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This week, Macmillan and Bedford English are hosting English Webinar Week. This means free 30-minute webinars every day from October 7th11th that will share ideas, teach strategies, and the latest trends in teaching #Composition and #English courses.

The webinars include: Teaching Political Texts in the Current Climate, Corequisite Composition Discussion with Peter Adams, "Losing Privacy, Embracing Creativity" and more!


We did mention it was free, right?  You can register using the link below:


Register Here 


If you can't attend in person, we encourage you to register as we'll be recording the webinars and sharing them with registered participants.  

Kasey Greenbaum

Shakespeare's Birthday

Posted by Kasey Greenbaum Apr 23, 2019

April 23rd, 2019 will be William Shakespeare’s 455th birthday. Centuries later, this poet, playwright, linguist, and actor is still celebrated as one of the most influential and brilliant writers in history. To honor the “Bard” of Stratford-upon-Avon, here are some lesser-known facts about him and his works:


  1. Shakespeare has given many words (estimate of 1,700 – 3,000) to the English language. This includes “lackluster,” “swagger,” “unaware,” and “bandit.”
  2. Shakespeare’s collective plays contain 200 references to dogs and 600 references to birds.
  3. The epitaph on Shakespeare’s gravestone is a poem and also a curse for anyone who dares to move his bones (this is unfortunate for the apparent graverobber who was speculated to have taken his skull in 2016).
  4. Shakespeare had penned many modern (and amusing) phrases such as “wild goose chase” and “in a pickle.”
  5. “William Shakespeare” might not be his true name. It was spelled over eighty different ways and the Bard himself usually signed own his name “Willm Shakp.”

Although he only lived to fifty-two, Shakespeare and his body of work are still discussed, debated, and dissected in and out of the classroom. Of Shakespeare’s thirty-seven plays, which one is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!

Composition Jeopardy, a homemade game board circa 2018Ok, it's the end of the semester. We're wiped out, students are wiped out, and we're either slogging or sprinting to the due date for the final essay in Comp I. The other night at dinner, I got the nutty idea that we should do something fun in our second-to-last class of the semester. "A game!" suggested my high schooler, and I went seeking out markers, cardboard, and my copy of A Writer's Reference to try my hand at inventing a version of Jeopardy. I saw the game as a fun opportunity to reinforce the common vocabulary of the course and review key rhet/comp concepts.


I'm sharing my Composition Jeopardy clues in hopes that you might improve them, add to them, borrow them if you're so inclined, or just smirk at them, confident in your own way to end a semester. The class this past Wednesday--at 8 am, mind you--was surprisingly spirited and worthwhile. Students collaborated, negotiated, checked their notes, checked their handbooks, cheered for one another. The winning team, in a thrilling move, beat the runner-up by a single point (!!) on a final-Jeopardy wager of 1,401 points. The prize was chocolate.


Students were engaged and even acknowledged the value of the game in thinking through their final revisions. When one finance major in control of the board said "I'll take Parts of an Essay for 600 points," I read the clue (a statement that represents an objection to your position), and a criminal justice major across the room grabbed his head and shouted, "That's what my draft is missing! A counterargument!"


So much of what we do in a semester is heavy and hard. This day in class was light and quite lively.


Best of luck as you wrap up your semester and move on--to the solstice, to the sofa, to the ski slopes, or wherever your December takes you.

Macmillan Author Program event at UCSD

The Muir College Writing Program at University of California, San Diego, uses Now I Know Who My Comrades Are: Voices from the Internet Underground, by Emily Parker, and recently had the pleasure of hosting her on campus for a talk with students. Over 400 students filled the auditorium to listen to Emily and take part in lively question and answer exchanges throughout the presentation.


The Muir College Writing Program uses A Writer's Reference, by Diana Hacker and Nancy Sommers, alongside Now I Know Who My Comrades Are: Voices from the Internet Underground, by Emily Parker, as part of the Macmillan Author Program. The Macmillan Author Program brings together the best of Bedford/St. Martin's textbooks, the expertise of our custom publishing team, and award-winning titles from our trade imprints, including St. Martin’s Press and Farrar, Straus and Giroux.


