What Do You Do When You Don’t Know What to Do?

By Jennifer Fletcher This past year forced me to walk the walk in my life as a teacher of rhetorical literacy skills. After all, rhetoric is the art of adaptation. Me thinking “I don’t know how to do this” or “I’ve never done this before” is an almost daily occurrence these days. I like to workContinue reading “What Do You Do When You Don’t Know What to Do?”

Parlor Crashers

By Jennifer Fletcher Many teachers use Kenneth Burke’s famous parlor metaphor to help their students understand what it means to take a turn in an academic conversation: “Imagine that you enter a parlor. You come late. When you arrive, others have long preceded you, and they are engaged in a heated discussion, a discussion tooContinue reading “Parlor Crashers”

A Faulty Warrant Is a Failure to Listen

Surfacing our assumptions enhances our ability to understand and negotiate different perspectives. Reasoning is a both a collective and individual process. The conclusions we reach vary according to our personal values and interests and the extent to which we share these with other participants in the conversation. If we view argument writing as communication, aContinue reading “A Faulty Warrant Is a Failure to Listen”

Can We Teach Writing Formulas Rhetorically?

By Jennifer Fletcher Mark Twain writes in Tom Sawyer Abroad that a man who carries a cat by the tail gets “knowledge that was always going to be useful to him, and warn’t ever going to grow dim or doubtful.” Holistic scoring has been my cat-by-the-tail experience; I’ve learned things from reading thousands of studentContinue reading “Can We Teach Writing Formulas Rhetorically?”

Scaffolding for Independence (and Avoiding Acronym Overload)

Scaffolds are temporary structures intended to support and extend learning and move novices toward mastery. Effective scaffolds don’t substitute a simpler task for a more complex one; they support students in developing the procedural and conceptual knowledge that enables them to grapple with complexity. Over-scaffolding, on the other hand, undermines students’ autonomy by telling studentsContinue reading “Scaffolding for Independence (and Avoiding Acronym Overload)”

Teaching for Change

By Jennifer Fletcher Teaching for transfer prepares students to be flexible thinkers who notice what’s going on around them, assess the current situation, and adjust and respond as needed. In 2020, the ground shifted under us. Economies were shuttered, schools closed, tests were suspended, jobs were lost or transformed, and the world turned upside down while millions of people lostContinue reading “Teaching for Change”