Reading Lists for Course Planning and Professional Development

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What can we do to create a welcoming and inclusive environment for our students? How can we connect writing and reading instruction with our students’ concerns? The following reading lists offer links to short takes on a variety of topics that cover issues such as course design; pedagogical terms and frameworks; racial, linguistic, and cultural identity; and suggested readings for course syllabi. The heading for each list is briefly annotated.

Photo: My cat Destiny, in search of a good read.

Transitions to College

As students transition to post-secondary education, they face new academic and social situations that present challenges, but also offer opportunities for growth as writers. Whether students transition directly from high school or military service, or are returning to college after a hiatus of many years, the sources in this first list focus on creating equitable classrooms for first-year students from a variety of backgrounds. The final item on the list shows the results from a recent survey on the expectations of high school teachers, college instructors, and employers in core content areas, including writing. The differing results offer a starting point for discussion about the purposes of post-secondary writing courses, as well as the needs and expectations of recent high school graduates attending college for the first time.

Pedagogical Frameworks

These sources offer lucid and succinct explanations of terms and frameworks that are frequently presented as keywords in post-secondary writing courses. The first two links are comprised of goals crafted by national organizations that shape our field. These lists can be shared with colleagues interested in national standards for first-year writing programs, which can and should include Basic Writing in their scope. The last two links offer a brief introduction to rhetorical concepts, and a revised version of Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Moving Beyond Self/Other

Many of us teach in communities that are new to us, or work with students whose points of view and learning needs initially seem far removed from our own.  At the same time, we can create a classroom environment that offers respect for all students and gives them opportunities to grow as writers. The links on this list offer suggestions. 

Addressing Racial, Linguistic, and Cultural Identities

Students claim identities from many intersecting racial, linguistic, and cultural contexts. Although students should not be required to represent their particular identity groups, we as teachers can benefit from learning more about how and why students’ perspectives may have been shaped in previous schooling and in experiences beyond our classrooms. The readings in this section come from a variety of academic sources and can help to inform our understandings of the world in which all of us live.

Course Planning: Recent Readings on Contemporary Issues

In the last several years, local, national, and global catastrophes have disrupted our lives, whether directly or indirectly. Educators have compiled a series of syllabi with books, articles, films, and other multimedia that address four of these traumatic events. These syllabi were published on the web in response to killings of people of color and LGBTQ people in the United States in the cities of Ferguson (2014), Baltimore (2015), Charleston (2015), and Orlando (2016). Individually and collectively, the syllabi offer readings and approaches that inspire a wide variety of writing topics, which may, in turn appeal directly to students contemporary concerns and interests. 

About the Author
Susan Naomi Bernstein (she/they) writes, teaches, and quilts, in Queens, NY. She blogs for Bedford Bits, and her recent publications include “The Body Cannot Sustain an Insurrection” in the Journal of Multimodal Rhetorics and “After Basic Writing” in TETYC. Her book is Teaching Developmental Writing. Other publications include “Theory in Practice: Halloween Write-In,” with Ian James, William F. Martin, and Meghan Kelsey in Basic Writing eJournal 16.1, “An Unconventional Education: Letter to Basic Writing Practicum Students in Journal of Basic Writing 37.1, “Occupy Basic Writing: Pedagogy in the Wake of Austerity,” in Nancy Welch and Tony Scott’s collection Composition in the Age of Austerity. Susan also has published on Louisa May Alcott, and has exhibited her quilts in Phoenix, Arizona and Brooklyn, NY.