Tag Archives: college

Why We Ditched School Altogether, Part II

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(Click here to read “Why We Ditched School Altogether, Part I”)

When I transitioned to herbal remedies in place of drugs four years ago, I remember thinking, “Good thing we aren’t in the medical profession!” If I were a pharmacist or married to one, for example, I’m not sure how well that switch would have gone over for all involved hahaha.

But as a college writing teacher married to a tax accountant, I figured we were safe from such life-altering displacement. Taxes are as certain as death, they say; and everyone believes in education.

Insert corny sound effect: ba-dum tshh.

This past summer at the most recent adjunct-faculty meeting I attended for the English department at Salt Lake Community College, I made my big confession: “Guys, I’m a traitor. I’ve converted to unschooling.”

It got the laugh I’d intended, but also lots of questions. “Unschooling? What’s unschooling? I mean, I get that it’s not doing school, but what does that look like?” Read the rest of this entry

First Impressions

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Monday is the beginning of another new semester at the community college . . . and I’m nervous. It doesn’t matter that I’ve been teaching since 2004. It doesn’t matter that I have a stack of glowing evaluations from satisfied students last semester.

What matters is that for some reason I’m not so hot at first impressions.

I swear that I wear professional-looking clothes and shoes, comb my hair, show up on time, smile, all of that. I’m not flunking on those counts. It’s just that somehow I fail to convince students to be excited to show up to my class again for day two. It usually takes until day five, eight, or even ten.

Over a lunch of Cafe Rio pork salads and quesadillas, I talked it over with my sister on Wednesday. Her university courses started this week, and already she had such glowing praise of her professors! “This teacher is amazing and so nice and the books she chose are going to be incredible to read because the way she described them made you want to open them and read them right now, and this other teacher—”

“Um,” I interrupted, half raising my hand like a timid student. “How do I do that? How do I make my students excited about my course?”

She winced a little. “Well, the class is about [such and such technical and highly interesting thing] and the books deal with [fascinating angle of said interesting thing], so . . .”

I finished it for her: “So the trouble is that I teach first-year composition, and who’s excited about that?”

Is that really it? Am I doomed from the get-go because I teach a general education course, whereas my sister is at the end of her major, taking classes custom designed by the professors to be exciting for English nerds? It seems like such a defeatist attitude!

So every semester I go in armed with some new first-day strategy to bolster instant enthusiasm. I give them letters written by previous students, reassuring these newcomers that the course is great and they’ll learn so much. I do activities and show movie clips and try to warm them up to me and to each other as quickly as possible. But still, somehow they won’t be convinced for a few weeks.

Any suggestions? What’s the key to it? What could a gen ed college teacher do or say on the first day to win you over?

Leave a comment!

Graphic Novel Adaptations

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Never mind about the Tuesday/Friday schedule for now. I’m having trouble boxing myself in. For example, I wanted to show this cover to everyone without having to wait until Tuesday:

PrideAndPrejudice_01

Doesn’t that make you want to pick up this book and read the whole thing? I love the illustration of Lizzy, and it makes me excited to open it and see all the rest of the characters I love! Plus the teen-mag spin with the teasers? Awesome.

This was just one of the many cool and unexpected things I discovered at the TYCA-West (Two Year College Association) conference this weekend. Levia Hayes and Elizabeth Henkel from the College of Southern Nevada gave a presentation entitled, “Comic Books and Visual Literature: Superpower or Kryptonite?” This cover was on their handout, along with a comic-book version of Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment and a comic book TEXTBOOK–that is, a textbook about comic books written as a comic book! How would you like that in college?

I’ve read only a few graphic novels, including American Born Chinese (super cool twist at the end!), Shannon’s and Dean’s and Nathan’s Rapunzel’s Revenge, and Holly Black’s The Good Neighbors (book 1), and so my experience with the genre is very limited, but I like the idea of graphic novels, the idea of having to read pictures closely to understand a story, all of that. pride_and_prejudice_3_by_sonny123

Anyhow, all three of those are original stories, not adaptations. This cover for P&P won me over instantly, and I’m excited to encounter a familiar, well-loved novel in a new way. I surfed over to my library website and put it on hold while sitting in the presentation. 

In high school we watched the BBC film rather than reading the book, but how cool would it be for teachers to use several versions–the original novel, the graphic novel, the BBC film, and the Focus Features film–and have students compare and contrast? You wouldn’t even have to show both films in their entirety.

There are, of course, a million other adaptations of P&P, with zombies and everything, but I like the idea of having high school students or college students analyze how the visual format of a comic book impacts the story, maybe falling in between the genres of novel and film.

Has anyone read any graphic novel adaptations of classics or contemporary novels? I’ve heard that Twilight is currently being adapted. Are there others? What are your opinions on the strengths and weaknesses of the genre? (Do I sound like I just got out of a conference? Sorry!)