USE THIS SPACE: To post your plan for your final project. You can post your ideas and solicit feedback from me and your classmates You can also use this space to ask questions--either about the wider project or about your specific idea or a particular moment in your process where you are worried or are a bit stuck.
This space will remain active for the rest or our work together.
OVERVIEW: It's a bit of a mash up to try to put these two ideas together--or at least it would have felt like a mash up until 2020 when nothing about writing in electronic spaces is not worth exploring. Right now, teachers everywhere are teaching in online spaces, including literacy instruction, which includes, helping our students to be strong writers. They are teaching online and in person and doing both at the same time. And sometimes that also includes working with multilingual readers and writers.
I have an idea that the pandemic will be setting back online education a good fifteen years, because I don't think anyone involved in the past school year has the stomach for it. However, writing and technology has a long history--at one time, even a pencil was new technology. Thought of one way, writing itself is technology. For today's discussion post, I want to think about this fact in relationship to multilingual readers and writers. As we think about this, let's not forget what we know from Inoue, from Villanueva. And let's think about this idea of "threshold concepts." Threshold concepts in writing are the same for multilingual writers as they are for monolingual writers, sure, but in an electronic space? In the brave new world of computing and the interet? Social media? In truth this is where all of our students will be doing most of their writing for most of their lives.
POST: Considering the reading from the past two weeks, in what ways does technology support multilingual readers/writers who are trying to learn how to be successful students in English? In what ways does it gum up the works for them? What possibilities and challenges does it present to teachers of these students? Certainly feel to connect this to your actual lived experience in the classroom--either as a teacher or as a student, as a monolingual or multilingual reader and writers, as a someone who embraces technology or who doesn't.
RESPOND: Once you've posted, read and respond to more than one of your colleagues.
Use this space to consider the answer to the above question. Think about what we discussed in class about the impossibility of imagining an audience, think about what we know about power relations from Inoue. Think about both ends of the writing experience--invention to final product, including revision.
The threshold concept of imagining yourself the identity of a writer is fraught for student writers. What can we do--can we do in assignments, in assessments, in feedback, in class policies--the move our students ever closer to this very important threshold concept.
Hello All. Just reminding you to check the syllabus for all of the changes to deadlines for the upcoming weeks. This is an asynchronous week. Remember that I reduced the reading substantially and am instead using this week to 1) help you manage the workload for the midterm portfolio and 2) to start to think about how you will complete the ethnography/case study.
OVERVIEW: In order to post, you'll need to read the material in the Bhattacharya to get an overview of what qualitative research looks like and what kind of qualitative research will work best for you. For a complete discussion of the project, check out the assignment page for this project--mostly remember that this is not a big assignment and you don't have a ton of time to complete it so you want to identify a manageable site and research question for the purposes of fulfilling this assignment.
WHAT TO POST: Please post your idea for the site of your qualitative research. Indicate who would be involved and how you would have/get access to the site and the writers you would be observing. Secondly, indicate what kind of qualitative research you would be doing (mini-ethnography, case study, auto-ethnography). If something in the Bhattacharya appeals to you in terms of conducting research for your project (interviews, surveys), and want to pitch that you are welcome to do so. Finally, make an attempt at a research question. A good research question is more than half the battle of a successful research project.
NOTE: Just saying, the last time I taught this class, a fair number of folks in the group expanded this project for their final project due at the end of the semester. So you might think about this as a first phase of a larger project. It might help you to focus your idea into something manageable for the short term but flexible in case you really like what you produce and want to go deeper.
OVERVIEW: It's so easy to complain about student writing. It feels like a right and a privilege to do it when you work so hard at trying to help our students be better writers, readers and thinkers. Further, culturally, as (nearly) the first half of our semester has shown us, the inclination of literally everyone--teachers, employers, public-policy makers, parents--contribute in various ways to a narrative that writing has declined precipitously.
As we have discussed in class, there are two ways to react to this: you can say, as most folks do, that the only way to fix things is to "go back to basics"--whatever that means in that moment. Typically, however, it usually involves more testing and more correcting of error.
