do primary research is a great way to explore synthesis.
I liked sharing our teaching philosophies as well. The philosophies were articulated in multiple ways, and I gained several ideas about the complexities of my own dispositions to teaching. As Dr. Kendra Bryant mentioned, “philosophy” is about the love of knowledge. Being with a group of scholars to talk through the inspirational and emotional impulses of our teaching philosophies helped me articulate why I’m on this journey of completing this doctoral degree.
Christopher Peace’s Assignment that Works
During the Bedford New Scholars Summit, each member presented an assignment that had proven successful or innovative in their classroom. Below is a brief synopsis of Christopher's assignment. For the full activity, see Multigenre Dystopian Invention.
The Multigenre Dystopian Project is a multigenre project that asks students to invent a dystopian society through the creation of multiple genres. A dystopia is often characterized by an authoritarian or totalitarian form of governing and normalized social control of space, with seen or unseen intentions. It suggests different kinds of repressive social control systems, a lack or total absence of individual freedoms and expressions, and a state of constant warfare or violence. In this multigenre project, students create an original (as possible) dystopian society using written and visual genres. They come up with a fictional (or twistedly realistic) place that is intended to be perfect but has gone wrong due to some external reasons. Students invent social media, medical, and legal genres that express tension between the governing body and protesting citizens. This project aims to connect rhetoric of place and space with genres of writing, power, and control. I like this project because students combine rhetoric, creative writing, and literature together in a way that is unlike the standard essay—students are usually excited to be as multimodal as possible when creating different genres for their dystopias.
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Sierra Mendez (recommended by Diane Davis) is pursuing a PhD in Rhetoric and Writing at the University of Texas at Austin. She expects to finish in May 2022. Sierra currently teaches a custom RHE 309K course entitled "Rhetoric of Texas" and serves as Assistant Director for the D.R.W.'s Digital Writing and Research Lab. In the past, she has taught "Introduction to Rhetoric and Composition" and served on the Lower Division Curriculum Committee. Before beginning her doctoral program, Sierra worked for three years for a museum branch of the San Antonio Public Library, creating educational community-based resources, installations, and programming. Her research interests concern border, material, visual, and memory rhetorics: specifically, the historical and ongoing constitution of Mexicanx bodies via narratives held both tenuously and powerfully across San Antonio’s urban space.
How will online or remote learning affect your teaching? The sudden and total switch to online instruction in the last year has been an enormous challenge for students and teachers. Luckily, I have worked at U.T.’s Digital Writing & Research Lab for four years, so I have spent time thinking about engaging, accessible online content and learning about necessary equipment and softwares. This shift is still an enormous challenge for me. I like to create malleable classrooms that respond to what is happening in the news, in student’s lives, and in our classroom in real time. In a traditional setting, I depend on face-to-face interaction with and between my students to know their struggles and interests. Moving online, however, requires content be produced ahead of time. In some ways, this is good because I am learning to be more structured and methodical (a hilarious notion, if you know me). It also means I hear more from students who are not as comfortable speaking aloud in class. In other ways, this is not good because it means my pre-recorded lectures have less room to respond to the news, to students’ lives, and to what our classroom is being. This fall, particularly, will be an enormous challenge because I’m teaching Intro to Visual Rhetoric: #2020PresidentialElection — topics that require response.
How does the next generation of students inspire you? This generation of students faces enormous challenges. I am constantly moved by their willingness to engage in spite of the upheaval that surrounds them. This past spring, I fully expected after Spring Break this past year for most of my class to just say “eff this” and quit turning work in or turn in shoddy work; I wouldn’t have blamed any of them for doing so. But none of them did. They continued to participate in class activities and small group discussions via Zoom; they continued to respond thoughtfully to writing assignments, many of them turning in better work than they had previously; and they continued to seek out help through office hours and meetings. This generation of students, perhaps because of their exposure to social media and constant political chaos, seems much more willing and able than my generation to engage with complexity and to engage with humanity’s multiplicities.
What have you learned from other Bedford New Scholars? I deeply appreciated learning from other instructors at Bedford New Scholars. I wish we had been able to spend more time talking one-on-one, but I know that is an experience not easily replicable online. I appreciated the group’s commitment to students as individuals. There was very real concern for who each student is and where they come from and what they need. There was very real attention to socio-economic backgrounds and issues of race, gender, and sexual orientation that produce often unchecked inequity in the classroom. Also, our guest speakers Kendra N. Bryant and Shelley Reid, were both incredible to listen to.
What is exciting to you about Achieve and why? I am very excited about the feedback process enabled by Achieve. Most commonly-implemented online learning systems seem to conceive of paper feedback as an afterthought, but Achieve implements the paper into its design as an ongoing process. I am interested in how Achieve could help support portfolio-style and other nontraditional grading systems that don’t insist on the assignment of an opaque yet completely subjective letter grade.
Sierra’s Assignment That Works
During the Bedford New Scholars Summit, each member presented an assignment that had proven successful or innovative in their classroom. Below is a brief synopsis of Sierra's assignment. For the full activity, see Drawing Arguments (Prewriting Activity).
I like to do this pre-writing class activity in the final unit of class. It’s fun and it helps students generate ideas and structure for their final argumentative essay and accompanying argumentative infographic. Prior to this activity, students should generally know what they want to write/argue about. In this activity, to loosen up their brains, students start by drawing an object (a unicorn, Batman, whatever) for increasingly shorter increments of time. At the end of this first part, they will have four versions of the object with different degrees of detail and, somewhere in there, something recognizable as the essence of the object. I always let them talk to each other about what they’ve made/discovered and share with the class if they want. This kind of drawing and forced quick thinking gets their brains moving and raises room energy. It also helps them think about the pieces that make a thing. The activity then asks students to go through the same steps again but, this time, writing about their argument for increasingly shorter periods of time. When they are done, they will have their topic, something like a thesis, primary paragraph claims, and key details and evidence. I’ve done this activity with undergraduate and graduate students. It seems to help most people think more creatively and openly about their argument.
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L. Corinne Jones(recommended by Lissa Pompous Mansfield) is completing her PhD in Texts and Technology with an emphasis in Rhetoric and Composition at the University of Central Florida (UCF), where she expects to finish in Spring 2021. She currently teaches Composition II (Writing about Writing and Research Writing); in Fall 2020, she anticipates teaching Business and Technical Communication. She also works as a legal writing adjunct at Barry University (Law School). Previously, she has taught Composition I (introductory writing) at UCF, as well as First-Year composition for conditionally admitted students at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Additionally, she has worked extensively in writing centers. Her research interests include digital rhetoric; circulation studies; digital, qualitative, mixed methods and methodologies; and feminist and queer studies.
How does the next generation of students inspire you?
The next generation of students inspire me in so many ways. While I have only had the pleasure to teach this next generation of students for a few years now, I am particularly impressed with not only how resilient and determined my students are, but also how civic-minded and socially and politically active they are. My own students have faced incredible challenges both before and during the transition to online learning, and they have all overcome those challenges with both grace and tenacity. However, my own students and the next generation of students generally have consistently not let their challenges define them; instead they have turned these challenges into rhetorically and civically productive spaces for change. In my limited experience, this next generation of students is concerned with not only earning a passing grade, but with developing skills to use as they become agents of larger systemic changes.
