Introducing Research with the High Priestess of Soul

Although I thoroughly enjoyed the film, I was having a hard time figuring out how to use I Am Not Your Negro in my first-year composition course. This film by Raoul Peck, who is visiting UWM in a couple weeks, is based on an unfinished manuscript by James Baldwin. Samuel Jackson's reading punctuates Peck's interpretation of Baldwin's work, a view of the Movement through the eyes of its assassinated leaders, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and Medgar Evers. Breathtaking as it was, I figured it was too much to ask students to untangle the many strands of the film, to reduce it to research techniques and methods. In desperation, I came across the Netflix documentary about Nina Simone in my watch list. After watching a dozen minutes or so, it was clear that this was a much better alternative than I could have hoped. The title, What Happened, Miss Simone?, was the first clue that this film would work well as...
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Project Proposal Assignment and In-Class Activity

Project Proposal Assignment and In-Class Activity To help prepare Academic Writing Strategies students for their project proposals, I break them up into group to create a short professional proposal. Although aimed at non-academic audiences, these proposals each carry similar considerations. For example, thoughtful consideration of venue, expenses, and timeline demonstrate a strategic approach to a project. Each of these mock proposals are intentionally goofy and so the justifications that are part of each proposal are low-stakes while still imparting the sense that these are significant elements to a proposal. The class was given 15 minutes to prepare and ~5 minutes to present, 20 minutes for the entire class. This was enough time but it was crunched towards the end. Preparation time seemed adequate though. Proposal Project Sheet and In-Class Prompts...
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Teaching Meet Me Halfway

The first major text assigned to my English 215 students is Jennifer Morales' Meet Me Halfway: Milwaukee Stories, a collection of character snapshots that wrestle with identity issues central to the city. This was one of the first works that prompted me to overhaul the syllabus I had been working on. As a longtime resident, the string of police shootings and violence in the city has been a persistent murmur for most of my life in Milwaukee. Watching the live streams from Sherman Park, sufficient explanations continued to evade me. What good is critical analysis to the residents of this neighborhood? I watched the "unrest" (the milquetoast term assigned by the local media) from behind my barricade of books, one eye on the march the other on Huizinga's theories of play. Ridiculous. Once the exam was over, the syllabus was reworked to help work through the amoebic questions that remained. At the time, I had been helping out at People's Bookstore which...
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