Reading and Writing Classes

What Is Acceleration in English?


Pasadena City College English Instructor Manuel Perea shares his understanding of the meaning of “acceleration” in developmental reading and writing, during the summer institute of the Community of Practice in Acceleration, June 2011.


Sample Materials

Window into an Accelerated Classroom  Reading and writing assignments from Katie Hern’s open-access, accelerated course one-level below college English.

Thoughts on Choosing Readings  At Chabot College, English courses at all levels require students to read full-length books, mostly nonfiction, and write essays integrating ideas and information from what they’ve read. Choosing the right texts is one of the most important decisions a teacher can make. This handout shares one instructor’s experience of making these choices.

Instructional Cycle for an Integrated Reading and Writing Class  This diagram represents a way to integrate attention to students’ reading and writing development in an accelerated classroom, from pre-reading guidance through essay writing.

Sample Unit from Las Positas College  The materials below provide a good illustration of how Las Positas English faculty integrate attention to reading and writing by scaffolding students’ engagement with class texts.  The annotated “instructor version” also illustrates how the department supports part-time faculty to teach in the integrated, accelerated curriculum. The materials were developed by English Instructor Catherine Eagan, in collaboration with her colleagues, building upon the CSU ERWC (English Reading and Writing Curriculum).


Classroom Video

In this video, students in Katie Hern’s open-access, accelerated reading and writing course grapple with a challenging excerpt from Paolo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed. The footage was shot during the second week of class, Fall 2009. Prior reading assignments had included Malcolm X’s “Learning to Read,” Jean Anyon’s “Social Class and the Hidden Curriculum of Work,” and Mike Rose’s “I Just Wanna Be Average.” Before class, students had been asked to read the Freire excerpt and pay attention for a few key points: What does Freire mean by “banking model” education and why does he say it’s oppressive? What does he mean by “problem-posing” education and why does he say it’s liberatory? In the video, they are working in groups to answer these questions.



Beyond students’ reading and writing skills

Attending to the Affective Domain  When developmental students aren’t successful in their classes, the core issue is often not their ability to handle the course content. They have the capacity to write a good essay or solve a particular math problem; however, something happens at a more psychological and emotional level that gets in their way. This handout presents a set of strategies faculty can use to keep these issues from derailing their students.

Sample classroom practices:

The Fess Up

Speed Dating

Reading to accompany sample speed dating activity (see pgs. 188-193)

Get Out of Jail FREE

Building in One-on-One Conferences

Many faculty participating in CAP’s Community of Practice in Acceleration use two key resources in their classes to help students become aware of the affective issues that may affect their learning: Carol Dweck’s work on mindsets (Brainology) and chapter 2 of Rebecca Cox’s book The College Fear Factor. In the video below, students reflect on how reading Dweck’s work had a powerful effect on their sense of themselves as learners.



In-Class Activity: Academic Speed Dating

One of the pedagogical techniques we’ve shared in CAP’s Community of Practice in Acceleration is something called Speed Dating.

Below is a video of Yuba College’s Shawn Frederking sharing her own adaptation of Speed Dating. The activity gets students into rapidly-shifting pairs to work with key ideas from the assigned reading, both orally and in writing. Through it, students not only get a deeper understanding of the text, they also get lots of practice using the conventions of academic writing. And it happens in a low-stakes, fun atmosphere that gives the teacher rich information about where students are in their learning. Video editing by Hannah Douglas.