Composition and Rhetoric arise out of a moment in education when folks questioned if this was the way to go. Now, to be clear, it has not always been well-received and, if we consider current conversations about student writing skill, it would seem it has not reversed this enigmatic trend towards worse and worse writing. However, the field is also a hopeful one. We see this, most recently in the work of Inoue. But we can also see it going all the way back to 1980, during that restless time when Open Admissions created a new landscape in colleges and universities.
Basic Writing, as an area of teaching and scholarship, is the title given to courses that were essentially for those writers identified as not sufficiently prepared to take writing courses for credit. The concept has evolved over time to a greater and lesser extent depending on the institution. Community Colleges, for instance, still often offer these "remedial" classes, particularly for multilingual readers and writers. BSU got rid of its version of such a course in 2004 and replaced it with a 4 credit co-requisite model to support less resourced students. The Community College of Baltimore County has had an incredible impact on basic writing, pioneering the stretch model of writing instruction that extends the amount of time students spend in first year writing.
Before leaving our historical look at the field, I'd like for us to read from Mina Shaughessy's important work Error & Expectation. She was one of the first scholars who looked at this new landscape and said there are things we can do. She was a writing teacher at ground zero of Open Admissions, City University of New York. Her work was scene as groundbreaking at the time that it came out. Now, certainly, since that time, she's come under heavy fire for some of her ideas. But there has also been renewed interest in her work in the past year (Sadly she died from cancer not long after the publication of E & E).
POST: I started by the semester by saying that one way to flip the script on writing instruction is to change the narrative of "students are bad writers" to "writing is a hard skill to learn." In what ways does Shaughnessy speak to one or the other of these statements? In what ways does her discussion of "basic" writing speak to how we talk about writing instruction and error to day? And yet what seems forgotten from her argument in how we shape writing instruction?
Hello Folks, on the syllabus, I am asking you to post a short reflection--not your usual length, maybe just 100-200 words--about one of the articles you are reading for the reverse annotated bibliography project.
If I could make a suggestion, if you post a sample annotation, I can go in and give you feedback on how successful it is. That's not a requirement. It's an offer of feedback now. The point of this second post this week is to nudge you towards getting the work done at a reasonable pace rather than having to do everything all at once.
The reflection that I'm asking you to write should help you to write your final reflective piece tied to the annotations. But writing the annotations, a skill and art in and of itself, takes some doing to. So if you want and have the time, you are welcome to use this space to practice and get feedback, but, again, you don't have to.
OVERVIEW: I don't know a single person in a classroom--student or teacher--who doesn't feel that it all comes down to the assessment. For most students, that's a negative, but, as Inoue argues, it most certainly doesn't have to be that way. And, in his plea in Chapter Five to commit to antiracist writing assessment, he tells us exactly what is at stake.
And so here we are, talking about writing assessment again this week. Clark's chapter, pretty clear cut, she says and does talk about assessment and trends in the field. What Adler-Kassner & Wardle do is a little different. We haven't really talked that much about their project--these threshold concepts--but it's a pretty cool idea that, if we really allow it to inform our practice, in a way that syncs with Inoue, we really have to start to think about what we are really asking our students--or any writer at any stage of proficiency--to learn when we are helping them to become better writers.
DETAILS: I'm asking something a little different this week. I would like for you to take an experience--either as a writer, a student, or a teacher--and deconstruct it in light of what you are reading. I've talked extensively about how Inoue changed how I was teaching. It's not that I wasn't doing a lot of the same things that I do now, but I was not telling students how I was doing it and that led to mystery and confusion. I was not being explicit about how I was valuing their labor so they didn't know that this is what I most wanted them to commit to any project. It's not that this is foolproof, but it's made a difference in student commitment to the work and engagement in the class.
As you write, of course, speak directly to what the reading this week helps you to understand about your practice of assessment that you are talking about here--either as someone doing the assessing or someone being assessed.
RESPOND TO A CLASSMATE: Select one (or more if so moved) of your classmates to respond to. What is your take on their assessment story? Would you suggest a different way of looking at it from how they are looking at it? I know you all well enough to know that I don't need to say the "oh, yeah, I totally agree," sentence is not as useful as it might seem. But, see what I did there? I said it anyway.
