Arrangement is one of the five tradition canons of classical rhetorical training, and it is important to think about once you begin to assemble a body of works. How will this group of texts communicate with each other?

While brainstorming, I came up with a number of ways that I think about arranging a body of works, a taxonomy of arrangement techniques. I categorize the arrangment strategies as either pragmatic or aesthetic, although there may be other categories that can be separated out from these. These arrangement styles can be involved in any arrangement of texts by single authors or multiple authors: books, periodicals, blogs, films, portfolios, etc.


  • alphabetic: arrangement by name, typically the author’s
  • genre: in a multigenre work, things may be arranged by the genre classification
  • rank/cachet: by perceived importance
  • chronological: arranged by date order
  • historical/periodical: grouping works together by literary period or school i.e. Victorian, Postmodern
  • geographic: by location
  • race
  • class
  • gender
  • sexuality
  • ability
  • age
  • mode/media: technological mode of production used to arrange i.e. oral traditions separated from printed separated from hypertextual, etc.
  • stylistic: the ways an author or authors use language


  • melodic: a musical grouping intending to achieve beauty
  • communicative: a grouping devised so that the pieces speak to one another (also: conversational, dialogic)
  • juxtapositional: a grouping strategy that puts unlike pieces together to create a jarring, surprising effect (also: dialectical arrangement)
  • rhetorical: uses pieces in a tactical way to make a larger argument or persuade
  • harmonic: uses pieces in unison like a chord blends notes on a piano or guitar
  • dissonant: uses pieces in unresolved, indeterminate, or discordant ways to create an effect, often confusion or displeasure
  • collagic: applies the tenets of collage or cut-up; often shows the rough edges and “tape” between pieces in an arrangement
  • narrative (master/meta): using small pieces to tell a larger story, think chapters in a book or sections in a longer poem or interrelated short stories or poems in a collection or journal
  • confrontational: an arrangement in which the pieces are at war with one another or the audience
  • hybrid: an arrangement based on blending, either of different genres or of different arrangement styles
  • interactive/hypertextual: an arrangement style that allows the audience freedom when interacting with the work (difficult to do in print medium although not impossible)
  • logical/mathematical: using classical logic or numerical formulas to dictate arrangements of works e.g. Fibonacci sequences, if/then, syllogisms, etc.
  • chance/indeterminate/constraint-based: using a devised process of operations to dictate arrangement e.g. dice, I Ching hexagrams, coins, Tarot cards, etc.

Notes on Revision

Revision occurs all around us in the world, yet do we really understand it in texts? As you’ll recall, revision can be divided into two main subcategories: local and global.

Local Revision

Local revision deals with surfaces and appearances. In the world, an example of local revision would be painting a room of your house. The room is essentially the same: the same walls, function, space and flooring, but the surface of the walls has been changed. Another example can be seen in graffiti. Graffiti revises the surface it is affixed to, whether train car or wall. Cleaning up or painting over graffiti is another local revision.

In composing texts, we also deal with surfaces. Change a word in an alphabetic text, and you’ve changed the surface appearance: Suzy ran to the store. Suzy sprinted to the store. The same action is taking place, but the verb “sprinted” clarifies the running action. Sprinting connotes more urgency than just running. How would jogging change the same sentence? These are word-level issues we can choose to pay attention to in our writing.

Here are some things to keep in mind for local revision:

  • Read the text aloud or have someone read it to you! You process information differently when you read to yourself and when you read aloud. You will often “hear” errors through stumbles in speaking. Reading silently is more like writing, and your brain will often not “see” errors just like when you composed them.
  • Polish the surface of the text you are working on
  • Spelling/Grammar/Punctuation
  • Usage: Are you using the right word for the right circumstance?
  • Paragraph Unity: is your paragraph a coherent structure? Does it have random sentences that should not be there?
  • Transitions: between paragraphs and between points within paragraphs
  • Is your paper properly formatted? Font, spacing, page numbers, heading, citations, works cited, etc.
  • Thesis Statement
  • Topic Sentences
  • Introduction/Conclusion
  • Fulfill PURPOSE of assignment

Global Revision

If local revision deals with surface, then Global Revision concerns substance. To reuse the previous metaphor: now we are remodeling the entire house, rather than painting a room. We knock down walls, put in new toilets and granite countertops, etc. You are literally making what you had new and, hopefully, better than it was before. We will talk about several strategies and examples.


