Sarah Allen

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Introduction

When I applied to become a WID Fellow, the three main goals I had were:

  1. getting students to read assigned course material more effectively, by presenting readings in a more accessible form and incorporating the writing process into the reading process;
  2. getting students to exchange and present their writing in the classroom with each other (and not just with me) as a way of motivating more conscientious approaches to writing and creating a community of reading and writing;
  3. and broadening my conception of what counts as “writing” to allow students with different strengths to find their place in the classroom.

After having completed my WID fellowship in Fall 2013, I decided to explore several of the tools I had picked up from Bean’s Engaging Ideas and from other WID Fellows to attempt to achieve these goals. In this blog you will find pages detailing my experience with implementing these tools in a few classes, but mostly a philosophy class centering on the relationship between philosophy and the arts that I taught at Dawson in Winter 2014 (Philosophy, Literature and Life). The following themes will be addressed:

  • Readings: This page explains how I presented readings to students and got them to engage with these readings through weekly reading responses posted on a class blog and requiring interactive writing.
  • Formal Essays: This page explains how I made use of short in-class and take-home writing assignments to “scaffold” longer formal essays.
  • Writing Expanded: This page explains how I allowed students to explore different, more creative and personalized, forms of writing for their final projects in this class.

Each page includes a discussion of the approaches I tried, the rationale for trying them, sampe readings and/or assignment guidelines, samples student work (except for the “Formal Essays” page), and reflections on the strengths and weaknesses I observed for each approach.

To wrap up, I’d like to thank the WID team for their help and inspiration, as well as my Winter 2014 Philosophy, Literature and Life students for being willing and enthusiastic guinea pigs for this exploration.

Sarah Allen, Humanities and Philosophy Departments, Dawson College

 

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