First order of business: I worked on my article for about an hour this morning, returned for a couple snatches in the afternoon, and currently have all my piles neatly organized on the kitchen table with newly-made to-do-lists and notes on each one. :) And I plan to try revising first thing after I exercise tomorrow morning! Even if it's only 30 min, I can work out a topic sentence or a couple transition passages.
Go go super Sisyphus!
Second, I tried assigning homework questions from the new comp book for almost every day (to force them to read, and hopefully read carefully enough to understand these little articles), and my students have out-stupided me, the cheeky little weasels. We had a day with horrible discussion last week, and getting to their homework, it is clear that most of them tried to answer the comprehension questions I assigned without actually reading the article!!! Geeez! I didn't like question 1 so I assigned 2, 3, and 4, and many students couldn't even tell me who the author of the article was ... the author being identified in the first question and referred to as "the author" in most of the remaining questions.
Also, if I see another paragraph burbling about "flow" I am going to smack someone. Seriously, I got sooo many homework paragraphs that read "The author organizes the information in this article from general to specific because that gives it a nice flow and makes his arguments more persuasive. I found the essay to be very well organized and persuasive. The way the tone changes between the fifth and seventh paragraphs was also important because it helped with the flow." Basically, a restatement of all the questions (without the answer to "and why?") and not a single specific noun much less an example from the article. I am giving out a lot of zero-credits and will hand them back with a stern lecture on Monday before peer review. I am hoping that they will learn and I will have less actual marking to do on the pages. Actually they are going pretty fast, I just have to take breaks like this to avoid bursting into flames from the repressed rage.
And finally, the title of my post: who bothers to do audience exercises in their comp class? I ask because one colleague had no luck last semester getting students to understand writing differently to different specific audiences, and so this colleague is doing nothing but audience exercises this first four-five weeks and that is all they are discussing in their first essay. I fail to see the point. I mean, I am only teaching them to do one thing: write academic essays. I do discuss the conventions of different disciplines and how they do research a bit, but really the only emphasis I put on audience is that they need to think of audience for their essays as if they are a scholar in that discipline and writing to other scholars and that this is a fairly formal structure. I don't spend any time having them rewrite an essay for a general newspaper audience, or to compare how they would describe a car accident to the cops vs their mom vs their best friend, or whatever. I have things way higher on my priority list --- like for example the fact that my students see nothing wrong with a thesis that reads "computers are bad, but on the other hand they are good." Argh. On the other hand, by Friday I had gotten them to be able to explain why "There are many problems with computers" and "The thesis of my paper is the many problems with computers" are examples of bad thesis statements, so perhaps there is hope. Maybe once they start reading the essays they will be able to find examples of actual quality thesis statements! A girl can dream.