thinking about a YA Lit class…

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I’m in the process of planning a writing-about-literature class. I want to focus on Young Adult Lit, for lots of reasons: I like to read it, it’s having a huge “moment” right now that would be interesting to interrogate in a scholarly way with students, and I see YA Lit as a kind of “literature gateway drug.” It can be a way in for students who “hate reading,” or who “just don’t read, man.” It can help them dip a toe into literary analysis and even just enjoyment of literature.

As I think about how to structure such a class, I have lots of ideas about assignments, and texts I want to introduce. Perhaps structuring the class around a question, such as: “What is YA Lit, anyway?” could be interesting and survey-ish, taking us through the history of YA Lit and some current conversations about it, but would also offer plenty of footholds for students to write their way in to the conversation.

A couple of things I’m musing on as I brainstorm:

1. Integrating multiple modalities: this semester, I’ve been thinking more theoretically about digital humanities and its place in my classrooms. I’ve always integrated “new technologies” in my pedagogy, just as a function of my generation and the era in which I went to grad school. However, I’m thinking more pointedly about it, lately. Having my students write in public digital genres is a feature I’m considering more seriously as I plan courses. (think, blogs, but also Wikipedia, Amazon reviews, etc.) Still not sure how this might play out in a specifically Lit class, but I’m excited to try it out.

2. Grading: I will tell anyone who cares to listen that grading is the LEAST great part of teaching. It honestly sucks. I hate it. We can’t get rid of it, though, for a million not-great reasons. (sigh) Grading is especially sucky, I think, in writing classes, because there is such a process to writing well, and grades just skew students’ focus. Reading this post on hybridpedagogy has got me considering grading contracts, like, more seriously than ever. A friend of mine is having great success with them in her composition classes, and it is something that I’m curious about. I wonder, though, how it might play out in a writing-about-literature class, as opposed to straight up comp. Hm.

The brainstorming continues…

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4 thoughts on “thinking about a YA Lit class…

  1. The idea of grading contracts sounds really interesting, and I haven’t heard of them before. Could you elaborate on the types of assignments your friend is using? I think it could work in a literature and writing class, with a few tweaks. I am not a fan of grading either, or of forcing my students to receive grades. Grading contracts could be a good way of mediating that.

  2. I’ve been thinking of adding a YA text (Ella Enchanted) to my fairy tale/intro to fiction course. I think you are right in thinking of it as a genre that functions as a gateway to reading. They are interesting, easy, and quick reads. I didn’t know Miss Peregrine’s was YA though! I’ve been wanting to read it but it sounds kind of scary, but surely, if it’s YA, I should be able to handle it. Right???

  3. PS: I briefly looked over the beginning of the article you linked on contract grading and think this might be a good idea for grading the 1020 Reflective Argument and Portfolio papers, especially in terms of the writing aspects not covered by the accompanying rubric (for example, Is there a thesis? Is it logically organized? Are there clear topic sentences? Clear evidence? etc.) I’m thinking I can basically make a checklist of items that, if all is included, would earn a B grade…

  4. Pingback: Blog on Grading (The Week After We Discussed Grading In Practicum) «shandilynne shandilynne

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