My twenty-five plus years as an educator include over a decade each in K12 and higher education. After serving as a high school English teacher and department chair for many years, I am now an English professor who works with first-year college students and future teachers. I hold a Ph.D. in English from the University of California, Riverside.
All of my professional learning sessions can be offered as in-person workshops, webinars, or keynote addresses. Sessions can be customized for particular texts, tasks, and professional learning goals.
I offer a variety of professional learning services that support teachers in developing their students’ critical thinking skills and rhetorical literacies.
Teaching Arguments Rhetorically: Crossing the Threshold to Deeper Learning
No matter where students’ lives lead after graduation, one of the most essential tools we can teach them is how to comprehend, analyze, and respond to arguments. Knowing how writers’ and speakers’ choices are shaped by elements of the rhetorical situation—including audience, occasion, genre, and purpose—prepares students to communicate across diverse contexts. In this interactive session, Jennifer shares strategies and concepts from her books Teaching Arguments: Rhetorical Comprehension, Critique, and Response (Stenhouse 2015) and Writing Rhetorically (Stenhouse 2021) that help all students read, write, listen, speak, and think rhetorically.
Writing Rhetorically (Grades 7–12)
A rhetorical approach to writing instruction empowers students to take control of their own process and choices. When we teach students how to analyze and respond to diverse rhetorical situations, we honor and nurture their agency. Instead of telling students what to write, we develop the procedural and conceptual knowledge that supports their growth as independent problem solvers. In this interactive session, Jennifer shares strategies for cultivating the rhetorical principles and practices that help writers effectively communicate across contexts. These include inquiry-based activities for genre and audience analysis, language study, and rhetorical problem solving.
Scaffolding for Autonomy
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 students what to do and how to do it, thereby increasing their dependence on teacher directives. In this interactive session, Jennifer shares strategies for fostering the literacy practices and principles that characterize the work of expert readers and writers. These include activities for genre analysis and language study that support students in making their own communication choices.
Negotiating Voices in Academic Conversations
No other skill is as essential to 21st-century problem solving as the ability to interpret and integrate multiple sources of information, including the experiences of people who are different from ourselves. This hands-on session explores ways to help students productively engage academic conversations: to navigate among different textual voices as readers and to direct conversational traffic as writers. Participants learn strategies for teaching students how to quote, paraphrase, summarize, and synthesize the words of other writers—and for helping students genuinely care about what other human beings have to say.
Teaching for Transfer
How do we prepare students for where they’re going in life? For those of us working hard to improve college access and completion, recent scholarship on transfer of learning offers important insights about how we can help students negotiate the critical transitions that increasingly determine postsecondary success—like the transition from high school to college, from school to work, and from first-year college courses into the major and beyond. Teaching for transfer promotes students’ agency and resilience by empowering them to adapt and apply their learning across diverse contexts. In this session, participants explore teaching strategies and frameworks that can help promote transfer of learning and rhetorical thinking.
Reasoning from Evidence
One of the best things we can do for all students is to take their thinking seriously. In this interactive session, we explore ways to cultivate students’ critical reasoning abilities through the study of written arguments. We examine strategies for helping students collect and organize information, analyze and evaluate evidence, unpack assumptions, and draw conclusions using examples from literary and informational texts.
Collaborative Argumentation for Decision Making and Problem Solving
Writing is a form of rhetorical action. To act effectively, writers need to know what problems to solve, what questions to answer, and what others have already done to address the issue. They also need to understand the cares and concerns of the people involved. In this session, Jennifer shares practical strategies for helping students develop the inquiry, dialogue, and deliberation skills that deepen and extend a community’s thinking and move it toward effective action. These include empathic listening, trust building, perspective taking, and rhetorical reasoning.
Genre Analysis and the Rhetorical Situation
For the newcomer to a conversation who’s unsure of how to act or where to begin, the ability to analyze genre conventions is an essential skill. Genres are loaded with information about audience, purpose, and context; they offer critical insights into how and why people in particular settings communicate with each other in the ways that they do. This session offers practical, engaging strategies for teaching the skill of genre analysis rhetorically.
Teaching Literature Rhetorically
Literary study provides students with rich opportunities for developing transferrable literacy skills, including the ability to make connections across contexts, read closely and critically, assess the rhetorical situation, analyze genres, and negotiate different voices. Participants experience how using activities like “Descriptive Plot Outlining,” “Rhetorical Précis +,” and “Say, Mean, Matter, Do” with novels, short stories, and poems can promote integrative thinking and metacognitive knowledge. Readings, student examples, and graphic organizers are provided.
Fostering a Deeper Understanding of Ethos, Pathos, and Logos
Ethos, pathos, and logos are “threshold concepts” that can profoundly change how students read and write. While the definitions of these terms may be easy to learn, a transformative understanding of the three appeals includes the ability to analyze, evaluate, integrate, and apply them in authentic rhetorical contexts. In this hands-on session, we explore ways to help students develop a deeper understanding of Aristotle’s appeals through activities like a PAPA Square, Zombie Fallacies, or an Ethos Analysis.
A teacher, a writer, a thinker, and a leader within our field, Jennifer Fletcher has become, for me and so many others, both a mentor and a model.
Author of numerous books, including The Six Academic Writing Assignments, The English Teacher’s Companion, and Writing Reminders
Dr. Jennifer Fletcher has partnered with the Hawaii Department of Education to bring dynamic and impactful professional learning opportunities to Hawaii’s teachers for more than ten years. Dr. Fletcher brings together considerable experience as an effective classroom teacher with her wealth of research knowledge. She is able to skillfully translate rhetorical concepts and theories into engaging and meaningful classroom experiences that resonate immediately with teachers. She has most recently been supporting Hawaii’s teachers with their creation of place-based writing units and has led the group’s thinking while honoring and building upon their expertise.
Petra Schatz, Ph.D.
Educational Specialist, English Language Arts
Hawaii Department of Education
This pedagogy not only helps student agency (I love this) but buttresses their authority and authenticity–three things traditional approaches flatten and try to root out, wittingly or unwittingly.
Vershawn Ashanti Young, Ph.D.
Interdisciplinary Scholar, Performer, and Author
University of Waterloo, Ontario