Revolution Lullabye

May 18, 2011

Boyer, Response

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Boyer, Ernest L. “Response.” In Send Our Roots Rain.

Boyer argues that Kolvenbach’s address at the bicentennial convocation points out the key problems and challenges facing all institutions of higher education, not just Jesuit ones. He explains four themes that he believes are central to preparing students to enter and serve in the modern world: an awareness of the sacredness of language and an ability to be ethical, precise rhetoricians; a need to see the interconnectness of knowledge throughout the curriculum; an understanding that knowledge should be used to serve others and for greater human good; and an acknowledgement that the educated should protect those who are less fortunate.  Boyer argues that Jesuit institutions can give students the larger vision of what it means to be human: to serve others.

Notes and Quotes

“I am convinced that to achieve excellence, the nation’s colleges and schools must reaffirm the centrality of language. The Jesuits’ historic emphasis on rhetoric can lead the way. But in the Jesuit tradition, good communication means not just clarity of expression; it means integrity as well. In the Ignatian tradition language is a sacred act. So excellence in education means preparing students who are not just good writers and good speakers but good people too.” (11)

 

Four themes: the sacredness of language, shaping a curriculum with perspective, directing knowledge to human ends, confronting injustice

November 17, 2010

Howard, Hess, and Darby, A Comment on ‘Only One of the Voices’ and ‘Why English Departments Should ‘House’ Writing Across the Curriculum’

Howard, Rebecca Moore, David J. Hess, and Margaret Flanders Darby. “A Comment on ‘Only One of the Voices’ and ‘Why English Departments Should “House” Writing Across the Curriculum.'” College English 51 (April 1989): 433-5. Print.

The authors comment on recent articles published by Blair and Smith about how best to constitute a WAC program, drawing on their experience from the Colgate University Department of Interdisciplinary Writing, recently founded in 1989 as a stand-alone program whose faculty are from a range of disciplines who don’t just assign writing but teach it in the disciplines.

Notes and Quotes

“The experience at our institution demonstrates that the interdisciplinary composition faculty is an achievable ideal.”

May 25, 2009

Robillard, We Won’t Get Fooled Again

Robillard, Amy E. “We Won’t Get Fooled Again: On the Absence of Angry Responses to Plagiarism in Composition Studies.” College English 70.1 (Sept 2007): 10-31.

Robillard argues that teachers’ affective response to plagiarized student texts – justified anger – needs to be acknowledged and accepted by the discipline and used as way 1. to tap into a full understanding of plagiarism as a relationship between a writer and a reader and 2. to engage the public in conversations about writing and plagiarism. Teachers surpress their anger because they have conflicting identities as writing teachers: the caring, nuturing, student-centered, critical-pedagogy empowering teacher and the objective expert on writing and the teaching of writing. Plagiarism challenges and threatens this split identity, and the discipline has sought solutions for this problem by finding pedagogical solutions and explanations (patch-writing, summarizing.) Robillard uses teachers’ blogs to show how teachers are expressing their anger outside traditional disciplinary venues.

Quotable Quotes

“Writing teachers become dehumanized, disembodied readers of student work” (28) – what happens when their anger is denied

“We cannot have it both ways; we cannot create an identity dependent on a relationship to students that is emotionally supportive at the same time that we maintain our affectless response to plagiarism or suspected plagiarism” (27).

“To deny anger when students we care about plagiarize is to deny our humanity” (27).

“The absence of disciplinary sponsored anger in response to plagiarism thwarts our efforts to make ourselves heard in public discussions about writing in this country” (13).

“anger as social rather than individual, as political rather than neutral” (17)

“The near erasure of teachers’ anger in composition’s scholarship on plagiarism must be read as symptomatic of a disciplinary discourse that, despite much important research to the contrary, persists in suppressing the role of the reader – here, the embodied reader – in interpreting plagiarized texts” (11)

Notable Notes

the anger somewhat stems from the feeling that you were so close to missing it, to not catching plagiarism (18)

this widespread anxiety leads to an obsession to prevent plagiarism

the public doesn’t respect us (Tucker Carlson on Becky Howard’s plagiarism article) because we don’t seem angry about plagiarism, we shouldn’t keep suppressing this “collective rage” (29)

widespread denial of emotions in the academy

April 15, 2009

Huot, (Re)Articulating Writing Assessment

Huot, Brian. (Re)Articulating Writing Assessment for Teaching and Learning. Logan, Utah: Utah State UP, 2002.