Emily Parker, author of Now I Know Who My Comrades Are: Voices from the Internet Underground, holding up her book in front of UCSD students who came to hear her talk about the book.  Students read the book as part of the Muir College Writing Program. 

Students lining up to get their book signed by author, Emily Parker.  The signing continued for a half hour after the talk!


Emily Parker, author of Now I Know Who My Comrades Are: Voices from the Internet Underground, preparing to speak to a room of more than 400 Muir College Writing Program students at UCSD!

Truth be told, we really did make a movie about a handbook this year. But the way I see it, it's more a movie about a community--a community of writing teachers who believe in a particular handbook and the power it's given them to transform their program, unify their classroom vocabulary, and instill in their students habits of mind and habits of practice that make academic writers. If you have 6 minutes, I invite you to view A Writer's Reference: The Movie. I'll buy the popcorn.


"Most of my better students do come back to me and say A Writer's Reference is the book they've hung on to and turned to over the course of the last few years. They see it not as a text for a course but a text for their college education."    --Andrea McCrary, Queens University of Charlotte


"My students become better writers, they become more comfortable writers. They see models of good sentence style and structure, and they apply that to their own writing. And a lot of that is owed to the handbook."  --Timothy Regetz, Blinn College


"I'm very excited about the ninth edition."   --Anna Hall-Zieger, Blinn College


A very big and grateful shout out to University of Alabama, Blinn College, UC San Diego, Norwich University, Queens University of Charlotte, SUNY Buffalo State, and Eastern Oregon University.

In 2005, Bedford/St. Martin's partnered with the Two Year College Association to sponsor the Diana Hacker TYCA Awards for Outstanding Programs in English as a way to honor a brilliant teacher and provide recognition for superior programs that enhance language learning and student success. We are privileged to continue to sponsor these awards and to recognize excellence in teaching and learning at two-year colleges. Past winners have enjoyed the opportunity to create a higher profile for their program within their college and the TYCA community.


Please consider nominating your program or a colleague's program by November 10, 2017. The nomination process is easy, and winners are granted travel stipends to the 2018 CCCC annual convention in Kansas City. The awards will be given at the annual TYCA breakfast on March 17, 2018. I hope to see you there!

I came across Barbara Fister's post "Beyond Ignorance" last week. Fister, an academic librarian*, crime novelist, and frequent blogger, writes provocatively about the mission of the college library in times of cultural stress and in the wake of events such as those that happened in Charlottesville last month. She argues that a college or university library should, of course, foster certain values in student researchers and writers: that knowledge making is based on reasoned debate and open mindedness and curiosity, for example, and that critical inquiry can be taught and modeled.


But Fister blew my mind a little with her idea that reason isn't enough of a response to hate. We in the academy have to teach caring--the idea "that caring for one another matters, too."


And as I'm in planning mode for the upcoming semester--assembling activities, writing syllabi and assignments, grouping readings, and designing classroom scenarios that will make writing groups successful--I'm wondering how best to teach students to care. I do spend a good deal of time early in the semester building community. I make sure everyone in the class knows every other classmate's first name by the end of week 3. I absolutely insist, and it drives my students crazy. I emphasize collaboration. I ask students to respond to one another's ideas with respect, both in writing and in speaking, with language that I model (I can see why you would think that way. What about this idea...?). I assign students to present their final projects, but I also assign several responders for each presenter so that each presenter can count on a few people who listen well enough to ask thoughtful questions at the end of the presentation. It's a little artificial, I get it. But it's something.


How much attention to you pay to this element of the social curriculum? How do you teach students to care for one another? Is anyone familiar with Harvard's Making Caring Common Project? At any rate, this is something I'll be working on and thinking about throughout the semester. And I have Barbara Fister to thank for the reminder.


*Barbara Fister is co-author of Research and Documentation in the Digital Age, Sixth Edition (Bedford/St. Martin's, 2016).

Teacher, scholar, and author Nancy Sommers pairs her voice with student voices in a brief video that reminds us, just as we begin the academic year, that disagreement is at the foundation of intellectual inquiry and academic growth. You might ask students to view and respond to Nancy Sommers on Argument early in the semester.


How do you encourage students to argue in ways that promote inquiry, empathy, and respect?