This revision strategy literally means what you think. You have a base text, and you improve it by adding more information and expanding.

Example: The Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields Forever”

Think about peer reviews and teacher comments where it seems like your reader needed or wanted more information. Pay attention to moments in the text where you were tired, like the end paragraphs or conclusion. The conclusion is an especially rich place to locate possible additions because the text, for you at that point, is essentially finished, and the pressure of making the text is lifted in favor of closing up points and restating ideas. This is often where what you really want to write about emerges. Keep this in mind for later.


The opposite of addition. Keep what you need and cut out what doesn’t make sense or is irrelevant.

Example: Neil Young’s “Like A Hurricane”

Pay close attention to paragraphs or sentences that do not relate to the topic at hand and either cut them or rewrite them to make them fit.


Changing the order of things to suit your needs better.

Example: The Beatles, “Strawberry Fields Forever” (lyrics)

Transposition will be especially important for you if you feel like you make a mess first and clean it up later. If you are truly freewriting and not editing yourself as the words come out, you often give up the ordering, controlling part of your brain in order to get things on paper. In American writing, we prize a linear order in writing and public speaking (Write what you are going to write about, write about it, write what you just wrote about), but not everyone’s mind works that way on first composition and in fact, other cultures’ writing is much different, circling a point or going into narratives, tangents and explanations before getting to the point. Many of you will find your work has most of the main points you need, but they might not be in the right order.

Synthesis and Remix

Blending together texts to make a new document.

Example: Girl Talk, Feed the Animals

When synthesizing or remixing texts, you are combining two or more texts to create a new document. An example of this is creating a custom playlist in iTunes or another music program. You are pulling music out of its original context and placing it alongside other songs it was not necessarily written to be heard with. Girl Talk does this, but his remixes interweave other artists songs to make something new and totally different from the original. This is one of the goals of researched academic writing, to use the research and inquiry of other scholars who come before us and to synthesize their quotations and ideas with our argument.


This is not what you think—writing in another language. In composition, we can translate our texts by changing rhetorical situations.  An easy example of translation, in the sense I’m using it, is J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books. All of these have been translated into movies. People usually fight over which version they like better, but the truth is each genre has its own conventions that need to be looked at on their own terms. For example, the book provides more space for vivid description through writing, while the movie is often forced to condense a paragraph or even a chapter to a few minutes, whereas we might take an hour to read it.

Example: Buffalo Springfield “For What It’s Worth”/Public Enemy “He Got Game”

In this class we have worked in several modes, genres and forums, and sometimes what we composed could be better composed in a new genre. For example, a paper might be better as a series of visuals or vice versa. The best practical way to translate what you’ve done is to rewrite an existing text in a new way by changing the rhetorical situation, especially the ones listed above. When you translate, there are always things that are untranslatable, which is why there is no English word for schadenfreude and why we have the expression lost in translation.


Sometimes when you re-approach an older text, you have changed or your beliefs about your text have changed to the point where you disagree with what you’ve done. Maybe small parts or fragments still ring true for you, but you mostly need to rewrite the entire thing.

Example: Led Zeppelin “The Ocean”/ Beastie Boys “She’s Crafty”

As intimidating as it sounds, this is the revision strategy I use most often. For me, the impulse to create a certain text in a certain way does not remain over a long period of time. I change, learn more, and my skills as a thinker and writer improve, and I suddenly need a new text based on the old, ineffectual text.

Sometimes glimmers of what you really want to write show up in a text you are not satisfied with, and you can reinvent the old text, making something completely different and new. Freewriting while holding the old text in mind can be an effective strategy to begin reinvention.

As with the example, reinvented texts often begin with someone’s else thought or something you learn or run across that catches you attention. Train yourself to be aware of those inspiring moments because they can lead to texts that satisfy you personally, which many people say is when they like writing best.

Links Galore

Public Universities: Less for More


NCLB=Lower Standards?


