Hmm. People, I am confused. No wait --- I am tired and don't want to think about composition courses any more. Waaaaah!
Ok, got that out of my system. Not so much confusion as thinking, then. I have been going through all my old computer files, trying to find comp-related stuff that I can reuse with little prep. I like that idea. I mean, basically my MA program totally exploited my eager youthfulness, having me teach several huge comp classes that I slaved over and put way too much thought and effort into (teaching myself how to teach at the same time), so any full-scale writing workshops or exercises I can reuse saves me time and makes up for those many lost weeks and months back during my MA.
But I'm having a bit of worry about my new place --- clearly my pet peeves are thesis statements and using quotes correctly. I have lots of work on those topics and by the end of my MA had developed entire class session exercises that I revisited across the semester. But the dept. emphasis and guidelines here is much more focused on writing paragraphs and we build up to essays by the end of the semester. And they do not have my insistence that students must always be responding to or incorporating a text. (Hence, the preponderance of memoir and "personal essays" in the damn anthology.) And, what really worries me, they don't emphasis the development and writing of thesis statements until the next semester, when they introduce research. Whaaa?
First of all, it feels like their version of "first semester fresh comp" is what I recognize as the developmental course one step below the first semester comp. And secondly, it's my opinion that since writing a thesis is a hard concept for students to wrap their heads around, they need a lot of practice and many exposures to the process, not holding off until other parts of their writing and critical thinking abilities have caught up. I endorse the method of having students try to produce thesis statements, knowing they will suck at it for at least most of that whole semester, and just building that into the structure of the course. So they may have to do it in their first essay, but the grading criteria won't count an imperfect thesis under a failing grade.
So I'm not quite sure how much I'm going to conform to their guidelines and how much I'm going to reuse my stuff --- on the one hand, they know these students and I don't yet, but on the other hand, I worked at a place with similarly unprepared students and have pre-existing lesson plan stuff at hand! Unfortunately this may mean that I still need to do massive prep for the beginning of the semester and am kinda set for later on. Humph.
And also, I need stuff for "how to write a paragraph." So if anyone has any pre-set handouts, workshops, exercises, or sample paragraphs that look good/totally suck, I wouldn't mind the help. I took a sample essay from one of those "take an essay, leave an essay" websites for practice peer reviewing (and showed them why they don't want to plagiarize utter crap); I guess I need to go back again and do that for paragraphs. Sigh. Why can't I just watch bad tv instead?