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Course materials online at http://english675.wordpress.


Shannon Carter, Associate Professor of English Office Hours: W, 1-2 and R, 1:00-2:30 HL 219 * 903-886-5492
HL 219 * 903-886-5492 Appointments are especially welcome. Email is, by far, the best way to reach me.

Tabetha Adkins, Assistant Professor of English

English 675: Fall 2009

Course Description

We work from the premise that teaching is, above all, an intellectual activity. We believe that, to
our very cores. And we take the teaching of writing very, very seriously. It is serious business.
But it is also a tremendous amount of fun. In this course we attempt to work from that balance
that is sure to make our experiences together as generative, productive, and useful to you as

This course is about the teaching of college writing--in the first-year composition classroom, in
the writing center, in the basic writing program. It’s also about teaching writing in our particular
writing program. For these reasons, the vast majority of our course readings and other activities
work together to introduce the theoretical and practical foundations upon which this particular
program is built. We believe that teaching teachers the “why” behind our approaches to writing
here at Texas A&M-Commerce puts them in a better position to approach the teaching of writing
in very different ways as well. There are many, many viable and research-based approaches to the
teaching of writing. Best practices abound in writing programs across the nation, many of which
look very little like ours here. But there are also some very good reasons for doing what we do
here. As teachers in our writing programs and writing center, it’s important that you know what
these reasons are. As they say in the old Schoolhouse Rock intros, “Knowledge is Power!”

Required Materials

Bean, John. Engaging Ideas: The Professor’s Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active
Learning in the Classroom. Longman, 1996.

Carter, Shannon. The Way Literacy Lives: Rhetorical Dexterity and the “Basic” Writer. State University of
New York Press, 2009. ISBN: 978-0791473566

Lindquist, Julie and David Seitz. Elements of Literacy. Longman, 2009. ISBN: 9780807748664
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Heath, Shirley Brice and Brian V. Street. On Ethnography: Approaches to Language and Literacy.
Teachers College Press, 2008. ISBN: 9780321328915

Observations--You will observe at least three TAs and/or faculty in our program, working with
writers in the writing center, our basic writing program, or in English 101 or English 102.
Additional guidelines will be provided within the first couple weeks of this course, but you
should expect to observe these courses as early in the term as possible. Contact the instructor to
see what might be a good time for this observation. Ask what you should expect to see in that
course, and ask if you might see a syllabus beforehand. We’ll provide a list of questions to help
guide these observations. You must complete these observations and submit your brief report by
November 10.

Interviews---You will interview at least 2 teachers in our program. We will work together to
generate a list of good interview questions, but interview topics should range from responding to
student writing, encouraging active reading, group activities, peer review, class discussions, and
other subjects relevant to teaching and, especially, the teaching of writing--in the classroom or in
the writing center.

Respond to One Writing Assignment from the current English 101 Sequence (and Reflect
Upon/Discuss the Experience)--At some point this term, you will be expected to respond to one
of our English 101 WAs from the student’s perspective. In other words, you will be expected to
compose one of the projects assigned to our English 101 students. You’ll reflect upon the
experience and share your findings with the class.

Blog--Create a blog or other interactive forum and post at least once a week. Your classmates will
be required to respond to these blogs at least once a week, as well. Weekly posts are due at noon
the Sunday before that week’s class meeting, unless you are the one assigned to generate the
following “Week in Review” (“Week in Review” due before noon the Sunday after that same
week’s class meeting and posted to the “Teaching Writing” blog generally available for all
GANTs/GATs/GARs in our program []). In your individual
blogs, you should keep up with and respond to the required readings and reflect upon your
experiences in the classroom, in the writing center, and elsewhere. Think of this as a combined
“Teaching Journal” and “Reading Log.” You might also use it as a space to collect resources,
urls, and other good stuff as you run across them. The more effectively, extensively, and regularly
you use your blog the better your score here and, as luck would have it, the easier it will be to
generate a strong Teaching Portfolio. It’s a win, win!

Teaching Portfolio--The culminating project for this course. You will present this to us at the end
of the term. See “Teaching Portfolio” at our course website for more. You will receive a handout
describing this important project soon, but you can find it at the above url right now. Teaching
Portfolio includes: (1) Statement of Teaching Philosophy, (2) Annotated List of 10 Specific and
Relevant Resources for College Writing Teachers and Tutors, (3) Interviews with Teachers in
Our Program, (4) Sample Teaching Activity, and (5) Student Paper with Teacher Feedback.