How do you hope higher education will change in the next ten years?
Relatedly, I hope that higher education responds to this next generation of students and their needs, both at their local institutions and more systemically. Though my students have proven that they can overcome challenges, I recognize that suggesting that success is achieved solely through individual will and hard work overlooks the neoliberal ideologies about individualism and the white supremacist systems that undergird higher education. So, I hope that higher education will respond to students’ stated needs, and I hope that higher education will work to actively change policies that negatively impact current students, prospective students, and the communities in which colleges and universities are embedded. This might include rethinking things like standardized tests, as we are already seeing some universities do. Ultimately, I hope that higher education both reflects and serves the larger community.
For those who work in higher education, I would also like to see higher education shift to recognize and value different types of labor and to compensate non-tenure track faculty and graduate student workers fairly and according to this unrecognized labor. Part of this change might also include shifting to valuing interdisciplinary work that traverses traditional disciplinary boundaries and expectations.
What is it like to be a part of the Bedford New Scholars program?
Being part of the Bedford New Scholars program was an enlightening experience; first, I had the opportunity to learn about other programs and approaches to teaching writing. I loved having the opportunity to learn about the other scholars’ creative and smart assignments that they created to address their particular institutional contexts and students. Just as importantly, I appreciated hearing their rationales and reasoning behind their design choices as their explanations sparked new ideas for me and my own classroom assignments and practices. They all challenged me to rethink and reevaluate my own practices to try to better meet the needs of my own students.
Second, I appreciated learning about the publishing process. I found it helpful to learn about the layered decisions that publishers make when choosing a topic for a textbook, as well as when deciding on the content, chapters, and skills covered in those textbooks. It helps me to know more about the decisions, affordances, and constraints, which educational publishing companies face in developing new materials because now I have a better understanding of what to expect.
How will the Bedford New Scholars program affect your professional development or your classroom practice?
The Bedford New Scholars Program has affected my professional development and classroom practices in a number of ways. First, and most obviously, it has given me a lot of new ideas and things to think about as I move forward on my own pedagogical path. As I noted above, I was very impressed with the fellow scholars’ assignments, as well as their thoughtful approaches to classroom practices more generally. Moving forward, I would like to adopt some of their practices in my own classrooms, and I hope to draw from some of their ideas presented in the institute and posted here on the Macmillan English Community (with credit, of course!).
Second, while I have been interested in the challenges of online pedagogy and been an online student myself, participating in the Bedford New Scholars program online has made me think more critically about how to approach online pedagogy in the fall semester. I now know more about the work and the cognitive load (switching between screens, etc.) from a student perspective. The experience reinforced my belief that students will need grace and understanding from teachers in the upcoming semester.
Corinne’s Assignment that Works
During the Bedford New Scholars Summit, each member presented an assignment that had proven successful or innovative in their classroom. Below is a brief synopsis of Corinne's assignment. For the full activity, see Rhetorical Velocity: A Game of Strategy and Chance.
At my university, GTAs use Writing about Writing , which uses complex writing studies texts to get students thinking metacognitively about their rhetorical choices. Sometimes, students struggle with the readings, so I try to ground some of the dense readings in in-class games. For this assignment, students read about the concept of “rhetorical velocity,” which broadly refers to how online rhetors strategically compose texts for rapid Internet spread and re-appropriation (Ridolfo & DeVoss, 2009). Importantly, rhetorical velocity is beyond the control of the rhetor, thereby disturbing the concept of the singular author. After a scaffolded discussion defining terms, students put the concept to use in a game. In the game, students get onto teams and select attributes which can add to the rhetorical velocity of their online compositions in fictive scenarios. However, when selecting these attributes, students are unaware of consequences of their online compositions, some of which lose their team points. After the game, students discuss the rhetorical velocity of their texts and the extent to which they had control (and responsibility) over those texts and their consequences. Once students understand the concept of rhetorical velocity, they can use it in their own literacy narratives or profiles of other authors.
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Photo Credit: Kyle Brett Sarah Heidebrink-Bruno (recommended by Jenna Lay) is pursuing her PhD in English, with a concentration in literature and social justice pedagogies, at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA. She expects to finish her degree in 2020 or 2021. She teaches a range of composition and rhetoric courses, including English 1, 2, and 11, in addition to interdisciplinary courses in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies as well as Africana Studies. She has also taught online courses in English and WGSS, with a focus on pop culture themes, including modern relationships. Her research interests include restorative justice practices, women's literature of the 1960s-present, feminist theory and praxis, and writing center tutors' instruction.
How do you hope higher education will change in the next ten years?
In the next ten years, I hope to see folks in higher education intentionally divorce themselves from the “ivory tower” image and embrace education as a truly equalizing experience — by prioritizing access to the most vulnerable and historically marginalized among us, including BIPOC, LGBTQIA folks, and differently abled, faculty, and staff. I would like to see a concerted effort to serve the community in which colleges and universities are located, in ways that the community deems desirable and appropriate. Moreover, I’d love for all of the stakeholders in colleges and universities to have a greater focus on holistic students’ experiences — ideally, academic and student affairs would work in tandem to recognize students as complex young adults, rather than essentializing one aspect of their identities in one space.
How does the next generation of students inspire you?
I am constantly inspired by my students. Though my colleagues have sometimes suggested that students are generally apathetic and only interested in getting good grades/a degree, I think this stereotype ignores the larger structural issues that students must face in order to not feel the pressure to just “get it done.” In my experiences, I have been lucky to see students blossom through their research and writing processes into conscientious young adults who have strong values and ideas about the ways in which education — and the world — can change. They constantly amaze me with their curiosity and their willingness to ask difficult questions and challenge ideas that seem untrue or unjust.
What have you learned from other Bedford New Scholars?
I relished the opportunity to learn with and from my fellow Bedford New Scholars during our summer orientation meetings. Specifically, I really liked learning about the different writing assignments and classroom activities that my peers have used — which I am eager to try myself! I learned a lot from their feedback and insight on my work, which I intend to use to improve my teaching this coming semester. Finally, it was reassuring to hear that we are all facing similar struggles, especially at this difficult time, and that they were willing to share different solutions and moral support for dealing with these challenges.
What is it like to be a part of the Bedford New Scholars program?
I really appreciated the chance to meet and work with the dedicated staff at Macmillan who organize the BNS program. I admit that I had little insight into the publishing world and the process that scholars undergo as they progress from an idea to a fully-formed reference guide or handbook, etc., but I enjoyed learning about the inner mechanisms of the publishing world and the ways in which writers seek feedback from their peers as well as their editors throughout the process. (Admittedly, it was also cool to see exclusive content prior to its public release!) It was clear to me how much the editors and staff members really care about the authors they work with and that they are dedicated to producing thoughtful and helpful teaching materials (among other products).
Sarah Heidebrink-Bruno’s Assignment that Works During the Bedford New Scholars Summit, each member presented an assignment that had proven successful or innovative in their classroom. Below is a brief synopsis of Sarah’s assignment. For the full activity, see Student Information Sheet.
For my “assignment that works,” I shared a version of my Student Information Sheet, a form that I typically hand out during the first week of class as a way to
Establish the tone of the course;
Get to know more about my students and their learning needs;
And finally, gather information that I then use when I am lesson planning.
