Seminar, Monday, 5/22/2017

308 Gore

Continuing Our Talk About Voice in Nonfiction

Virginia Woolf, by George Charles Beresford, 1902, public domain


Please read the first section of your Revised Unit Proposal. During the second reading, your readers should mark passages they admire with a straight line, and passages they have questions about with a squiggly line. Then I’d like each reader to talk to the writer about the following two things:

  • What did you find most interesting, unusual, or ambitious in this project?
  • What one thing would you most like to see the writer do more of or do differently as they work on this project over the summer?

Writers should be quiet as readers respond. Sublimate—take notes! Each reader should try to add something to what has been said before about the piece. When all four readers are done responding, the writer can ask them questions.


Fastwrite: Pick one reading you plan to work with this summer, and write a few sentences introducing it to the other members of this seminar. What draws you to this reading? What uses do you hope your students might make of it?

Summer Reading

  • “Read around” in the Touchstone Anthology. Identify at least three pieces you’d like us to talk about in the fall. Highlight passages that you admire.
  • Pick one of the books on the list of possible summer readings and read it. (Or if there is another current nonfiction volume you’re eager to read, send me a link to its Amazon page by email. I am very likely to approve it!

Summer Writing

  • Monday, August 14: Prospectus Writing Assistance
  • Monday, August 28: Email prospectus to Joe (or upload to your individual folder on Google Drive)

Feel free to email me with questions at any time! I’ve enjoyed our work together so far, and look forward to seeing how you develop your curriculum units!


Seminar, Monday, 5/15/2017

233B Purnell Hall

Voice and Craft in Nonfiction

I’d like to begin our consideration of the three pieces for this evening with some work in small groups.

  • Laskas, “To Obama“: Jenn, Courtney, Kathy, Meighan
Lily Spunk
Lily, age 8, “This country needs more spunk”, from Laskas, “To Obama”

I’d like each group to do two things:

  1. Locate two moments in the piece where you clearly hear the voice of the writer. These may be moments when the writer uses “I”, but not necessarily. What I really want you to identify are passages when your attention as a reader shifts from the subject to the writer of the piece.
  2. Single out two other moments in the piece which showcase the craft of the writer—brief passages that strike you as especially clear or well-phrased. See if you can come up with a name or label for what you admire in the writing.

In sum, then, your group should come up with four passages to talk about. I’ll ask you to begin our discussion of your piece by reading each passage aloud, so let me add one last rule: No passage can be more than 100 words long. Good luck! Have fun!

For Next Week (Monday, 5/22/2017)

Revised Unit Topic and Reading List : As you know, participants in all DTI seminars are asked to submit a revised curriculum unit proposal next week. I’d like you to do three things in this proposal:

  1. Restate your teaching topic and goals for your unit, as you now imagine it. If you can, offer some context about how this unit will fit into the arc of the semester or the school year.
  2. Provide a link to (or copy of) a nonfiction piece that you might ask your students to read as part of your unit. Ideally, this piece should be both something you think students will enjoy reading and that will also serve as a model of the kind of writing you’d like them to do. We will talk much more about readings in seminar, and I will be eager to help you formulate a more extended list by email.
  3. Ask me any questions you might have about your project at this point. I’ll respond by email.

And here’s the kicker: I’d like you to do all this in 250 words or less.

I think it would be great if everyone in the seminar is able to read and talk about each other’s work. Before we leave this evening, then, I’d like to discuss some possibilities for sharing your writing—WordPress, Google Drive, and plain old email spring to my  mind as possibilities.