• Final Writing Assignment: Graduation Speech

    Before the beginning of the spring semester, as I planned our assignments for the course, I tried to imagine where we might be by the end of the semester. I thought of skills to be practiced and outcomes to be measure...
    Susan Naomi Bernstein
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  • Hearing Loss and Listening to Loss in the Basic Writing Classroom

    Teaching basic writing involves imagining more accessible classrooms for students that account for hearing losses of all kinds. That is, the loss of audible sound, and the signs of loss or trauma that may be inaudible...
    Susan Naomi Bernstein
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  • Creative Projects and a Moment of Silence

    This semester, students have been invited to engage with reading a whole nonfiction book from a choice of three twentieth-century texts: Gloria Anzaldúa’s Borderlands/La Frontera, James Baldwin’s No...
    Susan Naomi Bernstein
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  • Reading and Writing for Genre: James Baldwin’s “Letter to My Nephew”

      “Yet one must also recognize that morality is based on ideas and that all ideas are dangerous — dangerous because ideas can only lead to action and where the action leads no man can say.” Stud...
    Susan Naomi Bernstein
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  • Synthesis and the Imperfect Rectangle:  An Icebreaker for a Slower Classroom

      There is, I know, a vast amount of privilege that comes from making an imperfect rectangle on the first day of class. The chairs and the tables have to be moveable, not nailed down to the floor. We—the s...
    Susan Naomi Bernstein
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  • Investigating Space: A First Assignment in Basic Writing

    Today's guest blogger is Meghan Kelsey, who is completing the MFA program in poetry at Arizona State University. An experienced teacher and zine artist, she has just finished her first semester of teaching in ASU...
    Susan Naomi Bernstein
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  • The Nice White Lady Searches Her Conscience

    The discussions around the 2018 Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) convention in Kansas City, Missouri, are provocative and inspiring and offer substantial motivation for me to search my consci...
    Susan Naomi Bernstein
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  • Studying an Idea in Depth: A Closer Look at James Baldwin

    As a transition between Writing Project 1 and Writing Project 2, I invited students to watch and reflect in writing on a video preview of Raoul Peck’s film “I Am Not Your Negro,” publi...
    Susan Naomi Bernstein
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  • Breaking with Conventions -- A Blog in 3 Vignettes: American Sports History, Grammar Conventions, James Baldwin

    Vignette 1: American Sports History Perhaps, dear reader, you have just read the title of this week’s post and you are thinking: “Because the writers in my classrooms do not know the conventions, they do ...
    Susan Naomi Bernstein
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  • Why Is Writing So Hard? A Writing Assignment for Difficult Times

    This semester, our first writing project in Stretch is called: “Why is writing so hard?” The title is inspired by our first reading of the semester,  “The Artist’s Struggle for Integrity,&...
    Susan Naomi Bernstein
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  • What is Your Philosophy of Writing?

    At the end of spring semester, which is also the end of our year-long Stretch Writing program (English 101 stretched across two semesters), I request that students respond to the question: “What is your philosop...
    Susan Naomi Bernstein
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  • The Final Project: Writing Heals

    As the semester moves toward its final month, students have asked for a final writing project that would allow them to choose their own topics. They wanted, they said, a chance to show their creativity and to find a s...
    Susan Naomi Bernstein
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  • Letter to My Students: Writing a Literature Review

    Dear Students,   An important goal for writing this literature review is to practice thinking outside the box for drafting and revising an essay. We have spoken about the differences between written product and w...
    Susan Naomi Bernstein
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  • Integrated Reading and Writing: Plato Theatre

    The setting: The Cave: a face-to-face classroom on a cool and cloudy desert southwest winter morning.   The text: Plato’s Allegory of the Cave (previously described in First-Day Activity: What Is Truth...
    Susan Naomi Bernstein
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  • First-Day Activity: What Is Truth?

    Four years ago in the Bronx, I taught Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” in a first-year writing course. New York City was still emerging from the impact of Hurricane Sandy, and the trauma of unanticipat...
    Susan Naomi Bernstein
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  • Teaching with Depression

    The end of any semester inspires reflection on successful projects and areas that need improvement. This semester, I hope to take that reflection a step further by making plain what I usually try to keep invisible. I ...
    Susan Naomi Bernstein
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  • Teaching and Learning at Midterm: Free Empathy (Meditation 2)

    This post is a continuation of Teaching and Learning at Midterm: Free Empathy (Meditation 1)Second Meditation: On Creativity and Slow GradingThis semester, the graduate students enrolled in my Practicum course ha...
    Susan Naomi Bernstein
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  • Teaching and Learning at Midterm: Free Empathy (Meditation 1)

    This post is dedicated to all of us who, at midterm, amid a wide variety of distractions, grapple with catching up on grading and class prep, keeping track of meetings and  social media (including email), and res...
    Susan Naomi Bernstein
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  • Thinking Outside the Box: A Tale of Emojis in 2 Images

    As I prepared for my fall classes, I grappled with questions that students often ask on the first day of the basic writing course: “Is this course remedial? Is it a review of high school?” In the past, I h...
    Susan Naomi Bernstein
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  • File Card Discussion: A Beginning-of-Semester Activity

    Near the beginning of the semester, once my students have had time to digest the syllabus, the assignments, and my teaching style,  we engage in a file card discussion. The activity unfolds in five basic steps: ...
    Susan Naomi Bernstein
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