• Questions from Students

    Paragraphs?

    Here’s a great question on paragraphs from one of my students: Hello Professor Palmer, I am working on editing the final draft for the Short Fiction essay and a question has come up. I have three main points in the paper and three supporting evidences per point. As a result, the paragraphs are long. Should I break up each jumbo paragraph into three smaller ones? (Discussing one evidence per paragraph)    My response: This is a great question! I wrote a paper on this topic once upon a time. 😉 Paragraphs are like sentences in a way. There are guidelines for a good paragraph, but how long or how short they are depends…

  • 6x16

    6×16 2021 Reflection

    This year’s 6×16 has been a little hectic, and I confess this is only #5 for me. It is always nice to spend some time thinking about teaching and learning, even if I haven’t been able to make it my priority this go ’round. Knowing that other folks are doing the same is pretty cool! Even though I’m not on campus this semester, so I missed out on some of the fun surprises, this is still a rewarding exercise. I’ve been taking a memoir course at NAU this semester, and all the assignments are submitted as blog posts. It’s been an interesting experience. While I feel a lot of pressure…

  • 6x16

    How I Became a Teacher

    My first experience with teaching was in Kindergarten at Starlight Park Elementary school. I was an early reader, so my teacher, Miss Berry, assigned me to work with some of the other students. I remember working with “Carrot-Top” (this is obviously not his real name, but that’s what he was called, and I don’t have any way of finding out his actual name). In 3rd grade, I used to corral as many of my friends as possible for “school” during recess. Sometimes, I made my brother (in 1st grade) get his friends to come to my class. I don’t know if my brother loved me so much, or if I…

  • 6x16

    Making Meaningful Connections with Content

    Especially in first year composition courses, faculty often work diligently to create assignments that are relevant to students. We want to engage them in the process so that they not only learn something, but (gasp!) enjoy doing it. I’ve had some luck with this. While every student might not start watching commercials more critically because of my Ad Analysis assignment or start volunteering for a non-profit because they researched it in my class or start a blog because they loved their website assignment so much, some do. And I consider that a victory, for sure. However, what I really want students to get (and I think this is really the…

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  • 6x16,  Teaching

    Instruction…What is it good for?

    Is it just me, or does this sum up the state of education today? How many kids are getting by with the help of Google and “Hey, Siri”? Back in the good old days, students might buddy up to do homework, but at least that resulted in a collaboration of sorts. A dialog about the questions, the answers, where they are found in the text, drawing out diagrams, giving examples–in short, learning was happening. In math, when we looked at the back of the book for the right answer, we still had to be able to do the work to get the credit! But Google doesn’t foster learning–it just gives…

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  • 6x16

    New Normal

    It has been fascinating over the last year and a half to see how students’ perceptions of online learning have changed. When we first moved everything online in a panic in March 2020, one of my students dropped the class because he didn’t want to take an online class; he didn’t think he’d be successful. Just a semester later, he popped up on my roster and ended up acing the course. Many students who were resistant to taking classes online learned that they did, indeed, have what it took to be an online learner. Now that we are back in school, we’ve seen that, in fact, many of our students…

  • 6x16Fall2020

    Back to the Future

    As an educator, I have always believed that my purpose is to teach students the skills they need to succeed in their academic careers and their chosen professions. As a composition instructor, that means that I focus on teaching students how to write well–how to clearly articulate their ideas for a specific audience and purpose. Unfortunately, this task seems to become more difficult with each passing year as students enter college less prepared. Over the past few semesters, I have had multiple students tell me that they have never (yes, never!) written an essay in their entire academic career. I don’t know how this is even possible, and, in over…

  • 6x16Fall2020

    Lesson Plans…

    What are you teaching next week? Do you know? How much of your teaching is planned and how much of it is spontaneous and driven by the moment? What’s your approach to improvisation? I have always been a planner. In fact, I teach workshops on organization and goal setting to women in business at a yearly retreat. I like to know what is coming next, and I’ve found that most students appreciate this, as well. In my early years of teaching, I was given courses to teach with no guidelines at all other than, perhaps, a sample syllabus. So, I would look at the course outcomes and the textbook and…

  • 6x16Fall2020

    Teaching Modalities

    Deciding which modality I prefer is an interesting question with answers that change depending on the circumstances. As a student, I definitely prefer the online modality. I like to get my assignments done and move on to the next thing. One aspect of this preference is simply that I learn best from reading about a subject, rather than listening to a lecture or participating in a discussion or activity. The other aspect is just life…I am a mom with four kids and a very busy career, on top of all the other activities in my life. I need to be able to complete my work when I can carve out…

  • 6x16Fall2020

    Nice to Meet You…Virtually

    After teaching solely online for 10 years, my favorite part of being back on campus was being able to make better connections with students. On the first day of class, I always perform my “student human trick”–I learn everyone’s names by the end of class. Of course, I warn them that, if I can’t remember my own children’s names half the time, it’s likely I’ll forget theirs, too! 😉 I think meeting in students in person eases their mind about taking an English course. They can tell that I’m approachable and I care about them by the way I speak to them in class. So how do I replace this…

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