The Taste of Haleyville

Andrea Porter has been a very good friend of mine since I was in 7th grade and she was in 8th. She is now living in Tuscaloosa and working on a Ph.D. in English at the University of Alabama. When I came into town (I live in Minnesota but am from Alabama, and I'm in Bama now visiting), I called her to see if she was coming to Florence anytime soon. She wasn't, so I told her I'd meet her halfway between Florence and Tuscaloosa. The halfway point was...Haleyville, AL. The emergency phone number 911 started there, as they proudly proclaim on a sign when you enter the town:

Haleyville: Where 911 Began.

Anyway, we met at the Hardee's in Haleyville and then went on to the Haleyville Diner, where we had some country vittles. After we ate, Andrea taught me how to purl, so now I can knit that stockinette square for the baby blanket. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, see this post. Andrea and I talked about dissertation ideas and all kinds of other stuff; it was a great visit. Andrea, if you're reading, I want to talk to you more often!

Oh, and a memory from childhood popped into my head today. I was driving past a sign that was advertising the Helen Keller Festival, and I thought of this time that I was in (I think) second grade. The teacher was talking about the Revolutionary War, the Lexington and Concorde battle. It was called "The Shot Heard 'Round the World." I promptly raised my hand, thinking I had something really smart and valuable to point out, and said, "But Helen Keller didn't hear it." The teacher got so angry! I know it wasn't a cool thing to say, but I wasn't trying to sass the teacher or be ableist. What I said was in earnest. Plus, Lexington and Concorde happened 100 years before Helen Keller was born. Ah, kids and the darndest things they say.

New design

Hey, check this out! My friend Adam designed three banner images for me, and I decided to use this one first. Charlie chose this new template. Sweet!

Special section of Rhetoric 1101

Yet another teaching post! Can you tell what's on my mind today? In the fall, I'll be teaching a special section of Rhetoric 1101 that has 15 seats reserved for students in the SEAM (Student Excellence in Academics and Multiculturalism) program. The same students will take the Rhetoric 1101 class and a couple of other classes together. In other words, they will be a "learning cohort," or small student learning community. Student learning communities and student living/learning communities are new initiatives that the university is taking to give students a positive learning experience and probably to improve retention rates as well. I want to, in this class, meet the requirements of 1101 but open the content up to forms of rhetorical expression that aren't necessarily traditional essays. I'll continue to use two books I've taught for a year now: A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid and Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich. I might bring in lyrics from Common or Nas--songs that are making an argument. For example, I think the song "I Can" makes a relevant argument. This is all just off the top of my head, though...I'm excited but a bit intimidated about this opportunity. Part of teaching a SEAM section is collaborating with the instructors of the other SEAM classes that the students in the cohort are taking, so that will be nice.

More on Summer Course Planning/Brainstorming

For their collaborative assignments, I might have my students break into groups and have meetings that last from 30 minutes to an hour. The students can rotate doing minutes of the meetings and turn the minutes in as an assignment. The "minutes of the meeting" statement is a genre used in workplace communication, after all, and a written statement of what goes on at each meeting would help me see the contributions of each group member. They could learn about small group communication, delegating tasks, doing brief follow-up reports on tasks completed, etc.

Summer Course Planning

Some of you already know, but in case not, I'm teaching a class this summer: Rhetoric 3562, Technical and Professional Writing. That's Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:35-12:30. Yes, three-hour class meetings, twice a week. I must have lost my mind! So now I'm trying to visualize how the class meetings are going to go. I definitely want to have my students do collaborative/group work in class, and I'm thinking I'll have each student keep a blog, and at the end of class each day, maybe during the last fifteen minutes, I'll have them do "progress posts"--sort of a "what I've learned, what I've accomplished" thing. That will help the students to synthesize concepts from class, hopefully. I want them to use the blogs to post about whatever they want, too, but ultimately I want the blogs to help the students with their projects. Please give me any other tips you have about having students keep blogs! Do I ever need them.

Sign Lessig's Petition

Larry Lessig has posted a "Reclaim the Public Domain" petition. My signature is the 910th one on the list, and people are signing it every minute! One thing that puzzles me, though, is this excerpt from the letter:

One solution in particular that we ask Congress to consider is the Public Domain Enhancement Act. See This statute would require American copyright owners to pay a very low fee (for example, $1) fifty years after a copyrighted work was published. If the owner pays the fee, the copyright will continue for whatever duration Congress sets. But if the copyright is not worth even $1 to the owner, then we believe the work should pass into the public domain.

Would the Public Domain Enhancement Act really work? Wouldn't the vast majority of copyright owners pay that dollar?

Adam Howard's got some crazy talent

Just thought you should know.

Oh, and Paul--I'm glad you got a Creative Commons license!

Salam Pax hired by The Guardian

According to Wired, wildly popular Iraqi blogger Salam Pax, who keeps Where is Raed?, has gotten hired to write a biweekly column for The Guardian. The first one will appear Wednesday. I think this is yet another indicator of how important blogging is. Not only is it paramount in societies in which freedom of expression is restricted, but blogging as a self-publishing model is really opening doors for some bloggers. Some of you might know that Glenn Reynolds writes a column for MSNBC as a result of Instapundit's readership. Which reminds me...I am going to Knoxville next weekend and am planning on meeting up with Glenn Reynolds and talking about blogs! I'm excited.

Cross-posted at Kairosnews.

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