OVERVIEW: For our asynchronous meeting, I asked all of you to read the introduction to Asao Inoue's ground-breaking book Antiracist Writing Assessment Ecologies: Teaching and Assessing Writing for a Socially Just Future.
There are any number of words in the the title alone worth discussing because they are words that come up in wide-ranging discussions, both public and scholarly, that are intensely relevant to the world we live in. Assessment is a topic that we all, as teachers, know--and sometimes dread--though the depth and breadth of how we understand it can be limited and limiting. Social Justice is a phrase too casually thrown around these days without much interrogation of what social justice looks like in the constituent community affecting it and affected by it (BSU is certainly guilty of this). And, finally, antiracist is a term coming into vogue at this particular cultural and historical moment: to be antiracist implies not just not being racist, but being actively engaged in fighting the effects of systemic racism and white privilege.
Inoue brings these ideas all together, forces working in a classroom--thus, his term, ecologies.
POST: We started the semester exploring early contexts for the field of Writing Studies--where and how it started in the US university. This week we are jumping to now, to see where the field has ended up. There are many ways to do that, but I chose Inoue because a) his profound effect on my own teaching and thinking about assessment, and b) because I think he speaks to the best the field can contribute to the wider world. To do this work, I would like us to dissect this important piece of award-winning scholarship from the field as a class. For this week's post, please do the following in your Reading Response:
1. Include the briefest of summaries of the introduction to Antiracist. This is the text we all read, so don't feel like you need to explain the chapter so much as indicate what you, as a reader, writer, student, teacher, understand Inoue's argument to be here.
2. Using the list included in this week's update, provide a bit more complete summary of the chapter you were assigned to read for this week.
3. Try to identify what parts of the introduction your chapter makes feel more complete and realized, more understood.
See the Monday Update for what chapter you need to read. You'll be reading in small groups of 2 or 3 so you don't need to feel like if you get it wrong you'll be ruining Christmas or anything.
IN-CLASS on Wednesday: I will ask you to connect what you read about in your chapter to at least one other person in our class who read a DIFFERENT chapter. I tell you this here just to prepare you for that work.
For our first asynchronous post, consider our reading for this week on the foundations of first year writing. As you might be able to tell, these first few weeks of class have been about historicizing the single class, first year writing, that embodies what the field of Writing and Writing Studies--Composition & Rhetoric--values, both in terms of scholarship and theory as well as teaching and practice.
WHAT TO POST ABOUT
Thinking about this week's reading in relationship to what we read/talked about last week in terms of process writing and the sea-change that open admissions meant for what a college student looked like in the university, as well as your own experience as either a K-12 teacher or K-12 student, consider these three things:
1) In what ways is a first year writing class/experience in a university a "good?" An asset, a value? In what ways is a first year writing experience problematic?
2) What is the connection/disconnection between what happens in first year writing and ELA curriculum at the K-12 level? What is to be done about it?
3) What does learning about the history and practice of first year writing say to you right at this moment about what Rhetoric and Composition cares about as a field?
WHAT TO RESPOND TO IN YOUR CLASSMATE'S POST
You can focus on one of these points in your initial post. HOWEVER, respond to a classmate posting about one of the above three questions that you DIDN'T post about originally--or didn't post about originally in depth.
Reader Responses should run 300 words for your original post; your response to your colleagues should be no more than that as well, and probably run somewhere around 150-200 words.
HOW TO POST
This week, we are reading about one of the most significant theories in Composition--significant in the sense that process pedagogy marked a sea-change in how writing should be taught and what the goal of why we teach writing and the kinds of writing we teach. You may read this material and think that this is how it always was; however, as we will discuss in class, what will become clear, is that this is hardly the case.
As you post your 300 word Reading Response for this week, react to and summarize the reading for the week. As you do so, consider how the discussion/reading from last week "Why Johnny Can't Write" connects to/argues against what Process pedagogy argues. Include that thinking in your 300 words.
torda & the 513s
Post to this space no later than 15 minutes before class when we meet synchronously; post by midnight on the day of class when we meet asynchronously (that includes both your post and your response to your colleagues).