In the sheet, I ask them about their preferred names (if any), their pronouns (if they feel comfortable sharing that information with me), and what kinds of learning environment and activities they prefer. For example, I include a list of possible activities, such as Think-Pair-Share, answering questions in small groups, Check Out tickets, and more. They can either check off boxes in the list of options or add additional suggestions.
After everyone has completed the sheet, we then discuss how we best learn and what kind of learning spaces have been the most impactful. I tell them about my own learning and teaching techniques that have worked for me in the past, with an explicit emphasis on the fact that I need and expect for them to give me feedback on pedagogical choices and activities in the classroom to make sure that I am reaching folks where they are.
I will note that although I’ve used a hard copy of this form in the past, it would be very easy to create a version in Google forms (or another digital space), which would also allow the instructor to easily see what the most popular choices are. The instructor could then use that information for an ice-breaker activity or discussion at the beginning of the next class.
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Michael S. Garcia Michael S. Garcia (recommended by Kimberly Harrison) is pursuing his MFA in Creative Writing at Florida International University. He expects to finish in April 2021. At FIU, he has taught Writing and Rhetoric, Writing in Action, Essay Writing, and Creative Writing: Forms and Practices. He has also taught 11th and 12th grade English at a Title I high school. As a writer, he has published short stories, essays, web articles, and poetry.
What is the most important skill you aim to provide your students? We are currently living in an important social and political moment—a time rife with conflict, strife, and disinformation. Never before has there been so much (mis)information coming at us from all sides, all the time. I believe my most important role as a writing and rhetoric teacher is two-fold: I must teach students how to evaluate information through a critical lens, so they can filter out the noise and arrive at well-informed opinions; simultaneously, I must empower my students with the skills, knowledge, and confidence to express themselves in an accurate, thoughtful, and ethical way.
How will online or remote learning affect your teaching? While teaching remotely is not ideal, I have chosen to view it as a learning opportunity, a chance to grow into a more effective teacher. Keeping students active and engaged can be a challenge in the very best of times, but now, with all our teaching happening through digital tools, it is more crucial than ever to focus on student engagement. In my in-person classes, I really focus on trying my best to implement lessons and activities that engage students and keep them interested, but it is so easy to become distracted or fatigued when meeting through digital platforms like Zoom, so this aspect of my teaching will be even more important now than ever.
Also, while I already make use of digital tools and platforms in my usual in-person teaching, I will rely on them now more than ever before. I suspect that I will become more adept at using a variety of digital tools as part of the teaching process.
I anticipate that what I learn from remote teaching—not just in terms of student engagement and technology, but perhaps in other areas I haven’t considered yet—will turn this challenging time into a net-positive for my development as an educator, increasing my effectiveness as a teacher in the long term.
What is it like to be a part of the Bedford New Scholars program? The Bedford New Scholars program has turned out to be an invaluable experience for my personal and professional development. I have learned about the process behind creating and publishing educational materials, something I had very little idea about beforehand. The program also gave me the opportunity to collaborate with a great group of accomplished scholars from around the country that I may not have met otherwise.
Additionally, the opportunity to preview and give feedback on upcoming Bedford/St. Martin’s texts and tools that are currently being worked-on is a really cool experience. It’s great to see the thought and care that the people at Bedford/St. Martin’s put into their projects, and how important it is to them to collaborate with a varied and diverse group of educators—I think this collaborative approach helps ensure Bedford/St. Martin’s texts and tools are effective and relevant to both teachers and students.
What projects or course materials from Bedford/St. Martin's most pique your interest, and why? I was very impressed by the wide array of texts Bedford/St. Martin’s offered in my subject area; it seemed there was a text for every approach, something I wasn’t aware of before the Bedford New Scholars project.
The project I was most interested in was the Achieve learning platform. I think it’s great how the platform empowers instructors to create effective, multimodal assignments, while also encouraging and enabling collaboration—not only between the student and their instructor, but among students and their peers. It is intuitive and easy-to-use while also having depth in what it is capable of. I’m excited by the opportunities and possibilities that Achieve presents, not only in the composition classroom, but in teaching the subject of English overall.
Michael’s Assignment That Works During the Bedford New Scholars Summit, each member presented an assignment that had proven successful or innovative in their classroom. Below is a brief synopsis of Michael's assignment. For the full activity, see Discourse Community Profile.
My “Assignment That Works” is the Discourse Community Profile , the first major assignment I assign as part of the first of FIU’s two-course introductory writing sequence. For this assignment, students are asked to write a profile on a discourse community of their choice; this involves describing the discourse community, citing specific examples of discourse from this community and where it occurs, and examining what can be gleaned about this community from analyzing its use of language. Students are asked to conclude the profile with a reflection on their relationship to this discourse community, why they chose to write about it, and what they learned in the process.
The assignment sheet is designed with question-and-answer format to make the assignment prompt as clear and concise as possible. We spend the first unit of the course scaffolding up to this assignment with foundational lessons about rhetorical awareness, rhetorical strategies, how to choose the appropriate genre (this is where they learn what a “profile” is), and code-switching. Students are asked to submit a “first steps” topic proposal to ensure they understand what is being asked of them. They submit a low-stakes first draft for instructor comments and peer review, giving them time to polish their work before the final draft is due.
