Monday, February 15, 2010

Grammar Woes

So here I am, firmly ensconced in teaching my first two college-level courses where I'm not being hovered over. I'm thoroughly enjoying myself, but there are a lot of things I'm still working out.

For example, the ENG 100 (Fundamentals of Writing) class meets twice a week. In one sense, it's less interesting to teach because I'm teaching more low level stuff; on the other hand, it's easier to teach because it's more fundamental. "Less interesting" is also unkind, and a slight misnomer; I can't figure out how to make the grammar lessons suck less and be less mind-numbingly boring to learn.

At the beginning of the teacher's edition of the book we're required to use are sample syllabi, based on the number of weeks in the semester. I chose the 15-week syllabus as a model, and have been following that. (Since this is my first time teaching this level, I figured I'd take advantage of said availability.) In every class we do some writing, and in every class we do some grammar. (Since the students have begun working on a second essay, we were able to use their initial draft as a means of discussing thesis statements and introductory paragraphs, but we also covered parallel sentence structure.) I like to have the students writing in every class; I think it helps them retain what they're meant to be learning. I use a lot of the book's writing prompts and assign many of the practice exercises for homework, which I then collect. Besides using some of the grammar exercises in the book, I've been printing out worksheets for them to work on as well, but I want to find a way of making it less deadly. I swear I could see their eyes glazing over as this was actually happening.

ENG 105 (College English I) is a bit easier because I've taught a comparable class previously; I used a lot of the same readings and writing prompts. There are three differences, though: The book (which is not a novel; it's a collection of readings) was predetermined by the department (and is used department-wide); I didn't assign a novel; and the class meets only once a week, for two hours and 45 minutes, which means I need to have a lot more planned per class session. I'm finding that the most challenging; I need to have more for them to read, discuss, and write about in class. It would be easier if they were a more talkative bunch. I find it more interesting to teach, though, because it allows me to get more in depth with the readings, and assign more difficult writing.

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