Today seemed to be a little better day. The weather was nice, and it seemed to affect my students. Today, though, I realized just how different my two classes are. I did the same thing in both:

I started the class with some discussion of blackboard and the homework I had the class do. Some people typed out or wrote the assignment and brought it to class, so I made sure to go over (again) blackboard and how to reply to the discussion. I also (don’t know if I should have or not) admitted that this was the first time I was rely so heavily on blackboard and wasn’t entirely sure how the program worked either, but I made it a point to explain to the class how this is the future, that we are all going to have to get used to it and learn how to use these basic technologies.

Afterwards, I did “housekeeping.” We went over the plagiarism quiz. I explained each answer in detail and took questions. Here is where I began to notice the difference in my classes. the first class is talkative and engaged in the course while the second class was much more quiet, not asking any questions.

I collected all that work, asked if there were any questions, and then I passed out the short story “Jesus Shaves” by David Sedaris. We read the story as a class. It is a funny story about a class trying to explain Easter without have the proper vocabulary. When the story was over (which loosened the class up since it makes them laugh), I asked the class if they knew what the point was?

This led into a discussion about discourse communities. I explained to the class how the Sedaris story is an example of a person joining a new discourse community and having to learn the new vocabulary in order to successfully join that community. My first class had a great discussion where most of the class participated. I throw a lot of examples at the class in hopes to get them to understand that they are already part of a discourse community. My first class was engaged, but my second class was quiet. I joked with the second class and asked them if they had no opinion or thoughts on the subject at all. Telling them they needed to use their brains and think about these things.

I also, briefly, discussed rhetoric with the class and explained how rhetoric has a lot to do with how you say things, not what you say. My first class provided lots of examples, and then I gave them mine. I told them to think back to elementary school and passing notes to a girl or boy they like: “Do you like me?” and then I drew a huge square with yes under it and a tiny square with no under it. They seemed to get the point.

We talked a little bit about language and about how all these things are connected. The discourse community will dictate the language that is used and the rhetorical context that will work best. In the 6th grade with a girl I like as my audience, I am going to keep the language simple and use the space on the page that I am using to convey the answer I want to hear.

I ended class by explaining to the class how I was going to make all of them little philosophers. I explained that philosophy is the love of wisdom, and that as new students, joining this new academic discourse, I hope that they will love wisdom for its own sake. To show them this, I showed them this clip from the movie Examined Life . I used the clip and the talk about loving knowledge as the prompt for my diagnostic.

I’ll look those over tomorrow and see how that went.