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Allison Dziuba (recommended by Jonathan Alexander) is a PhD candidate in English at the University of California, Irvine (UCI). She teaches courses in the lower-division writing sequence, in person during the school year and online during the summer. She also teaches the Summer Bridge writing lab, a pre-college course for incoming UCI first-years. She has served as the editorial assistant for College Composition and Communication and Rhetoric Society Quarterly. She is currently the Campus Writing & Communication Fellow at UCI. Allison's research interests include college students' self-sponsored literacy practices and extracurricular rhetorical education, and intersectional feminist approaches to rhetorical studies. What is your greatest teaching challenge? Time management. Whether I’m teaching a 50- or 80-minute class session, the time seems to fly by. I was advised early on to plan lessons around just one main point or activity. Planning more concise lessons allows me to better explain what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. It also provides space for students to shape each class with their questions and interests. As a teacher, I want to better adapt to my students’ needs, to let them drive the agenda. In sketching out the full term, it’s important for me to set reasonable goals, too. Because my university is on the quarter system, we only have 10 weeks together as a class. I have to tailor my expectations based on this relatively limited time frame and prioritize the skills and experiences I hope will be most valuable to my students (more on this below). What is the most important skill you aim to provide your students? I teach lower-division writing, which means that, for many of my students, our class is their first college-level writing experience. It’s often the smallest class that they’ve taken so far (around 20 students), so they have an opportunity to get to know their instructor and peers. Understanding that this is a potentially crucial moment in their undergraduate careers but also a brief and largely introductory one, I focus on rhetorical flexibility. That is, we aim to address the question, how does a rhetor craft messages in different genres and modes to communicate their purposes? I care deeply about what my students have to say, and so my hope is that helping to cultivate their rhetorical know-how will allow their voices to reach a variety of audiences. Students explore how they can shape communications and how messages move through the world; in so doing, they engage with the often overlapping communities to which they belong—home, college, local/regional, transnational, etc. This process of discovery animates my dissertation research as well—how do college students develop their rhetorical educations and their sense of belonging within campus and broader ecologies? What is it like to co-design or work with the editorial team at Bedford/St. Martin's? I’ve enjoyed working with the English composition editors because they’re knowledgeable about the world of writing instruction and they’re attentive to the needs of instructors. These traits, combined with their close familiarity with the Bedford catalogue, make for generative working relationships. For example, one of the workshops during the BNS summit was about developing writing assignments that are transparent in their aims—a topic that I and other teachers think about a lot—paired with a preview of a forthcoming book focused on tackling writing problems. Special kudos to Leah Rang and her team for organizing a virtual summit experience this summer that ran smoothly, covered a wide range of topics, and provided both graduate students and editorial staff opportunities to get to know one another and to ask each other productive questions about composition pedagogy. What have you learned from other Bedford New Scholars? I value the creativity and generosity of my BNS colleagues. In particular, I’m inspired by the assignments they’ve shared and their explanations of how these activities function in their classrooms. A few examples are Corinne’s gamification of teaching about the (potentially unintended) circulation and re-appropriation of texts, Kalyn’s step-by-step approach to analyzing rhetors’ source synthesis, and Sierra’s engagement of visual composition practices, as inspired by her pre–grad school career. I plan to incorporate elements of these activities into my own teaching practice. Overall, gathering this group of inquisitive, like-minded folks together for the summit lead to fruitful discussions about teaching and what we care about as teachers. These conversations and my peers’ commitment to their students will help to sustain my academic journey, and I hope to continue to cultivate these connections. Allison’s Assignment that Works During the Bedford New Scholars Summit, each member presented an assignment that had proven successful or innovative in their classroom. Below is a brief synopsis of Allison's assignment. For the full activity, see Opinion Barometer Activity I’m sharing the “Opinion Barometer,” an in-class activity that aims to help students recognize the knowledges that they bring to the classroom and to explore nuances of rhetorical stances, beyond mere pro/con. I credit a fellow graduate student writing instructor with the spatial and interactive structure of the activity, and I’ve developed it over time to align with course assignments and to be relevant to the populations of students I’m teaching. Students are given statements or claims and are asked to move to a point in the classroom to indicate how much they agree or disagree with the statement. I’ve used this activity with first-year students who are encountering college-level courses and college life for the first time; the sample questions are crafted particularly with new college students in mind. I feel that the Opinion Barometer facilitates honest discussions about my students’ goals and expectations for their college careers. I’ve also used this as a warm-up activity before diving into an op-ed assignment. My intention is to boost students’ perceptions of their own expertise and to begin brainstorming topics that they have opinions about. I’d like to think more about how this activity could be adapted for an online teaching environment. Thanks to my fellow Bedford New Scholars for considering possible modifications. For instance, Sidney recommended gauging students’ opinions via an online poll and then asking them to write brief rationales for their positions.
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Sidney Blaylock (recommended by Kate Pantelides) is pursuing his PhD in English with a concentration in Rhetoric and Composition at Middle Tennessee State University. He expects to finish in May 2021. He teaches Expository Writing and Research and Argumentation. His research interests include multimodality, rhetorical analysis, new media, cultural rhetorics, digital rhetorics, film, and afrofuturism. What is the most important skill you aim to provide your students? The ability to understand how to critically read and assess both texts and situations. Higher education should give students the ability and the resources to evaluate information and ideas that they come in contact with and to make informed choices. This practice should not only extend to what students read or write but to their daily lives. I want students to understand that the ideologies of close reading can give them strategies that can inform their interpretation of popular culture texts in addition to great literature, which helps them find meaning in the texts they interact with on a daily basis. I also want students to understand that the idea of the rhetorical situation undergirds human activities and human communication whether it is as important as giving a presentation to colleagues on the job or as mundane as ordering a coffee at Starbucks , so that they can navigate the world as successfully as possible. Without being able to critically read and assess texts and situations, I feel that students are at a disadvantage, especially from those seeking to misuse power or misrepresent facts and situations. What is your greatest teaching challenge? Getting students to understand that opinions, especially those that confirm a student’s own beliefs, are not facts, and cannot be relied on without question. I want students to challenge assertions found on social media, something many seem reluctant to do. I want students to look at the author of the information and to see if that person is credible--are they an expert in their field or a normal person, do they have a particular bias that you can determine, or do they seem impartial? Where does the information come from--an academic journal with multiple authors or one person’s social media account? How old is the information? My greatest teaching challenge revolves around getting students to ask questions and not simply take the information presented as fact. All humans have biases, things that they like or dislike, and I want students to understand that our biases, along with the biases of the person who is communicating with them, all are aspects of communication that must be negotiated before one can make a cogent and reasoned decision about a subject. What have you learned from other New Bedford Scholars? While there were many things that I learned from my fellow New Bedford Scholars during our time together at the Summit, there are three that I thought were highly important. First, like myself, I learned that getting students to learn critical thinking skills is a primary focus for all of us. We want students to understand the richness of thinking for themselves and learning how to critically evaluate information. I also learned that we each have diverse interests and experiences that inform our instruction. It is in this diversity that our strengths as educators come to the fore. I learned that my fellow Scholars have a wealth of knowledge and resources that I can draw upon to help better my own teaching. This was especially true in looking at the variety of assignments presented during the Summit. It was amazing to see the various types of assignments that integrated multimodal ways of learning. Seeing all of this amazing work helped to inspire me for the upcoming semester. I, too, want to create innovative and highly multimodal assignments that my students will see as fun, challenging, and inspiring, in addition to being informative. What is it like to be a part of the Bedford New Scholars program? It is an amazing experience! Not only are you working with the editorial team at Bedford/St. Martin’s, you also have access to nine other scholars who are in your field. This allows you to collaborate and interact in order to help shape the future of student learning. The editorial team at Bedford/St. Martin’s are an extremely knowledgeable and friendly group of people to work with, and are exceedingly helpful by explaining the reasons behind the decisions that are needed in the publishing world. Moreover, they also listen , which is a rare quality these days. They actively solicit feedback and truly want to know when something is working well, so that they continue it or expand it. However, they also want to know when something isn’t working, so that they can find a way to address the issue and fix it so that it works better the next time. Finally, being part of the Bedford New Scholars program is fun! The editorial team made sure that we found time to socialize and to collaborate in several fun and interesting ways--even on Zoom . Sidney Blaylock Jr.’s Assignment that Works During the Bedford New Scholars Summit, each member presented an assignment that had proven successful or innovative in their classroom. Below is a brief synopsis of Sidney's assignment. You can view the full details here: "Go Forth and Find" “Go Forth and Find” is a short lesson, designed to be mostly done over a class meeting or two. At the beginning of the unit discussing genre, I ask students to pair off and use their phones to take pictures of various “genre” items in the room, in the hall, in the building, and around campus (this can be modified to safe areas for virtual learning). I ask them to find information/instructions, a bulletin board, a poster, a graphic/image, a sign, and a “wildcard” (which can be any interesting item they found during the search). We then come together and discuss the various items that we’ve found, specifically noting the various affordances and constraints of the genre — looking for ways the items follow convention or the ways in which they deviate from the norm. This assignment tries to encourage critical learning and thinking in a fun way that helps students learn from (and with) their peers. Also, since the assignment happens early in the semester, it is a great way to, hopefully, form the bonds that will allow the class to grow into a strong learning community together.
