Monday, August 13, 2007

College English. May 2007.

Some ideas on teaching English from College English, May 2007, a publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Scale of the value of each idea to me, RayS.
*Not much interest
**Some interest. I'll think about it.
***Very much interested.

What should we do about the problem of increased numbers of autistic children coming into the schools?
For whatever reason the number of diagnosed cases of autism has significantly increased. If we are going to teach autistic students to write, we need to learn as much as we can about autism. A Jurecic. CE (May 07), 421-442. *** [You can call it another medical fad, like learning disabilities, but if you are going to teach these students, you had better know about their conditions and characteristics. RayS.]

What do we know about the research on paragraphs?
The discussion of paragraphs has all but disappeared from composition research. M Duncan. CE (May 07), 470. * [The article deals with the first-sentence topic-sentence paragraph and the non-first-sentence-topic-sentence paragraph, that is, the topic sentence might appear somewhere else in the paragraph besides the first sentence. One thing I learned about the paragraph long ago is that people paragraph for a number of different reasons, including typographical variety and that the topic sentence might appear in the first of a string of paragraphs, but the following sub-paragraphs developing the same topic sentence will not have topic sentences. RayS.]

What do most writing textbooks say about paragraphs?
The first-sentence topic-sentence paragraph is designed to make for easier reading. M Duncan. CE (May 07), 490. ** [If the purpose of writing is reader comprehension, using the first-sentence topic-sentence paragraph seems like a no-brainer. Not long ago, a nephew of mine completed his doctoral dissertation in engineering. He told me that using topic sentences kept his writing under control and that when he was ready for his defense, he simply compiled all of his topic sentences to help him master the details of the content of his dissertaion. RayS.]

Other topics in this issue concern homophobia in the college English department, the problems of women's literacy through the years and a different definition of "style" [multimedia] when reading on the Internet. The topics might sound interesting, but the authors' comments on them were not of interest to me.

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