Grading Procedure
This is, of course, an S/U course. But that does not mean you shouldn’t take the course very, very
seriously. We certainly will. Remember that, to a great extent, this course is about
professionalism. You are introducing yourselves (work ethic, dedication, attention to teaching as
an intellectual activity) to us, your bosses. Keep that in mind as you work through this course. It’s
a pass/fail course so you’ll feel more comfortable experimenting in your teaching. So you’ll feel
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more comfortable talking to us about what doesn’t work just as much as what works. Teaching is
hard. Teaching writing is really hard. We recognize that and expect that difficulty to yield a
number of missteps. We want to talk about those missteps, as well as the successes.

Ways to Fail English 675:

• Fail to submit one or more of the required assignments on time and on target
• Miss class or come in late. Miss once, okay. Miss more than that, we need to talk.
• Fail to contribute thoughtfully and regularly to our face-to-face and online discussions (online
via your blogs). To do this, you MUST read.
•Fail to keep up with your readings. It is obvious to us when you haven’t read. It is absolutely
crucial that you keep up with the assigned readings. We assigned them for a reason.

Ways to do well in English 675:
• It’s not hard to do, though it may be time consuming. Assume everything assigned is designed
to make you a stronger writing teacher. Surprise! That’s exactly why we’ve assigned it!
• Submit all of your required assignments on time and on target
• Don’t miss class or come in late
• Keep up with class discussions and maintain an active, interesting, and regular blog.
• Keep up with your required readings!

Writing Center
The Writing Center (or the “Communication Skills Center”) offers writers free, one-on-one
assistance. We welcome all writers, majors, and disciplines—undergraduate and graduate
students alike. In fact, we work from the premise that all writers, no matter their ability level,
benefit from the feedback of knowledgeable readers. The Writing Center staff is trained to
provide writers with just this service. In short, we are here to help you help yourself. In order to
ensure the most effective session possible, we offer visitors the following suggestions: (1) Get
started on your writing project early, and visit the Writing Center at least one day before your
final draft is due. You will need time to work with the ideas and suggestions generated in your
tutorial sessions. (2) Bring a written copy of your assignment, any relevant readings, and one or
two specific questions or concerns you would like to discuss with us. We are located in the Hall
of Languages, Room 103 (903-886-5280) and online at <http://www7.tamu->.

Academic Honesty
The official departmental policy: “Instructors in the Department of Literature and Languages do
not tolerate plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonestly. Instructors uphold and support
the highest academic standards, and students are expected to do likewise. Penalties for students
guilty of academic dishonesty include disciplinary probation, suspension, and expulsion. (Texas
A&M University-Commerce Code of Student Conduct 5.b [1,2,3])

If you ever have any questions about a particular use of a source, always ask your instructor.
They want you to avoid plagiarism, too, so they will help you do so whenever and wherever they
can. Do what you can to take advantage of this support—to look innocent in addition to being
innocent when it comes to charges of plagiarism.

On University-Sanctioned Activities
To accommodate students who participate in university-sanctioned activities, the First-Year
Composition Program offers sections of this course at various times of the day and week. If you
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think that this course may conflict with a university-sanctioned activity in which you are
involved--athletics, etc.--please see me after class today.

Additional Official Statements
Student Conduct: All students enrolled at the University shall follow the tenets of common decency and
acceptable behavior conducive to a positive learning environment. In addition, you are requested to turn
off your cell phones before entering the classroom. Common courtesy says you do not receive or answer
calls during class. If there is an emergency that requires you to leave your phone on, talk to me about it
beforehand and switch the phone to vibrate so you don't surprise me when you leave class to take a call
and you don't interrupt class when the call comes in. Also, Instant/Text Messaging is off limits.

Americans with Disabilities Act Statement: Students requesting accommodations for disabilities must go
through the Academic Support Committee. For more information, please contact the Director of
Disability Resources and Services, Gee Library, Room 102, (903) 886-5835. Additional information
available online at

Day-to-Day schedule is available online at