Composing a Class for Freshmen (Rather Than the Teacher)

These main principles are fundamental to the Freshman Composition course I teach: learner-centeredness, high expectations, flexibility, and, most importantly, authentic audience and purpose. Learner-centeredness is an idea that made immediate sense to me when I was getting a certificate to teach English as a Second Language. If learning is to happen, then the student must be an active participant. Throughout the years, I have seen the effectiveness of this approach. In the composition classroom, the learner centered approach is realized in community building and warm-up exercises, frequent pair and group work, classroom activities, peer review sessions, and the Socratic method of teaching through questioning.

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“Educational Blogging”: An Article by Geoffrey Middlebrook

Over 112 million blogs crowd the blogosphere, mostly self referential blogs about personal experience. Geoffrey C. Middlebrook argues that teachers of advanced writing courses can use blogs, since they conform to current student-centered, active learning models. It is a space that writers can develop their voice and explore their interests “in a medium that appears to have life and longevity,” offering the potential of a wide and authentic audience and for developing a students’ disciplinary and professional identity, “an incipient sense of self in the discourses of one’s field.” Blogs can empower students, stimulate the initiative to write, engender information sharing, help reputation building and facilitate personal expression. He insists that his students adhere to the course objectives to “write clear, grammatical, well-structured prose; discover and convey complex ideas critically; appreciate the nuances of good argument; identify and speak to specific audiences in a voice of authority and persuasiveness; and address the academic, public, and professional aspects of writing within disciplines and career fields.” Although some may argue that Blogs may actually harm reputations, Middlebrook’s students have won awards and received high-level job offers. However, he warns that in a recent study students appreciated the use of technology when used effectively, but felt it was a waste of time when managed poorly or poorly integrated into the class.

Middlebrook, Geoffrey C. “Educational Blogging: A Forum for Developing Disciplinary and Professional Identity.” Computers and Composition Online Spring 2010. Web. 25 April 2010.