Picturing a First-Year Comp Agenda

Preparing agenda Day 2Here is a photo of my open three-ring binder for the two sections of first-year composition I’ll be teaching this fall term..

From left to right:

  • two post-its with the agenda I’ll draw and a sentence I’ll write on the whiteboard for tomorrow’s classes
  • my composition notebook for freewriting at the beginning of each class with photos of William Stafford and Peter Elbow
  • the first text we’ll be reading in class, Jeanette Walls‘ memoir The Glass Castle, sitting on top of the Grammar Diagnostic Exam I’ll also be giving students tomorrow

Here below is a detail photo of the two post-its.  Beginning this semester, I will draw the course agenda for students on the whiteboard prior to each class session.  In the past, I projected numbered or bulleted slides to walk students through the class agenda, but I’ve decided to illustrate the agenda with simple icons to lead me and my students through the class tasks.  (More here on how I began developing this strategy during a visual thinking course I taught this last summer.)

Detail Preparing agenda Day 2

The pencil = We will free-write together at the beginning of each class to focus our energies on writing and on the topics of the class.

?s  = I will ask students if they have questions about the assignments, our schedule, or any aspect of the class.  I will repeat that questions are always good things.

The house = Homework for the next class period.

The line with period = Students will take a Grammar Diagnostic Exam to draw their attention to one aspect of the class: improving their confidence and versatility on composing sentences.

The key and ukulele = I will preview some key terms of the course (Reading, Writing, Drawing Leads to Improved Thinking) and demonstrate how the four strings of the ukulele serve as another reminder of how these four abilities work together to enable us to achieve other purposes.

The line with period again = I will briefly introduce a basic vocabulary of sentences.  I believe “less is more” when it comes to learning sentence grammar.

APA = Students will submit the course Academic Performance Agreement — a signed agreement demonstrating their understanding and acceptance of the course requirements.

?s  = An opportunity at the end of the class for students to ask questions about anything related to the class or work coming due.