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Salena Parker (recommended by Katie McWain) is pursuing her PhD in Rhetoric with a concentration in World Literature at Texas Woman's University. She expects to finish in December 2021. She teaches Composition I and II and serves as an English Professor at Collin College in McKinney, TX. She has also taught College Readiness Writing, Introduction to Humanities, and ESL abroad. Her research interests include post-modern literature, rhetorical agency, contemporary global literature, memoirs, rhetoric & composition, photography, and feminist literature. Is there an instructor or scholar that helped shape your career in rhet/comp? How? Although my time with her was short, Dr. Katie McWain shaped my entire outlook of rhet/comp. With her teaching and advice, I’m able to see rhet/comp as a more fluid, yet intricate area of research that I can mold with my many, many interests. Katie was the epitome of professionalism, adaptability, and grace; she instigated and worked with us to contribute to meaningful conversations about the gaps in research that exist in rhet/comp, as well as how we can integrate aspects like multimodality, transfer, and embodiment in our research/classrooms. Katie went beyond knowledge and skills and really listened to our questions and problems and did her best to help us in every way she could. When we had Focus Fridays (Professional Development opportunities), Katie put her all into giving us tips, advice, and information that we can adapt and use inside and outside the classroom. Her hard-working mentality kept me motivated and eager to do more. I’m humbled that she chose me for this program, and to have worked with her as a GTA. Though she’s gone, I will strive to keep Katie’s light and enthusiasm with me as I teach my scholars and encourage others to do their best. What is the most important skill you aim to develop in your students? I’d have to say agency, for sure. Free will is a privilege, and as adults we should all have a form of agency in education and the working world. However, I don’t know if I provide agency for students; I’m thinking that I instead provide the opportunity for scholars to investigate—and sometimes wrestle with—their own sense(s) of agency. There were a few moments in my undergrad career where I was able to sit down and really think about how I handle different academic situations, especially stressful ones. My goal is to give those kinds of introspective opportunities to my scholars; identifying one’s sense of agency is hard, and using agency is even harder. Yet, I think we all need to be aware of how agency functions in academic environments and communities. Having that “a-ha moment” where a scholar finds their agency and how they want to use it—that’s what I’m hoping and looking for each semester. Sometimes, those moments happen, and other times they don’t. Either way, I’m going to keep working to give scholars opportunities to search for and wrestle with their self-awareness of agency. What’s it like to be a part of the Bedford New Scholars program? The Bedford New Scholars program is all about learning, sharing, and growing as emerging scholars of our fields. Each member of the program has stories and experience(s) to share and learn from—our collective Assignments that Work are testament to this fact. We’re given opportunities throughout the year to lend our voices and ideas to projects that will directly affect student learning, adjunct/instructor/professor workload, and best of all, we can share this knowledge with our respective communities across the nation. At the Bedford Scholars Summit in Boston, we were able to interact with members of the Marketing, Editorial, and Media departments and get insight into the teaching and academic support instructors receive from outside the college/university. We collaborated with one another on current problems/lacks of research in our field(s) as well as how we can grow to be more inclusive, more diverse, and more engaged inside the classroom. There were fun times to be had, too—touring the Boston Public Library and traversing bustling Boston streets gave all the Scholars the chance to increase the strength of our friendship and shared mission to be the best scholars and teachers we can be. What do you think instructors don’t know about educational publishing but should? I think instructors should know that there is a lot of adaptability to be found in educational publishing. Instructors can contribute to student success in academe by using educational publishing as an opportunity to hone skills used in college/university teaching; interpersonal communication, content development, multimodal inquiry, and hands-on experience are just a few skills that can be explored. Using Bedford/St. Martin’s as an example, instructors can also have numerous (possibly more) opportunities to expand network communities in places that they might not have thought of before, like content marketing, publishing operations, and application management. There are innovative, different ways to build on content expertise and educational practices besides instructing in a classroom; educational publishing is one of the options instructors can take to diversify themselves and their pedagogies. Salena’s Assignment that Works During the Bedford New Scholars Summit, each member presented an assignment that had proven successful or innovative in their classroom. Below is a brief synopsis of Salena's assignment. You can view the full details here: Research Project Paper The main goal of my Research Paper assignment is to assist scholars with balancing their writing processes with rigor, patience, and enthusiasm via a research-based assignment. The assignment centers on a process of invention, investigation, editing/revision, and—most importantly—communication. Each scholar is allowed to research a topic they find to be impactful to their livelihoods or education and show their audiences why their topics and research matter inside and outside the college classroom. The Research Papers are created through brainstorming activities, writing days, and Workshop Days, with Workshop Days being the most important part of this assignment. Everyone comes to class on that day with copies of their work and pre-made questions to discuss as they communicate with one another about what works, what doesn’t work, and what can be improved upon in their respective papers. Most of my scholars appreciate Workshop days the most because it’s communication and research in action; they can share their frustrations, preferences, and “lightbulb moments” with one another in a productive, generative space. After they turn in their Research Papers, they have the opportunity to reflect on the process, if they wish, and tell me what worked and ways I can improve the assignment for future courses. Learn more about the Bedford New Scholars advisory board on the Bedford New Scholars Community page.
