ENG 594: Teaching Composition

Fall 2017
Tuesdays 6:00pm-9:00pm
Ross 0280

Dr. Marc C. Santos
Office Location & Hours: 1180D Wednesday 1:00-2:00. Thursday 1:00-2:00. Also by appointment.

UNC Course Catalog Description

[English 122] Extensive practice in writing clear and effective academic prose with special attention to purpose, audience, organization, and style. Instruction in critical analysis and revision. (LAC 1b, gtP)

Course Purpose and Goals

Train new teaching assistants in School of English to teach college level composition to UNC students.

Course Description

This course has two goals this semester. First, it introduces you to the fundamental elements of Rhetoric and Composition. This scholarly introduction will include theoretical pieces on rhetoric’s scope, an engagement with rhetorical terms, a survey of composition theory on various facets of the writing process, a look at how digital communication technologies have influenced (or should influence) rhetorical practices and composition pedagogy, and a few pieces on how writing studies situates itself within contemporary institutions and our greater society at large.

Our approach to teaching writing will be informed by rhetorical theory, with an emphasis on four of Aristotle’s five canons: invention, arrangement, style, and delivery. Invention here concerns using heuristics to generate ideas, informing beginning writers of the various “topoi” they can use to develop and strengthen the persuasiveness of their ideas, arguments, and responses. Arrangement speaks to genre awareness, helping young writers recognize audience expectations depending on the type of writing they are doing. It also speaks to logical development–making sure ideas build progressively and in a way that an audience can follow. Style speaks to developing an appreciation for prose–for knowing when to make an idea clearer or when to amplify it with the use of a rhetorical device such as metaphor. Finally, delivery speaks to the digital dimensions of this course, ensuring that our writers know how to use digital tools to make themselves heard and contribute to important discussions taking place in our society today.

The second part of this course is more pragmatic, in that it dedicates time and energy into making sure you feel prepared to teach your class every week, and to develop new content, assignments, and strategies that you can take with you in future semesters. Teaching well requires a hefty amount of intellectual labor. This course rewards that labor as you transition into your new positions as graduate instructors. We will work together to share the workload, generate lectures, develop rubrics, become better at providing meaningful feedback, and encouraging students to take ownership of their own writing. Throughout the semester, you will work in teams of two to develop 10-15 minute multimedia presentations on a rhetorical or composition topic, along with 20 minute in-class exercises to reinforce the presentations.

The assignments in the course reflect my attempt to help you reflect on how you can put theory into practice.

Text and Materials

Instructors should have copies of the two texts that are required (or recommended) for Eng 122:

  • Graff, Gerald and Cathy Birkenstein. They Say, I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing.
  • Williams, Joseph M. and Joseph Bizup. Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace. (Note that I will use exercises from this book in a number of our in-class writing exercises).

Other requirements:

  • We will be reading a number of essays from the recent collection Bad Ideas about Writing
  • Since we will be working in class virtually every session, students should bring a laptop to class. If you do not have a laptop, you can check one out via the library
  • Students should expect copying and printing costs for this class. Many course readings will be distributed via PDF. I expect you to bring annotated copies of course readings to class for discussion
  • Students will be expected to use Google Docs and Google Drive to complete class assignments
  • This course uses the Canvas content management system


Much of the work we do will take place in class. This isn’t so much a lecture class as it is a lab and a discussion. Thus, your presence is essential not only to your success, but also to the experience of your peers.

That said, I understand that things can happen. You may miss one class session without incurring a penalty. Every absence beyond the first will result in a 10 point penalty on your final grade.

If you develop an illness or have a family situation that requires you to miss more than one class session, then please contact me as soon as possible to see if we can work something out (note that we might not be able to work something out). If you have an ongoing issue, please contact Disability Support Services to inquire into the extensive resources they can provide (full statement and contact information below).

Students who miss class are responsible for the material they missed.


Completion of all assignments does not guarantee a passing course grade. Students should save all papers and graded assignments.

If you feel that i have unfairly graded an assignment, please email me to arrange an office hours meeting in which we can further discuss the evaluation. If you are still dissatisfied, then you should consult the university policies for a grade appeal.

Weighted and averaged points for the course will be computed according to the following plus or minus grade scale:

93–100 =A 87–89 = B+ 77–79 = C+ 67–69 = D 0–66 = F.
90–92 = A– 83–86 = B 73–76 = C
80–82 = B– 70-72 = C-

Number grades that fall between two whole numbers will be rounded up if they are 0.5 or higher. (Example: 86.5= 87; 86.3 = 86)

Assignments and Obligations

Readings and Paper Days: Every week I will ask you to read 3 articles or book chapters on one core element of Rhetoric and Composition. The idea behind these readings is to familiarize yourself with the discipline (which should not only help your teaching but prepare you for applying to PhD programs and/or the job market).

