Developing Students’ Genre Awareness

By Jennifer Fletcher The first time I used an emoticon in a work email it just felt wrong. Years of being told to follow the “rules” of business communications—no exclamation points, nothing cutesy or personal—made that little smiley face seem like an act of rebellion. But I was far from being a rebel. The slang,Continue reading “Developing Students’ Genre Awareness”

Making the Most of the Opportune Moment

By Jennifer Fletcher In the novel The Hundred Secret Senses (1996), Amy Tan describes the sense of truth as a tingling along the back of the neck. I think of kairos the same way—a felt sense of truth to the moment. It’s that heightened awareness that helps us say the things that need to beContinue reading “Making the Most of the Opportune Moment”

Writing in the Presence of Others

By Jennifer Fletcher As a graduate student, I remember one of my advisors telling me that we’re all just adding our bricks to the wall. At the time, I couldn’t help hearing echoes of Pink Floyd, and I perhaps didn’t fully appreciate my advisor’s point about the collaborative nature of intellectual labor. After a coupleContinue reading “Writing in the Presence of Others”

Writing Thesis Statements as Enthymemes

By Jennifer Fletcher In my new book Writing Rhetorically, I share one of my favorite quotations from rhetoricians Edward P.J. Corbett and Rosa A. Eberly: “Reasoning, by itself, will not get the potatoes peeled” (1). It takes humans in communication with other humans to accomplish real work in the world. When we reason rhetorically, weContinue reading “Writing Thesis Statements as Enthymemes”

Diction Design

By Jennifer Fletcher Did you ever watch the television show Project Runway on Bravo? If so, do you remember the accessory wall with its array of shoes, belts, and handbags suitable for a variety of occasions? Style mentor Tim Gunn always encouraged the fashion designers competing on the show to use the range of available accessories “thoughtfully.” Writers also needContinue reading “Diction Design”

Resurrecting Dead Words

By Jennifer Fletcher In Teaching Arguments, I write about an activity I used for many years with my high school and college students: dead word funerals. I first learned about “dead words” when I was a student teacher back in the mid-nineties. At the time, it seemed like a clever and fun way to teachContinue reading “Resurrecting Dead Words”

Working the Problem: Rhetorical Thinking and the Design Process

By Jennifer Fletcher NOTE: This post first appeared on the Stenhouse Blog. What do you do when you don’t know what to do? This question has become a guiding line of inquiry in my work as a teacher these days. For both me and my students, the ability to respond effectively to novel challenges hasContinue reading “Working the Problem: Rhetorical Thinking and the Design Process”

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”

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?”