Arne Duncan Closes Failing Schools


American TV as Brain Thief


We Are All Authors


Draft (Alex Gonzalez, Callen Mortensen, Heather Knoblach, Nannesha West & Claudia Lamas):

Final (Alex Gonzalez, Callen Mortensen, Heather Knoblach, Nannesha West & Claudia Lamas):


Collaborative Blog

Idealism vs. Realism in the Classroom (by Paula Nowak, Nicole Burke, Wendy Inman & Rob Michaels)


An example of my digital scholarship:

My Modernisms (blog & video)

Avatar Video (xtranormal.com):

Paulo Freire, ruminating on today's teaching in Eng. 101

I want to start by saying that, as a group, today’s class session far exceeded my expectations for this part of the project. I understood that the limitations imposed on each group were strict and imposing (10 min. to teach 20-35 pages of challenging material). On Thursday, I panicked somewhat after the workshop because I felt like I did not encourage enough experimentation or risk-taking in the group projects (which is something I value in this class), although I felt like Thursday’s workshop was helpful in getting some ideas out for what we all valued in teaching (from a student-centered perspective).

And I felt like the presentations today delivered on the assignment. The presentations blended delivering the material from the chapters each group was responsible for with interactive, multisensory activities that encouraged us to do some reflective thinking to make connections between Freire’s theoretical ideas and real situations.

Now that you’ve completed this part of the project, I would like you to do two things:

Summarize (y)our “reading” of the book in a blog post (200-300 words). In other words, what will you take away from Paulo Friere’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed from today’s activities?

In a second blog post, respond to the different acts of teaching this assignment required, considering any of the following or going in your own direction:

  • What do you value as a teacher? (Think about last Thursday’s workshop discussion.)
  • Were you able to stay true to what you value in this project and still cover the material? If yes, how? If no, what parts of the assignment impeded your ability to teach how you would like (the difficulty of the material, taking a section of the book out of context, the group dynamic, time constraints, etc.)?
  • What did other groups do in their presentation, positive or negative, that stood out? Did you have any “a-ha moments” where another group did something you wish you would have thought of? In what ways could groups have improved? Did you have enough to base your “reading” of the book on?
  • Would you ever consider doing a read-group-share assignment like this one in your classes? Compare and contrast collaborative reading with your experience of reading texts independently.

“At Columbia, Arne Duncan Calls Teacher Training ‘Mediocre'”

I actually agree with a great deal of what this article states. When I was teaching high school, the principal (who observed me once in four years, might I add) said that, since I was not certified to teach, I would need methods courses to improve my teaching. Most teachers I talked with, however, told me that methods courses are generally not effective in preparing teachers to be in the classroom.

I got plenty of practice teaching in different situations and venues during my time as a high school teacher, and I think my teaching improved tremendously because I took my job seriously and worked at developing my teaching style through a system of trial and error, self-reflection, self-analysis, and mentorship from teachers in the school I admired.

Unfortunately, the high school I taught at had neither a formal system of teacher mentoring in house nor a sustained system of qualitative analysis of a teacher’s work. Teachers themselves had to maintain professional development by doing tasks the school deemed appropriate, but many teachers viewed this as a hindrance rather than a sincere way to improve their teaching practice.

It always bothered me that the principal never observed me after my first year when I barely knew what I should do let alone why it would work. The principal was of the opinion that I would not be able to handle a classroom until I had undergone the certification process.

Since coming to ISU, I feel like I have a much better command of what I want to do in the classroom, how I want to do it, and why it is effective. Much of the information comes from five years of on-the-job training (more if you consider coaching to be teaching, which I do) measured against lots of pedagogical theory and scholarship. My road to becoming a teacher was a bit atypical, but like many people, I have been motivated by naysayers and nurturers alike to become an effective teacher.  I’m proud that I haven’t had to compromise my values or personality to teach.

Even though our class is not a methods class, I try to be cognizant that many of you will be educators, and the more space I can offer for each person to think about how they might go about teaching and practice composition-related tasks that will get you all there, the more successful this class will be, in my perspective. Is our class helping to prove Arne Duncan wrong? I hope so.

How do teachers learn best to be teachers?

The goal of this assignment is to read Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed as a group and share what you learned with the class. Since this is a difficult book, it will be easier to read and discuss a portion of the book with your group, devise a plan to summarize and teach the key points and then deliver your lesson on October 27 in class.

This assignment gives you a chance to:

  • read a pivotal work of pedagogical theory that defined a movement: critical pedagogy
  • practice collaboratively devising a lesson plan
  • execute the lesson plan for an audience of your peers (using our classroom space efficiently: technology, whiteboard, handouts, etc.)
  • balance reading this book with other research tasks you will undertake for project four

Remember when creating a lesson, it is best to involve your audience with as many senses as possible to account for a diversity of learning styles. It may be best to create a blog or PowerPoint slide show to reveal the key points for your section of the book. Be creative and don’t be afraid to take risks.