Posted in English 1103

ENG 1103: End-of-Semester Checklist

To help you through the process of completing your end-of-semester course requirements and recommended tasks, I have compiled the checklist that follows.

  • Required: Make sure that your complete portfolio is published on your blog as one post that contains the following pieces of writing in the order in which they are listed: (1) final reflection, (2) analysis, (3) midterm reflection, (4) creative project, (5) final research project. If you include an optional piece of writing, it should appear between the creative project and research project. Your complete portfolio should also be posted to Blackboard as an MS Word file. Most of you have already done this; you posted your portfolio both to Blackboard and to your blog on or before the hard deadline of December 3.
  • Required: Keep all required blog posts for the semester published (visible to visitors) until final grades have been posted. Also make sure that you have deleted all placeholders/sample posts from your blog.
  • Recommended: Complete the ENG 1103 course assessment survey posted in Blackboard. Most of you have already done that; you completed the survey in the first few minutes of class on December 6 or 8.
  • Recommended: Submit course evaluations for ENG 1103 and your other classes. To complete your course evaluations, follow these steps: (1) Log into, (2) In the Blackboard Home tab, look for the block titled: “MyCourseEval,” (3) Follow the link for each course listed, or access all of your evaluations by clicking “Launch MyCourseEval.”

I look forward to your portfolio presentations.

Posted in English 1103, Teaching

ENG 1103: Portfolio Presentations

Today’s class was devoted to discussing the short portfolio presentation that you will deliver during the exam period and to planning and practicing your presentation.

The assignment requires you to stand in front of the white board with the blog post of your portfolio projected on the screen. You will not log into your WordPress account; you will simply click the link for the site on the class page.


Plan and practice a short, two- to three-minute oral presentation that addresses one or more of your achievements in English 1103. Include in your presentation the following features:

  • An introduction in which you state your first and last names. You are welcome to include additional details, such as your hometown and major, but keep in my mind that your focus is your work in the course.
  • A reading of a specific sentence or short passagein your portfolio and an explanation of what it signifies about your work in the course. You may address more than one passage if time permits.
  • A final statement that gives closure to your presentation. That statement may be one that expresses your thanks to the audience or your appreciation for their time and attention. Another strategy to consider is this: turning from the end of the course to your work as a student after English 1103. You might address how you can apply the skills you have developed in the coming semesters or how one of the pieces of writing you have produced might grow into a larger project for an upper-level course.

Planning an Effective Presentation

  • Time yourself. You only have two to three minutes to speak, so you want to know, as soon as possible, if you are close to that limit.
  • Create effective notes for yourself. Do not write out your entire presentation. If you do, you may be tempted to read directly from your notes instead of making frequent eye contact with your audience. Use an outline or other brief reminders of what you want to say. Think of your notes as points to glance at if you lose your train of thought.
  • Practice often. That may not seem necessary for a brief presentation, but the more you practice your presentation, the more comfortable you will be in front of an audience. Practice in front of a friend or two and ask for their feedback, or record yourself on your phone and listen to the recording critically.

Presenting Effectively

  • Make eye contact with the audience. Your purpose is to communicate with your audience, and people listen more if they feel you are talking directly to them. As you speak, let your eyes settle on one person for several seconds before moving on to someone else. You do not have to make eye contact with everyone, but make sure you connect with all areas of the audience equally.
  • Limit what you read from the screen (and from any notes you have in hand)One of the requirements of your presentation is to point to a specific sentence or short passagein your portfolio, read it, and explain what it signifies about your work in the course. That should be all that you read from the screen. Remember that when you read from the screen, you are not making eye contact with your audience.
  • Avoid filler words, such as um, like, and you know. These are indications that you do not know what to say; you sound uncomfortable, which may make your audience feel uncomfortable as well. Speak slowly enough to collect your thoughts before you move ahead. If you really do not know what to say, pause silently until you do.
  • Avoid nervous or fidgety movements, such as shifting your weight from one foot to the other. If you have a habit of doing that, stand with one foot perpendicular to the other. That will prevent you from shifting your weight from one foot to the other (what’s sometimes called rocking the boat).

Grade criteria for the assignment are included in the assignment file at the top of this post and on Blackboard.

Posted in Scrabble, Teaching, Writing

ENG 1103: Jonathan Kay’s “Scrabble is a Lousy Game”

Yesterday, as exercise in examining a writer’s claim and joining the conversation, you and two or three of your classmates collaboratively composed a paragraph in response to Jonathan Kay’s 2018 Wall Street Journal column “Scrabble is a Lousy Game.” The paragraph that you wrote included the following required elements:

  • the name of the publication
  • the author’s first and last name and credential
  • his explanation for why Scrabble is a lousy game
  • your own thoughts on his explanation (In your opinion, in what ways is Scrabble a lousy game or not?)

Below is a paragraph written by one of the groups. Read it and note what changes, if any, you would recommend.

In a 2018 column in The Wall Street Journal, Jonathan Kay, a senior editor at Quillette, claims that Scrabble “to put it bluntly, is a lousy game because it treats words as a memorization. Athough as Kay observes Scrabble emphasize remembering lists and compares it to a math contest, it provides innovation and creative thinking to formulate words to beat your opponent. We believe that Kay’s criticism is accurate but does not represent the meaning of Scrabble. Through teamwork and communication we concluded that Scrabble has provided a positive impact on English 1103 and growth in the classroom.