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KAREN TRUJILLO (recommended by Lauren Rosenberg) is pursuing her PhD in English with a concentration in Rhetoric and Professional Communication at New Mexico State University. She teaches Rhetoric and Composition, Business and Professional Communication, Technical and Scientific Communication, and the Rhetoric of the Horror Story. Karen also serves as a Writing Program Coordinator, Writing Program Mentor, and she has spent three years as a Writing Center Coordinator. She has taught both face-to-face and online in English and Education Leadership and Administration Departments. Her research interests include feminist theory, pedagogy, dissident literature, expressions of emotion, and enactments of resilience in the composition classroom. She expects to graduate in December 2019. What is your greatest teaching challenge? The challenge of knowing that a handful of students in my English 111 – Rhetoric and Composition won’t return after their first year of college is one of my greatest. New Mexico grants new graduates with a Lottery Scholarship that requires 2.5 GPA while taking 15 credit hours (5 classes). These requirements can be stressful for first-year students who have outside obligations and struggles that are unseen by teachers. Each move I make begins with the knowledge that each writing prompt, essay, and project is an opportunity to give students resources they can take with them, whether they stay in college or not. I often think about Pegeen Reichert Powell’s Retention and Resistance: Writing Instruction and Students Who Leave and the recognition that there is not one single thing that universities can do to reduce attrition rates. Powell further asks that administration and faculty focus on the students who are enrolled at present, rather than working to try to assure that they do not leave. Keeping this in mind, I consistently work to create and maintain a space in which students are given opportunities to write often, and to write about present interests, experiences, and what they feel are relevant topics, rather than preparing them to transfer learning to the next courses leading to graduation. How does the next generation of students inspire you? The next generation of students inspires me in a way that speaks to my position as a nontraditional student. While I recognize that there is not an ideal classroom, my students bring behaviors and perspectives that I didn’t often see when I first attended college in the early 1990s. The classroom was a quiet place for me. I did not choose a rhetorical silence but chose not to speak because I didn’t feel included. I am inspired by the next generation of students who I believe are and will become more accustomed to actions that are inclusive and to choosing words that unite with the efforts of dedicated composition teachers. If the next generation of students that becomes more accustomed to conflict, the composition classroom can be a place where students learn to share experiences of difference in ways that I don’t feel would have been comfortable when I took first-year composition. With time, practice, and facilitation of thoughtful composition teachers, the next generation gives me hope that we will spend less time searching for things we have in common, and spend more time acting as listeners, thoughtful speakers, and those who choose to and are comfortable with others’ silences. What's it like to be a part of the Bedford New Scholars program? Anyone who has written a dissertation, prepared for, or joined the academic job market search knows that it can be a scary time. Although committees and peers are reassuring, it can be a lonely process. Being part of Bedford New Scholars reassured me that there are others who not only understand the struggles, but are also there to listen, give advice, and become cheerleaders. I have to say that, undoubtedly, each of us is from unique learning and teaching experiences, which I think ended up being what drew us together. With each new activity, I found that it was our differences that encouraged unpacking of new ideas and provided opportunities to step outside our usual line of thinking and onto a new track. Being part of Bedford New Scholars is like having someone hand select a support system for you and give you the gift of new friends at a time when you had no idea you needed it most. What did you learn from other Bedford New Scholars? I sometimes need to be reminded that teaching is what I am called to and I can’t imagine doing anything else. The Summit at Bedford St. Martin came on the heels of a trying semester during which I had just completed the first chapters of my dissertation. At the risk of drenching you in sap, receiving responses such as, “I totally get that,” or “Ugh, I’ve felt that way too,” renewed my energy and hope. I gained a reading list from Nina Feng, a reading response assignment from Misty Fuller (that I used this semester), love for Canva (and hopes for creativity) from Caitlin Martin, and a new approach to rhetorical analysis from Marissa McKinley. Along with these contributions, I learned that no matter where we are coming from, we all share the experience of being a “Border” university of some type. I learned that while my experiences are unique and valuable, I have a diverse support system who will do their best to listen and give meaningful, well considered feedback. The Summit was the best possible place I could have taken time out to learn that the loving energy of my peers is only a few clicks away. Karen’s Assignment that Works During the Bedford New Scholars Summit, each member presented an assignment that had proven successful or innovative in their classroom. Below is a brief synopsis of Karen’s assignment. You can view the full details here: Advocacy Project My Assignment that Works is a four-part assignment titled, The Advocacy Project. Originally, this project was created by Dr. Christopher Burnham. After working as a research and teaching assistant using this assignment for six years, I modified this project for my own use in first-year Rhetoric and Composition. This is a social justice project that can be scaffolded over the course of a 15-week semester, culminating in a final exam in the form of a project. The final project consists of a written portion, a handout, and a presentation using the media that best serves the aims of the project. The assignment itself is broken into an exploration, local research, global research, and numerous other considerations such as stasis, and concessions and rebuttals on one’s position. The big idea is that the student will find something that they are passionate about, will research, and will advocate action or policy to further the passion. Each semester, I find myself re-writing this assignment in small ways in response to my teaching reflections and student responses. I love that it’s a living document that seems to be growing up alongside me on my journey toward completion of doctoral studies. Learn more about the Bedford New Scholars advisory board on the Bedford New Scholars Community page.
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Carrie Wilson (recommended by Bret Zawilski) is wrapping up her MA in English this May 2019 at Appalachian State University. She has taught Introduction to Writing Across the Curriculum and Expository Writing. Her research interests include psychology and gender representation in American Gothic fiction; postmodern South American literature; feminist, genre, and cultural studies in the Rhetoric and Composition discipline; inclusivity in the first year composition classroom; information literacy and archival librarianship; and accessibility of public and academic library materials. She is applying to MLIS programs for Fall 2019. How does the next generation of students inspire you? From what I have witnessed in my so-far brief run as a graduate teacher of Rhetoric & Composition, post-millennials' adaptability to increasingly multifaceted digital technology is simply astounding. While my generation (at least from what I have personally observed) seemed to utilize social media as a linear method of curating an online personality, my students trend towards using these platforms as much more complex rhetorical tools that include many forms of multimedia strung together to communicate a rich story about their life and even their identity. Many are inclined towards online activism as well; they use the Functional Rhetorical Appeals Project (a.k.a. FRAP; discussed below) not simply as a fun creative outlet, as would have been permitted to them, but instead as an opportunity to tackle complicated questions politicians struggle to answer on televised Town Halls. There is a level of fearlessness with which they express their opinions about key national and international issues that I respect and admire, especially when it comes through so clearly in projects with digital deliverables that have a lot of moving parts to manage. What is the most important skill you aim to provide your students? When back in 2016 I read that a report from the Stanford History Education Group demonstrated how students struggle with vetting online sources of information , it became my personal objective to pursue information literacy as a career to not only make said literacy more accessible to all students, but also to tailor my lessons to address the current digital environment. With a sprawling online environment that provides us with multiple sources of daily media input (as anyone with one social media account likely has at least one more ) comes an increased difficulty for being selective about where we choose to receive crucial information about our sociopolitical interests. We're all aware of the current stakes of increased use of online platforms for staying up to date on current issues: fake news is multiplying; we've entered the "post-truth" era. Parsing out informational reporting from personal opinion (both of which have their place, of course) is starting to require an increased level of proficiency in media literacy than was previously standard. While this proficiency is necessary for all age groups who participate in online platforms, honing the media literacy skills of current and future generations is my goal in all that I do. What do you think instructors don't know about educational publishing but should? Prior to joining the Bedford New Scholars program, I was largely clueless about the process of developing and publishing educational materials like those produced by Bedford. The extent of my knowledge was largely limited to the appearance of the finished product and its contents. I never considered how much thought goes into not only compiling and editing the materials included in a textbook, but also how the finished product is packaged (e.g., how the cover looks and what details to include on a back cover summary). The amount of feedback received from current professors of Rhetoric & Composition regarding these materials was also an unknown variable to me in the overall equation of educational publishing. While I cannot speak for all instructors, I can say for myself that I appreciate knowing more about the amount of attention given to making sure that the materials produced will be tailored to the needs of the teachers. What's it like to be a part of the Bedford New Scholars program? Being a part of the Bedford New Scholars program has been educational and inspiring. It opened the door for me to develop a network of colleagues in the field of education to which I otherwise would not have had access. At the Boston summit, we were able to collaborate on a variety of pedagogical approaches as well as propose ideas for resources that should be made more accessible to Rhetoric & Composition professors and their classrooms. Through access to the Bedford Bits Blog as well as in-person, interactive learning experiences, this program has also given me the opportunity to advance my understanding of inclusive education and what that looks like practically in the classroom, which is a valuable asset to any educator. Additionally, I have had the opportunity to provide feedback on projects and materials currently in development at Bedford, not only giving myself and my colleagues a voice in the development process of educational materials, but also showing me where the field of educational publishing is heading in the near future. Carrie’s Assignment that Works During the Bedford New Scholars Summit, each member presented an assignment that had proven successful or innovative in their classroom. Below is a brief synopsis of Carrie's assignment. You can view the full details here: Functional Rhetorical Appeals Project (FRAP) The Functional Rhetorical Appeals Project (FRAP, for short) is a project I proposed and then developed in partial collaboration with my cohort of graduate teachers at Appalachian State University. It is a collaborative major assignment around which I scaffolded my unit on visual rhetoric, digital literacy, and presentation. The goal of this project is to teach the always-collaborative process of composition, even in seeming isolation, as well as the rhetorical mobility granted by digital media. Ultimately, the project takes the form of an issue-oriented campaign communicated through two complementary deliverables—one digital, one tangible. The group decides together on their central issue, submits a proposal for their project about how it will take shape, drafts the individual components over the course of a couple of weeks, and finally submits a metacognitive analysis of their project that is essentially an inward-facing rhetorical analysis essay. This project worked surprisingly well when I debuted it in my First Year Composition classrooms in place of the more typical rhetorical analysis essay because it got the students creating and analyzing their own texts, thus developing a richer understanding of the structures, visual and textual, within which rhetorical appeals work to mobilize arguments. Learn more about the Bedford New Scholars advisory board on the Bedford New Scholars Community page.
