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Hyoung Min Lee (recommended by Dr. Claire Carly-Miles), Bedford New Scholar 2021, is pursuing her PhD in English at Texas A&M University. She teaches Writing About Literature as a graduate teaching assistant. She has also taught Rhetoric and Composition and worked as a grader for Technical and Business Writing. She is interested in teaching 20th- and 21st-century American literature with a focus on diversity and social justice. Her research interests include theories of race and biopolitics and 20th- and 21st-century American literature, especially African American literature.
How do you engage students in your course, whether face-to-face, online, or hybrid?
A method that has worked especially well for me since the global pandemic changed the way classes are conducted is to assign students discussion posts as well as response posts to their peers’ discussion posts prior to each class meeting. I make sure to directly reflect students’ discussion posts when I design my class materials. What I find to be an effective approach I take here is to cite students’ discussion posts in my course materials and give recognition to students by putting students’ names before introducing their questions. I would often highlight especially helpful parts within a discussion post and ask the student whose post I cited to elaborate further on their discussion question or begin to respond to their own question for the class. I found this to be an effective way to increase participation without the recourse to random cold calling, which can make some students feel uncomfortable, especially in online settings. I can confidently say that this method worked well for including even the less vocal students to become important contributors to class discussion.
What is the most important skill you aim to provide your students?
I try to equip students with revision skills and the habit to keep revisiting one’s own writing. I try to provide students ways to approach writing as a (collaborative) process rather than a product to be quickly written and be done with. As a teacher who has acquired English language skills as a second language, I understand what it means to approach writing as a process; I continue to strive to be a better writer of English prose by revising, editing, and asking for my peers’ suggestions and advice because I cannot take my written communication skills (in English) for granted. To show that writing is a process for anyone who tries to write well, I ask students to write rough drafts for major assignments and provide them with a chance to revise their paper after receiving comments from me, their peers, and themselves. I aim to provide students an understanding that patience, resilience, and collaboration are significant for writing well. My goal is to see students’ increased awareness of their writing and decreased fear of writing by embracing writing as a process.
What is it like to be a part of the Bedford New Scholars program?
Having majored in literature, it has been a new and challenging experience for me to be a part of the Bedford New Scholars program with many scholars whose expertise firmly lies in rhetoric and composition. Although there were moments I was worried about my lack of expertise in the field of rhetoric and composition, my experiences of having taught first year composition and writing about literature courses have allowed me to join in the rich conversations that took place in the program. Among many things, this program surely deepened my interest in anti-racist pedagogy. For instance, Dr. Uzzie Cannon’s lecture offered during the Summit week was an amazing opportunity to learn more about DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) in teaching composition as well as other Scholars’ insights into social justice pedagogy. These opportunities to learn also greatly benefited me when I received an offer to review a textbook from a DEI perspective as a Bedford New Scholar. I learned so much by being a part of this wonderful program. It has been an honor for me to be a part of it.
What have you learned from other Bedford New Scholars?
I have learned so many valuable lessons from other Bedford New Scholars, especially during the Summit week. Having the chance to learn about other Scholars’ “assignments that work” was an amazing opportunity to grow as a scholar and teacher. I was especially impressed by the ways these creative assignments incorporated multimodality by, for instance, making students approach writing not just through traditional writing on a paper but through creating video and audio responses. As someone who is not tech-savvy but wants to move out of her comfort zone to become a better teacher, many helpful suggestions other Bedford Scholars provided for me on incorporating multimodality more in my classroom gave me confidence that I could improve my own assignment and make it more interesting. I also learned so many helpful assignment building ideas with a focus on DEI and ways to make writing fun through incorporating gaming and photography in a composition classroom.
Hyoung Min Lee’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 Hyoung Min’s assignment. For the full activity, see Creative Literature Response.
I have designed a small writing assignment, a creative literary response assignment, to increase diversity and help students engage with literary texts more freely (without suppressing too much of their creative writing voice) before they submit more formally structured essays in my course on writing about literature. While assigning a creative response is a common method that many teachers have used to increase student engagement with a text, I have designed this assignment to function as a bridge between students’ creative interpretation of a text and formal analysis of the text. In preparing four prompts for the assignment, I tried to encourage diverse ways of student engagement with the texts. For instance, students who feel comfortable writing a response structured closely to a conventional literary analysis essay can choose to respond to a prompt that asks them to write from the reader’s perspective about interesting literary aspects while other students who want to approach the assignment more as a creative writing task can choose the prompts that ask them to imagine themselves as a character and write from the character’s perspective. From my teaching experience, after asking students to read each other’s posts and comment on them via Google Docs, students expressed how the practice of reading their peers’ creative literature responses offered them “new perspectives” on the texts we read in class.
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