One of the nifty things about teaching writing is that I can use whatever article catches my eye at a moment to turn into a teaching moment. My class is turning into a paper-writing bootcamp, and so I’m reminding them how to cite, paraphrase, and quote without plagiarizing and flunking out of college. And, yes, I don’t hesitate to tell them that if it’s two in the morning and they are too lazy to doublecheck their paraphrase against the original that they just need to visualize telling their mother that they flunked out of college to give them the extra spurt of adrenaline to do the right thing.

It turns out plagiarism is everywhere. There are senators that were kicked out of the race for plagiarizing their senior thesis, and everyone remembers Doris Kearns Goodwin, right? DP likes to remind me that University of Pittsburgh’s statement on plagiarism is used in a thousand undergraduate programs without citation. As such, I cite him every time I tell one of his stories in class.

But let’s go back to the reading. I have reread every single Best American Essay collection I have. I pore over the Atlantic and comb I Fucking Love Science for writing examples. I made them read an article on Shakespeare’s sonnets because I liked how the guy managed his transitions, and possibly also because I wrote my senior thesis in college on them (the sonnets, not transitions).

This is the fun part of teaching. This is not the anxiety over shaping an hour-long lecture that they will learn from. Bah. Back to the stupid powerpoint.

What’s working for you this week?


12 responses to “Reading

  1. funny that. i’ve been teaching paraphrasing too! worked pretty well. students were amazed. we paraphrased together, we paraphrased separately, we shared our paraphrasing. Think they got it? possibly…

    • Did I tell you about my hidden agenda? I realized there were three things I was looking for in the paper, but I hadn’t told them. So I revealed my hidden grading agenda. They looked all amused. And took notes. Think they got it? We’ll see.

      • I hate to be cynical, but the number of times I’ve thought they got it and they haven’t is reasonably innumerable. If one person got it, it’s probably a success.

  2. I’ve gone back to the way I used to write, which is to revise as I go along. Much more fun than drafting at the speed of light and saving all the revision for later. So far, anyway.

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