How Your Poetry or Prose Recitation Is Graded

Teaching Assistant: Patrick Mooney
English 150
Fall 2013


Recall from the course syllabus that reciting twelve lines of poetry or prose from an assigned course text is a mandatory part of the class (and is necessary to receive a passing grade). Performing this recitation in section is worth five percent of your overall grade for the term. Additionally, you (in conjunction with other students who are reciting that week) will partially serve as a discussion leader for your section during the week you are reciting. Preparing for and serving as a discussion leader is worth an additional five percent of your overall grade for the term.

You must declare in advance what you plan to recite, and each piece of text may only be recited by one person in each section. (We will divvy up course texts in section during our second section meeting. Plan ahead and decide which texts you are interested in reciting. If you feel strongly about a particular text, be assertive in claiming it.) You must recite a text in section that has been assigned for the previous week's reading.

In addition to reciting the text, you will serve as a discussion leader for the text that you have selected after your recitation. This means that you should make a selection of (an excerpt from) a text that will encourage substantial discussion in section and should prepare a set of questions or themes that you believe the section will benefit from exploring in relation to the text that you have chosen. You may also, if you choose, prepare a handout or other visual aids that will facilitate discussion. You must email me a description or outline of your discussion plans by 10 p.m. the night before your presentation. (This may be just a paragraph or two, or it may be an outline, but I need to have some idea of what you intend to do so that I can plan for section in advance.) If you would like to email me a handout by 10 p.m. on the previous evening (as a .pdf, OpenOffice/LibreOffice or Microsoft Word document), I will also photocopy it for distribution during section that night for you. I will also post whatever you send me on the course website to serve as a study aid for other students.

Once you have signed up for a text, you must take all reasonable steps to ensure that you are present at the beginning of section that week and prepared to perform. You should prepare for your recitation with the same degree of care that you would prepare for an important presentation in a professional setting. If you are absent or late, you will be able to make up your recitation during a future week, but will incur a penalty to that recitation, and will have to choose a text that is appropriate to the week in which you are actually reciting (i.e., if you had signed up to recite Yeats in week three, but miss the bus on your way to campus and arrive late, then you may not recite Yeats in a later week — though you might choose, for instance, to recite a selection from Ulysses during week five or six).

The following are examples of acceptable reasons for missing a scheduled recitation:

In these circumstances, you will have to schedule a later recitation of a text that is appropriate for that week's reading, but will not incur a penalty. (If any of these require that you be absent from your scheduled recitation, please let me know what's going on by email as soon as possible.)

The following are examples of unacceptable reasons for missing a scheduled recitation which will result in a penalty to your recitation after you reschedule it:

General suggestions

Grading criteria

The performance/recitation of your chosen text is worth five percent of your total grade for the quarter, divided as follows:

The discussion following your recitation is worth an additional five percent of your course grade, divided as follows:

You incur a penalty of three percent of your overall course grade if you schedule a presentation, don't show up on time, and don't have a fantastic, documented excuse. Note that you will need to reschedule your presentation if you don't show up, because it is necessary to perform this assignment in order to pass the course.

I will produce an audio recording of your performance and discussion to assist me in evaluating it; if you request at least forty-eight hours in advance that I do so, I will also make a good-faith attempt to produce a video recording of your presentation and discussion (I am not much of a videographer, though). You are welcome to a copy of this audio or video recording, should you desire one; this can be a useful tool to help you assess your own presentation skills.

I will send your grade for the recitation and discussion by email within forty-eight hours of your presentation, along with a set of comments explaining why you received the grade that you did.

If you are planning on using equipment …

… other than the chalkboard/whiteboard in class, then you should speak to me in advance, even if you are planning to supply the equipment yourself.

It is not necessary to use any equipment other than your own voice in order to do an excellent job. If you do use additional equipment, remember that its purpose should be to enhance your presentation, not to carry the weight of it. The golden rule for equipment usage is that the show must go on in some form, even if the equipment does not work as expected, so be sure to have a backup plan in case the equipment that you've chosen fails to operate in the way that you expect.

If you are nervous about public speaking

You're not alone. Lots of people are nervous about public speaking. I'm sometimes nervous about this very issue, myself.

There are not other ways to satisfy this requirement (unless you have a documented disability that prevents you from speaking in front of the class), but there are ways that you may ameliorate the conditions producing your anxiety. One option that you have is to make a presentation as a member of a group. In this case, each of the group members will have to recite at least twelve lines, each will have to do a substantial portion of the work of leading discussion, and each will receive a grade independently of the others. Having someone else standing with you in front of the group may help to mitigate your anxiety. If you have suggestions for other ways that you can ameliorate anxiety-producing situations related to your presentation, please come to my office hours so that we can discuss your ideas.

If you would like, I can also refer you to an appropriate campus counseling service. You may find that speaking with a professional about your nervousness can help you to become more comfortable with the process of public speaking.