Pedagogical Innovation

Did my attempts at innovating the English 15 curriculum by requiring more digital composition work? Judge for yourself! Below are five websites created by students in the course. Each gave me permission to feature their site here. Under each hyperlink, I explain why I deem the site rhetorically excellent.

Alexandra (Lexie) Foreman, Lexie’s Life Lessons

Lexie’s site makes me smile because it evinces the wonderfully positive attitude she contributed to our class, starting with the optimistic header image and her truly welcoming “Welcome” page. On her site, Lexie has published a redefinition of success, a proposal film, and her re-mediation project, a Prezi profiling Michael Jackson. I particularly admire the proposal, which tackles a subject that perturbs me as an instructor: Penn State students’ constant attachment to their smartphones. Lexie offers a feasible solution to the seemingly unsolvable problem of social media addiction.

Joseph Gorman, Joe’s Take

Joe’s site showcases the diversity of his passions, from sports to social causes. His two articles on sports–his definition of the greatest NBA players and his memoir about witnessing the Nittany Lions’ famed 2016 trouncing of Ohio State–seem to me more rhetorically savvy than most sports journalism written by pros. Joe created his proposal project to address a social ill in his home region: the opioid epidemic in Northeastern Pennsylvania. His proposal features footage of two interviews he conducted with experts in the field, Megan Zelonis, an emergency room nurse, and Police Sergeant Shandra Keeler. I was thrilled to see the care he put into fieldwork.

Logan Miller, Logan J. Miller

Logan’s site demonstrates his interests in the environment and education. You might note the smoky color of the background, which mirrors the theme of his redefinition article, in which he redefines the environment as inherent to humans rather than external, and attempts to persuade conservative politicians to rethink their stance. For his proposal film, Logan targets a problem in his high school: overcrowded classes. Finally, for his final project, he returned to the environmentalist theme and created a Prezi evaluating nuclear energy (a popular topic in the course thanks to an essay featured in Everything’s an Argument, “Why You Should Fear Your Toaster More than Nuclear Power” by Taylor Pearson [174-79]).

Robert Hort, Rob’s Vault

Rob’s site evinces a strong cyber ethos through his visually appealing choice of theme and “About” and “Contact” pages–not to mention the outstanding projects he created in English 15, including two (a redefinition article and proposal film) on texting and driving and a flyer on nuclear power. I was particularly impressed with the projects Rob composed to persuade audiences to put down their phones while driving. To me, they appear worthy of wide distribution as PSAs targeting this fatal habit.

Sydney Lander, English 15

Although I know some students resist being labeled with the “f-word,” I’m going to go ahead and applaud Sydney’s site for its undercurrent of feminism. As she notes on her homepage, she enjoys pizza and softball. Her first project on the site redefines pizza as a healthy food–an argument I’m happy to accept! Many of her projects in the course focused on the benefits of sports, particularly her sport, softball. Sydney composed a proposal film recommending steps to implement an athletic program at her high school, paying close attention to questions of feasibility. Finally, Sydney’s final project profiles softball star Jenny Finch in an effort to attain greater recognition for women’s sports.