Assessment needs to be rearticulated by composition and rhetoric scholars as an important, necessary part of writing scholarship and teaching. Huot addresses assessment in a different way in each chapter (highlighting its connection to student response, teaching students self-assessment, need to create a field of writing assessment, and a history of writing assessment practices), but all of his studies and discussion point to central principles for his new theory and practice of writing assessment. Assessment must be site-based, locally controlled, context-sensitive, rhetorically-based, and accessible (to students, public, teachers, adminstrators.) Composition and rhetoric scholars and teachers are doing themselves no favors by abdicating assessment to education or to self-appointed writing assessment specialists; assessment is an issue that must be taken up by every WPA and teacher.

Quotable Quotes

“Instead of envisioning assessment as a way to enforce certain culturally positioned standards and refuse entrance to certain people and groups of people, we need to use our assessments to aid the learning environment for both teachers and students” (8).

“People who write well have hte ability to assess their own writing, and if we are to teach students to write successfully, then we have to teach them to assess their own writing” (10)

Notable Notes

assessment is articulating what we value; it marks our identities as teachers, programs, and a field; how do our judgments get articulated into our assessments?

Chapter 2 – need to connect comp/rhet with K-12 assessment to create  a writing assessment subfield, pooling knowledge and methods, talk about validity

Chapter 3 – need to teach students how to assess their own writing; writing as reflective judgment; use portfolios to full advantage

Chapter 4 – history of assessment practices

Chapter 5 – teacher response to student writing (draw on Phelps) and the contraint inherent in the act of reading

Chapter 6 – writing assessment is treated like a technology. It needs to be reimagined as research. This changes the role and activity of the assessors (151)

Chapter 7 – the practice of writing assessment needs to be reflective, conscious, theoretical, and instructive. Assessment can be social action, something that the field claims again, led by WPAs and teachers. (175)

movement away from objective rubric-like assessments, more based on community questions, inquiry, research, and practice

technocentric argument (Hawshier) – the tool of the assessment should not drive the practice

February 19, 2009

Berkenkotter, Student Writers and Their Sense of Authority over Texts

Berkenkotter, Carol. “Student Writers and Their Sense of Authority over Texts.” CCC 35.3 (October 1984) 312-319.

The field promotes peer-response, whether through writers groups or class workshops, as an important element in the writing process, yet it is unclear how helpful peer critique is to students who are, sometimes for the first time, emerging as writers with a sense of authority over their texts. Berkenkotter shows the range of responses students might have to peer response through three case studies, each of a student who has recorded his or her composing and revision process in a series of think-aloud protocols and whose peer workshop groups and teacher conferences were tape recorded as well. One student resisted all peer critique; another student listened to peer critique but did not completely cede his own vision and authority of his writing; the third student ceded too much of her own authority, changing her essay in ways that her peers suggested but that she did not completely agree with. Teachers need to keep these varying reactions to peer response in mind when constructing their pedagogy.

Notable Notes

some students feel responsibility to writers; others do not know how to compromise their needs and the readers’ needs.

tenuous situation with a student who is just emerging as a writer

January 31, 2009

Lindemann, A Rhetoric for Writing Teachers

I’m beginning to see the value (you would hope!) in reading through all these guides for beginning teachers of composition. I now know the basic issues that new teachers face, what the field (in general) thinks that it’s important for them to learn or know about (and in turn what their students should learn and know about.) The same common theories and many of the same texts are referenced in both, both in the book and in attached bibliographies, creating sort of a “canon” for important texts for beginning composition teachers (I’ll be reading some of them next.) But, most importantly I think, from an administration point of view, I now know a lot of the approaches taken to instruct beginning teachers about the teaching of writing, and I can draw on these texts in creating a syllabus for that kind of course (or for less formal, less intensive teacher-training.) I like the theoretically-grounded approach Lindemann takes in this text, and I think the one-author (rather than anthology) approach makes the text more coherent and cohesive, a more intimate and straightforward guide for new teachers, but one with a lot of meat and nuances.

