Filling the gap for a developmental reader with literary selections, Digging In provides readers with enjoyable, accessible poems, short stories and essays to help them develop their reading and writing skills. The book features Before Reading prompts to start readers thinking about the topics and To Understand and To Write questions which follow the selections, as well as a list of Ideas for Writing that address the general theme of the chapter. The author provides a brief introduction to reading literature and poems, essays and short stories covering the following themes: family history; growing up/growing old; learning and teaching; the emotional side; works and dreams and issues/positions. For individuals interested in developing their reading and writing skills.
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This book was written with the belief that teaching developmental composition with literature offers exciting possibilities for both students and instructors. Featuring poetry and short stories in addition to essays, DIGGING IN will engage your students like no other text. An introductory chapter on reading literature and a glossary following the last chapter give students all the resources they need to be successful.
Most of the readings are contemporary, and the topics cover a broad extent of human experience. The chapters—Family History. GrowingUp/Growing Old, Learning and Teaching, The Emotional Side, Work and Dreams, and Issues/Positions—offer instructors an opportunity to teach within a theme.
For each of the over 60 selections, the author has included:
To the Instructor
If you are holding this book in your hands, you are at least considering the notion of teaching your developmental composition class with literary selections. I applaud you for this. For years I've been asking myself why we don't assign literature to our students who are just beginning to develop their writing skills. So much accessible and enjoyable fiction, poetry, and nonfiction could be offered to our students, yet traditionally we have taught our classes with the same kinds of readings they have been exposed to over and over again—articles about current issues. I don't intend to criticize that approach; one can certainly teach reading and writing skills successfully with that kind of text. However, I hope you agree that teaching developmental composition with literature offers exciting possibilities for both students and instructors.
What You Will Find in this Book
This book starts with an introduction to the three genres of literature I've included: poetry, short stories, and essays. (Certainly, drama is another important literary genre, but for space considerations, I have not included any plays.) This chapter gives students a brief introduction to reading literature with a focus on some essential questions they can ask of each genre. I offer the basic vocabulary for discussing literature but keep it deliberately simple and not focused on memorizing terms or concepts. More than anything, this chapter is aimed at helping students feel comfortable with literature.
The main feature of this book is the literature itself. I've included poems, short stories, and essays. You will find that most of the selections are accessible for students who are still developing their reading skills. A range exists, of course. Pieces like Tim O'Brien's "Beginning" might challenge students a bit, but I have taken care to choose selections that are generally comprehensible on a first read. Most of the readings are contemporary, by well-known and lesser-known writers, and the topics cover a broad extent of human experience. The chapters—Family History, Growing Up/Growing Old, Learning and Teaching, The Emotional Side, Work and Dreams, and Issues/Positions—offer instructors an opportunity to teach within a theme, although you will find that an individual selection in one chapter might easily have been placed in another.
Each chapter starts with a brief introduction to its theme and a preview of the literary selections. Students can read this to get a general sense of what they can look forward to in the chapter. Each selection of literature is preceded by a short biography of the author as well as a Before Reading prompt. This prompt will start students thinking about the topic of the piece before they encounter the author's treatment of that topic, engaging them more thoroughly in the work. Following each poem, story, or essay, students will find To Understand and To Write questions. Some of the To Understand questions test a student's basic understanding of what has happened in the piece. Others require more critical thinking and ask students to ponder particular parts or aspects of the work. The To Write questions ask for personal responses to the literature. These can be used in several ways. You can assign them as take-home journal assignments, or you might use them as quick-write prompts at the beginning of class. Either way, students will be more prepared for class discussion if they have done some writing in response to the literature. These prompts might also be used for formal writing assignments, depending on the goals you have for those assignments. In general, the language in both the To Understand and To Write questions is not the language of literary analysis nor of literary criticism. Students should be able to read the work and answer the questions without being intimidated by terminology or theory.
At the end of each chapter, you will find a list of Ideas for Writing. These writing prompts address the general theme of the chapter (though not one particular work) and are meant to offer opportunities for formal paper writing. You might have students choose one assignment (or you might choose one for them) after they have read all or some of the literary selections for that chapter. I've phrased these prompts so you can use them for paragraph or essay assignments, depending on the direction of your class.
A glossary following the last chapter is a final feature of this book. Although the literature in this text is quite accessible, you may find it helpful to direct your students to the glossary for words that are not familiar to them. Overall, I hope this book provides both students and instructors an enjoyable classroom experience.
— Albert Garcia
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