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 teaching philosophy, click a link.
Teaching Philosophy General. This teaching philosophy focuses on communication and describes my approach to teaching composition, creative writing, technical writing, and literature courses. It’s aim is to help the student become a better thinker and writer of thoughts. (Updated 10-16-15.)
Teaching Philosophy Creative Writing. This teaching philosophy is focused on how I teach creative writing. (Updated 10-16-16.)
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.
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.)
Rhetorical Analysis and “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” I use this PowerPoint to teach rhetorical analysis in ENG102 (Composition II). It tends to be the third or fourth lesson, and I also intertwine it with Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” In a sense, the students and I work out a rhetorical analysis of King’s essay. The PowerPoint presentation looks long at 31 slides, but it can easily fit into a 50 minute class session. It runs 30-45 minutes depending on the participation level. (Added 9-5-14.)
Annotated Bibliography PowerPoint and Works Cited Bibliography PowerPoint. The way I teach the Research Paper project is for the student to start with a Proposal for their paper. (Here are the guidelines for it: Proposal PowerPoint.) Next is for the student to create an Annotated Bibliography. This takes two classes to teach. The first class uses the Annotated Bibliography PowerPoint to get the student familiar with the Annotated Bibliography. The next class is show them the various ways to make a citation for an Annotated Bibliography or a Works Cited page. The Works Cited Bibliography PowerPoint goes over variety of sources and points out the proper way to cite a source. Though not in the PowerPoint, I make to mention that often a citation includes a mix of some of the sources I’ve shown, which should be obvious anyway after going through this PowerPoint.
Grandmother’s Letters PowerPoint. This PowerPoint presentation is used as an introduction to Meena Alexander’s short story “Grandmother’s Letters.” It provides some hard-to-find background on Alexander, and it gives the story some historical and cultural context from which to approach the story. It also has a Works Cited slide. I think this is necessary to show the students that I, too, have to do research and acknowledge my sources, which is something they must do with their papers. I use this in World Literature, which is a survey course and the only required literature course at The University of Southern Mississippi. The last slide is titled “Possible Thesis Ideas.” During the course of the semester, they propose a thesis for a possible paper they might want to write. It’s a paragraph long or so, 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 there larger papers. This slide gives them some ideas of topics. They will have to answer the question with a “So What Factor” – this is their thesis statement, and last sentence of their paragraph. (Added 3-14-15.)
Magical Realism PowerPoint. I also use this in World Literature, which is a survey course and the only required literature course at The University of Southern Mississippi. In the first half of this course (as I have arranged it), we read short stories, plays, poems, and Gilgamesh using the part of our brain that we are most familiar with – conscious, rational, our everyday brains. The second half of the course introduces them to experience literature in ways the student is not accustomed to, such as accepting new ways of thinking and experiencing. I begin by introducing them to Surrealism and how the unconscious and non-conscious and non-rationals modes of thought are available. We read Neruda, Lorca, and Rumi. Then we move into Expressionism and Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis.” Then we slide into some Magical Realism stories, beginning with Lispector’s “The Smallest Woman in the World.” Before this PowerPoint presentation, I will recap the new modes of experience that are available, and then move into this presentation. This gives us an angle to start to approach “The Smallest Woman in the World.” (Added 3-14-15.)
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, go here: 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.)
Below are the student evaluations for the courses I taught. (Added 8-15-15).
Fall 2012: Two sections of ENG 101 (Composition I).
Spring 2013: Two sections fo ENG 102 (Composition II).
Fall 2013: Two sections of ENG 101 (Composition I).
Spring 2014: Two sections of ENG 333 (Technical Writing. One in-class section and one online section.
Fall 2014: Two sections fo ENG 102 (Composition II).
Spring 2015: One section of ENG 203 (World Literature) and one section of ENG 333 (online Technical Writing course).