Friday, June 24, 2011

One Summer Class Down, One to Go

My five-week English 101 class ended on Tuesday of this week. The pace was so fast that I never really stopped to think about what a good class it really was. We had some good writers in there, and a higher-than-expected percentage of students who worked really hard (read: not many lazies this time!). Also, I saw some improvement in my students’ writing. (Yay!) Honestly, I didn’t know what kind of improvement I’d see (if any); five weeks is not a lot of time.

My five-week English 102 class started on Wednesday, just a few hours after I turned in my final grades for English 101. My head is spinning from the shift. This new class is about half the size of my old one, and I think it’s going to be good; as with 101, I have some smart students, and most of them participate enthusiastically in class discussion—which I particularly appreciate, since it’s a small class.

The biggest challenge for me (so far) has been the syllabus: How do you fit a class on writing about short fiction, poetry, and drama, all into five weeks?

The instructor who taught this class last year did it by leaving out poetry.

I couldn’t do that. Could. Not. Do. It.

So we’re spending 50% of our time on short fiction, 40% of our time on poetry, and 10% of our time on drama—watching and discussing A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and then reading passages from the text after watching the movie that came out a few years ago.

I hate that we have to give Shakespeare the short shrift. At least we'll look at a few sonnets in the poetry unit.

This weekend will be a busy one of lesson-planning and grading a few homework assignments. The lesson-planning will take time. Happily, I get to re-read two of my favorite short stories as part of my class prep: Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily" and Welty's "A Worn Path"!

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