The Open Book Bag

open resources, open minds

Critical Modes  

          an introduction to composition


Critical Modes treats the modes as facets of critical thought can put beginning writers in conversation with a complex audience. A process model enables students to  build expertise, ask questions, and formulate hypotheses as part of the process that ultimately puts their work in conversation with a complex audience.


               an instructor's handbook


Contingencies concisely summarizes the process model, tools, and topical strategies that  are built into both Critical Modes and Critical Content. Its overview simplifies the planning of composition courses that emphasize critical thinking. It invites faculty to build sequenced assingments that illustrate the cumulative nature of expertise.

Critical Content

      documented writing in the academic world


Critical Content serves second-term composition students by extending the process model established in Critical Modes. By bridging the two semesters, it encourages students to recognize academic expertise as a cumulative process. Further, the continued application of the process model strengthens their ability to approach critical thinking across the curriculum.

Tools and Texts

Open Educational Resources build the teaching community, and this site offers our community two textbooks, an instructor's manual, and a repository for colleagues' assignments. These serve both regular and contingent faculty, but they directly recognize the additional burdens borne by adjunct colleagues, the high costs of textbooks, and the threats to privacy embodied in learning platforms. Respect for the expertise, talent, and commitment of contingent faculty drives much of this site.

First, we all need a conceptual framework that answers to a variety of  composition strategies (modes, cultural studies, writing in the disciplines, etc.). Second, adjuncts need a corresponding set of teaching tactics that embody the departmental strategies of wherever they're teaching, i.e., a portable pedagogy. Assignments and syllabi have to find the common ground of these varied teaching contexts and for the varied teaching strategies found across the faculty.

Open Book Bag provides the tools for creating such assignments -- assignments that satisfy various curricular frameworks -- and simultaneously enables any faculty to draw on their experience and expertise as they serve students by eliminating the cost of textbooks, costs that become prohibitive for working class students. Most important is that our well-intentioned service to students not be subverted by using proprietary tools that often surveille and exploit their work.

Mary Ragan and  Hugh Culik

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