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Leah Beth Johnston (recommended by Elías Domínguez Barajas) is pursuing her PhD in English with a concentration in Rhetoric and Composition at the University of Arkansas. She will finish her degree in 2022. Her research focuses on First-Year Composition administration and Marginal Rhetorics, and her dissertation is a book that explores the intersection of the two. A former faculty member at Texas A&M University-San Antonio, Leah Beth hopes to return to Texas upon finishing her PhD. How do you hope higher education will change in the next ten years? I hope that in the next ten years, higher education will change drastically. We will always be operating in a system whose foundation was built on white supremacy and exclusionary tactics, but I hope that white educators, in particular, will begin to interrogate their own biases and privileges in a way that positively changes higher education as a whole. Teaching at a PWI has illuminated for me how far we still have to go before educational equity will exist, and has also reinforced my respect for the many folx on the margins of universities creating small but equitable spaces for historically oppressed identities. Is there an instructor or scholar that helped shape your career in rhet/comp? How? My current advisor, Dr. Jo Hsu, has significantly helped to shape my career in Rhet/Comp. I learn a lot from their example of showing up, showing grace, and doing small but great things. Many faculty members in higher education view teaching as something they do to exercise their own research agendas, but Jo has always been excited and encouraging about their students’ own research, and their genuine love of teaching is obvious in the classroom. I hope to someday be half the teacher they are. What's it like to be a part of the Bedford New Scholars program? Being part of the Bedford New Scholars program has been such an honor! That feels cheesy to say, but spending this year having insight into educational publishing, being able to offer input on texts that may show up in classes I teach, and traveling to Boston to network among top scholars in my field has been the privilege of a lifetime. The workload throughout the year was structured in such a way that my own research and teaching did not suffer, and the overall support provided by the Bedford/St. Martin’s team has been amazing. What have you learned from other Bedford New Scholars? During our New Scholars Summit in Boston, I learned something from each and every fellow scholar, whether it was a new author to read, a technique for lesson planning, or an idea to incorporate digital elements into the classroom. I especially enjoyed a team-building activity where we each wrote our priorities as teachers on a large piece of paper, then had the opportunity to review one another’s answers. I found that many of our priorities, concerns, and triumphs overlap, which gave me a sense of where Composition is as a whole right now, insight that is invaluable for my career and my own pedagogy. Leah Beth Johnston’s Assignment that Works During the Bedford New Scholars Summit, each member presented an assignment that had proven successful or innovative in their classroom. Below is a brief synopsis of Leah Beth's assignment. You can view the full details here: Emoji Revision Assignment. For this lesson, review what emoji is and make sure everyone has a working understanding of how to access emoji on their device. Then, pass out movie title slips individually or into groups of 2-4, depending on class size. Ask students to revise not the movie title, but the movie plot, into emoji language. This may require some research if they are not familiar with the movie. Remind students that even if they have seen the movie, they may want to review the main themes before revising the plot into emoji. As each student/group finishes their revision, they will take a screenshot of the “sentence” and email it to the instructor. Once all revisions have been sent, the instructor projects them at the front of the classroom, and the entire class discusses them one by one to guess which movie they are referring to. After completing this assignment, students will have a basic literacy in emoji language and digital discourse. Students will be able to conduct internet research, and apply this research to summarizing texts. Students will also be able to understand the concept of a multimodal text, and will be able to connect the activity to their own revision processes. Learn more about the Bedford New Scholars advisory board on the Bedford New Scholars Community page.
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(recommended by Marika Seigel) is a PhD student in the Rhetoric, Theory, and Culture program at Michigan Technological University. He expects to finish in May 2021. He serves as the composition program coordinator and teaches courses in composition, literature, and technical writing. He is also the managing editor of Portage Review , a transdisciplinary journal of undergraduate writing. His research interests are in rhetorical cultural studies, user-centered theory, and science and technology studies. He is currently exploring the rhetoric of conspiracy theories, the impacts of outlandish ideas on political discourse and culture, and the implications for technical communication and rhetorical theory. Is there an instructor or scholar that helped shape your career in rhet/comp? How? The scholar who has most shaped my teaching is James Berlin. Berlin’s work outlines the history of composition studies and sketches the theoretical underpinnings of various classroom teaching practices. His work provides some much-appreciated context for the field I’m entering. Just as important, though, is Berlin’s reminder that “success in the classroom is never guaranteed” and that effective learning is the result of “dialectical collaboration—the interaction of student, teacher, and shared experience within a social, interdisciplinary framework,” a process whose outcome “is always unpredictable.” When I first started teaching — when I wasn’t sure if I could ever be a good teacher — Berlin prompted me to question whether I even knew what teaching was. How does the next generation of students inspire you? I’m very fortunate to be starting my teaching career right now precisely because the next generation of students is so inspiring. They’re often better writers than I remember myself being at 18 years old — or even now. I’m sometimes surprised when I introduce a reading or a concept that I think will be particularly interesting for my students only to find that a good number of them are already familiar with it. The idea that I could just create a solid semester-long curriculum and coast on that for a few years just isn’t an option: what seems profound to one group of students is often old hat to the next. So, in a very practical sense, my students inspire me to be a better teacher because I’m always questioning whether I have anything new to offer them. But they also inspire me in other ways. From climate change to growing inequality (and other challenges that we’ve yet to adequately address), the next generation seems ready to tackle the most significant challenges of our time. If rhetoric is symbolic action, then part of our job as writing teachers is to help our students find effective ways to act on these issues. For me, it’s hard to imagine anything more inspiring than that. What is it like to co-design with the editorial team at Bedford/St. Martin's? Honestly, before the summit, I was skeptical about co-designing with the editorial team at Bedford/St. Martin’s. I know next to nothing about educational publishing and imagined that I had little to offer them. They must know that too, I figured, so I just assumed the whole trip was an investment for them—a way of selling us on their products early in our careers. I was wrong about that. The editorial team had similar educational backgrounds and interests, they were familiar with the writers and scholars that have been influential for me, and they seemed genuinely interested in getting our perspectives on the work they plan to put out. They took criticism of their products seriously and didn’t seem interested in light or sugarcoated feedback. At heart, I think the members of the design team are teachers, too, and I’m already thinking about ways to adapt some of their workshops for my own classroom. What have you learned from other Bedford New Scholars? Meeting and socializing with the other Bedford New Scholars were probably the best parts of the trip. These people are brilliant. Some of them just recently (and successfully!) went on the job market, so I was able to get a lot of good advice about that process. I learned a little bit about how composition programs from other parts of the country handle issues like growing class sizes and new teacher training. Through their Assignments that Work presentations, I learned about the different activities they’re engaging their students with and got some great ideas for adapting those activities for my own classes. Josh’s Assignment that Works During the Bedford New Scholars Summit, each member presented an assignment that had proven successful or innovative in their classroom. Below is a brief synopsis of Josh's assignment. You can view the full details here: Situating your Research with the CARS Model. In the Michigan Tech composition