When I teach annotated bibliography, I have the class do a "talk show" activity. I ask students to imagine that they are producers of a morning talk show, and I give each small group their topic for the day. To one group, I say your show is going to be on whether to continue music instruction as part of the public school curriculum, to another group I say, your show is going to tackle how to protect the American drinking water supply, and so forth.


The job of the producers is to think about who they're going to invite to be a guest on their show. What experts do they need? What angles should they explore? What statistics would be helpful? We talk about how dull it would be to have 7 different guests who all say that music ed is a waste of taxpayer money or how people would turn the show off if they heard only a bunch of data about water quality. We also talk about the value of having leading thinkers on our talk show. While an occasional regular consumer or parent is fine, audiences generally respond better to scientists, researchers, doctors, and psychologists. The class activity is for each group of producers to compose and present a proposal to the class (acting as the talk show executives). They have to present a guest list and rationale for each guest.


The activity gets students to think actively about gathering sources and thinking through the roles that they need their sources to play in a project. Too often students hunt for sources that are all in "the same lane," as I say in class; they all sort of line up with the student's own thesis. The activity also goes along nicely with our reading, sections R1 and R3 in A Writer's Referenceespecially the subsections on search strategy and thinking about the variety of ways in which sources contribute to a project (as support, as counterargument, as data, as definition, and so on). 


Are there activities that you find useful as you prepare to teach annotated bibliography?

Here at Macmillan, we've been blessed with several excellent summer interns in our Boston office, and it's been a pleasure to get to know them and their habits as writers and as young professionals. Paola Garcia-Muniz, a recent Fairfield University grad, recalls that when she was in high school, she wrote in MLA style using "the basic formula: an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion." She discovered that the rules are looser in college, the expectations less formulaic. She learned how to be agile with style systems, too. According to Paola: "[My] handbook helped me adjust to the new expectations that came with the freedom of college writing. My freshman year, I didn’t just have to learn about APA style for my first psychology course, I also had to learn how to use Chicago style for my History 10 course while writing my English composition papers in MLA style format. The handbook helped make sure that I wouldn’t mix and match style rules." 


This summer Paola is strengthening her writing and editorial chops by helping us to understand the changes in the Chicago Manual of Style, 17th Edition. We'll use her analysis to help us adapt our humanities handbooks and textbooks with the new guidelines. Lucky us! 


  < I'm Paola. Ask me about Chicago style.

Today's technology Tuesday comes from Tim Hetland's fantastic resource, Teaching Literature with Digital Technologies.  This assignment explores how to use Second Life to engage your students with literature outside of the standard classroom setting. 


Constructed and tested by Professor Johansen Quijano at the University of Texas at Arlingston, this activity centers around Shakespeare's play Macbeth, and requires multiple blog posts and a major paper.  


You can read or download the full assignment here: Engaging Students with Literature in Virtual Spaces

In a previous blog post, I talked about the availability of Exercise Central quizzes in all English LaunchPad and LaunchPad Solo products published after summer 2016. This post covers additional banks of questions available in LaunchPad Solo for Readers and Writers and Writer's Help 2.0.


Beginning fall 2016, we began publishing banks of reading comprehension quizzes for a number of Bedford/St. Martin's reader or rhetoric titles. These banks are available in LaunchPad Solo for Readers and Writers or Writer's Help 2.0, allowing instructors who package one of these products with a reader or rhetoric to access quizzes specific to their textbook. You can add these quizzes to your LaunchPad Solo for Reader and Writers or Writer's Help 2.0 course in order to:

  • Integrate content from your reader or rhetoric into your digital product, creating a useful connection between text and technology.
  • Create additional opportunities to assess students' reading comprehension as you plan follow-up assignments and class discussion.
  • Help students understand where they may be struggling with reading material assigned in the course.