We will have two “paper days” during the semester, during weeks X and Y. On paper days, you will condense our readings into a one page, single-spaced legal size paper (yes, I know how inconvenient this is. I wrote around 12 of these papers while in grad school). Beyond providing summary, these papers will focus on putting course readings into conversation, tracing out relationships between the various thinkers and commentaries studied in class, and connecting the readings to your experiences as a new instructor. Students will provide a copy of their paper to each of their classmates. These papers are expected to be at least 1200 words each. Font size must be nine or higher.

Teaching Observations: Over the course of the semester you will:

  • Observe one class taught by a classmate
  • Observe one class taught by your mentor
  • Be observed by myself
  • Be observed by your mentor

After you have completed all observations, I will ask you for a 750 word reflection on the experience.

Lesson Planning and Teaching Presentations: Over the course of the semester I will ask you to prepare 2 presentations for eng122. You will give these presentations practice runs in eng594 before class. Presentations will be 15 minutes or less. Presentations must be accompanied by a 20 minute activity that can be completed in class.

Feedback Portfolio: By week X of the semester, I will ask you to provide me with a feedback portfolio: a collection of papers w/ comments that you have supplied students. Papers should represent a range of student quality. The feedback portfolio will be accompanied by a short description of how our readings and class discussions, along with how your experiences in the classroom, have shaped your approach to providing feedback (pointing at examples in the portfolio).

Statement of Teaching Philosophy: Near the end of the semester I will ask you to research and produce a statement of teaching philosophy.

Discussion Forum Participation and In Class Activities: Over the course of the semester I will post discussion topics to Canvas.


Here are the requirement weights:

  • Paper Days: 20%
  • Teaching Observation Participation and Reflection: 15%
  • Lesson Planning and Presentation: 15%
  • Feedback Portfolio: 15%
  • Statement of Teaching Philosophy: 15%
  • Discussion Forum Participation and In Class Activities: 20%

Student Code of Conduct and Academic Integrity

All members of the University of Northern Colorado community are entrusted with the responsibility to uphold and promote five fundamental values: Honesty, Trust, Respect, Fairness, and Responsibility. These core elements foster an atmosphere, inside and outside of the classroom, which serves as a foundation and guides the UNC community’s academic, professional, and personal growth. Endorsement of these core elements by students, faculty, staff, administration, and trustees strengthens the integrity and value of our academic climate.

The Department of English at UNC has adopted the following policy regarding plagiarism. Pretending that another¹s work is one¹s own is a serious scholarly offense known as plagiarism. For a thorough discussion of plagiarism, see the Dean of Students website.

Students who are caught plagiarizing will receive a final grade of “F” in the course. In addition, they will be reported to the Chair of the Department of English and the Dean of Students office for possible further disciplinary action.

Some but not all UNC instructors regard double or repeat submissions of one¹s own work as a form of plagiarism. If you intend to use in this course written material that you produced for another course, you must consult with your instructor before doing so for each individual assignment. Otherwise, you may be guilty of cheating.

If you need help with understanding documentation systems and avoiding plagiarism beyond the instruction given in class and as seen in the UNC Code of Conduct, speak with the instructor or visit the UNC Writing Center’s web site for a series of PowerPoint tutorials at http://www.unco.edu/english/wcenter/academicintegrityindex.html. Instructors use experience and a plagiarism detection service, Safe Assignment, sponsored by the University, to aid in spotting cases of plagiarism. Plagiarism will not be tolerated.

Disability Accommodations

Disability Resources: It is the policy and practice of the University of Northern Colorado to create inclusive learning environments. If there are aspects of the instruction or design of this course that present barriers to your inclusion or to an accurate assessment of your achievement (e.g. time-limited exams, inaccessible web content, use of videos without captions), please communicate this with your professor and contact Disability Support Services (DSS) to request accommodations. Office: (970) 351-2289, Michener Library L-80. Students can learn more about the accommodation process at http://www.unco.edu/disability-support-services/.

Parental Accommodations

As a parent, I understand that life can come at you fast. If you would miss a class session due to babysitting issues, please don’t. Feel free to bring you child to class.

