When I embraced my Less is More philosophy I thought long and hard about the key structures that I wanted to include in my foundational writing courses (aka general education writing or Writing I and II at Morehead State). At the end of the day I chose four units or achievements (should this be its own post some time?) that focus on a deliverable that may have its roots in the modes but allows us to focus on some key rhetorical strategies without falling into the mode (Engfish mutt genre) trap. The key rhetorical topics I choose to explore with my developing writers are a narrative argument, a rhetorical analysis, a formal argument, and a culminating project (see Game Jam and American Literacy).
Each unit serves an underlying theme that drives the class, supports understanding and writing arguments, and builds on the unit before so every deliverable and every activity is at least a twofer. Each unit also follows a predictable pattern so students are supported by a familiar and comfortable structure as they embark on increasingly more difficult and challenging tasks. This predictable four-square teaching and writing plan helps keep me focused and on task, too.
Developing and thinking through this plan was an important survival skill for me, but now as we approach another school year which promises to be an even more fraught pandemic teaching experience I am thankful that I have this part of my teaching program already worked out and I can focus on HyFlexing my HyperDocs. This is even more important as I think about ways I can rework my American Literacy class to reflect this moment in history. What are the key elements of your class ecosystem? How are you planning your class (big and small picture) to best serve your endgame? I think I might be overdue to rewrite my philosophy of teaching writers as well as my manifesto for developing writers.