Reading quizzes are already available for the following titles:


Axelrod, Reading Critically, Writing Well 11e
Barnet, Current Issues and Enduring Questions 11e
Cohen, 50 Essays 5e
Eschholz, Subject and Strategy 14e
Kennedy, The Bedford Guide for College Writers 11e
Kennedy, The Bedford Reader 13e
Kirszner, Practical Argument 3e
Palmquist, Joining the Conversation 3e


The following titles will have reading quizzes available when they are published this fall:


Axelrod, The Concise St. Martin's Guide to Writing 8e

Braziller, The Bedford Book of Genres 2e

Greene, From Inquiry to Academic Writing 4e

Kirszner, Patterns for College Writing 14e

Maasik, Signs of Life in the USA 9e

McWhorter, Successful College Writing 7e

McQuade, The Writer's Presence 9e

Rosa, Models for Writers 13e


Here are the steps to find and add these quizzes to your course:


1. Add a quiz from the LaunchPad course home.

Add a new quiz in LaunchPad

2. Give your quiz a title.

Add a title to your quiz

3. Use the filter Reading Comprehension Quiz to search questions for this reading.

Find the Reading Comprehension Quizzes filter

4. Search for the reading you want and select "Apply Filter" to see the questions.

Filter the questions to find what you want.

4. Add the questions for this reading to your quiz.

Add questions to your quiz

5. Adjust the assignment settings for the quiz, add a due date, and assign your quiz!Assign your quiz

What's the most famous book in your state? Comment below!

Originally authored by Melia Robinson, posted on Business Insider:  The most famous book set in every state - Business Insider 

Since 2005, Bedford/St. Martin’s has sponsored a series of awards in the name of Diana Hacker, beloved handbook author and dedicated teacher for more than three decades at Prince George’s Community College in Largo, MD. We partner with the Two-Year College Association to award the Diana Hacker/TYCA Awards for Outstanding Programs in English. We gave this year’s awards at the TYCA breakfast on March 18, 2017, during the CCCC in Portland.


Our sincerest congratulations to the winners: Cerritos College (Norwalk, CA) for a global literature program aimed at building intercultural competence and drawing graduate students to teach in two-year colleges; Hudson County Community College (Jersey City, NJ) for an academic foundations program of integrated reading and writing designed to help developmental English students succeed and thrive; and Evergreen Valley College (San Jose, CA) for its innovative writing center co-requisite. Two Honorable Mention awards were given: Columbus State Community College (Columbus, OH) for an English department initiative to connect adjunct faculty and full-time faculty in committee meetings centered on curriculum development and student success; and University of Cincinnati Blue Ash College (Cincinnati, OH) for its emporium model accelerated learning program that helps students progress to college level writing.


Diana Hacker was a brilliant teacher, always laser-focused on students’ challenges and committed to coming up with creative ways to meet those challenges. We are honored to give these awards in her name. Welcome to the community!


Find out more about this awards series, and nominate a program for next year’s awards.

For anyone who wasn't able to make it to 4Cs this year - or anyone who had the same problem I did in choosing from among the amazing sessions available - I thought I would share a quick rundown on a great session I attended called 

Curriculum Design for Online Writing Centers


This fascinating session looked at three different instances of online writing centers in different contexts, for the purpose of exploring what did and didn’t work for students.


The first speaker, David Elder of Morningside College, was creating an online center for grad students in specialized programs.  While this was the only writing-center access presented to those students, the undergrads had access to a traditional, in-person writing center, which Mr. Elder also manages.  He addressed questions of feedback in an asynchronous setting, including the types of comments that were not useful (things like “Awkward” and “Consider revising this sentence”) the sorts of actionable comments that best benefitted students, and how big-picture thinking and positive commentary played important roles in effective asynchronous feedback.


The second speaker, Ryan Vingum of Miami University, also asked important questions about how skills translate between asynchronous and synchronous teaching and emphasized that the importance of administrators and students embracing them as merely different options, with neither one being inherently better than the other.


Shelah Simpson of Liberty University closed with a discussion of her research on the different student reactions and outcomes to her college’s “home-grown” writing center as compared with a simultaneously available corporate option made available by the school.  Unlike the prior speakers, her entire student community were online-only.  Like Elder, she concluded that encouragement served to make students feel connected. She also discovered that while solid academic growth was rated as an important factor in the student’s selection of which writing support to use, convenience was also an important driving factor. She added that accessibility issues greatly impacted the usefulness of certain writing center options for a small set of the students in her survey.


For a closer look at the presentations, check out the files uploaded by the presenters here