program, by the time students begin drafting their research papers, they have already spent several weeks researching their chosen topics. Part of the scaffolding for the research paper involves composing an expanded annotated bibliography, a project that asks students to summarize and analyze a variety of relevant texts, and to both describe and reflect on their research processes. As an activity to help students transition from a primarily research-driven mode of activity into a writing-only mode in which they engage those sources, I introduce the “Creating a Research Space” model of introductions, as outlined by John Swales and Christine Feak. While it was originally designed as a heuristic to help writers overcome the hurdles of writing an introduction, I find that the CARS model is also helpful in a broader sense: for myself and, I think, my students, it offers a way of organizing controversies and finding entry points for our own contributions—a kind of roadmap for stepping into the Burkean parlor. While I encourage my students to use the CARS model for abstracts and introductions, that is not what I emphasize in this activity and assignment. Instead, I ask them to locate the CARS moves as they appear throughout the paper. The aim is not for students to view the model as a simple checklist that leads to a more sophisticated introduction but to see how the moves guide their engagement with sources throughout the research and writing processes. Works Cited Berlin, James. "Rhetoric and Ideology in the Writing Class." Chap. i n The Norton Book of Composition Studies , edited by Susan Miller, 667-84. New York: Norton, 2009. Swales, John M., and Christine B. Feak. Academic Writing for Graduate Students: Essential Tasks and Skills. Vol. 1, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2004. Weise, Elizabeth. "Climate Change the New Vietnam War? Generation Z Poised to Change Us Politics with Activism." USA Today , May 6, 2019. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2019/05/06/generation-z-poised-change-us-politics-climate-change-activism/1090104001/ . Learn more about the Bedford New Scholars advisory board on the Bedford New Scholars Community page.
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Shannon Butts (recommended by Creed Greer) received her PhD in English with a concentration in Rhetoric and Writing Studies at The University of Florida in August 2019. Shannon teaches courses on digital rhetoric, multimodal composition, professional communication, technofeminism, and first-year writing. She also serves as the Assistant Coordinator of First Year Writing and mentors graduate instructors. Shannon's research examines how digital and mobile writing technologies, such as augmented reality, locative media, and 3D printing, author new literacy practices for public writing and community advocacy. How does the next generation of students inspire you? The students coming through my courses seem to have a hustle that understands the larger ecology of work, play, and education. College is not necessarily their end game but part of a growing skill set that will position them for more opportunities in the future. And that looks different for different students. People coming in from high school are hustling to make grades, get internships, start businesses – hustling to participate in an economy that has diversified the paths that people can take to make money and be successful. Similarly, students coming back to school or working on graduate degrees are hustling to build a portfolio of experiences that will help them advance in their current careers or start new ones. The hustle can be tiring, or seem disorganized. Yet, most of the students that I see are working to create a well-rounded set of skills to be not only competitive but happy in their work and life. The hustle includes physical fitness, growing plants, joining clubs, taking days off, having families, developing apps, caring about public issues, and fighting for equality and balance in new ways. The students I see now inspire me to hustle for both myself and others. What is the most important skill you aim to provide your students? I want the students in my classroom to understand that writing is a process that grows and changes throughout their lives. As such, I want students to develop analytical skills that evaluate the nuances of any rhetorical situation or ecology. If students understand the complex components of an issue, then they can best evaluate how to respond and make change. Learning how to analyze arguments, identify evidence, and trace the connections between conversations can help students actively participate in the public sphere—where they not only receive or disseminate information but understand how to assemble new publics, to read and write for change, and to evaluate information for accuracy as well as applicability. If writers can map rhetorical ecologies and trace the relationships between evidence and argument, then I think they are better prepared to understand the complex systems that we all read, write, and participate in. What is it like to be a part of the Bedford New Scholars? Participating in the Bedford New Scholars programs provides a look behind the curtain of educational publishing. More than merely understanding how to test or market a text, the program has shown me how Bedford works to identify what is important to students, writers, and teachers in different schools and demographics. Through online resources, publishers have new opportunities to create platforms and curate content that works for diverse groups of students and instructors. While institutions may adopt one central text or program, Bedford has shown us how to work within the larger system to find what can best help students and instructors meet their goals for a classroom or course. By showing us multiple texts and platforms, the Bedford staff creates a forum for helping us understand the publishing process, but also gives a voice to the people who are in the classroom everyday. They not only wanted my feedback on existing projects but my critique and suggestions for change, and Bedford New Scholars offers an opportunity to participate in shaping emerging resources. What have you learned from other Bedford New Scholars? I found the Bedford New Scholars experience empowering. Not only did I get the chance to meet some incredible teachers and scholars from different fields and institutions, but I also was challenged to continually evaluate my own teaching strategies and tools. By sitting down around a table and discussing the different dynamics of each Scholar’s school and experience, I was able to consider how my pedagogy might change while also affirming many of the common issues that instructors currently address: How can I make my classroom more inclusive and accessible? How can I empower my students through public writing? What kinds of emerging tools can help address inequality in the education system? The Bedford New Scholars offered a range of experience and insight and created a small community where instructors could share methods, critiques, tools, and camaraderie. Shannon’s Assignment that Works During the Bedford New Scholars Summit, each member presented an assignment that had proven successful or innovative in their classroom. Below is a brief synopsis of Shannon’s assignment. You can view the full details here: Know Your Meme: Finding the Exigence. The “Know Your Meme” activity draws on research, analysis, evaluation, and remix skills to transform popular memes into detailed claims. Composing arguments requires an attunement to exigence—understanding an issue, problem, or situation and how best to address a public to motivate a response. For this activity, students are introduced to several popular memes asked to find the first time the meme was used as part of an argument. Instead of focusing on the isolated image, students should look to the rhetorical ecology of how a meme responded to a particular issue or idea. By asking questions like “What are the basic elements of the issue?” and “How does the meme engage a key component of an argument?,” students begin to define the exigence for the meme and the specifics of the rhetorical situation. Practicing good research skills, students can analyze the different arguments surrounding an issue and evaluate how their meme engages specific viewpoints. After analyzing how a specific meme has responded to arguments in the public sphere, students gain a familiarity with the media as well as the details of the involved arguments. Memes are fairly simplistic in construction and can reduce complex arguments to pithy forms. The next step has participants evaluate memes for missing elements or logical fallacies and rewrite the media as a more complex claim with supportive details. Focusing on one specific use of their meme, students can ask, “What is missing to create a detailed response to the issue?” Drawing on their own research, students can then address the exigence of an issue by rewriting a meme as an argumentative claim with supportive details. Paying attention to research, exigence, and arguments, students learn to map the larger rhetorical ecology of public issues and craft detailed claims that participate in evolving conversations. Learn more about the Bedford New Scholars advisory board on the Bedford New Scholars Community page.
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