Ronosaurus Rex’s Walk Around the San Francisco Bay

The End of a 350-Mile Journey

I have walked all around the San Francisco Bay at every accessible point, including islands, bridges, piers, and docks. You can see me below, jumping over the yellow line, marking the spot the walkway on the Golden Gate Bridge reaches land, the end of what was at least a 350 mile journey. Do you think I look pleased?

(Photo by Omar Rodriguez Rodriguez. To my left, Deb Garfinkel, Gary Boren and Katie Fox)

Today, June 20, 2015, a group of friends–Omar Rodriguez Rodriguez, Gary Boren, Katie Fox, Deb Garfinkel, Erik Kessell–and I walked the last leg. We took a ferry to the Sausalito Ferry Landing, then walked along the beautiful waterfront to Fort Baker, on the north side of the bridge, where we had drinks at The Presidio Yacht Club Bar, sometimes known as Mike’s place. (“No,” the bartender said to one of my friends, “we don’t have iced tea. This is a bar.”) After beers and shots of tequila (and a diet coke), we climbed to the bridge and crossed the Golden Gate, and my walk was completed!

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Do You Have a Pile of Papers to Read? Take a Walk!

IMG_0457As a writing teacher, you have piles of papers to read, and sometimes, believe me I know, it gets overwhelming. It’s a beautiful day outside, but you are stuck in your office. Your back is aching, your hand is cramping, and your mind is reeling.

Do you have a pile of papers to read? Take a walk!

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“Mention,” a Favorite Verb of Student Writers

I’d just like to mention that student writers love to use the verb “mention.” This writer mentions this and that writer mentions that.

But Herman Melville did not mention a white whale in his novel; he wrote a 704 page book about it. William Shakespeare did not mention the prince of Denmark; he wrote his longest play about this conflicted gentleman. Homer did not mention the Trojan war; he wrote a 15,693 line poem exploring only the later part of the conflict. Edward Gibbon did not mention the fall of the Roman Empire; he penned a six volume work on the subject. Obviously, these are extreme examples, but students do tend to use the verb a lot!

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The Electric Word: A Hybrid Second-Year Composition Course

English 214: Second Year Written Composition

Instructor: Ronald B. Richardson

The Electric Word: Class Blog

Descriptions of and Links to Student Blogs

Course Description

Welcome to the Electric Word: Second Year Composition! I look forward to the exchange of ideas with all of you as we explore reading, research, critical thinking, and writing in primarily digital environments.

A Hybrid Course: Half of the classes for this course will be face to face in a traditional classroom; for the other half, we will meet asynchronously online through iLearn, the course management system at SFSU. We will meet physically every Monday and half of the Wednesdays (see the course schedule). The other half of the Wednesdays and all Fridays will be online. When classes are online, students may complete the class work any time that day or earlier. Because of the hybrid nature of this course, students should be self-motivated and good at time management.

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Diversity: The Fountain of Life, a Source of Education

Diversity is the fountain of life. Without it, eubacteria would still stain the oceans a uniform rust color. Diversity makes change, experimentation, adaptation and evolution possible. When ecosystems are diverse, life thrives. When human populations are diverse, culture flourishes.

Few places on earth are as diverse as the bay area. Residents brush shoulders with Ethiopians and drag queens, Muslims and hippies, quadriplegics and republicans. The bay area shows the world that diverse peoples can live together peacefully, mixing yet maintaining distinct identities. Of course, tensions arise, and communities do not interact as much as they could. Chinatown, the Mission, the Marina, and the Castro are too often separate worlds.

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The Right Word Activity

The Goal: To learn the importance of exact wording. The team with the longest list of correct names for things in the classroom after five minutes wins.

When the teacher says “Go,” groups of three or four students will right down the names of things in the classroom for five minutes. The groups may organize themselves anyway they wish, but each group must have only one list of words when the timer goes off. Students are encouraged to use computers and other electronic devices to find the right word for an item. The team with the most words at the end of the activity will get 25 points extra credit each.

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Writing Assignment: Reading as a Detective

Background: After an introduction to literature, poetry, and the evolving genre of romance, we began following the development of mystery from the folktale “Three Princes of Seredip” and Voltaire’s Zadig, or the Book of Fate through Edgar Allan Poe’s crystallization of the detective story in his tales of rationcination, exemplified by “The Purloined Letter.” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle further developed and popularized detective fiction in his Sherlock Holmes stories, such as “A Scandal in Bohemia.” We saw the gentleman detective turn into tough, morally complex character in Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon, then lost ourselves in the many twists of Ira Levin’s play Deathtrap. Throughout this unit, we have explored the connection between detective work and close reading, namely looking for clues and constructing meaning from those clues. Now it’s your turn to practice a bit of detective work on the mystery of your choice.

Goal: To interpret a mystery using techniques of close reading, exploring social issues of morality, class, gender, sexuality, and so on.

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Writing Assignment: The Changing Genre of Romance

Background: After an introduction to writing, literature and poetry, we turned to the genre of romance, whose definition has morphed from chivalric romance (such as Sir Gawain and the Green Knight) through Gothic romance (as in Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte) to modern romance (as represented by the short stories we have read). In “The History of Genre,” Ralph Cohen explains that genres are open categories, which change over time as new texts are added to the set. Genre set up expectations, which individual texts may satisfy or alter. Knowing the conventions of a genre aids readers in understanding and interpreting the work.

Goal: The purpose of the paper is to explore the relationships between individual works of literature and the changing genre of romance.

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Language, Education and Identity: Writing Assignment for Pre-Transfer Level

Background: We spent the first half of the semester exploring our “hidden intellectualism,” the academic skills we use in non-academic pursuits, then turned to questions of language and identity. We have explored the various forms of English we use with different people in different settings, recognizing that one version is not necessarily better, but certain forms are more appropriate in certain settings. For example, so-called “standard” English is most appropriate in academic and professional settings, but learning how to use it correctly does not mean you must set aside your identity. Also, we have been reading from the book “They Say / I Say,” which explains that academic conversation happens when we put our ideas in conversation with the ideas of others. Now we are going to practice balancing multiple viewpoints in discussions of language and identity.

Goal: To respond to one or more of the readings from this unit in three ways by agreeing, disagreeing, and balancing opposing viewpoints.

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Intensity and Sophistication: Basic Skills versus Transfer Level Composition

Students in pre-transfer and transfer-level classes need to develop similar skills: studying, reading, thinking, and writing. The principal distinctions are intensity and sophistication.

Basic skills students need training in how to be college students. To keep them in school, teachers should ask them to consider their motives, discuss reasons students drop out, familiarize them with support services, and require investigation of educational resources. Instructors need to teach how to stage tasks and manage time, working these guidelines into assignments. Transfer level students need the same, but instructors can spend less time on learner training and more on content.

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