On this page, I will provide what amounts to my teaching portfolio. This will include a teaching philosophy, sample syllabuses, lesson plans, writing exercises, influences, student evaluations, etc.

This page is live, so new items will be added every now and then or old items might be revised.



To view a syllabus, click a link.

Introduction to Writing Poetry Syllabus. This syllabus assumes a course that meets once per week, but it can be easily adapted for a course that meets twice per week. (Updated 6-7-15.)

World Lit Syllabus. This syllabus is for a World Literature course, which is a survey course and the only required literature course at The University of Southern Mississippi. The instructor is required to use a pre-selected anthology and teach five texts from it, as well as a Shakespeare play of the instructor’s choosing. The instructor can then supplement it with whatever else the instructor wishes. I have arranged this course to have a split. The first half is to approach literature in the traditional manner of reading on a conscious and rational level. Then we move into other modes of experience via Surrealism, Expressionism, and Magical Realism. The turn begins on Week 6. During the course of the semester, the student also proposes a thesis for a possible paper they might want to write. It’s 200-500 words, and they turn one in most Fridays. This gets them into the practice of engaging with literature, thinking through it, and writing about what they read. I can then give them feedback. It helps prepare them for their larger papers. (Updated 8-15-15.)

The Not-So High Modernist Poets Syllabus. This syllabus is for a course that studies the innovative and experimental poets of the early Modernist era who are given as much attention in a typical Modernist poetry course. This course will not focus on Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, W. B. Yeats, Robert Frost, or Wallace Stevens. The course looks at 15 diverse poets and is divided into five sections: Writing of Place, Direct Treatment of the Thing, The New Measures, The Idea of Form and Syntax, and W. C. Williams Spring and All. (Added 6-7-15.)



To view a lesson plan, click a link.

Video: “How to Write a Thesis Statement for a Rhetorical Analysis Paper”:  or click here: https://youtu.be/3lRYMj34G60

Video: “How to Write an Introduction to a Rhetorical Analysis Paper”:  or click here: https://youtu.be/6Q2X1Og0yKs

video: “How to Write a Body Paragraph for a Rhetorical Analysis Paper”:  or click here: https://youtu.be/WhYgFqAaZVY

Cereal Exercise for Rhetorical Analysis. This lesson plan helps with teaching rhetorical analysis. It’s fun and it involves food, eating, imagining, and group work. It also encourages a lot of discussion. I don’t remember where I first saw this, but I have adapted it for my ENG102 (Composition II) course, which is themed on food. This three-slide PowerPoint (The Rhetoric of Cereal.pptx) is useful to display so the students can refer to what they need to do. (Added 8-9-14.)



Below are some writing exercises for fiction and/or poetry. Some are mine and some are others. I try to indicate who those others are or, at least, who introduced me to the writing exercise. Each exercise is downloadable by clicking the link.

For writing exercise excerpts from my forthcoming book Poetry Assignments: The Book, which unfortunately didn’t arrive, go here for chapter 1 and table of contents: Poetry Assignments.

Armadillos: An Exercise in Teaching Revision. By Jeff Newberry. This exercise is good early in the semester, especially for composition courses, and it fosters playful thinking and thinking beyond the obvious or expected. (Added 7-19-14.)

Sprint Writing. I don’t know who invented this, but it was presented to me by David Love. This exercise is especially effective when someone says they have nothing to write about. This works best with prose. (Added 7-19-14.)

The Coxswain’s Guide to Stroking Poetry, or Dictionary Dictations. This is one I invented, but as is always the case, there’s probably someone who did something similar before me. You’ll need a dictionary and timer for this one. There are actually two prompts in here. This can work for poetry or fiction. (Added 7-19-14.)

First Draft Generator Via Translation. I don’t know who invented this, but this is my version of it. It’s a translation exercise that requires no knowledge of any language other than English. It’s good to help students look for patterns in poetry. (Added 7-19-14.)

Facebook Profile Exercise. I don’t know who invented this exercise, but I first heard it from Lou DiLeo. This exercise uses a blank Facebook profile page (a really old version) that the student will fill out in order to create a character and then a story. You will also need to cut out pictures of people from magazines. This works best with prose. (Added 7-19-14.)



I recently had a prompt to write a 10-15 page paper about poems, stories, or novels that influenced my writing. I think this is an important item to include in my teaching philosophy, even if my response is only about four syllables that influenced my writing. You can read it here: Swinburne, Four Syllables, and Learning to Listen to Write or download a PDF here: Four Syllables. (Updated 8-9-14.)



Here is a summary of student evaluations from Fall 2017 through Spring 2019.


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