Course Plan (Subject to Change–So Much Change)

Tuesday, August 22nd

The plan:

  • Crystal Brothe on the Writing Center
  • Meeting the Mentors
  • Hey, look, a syllabus!
  • Activity: Corder’s “Argument as Emergence”
  • Discussion: Walter Ong’s “Writing is a Technology”
  • Make sure the darn communities are mapped out
  • Sign up for lecture development and presentation
  • Syllabus review, between now and next week
    • Revising the Wednesday night homework (medium.com essay, instead of 5-7 sentences, let’s do two paragraphs–one that offers a summary, one that works at a response)
    • Strategies for discussing possible topics on Friday
    • Reviewing my notes on teaching proposals
    • Why I teach the period
    • Essay for student summaries: from Bad Ideas about Writing

For next session, readings on what it means to teach writing:

  • Murray, “Writing Badly to Write Well”
  • Fishman, Lundsford, McGregor, & Otuteye “Performing Writing, Performing Literacy”
  • Barger, “Reading is Not Essential to Writing Instruction” (Bad Ideas)
  • Parrott, “Some People are Just Born Good Writers”

Tuesday, August 29th

The plan:

  • Open time to discuss the first week
  • Discussion of Murray, Fishman et al, Barger, Parrott
  • Syllabus review, between now and next week
    • Setting up medium.com accounts
    • Setting up a way for students in other classes to link up
    • Rubric for the proposal
    • Williams and Bizup on active verbs
    • Scheduling peer teaching observations

For next session, readings on responding to student writing

  • Williams, “Phenomenology of Error”
  • Moxley, “Responding to Student Writing”
  • Daiker, “Learning to Praise”
  • Leahy, “Rubrics Save Time and Make Grading Criteria Better”

Begin grading proposals and Google Doc feedback contributions

Tuesday, Sept 5th

The plan:

  • Examine the Google Doc contributions, talk about the proposals, general “how is it going”
  • Discussion of Williams, Daiker, Moxley, and Leahy
  • Lecture Presentation: Plagiarism
  • Syllabus review, between now and next week
    • They Say, I Say
    • Williams and Bizup on active verbs
    • Student Questions
    • Getting them to read and comment on each other’s work

For next session, readings on workshopping and peer review

  • Neubert and McNelis, “Peer Response: Teaching Specific Revision Suggestions”
  • Baker, “Peer review as a strategy for improving students’ writing process”
  • Selection from Creative writing pedagogies for the twenty-first century

Google Doc feedback contributions.

Tuesday, Sept. 12th

  • Check in on Teaching Observations
  • Feedback Exercise / Discuss Drafts
  • Discussion of Neubert and McNelis, Baker / Preparing for workshopping
  • Break
  • Me: Using Precise Language
  • Syllabus Review
  • Connecting students on medium.com (workspace)

For next session,

  • Me: Using Precise Langauge
  • Readings: TBA

Tuesday, Sept 19th

  • Discussion of readings
  • Discussion of paper days
  • Medium.com Writers Index
  • Break
  • Danielle: Logos, Ethos, Pathos and Advertisements
  • Me: Evidence vs. Reasons
  • Syllabus Review
  • How to comment in medium.com
  • For next session:

    • Paper Day #1

    Tuesday, Sept 26th

    • Cross-Class Commenting
    • Christina: Kairos
    • Review of syllabus
    • Paper Day!

    Tuesday, October 3rd

    • Discuss readings / ideology, politics, and postpedagogy
    • Keri: Paraphrasing
    • Rachel: Williams and Bizup
    • Review of Syllabus
    • Schedule Santos observations

    For next session:

    • Berlin
    • Hairston
    • Kopelson
    • Rickert

    Tuesday, October 10th

    • Discuss readings on antiracist pedagogy
    • Rebecca: Logical Fallacies
    • Cheyenne: Making Data Meaningful
    • Me: Leggo My Logos
    • Syllabus Review

    For next session:

    • Yancey, “Composition in a New Key”
    • Sirc, “Serial Composition”
    • Shipka, “This was NOT an Easy Assignment”

    Tuesday, October 17th

    • Discuss readings on new media composition
    • Review Syllabus
    • Prepare for transition into the final research projects (read some Booth, Craft of Research); schedule library visits, etc.

    For next session:

    Tuesday, October 24th

    • Discuss video pedagogy
    • Tutorial on how to use video
    • A look ahead to ENG 123: week by week syllabus
    • Observation Check in
    • Syllabus Review

    For next session:

    • Pimental, Pimental, and Dean, “The Myth of the Colorblind Writing Classroom: White Instructors Confront White Privilege in Their Classrooms”
    • Inoue, selection from Antiracist Writing Assessment Ecologies: Teaching and Assessing Writing for a Socially Just Future

    Tuedsay, October 31s

    Class is cancelled.

    Tuesday, November 7th

    • Syllabus Review
    • Teaching Philosophy Assignment
    • More looking ahead to English 123: assignments and support materials

    For next session:

    • Paper Day #2
    • More reading in Booth
    Print Friendly