The Semester Story

The Semester Story was a three-day, multimodal activity (in preparation for the Final Exam) that I first created/deployed in a non-survey, non-major American Literature course (17 students) in Spring 2018. Its curation started with two writing process research studies (re)calibrated via posthumanism and has become just one concrete strategy/assignment in my toolbox that not only helps me more ethically and responsibly observe and assess the classroom as a whole but also offers students the chance to research and assess their own learning and growth–the story of their semester–using data they’ve been creating and curating for months. The Semester Story played a huge role in my dissertation and is, to my mind, a practical distillation of what teaching elsewhere can be. The below recording was my first time presenting on this assignment (March 2020) outside of my defense and offers a (very) brief introduction to the concept of it, particularly the two composition studies articles it started from.


Audio recording of “The Semester Story: Using Composition Theory for a More Posthumanist Literature Assessment” (CCTE, March 2020)

The below images are from the original PowerPoint used in the presentation. Starting with the third slide, they’re captioned with what I say in the recording when I start referencing that slide.

Presented at the Conference of College Teachers of English – March 6, 2020
Hosted by Collin College – McKinney, TX

Our all-purpose classroom in the basement of Trimble Hall, UTA (Spring 2018).
The materiality of this classroom tells a humanist story: in here, you’re an any-one coming into an any-where to learn an any-thing. Responsible and purposeful observation with posthumanist theory can help us not only read/recognize those stories but disrupt them: to teach elsewhere and tell different stories with our students and each unique and unrepeatable classroom they create.

“This is hard to see, but it’s a PowerPoint that my students watched while they were working on their Semester Story…”

“For this assignment I want to talk to you about today…two composition articles…and they’re pretty much in the process zone…”

“So what I came up with was…I call it the Semester Story. It was part of a three day activity and it was prepping for the final…”

“All of this has to depend on an activity we did all semester long… and I called it a Composition Book…”

“So, then, on the second day they came into class and that earlier slide that had the, all the different pictures on it was playing up at the front of the room and they were asked to draw the story of their semester…”

“So this is one of my students drawing…”

“And then this is the actual drawing he’s working on there…”

“So this was actually one of the more successful ones…”

“OK. So that was the first part of day two. The second part was to get into groups or pairs and talk it out…”

“And then the third day was the final exam…”

“So. What that means to, also, for the ideas of posthumanism, of a more responsible and ethical sort of pedagogy…”

“But, it also offered me a large archive of teaching-as-inquiry…”

All work and student images used with student permission via a UTA-approved IRB.

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