Lindemann, Erika. A Rhetoric for Writing Teachers. 4th ed. New York: Oxford UP, 2001.

This guide for writing teachers, in its fourth edition, approaches the teaching of writing from a rhetorical perspective, emphasizing teaching a rhetorically and theoretically-grounded concept of writing to students and seeing the act of teaching (and all that is part of that job) as a rhetorical enterprise. The book is divided into three major sections. The first, “The Composing Process,” defines key terms like context, code, and message, and explains the stages of the writing process, highlighting the social nature of writing. The second, “Rhetorical Theory and Practice,” offers three chapters about the fundamental concepts in rhetoric, linguistics, and cognition that writing teachers must know, citing major names and theories, and goes on with other chapters about invention and revision strategies and the study of discourse and style (paragraphing, sentences, and words.) The third section, “Teaching as Rhetoric,” has chapters on assignment creation, response, evaluation, course design, and writing with computers (added for this edition.) Lindemann points out why writing instruction is so important for students – for economic power, social necessity (to live and interact with others in society), and for personal meaning-making – in the introduction of the text. She sees students and their instructors as writers both struggling to make meaning and urges teachers to have the “courage” to give up some of the control and authority those teaching other disciplines might have in order to meet and interact with their students as writers.

Quotable Quotes

“Theories give coherence and direction to the practical. They demonstrate the complexities of the writing process and the importance of teaching it well” (9).

Inspiration from Donald Murray: We, like our students “wrestle with the difficult process of creating meaning through language” (305).

“What is truly basic to composition – a person communicating with another person” (305).

Notable Notes

end of the book contains an extensive timeline of important dates in rhetoric and composition and a bibliography of selected texts

January 29, 2009

Newkirk, To Compose

Newkirk, Thomas. To Compose: Teaching Writing in High School and College. 2nd ed. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1990.

This, an expanded edition, contains essays by both compositionists and teacher-practicioners (high school and college) about teaching the writing process. It focuses on seeing students as writers and working as teachers to give them latitude to work as writers do, experimenting with style, finding entry points for starting to write, using journals to practice and learn knowledge, and developing their own critical lens through which they can revisit and revise their own writing.

Here’s an overview of the sections and the notable (to me) essays in each one:

1. Prologue: Arthur Daigon, comparing the writing process to current-traditionalist model of writing instruction (product-based)

2. Getting Started
2 essays about writers and their own individual writing process, emphasizing trusting your own instincts (Stafford and Cormier)
Donald Murray – the forces that help a writer get started: finding more information, caring more about the subject, having a audience waiting, and having a deadline
Sondra Perl – the recursive nature of writing, how writers negotiate through the forces of retrospection and projection, moving by felt-sense between the two

3. Responding
Donald Murray – the teacher’s job is to help students devleop the “other self,” teaching them how to critically analyze and understand their writing from outside themselves. We model this through our own writing and by responding to students in conferences, in class, and in discussions.
Linda Flower – the importance of writer-based prose at the beginning of the writing process, allowing an intimate personal connection to the writing and opportunities for invention and conscious thinking about writing. The shift then must happen to reader-based prose, as writers must concern themselves with how their writing is received and understood by the audience.

4. Writing and Literature – four essays about using writing as a driving force in teaching literature, making the learning of literature not just about reading texts.

5. WAC
Bryant Fillion – Canadian school survey that showed skills like reading and listening are emphasized over productive activities like speaking and writing in classrooms, the need for a shift to using language for productive ends – learning through writing across the curriculum
Toby Fulwiler – how student journals can be used across the curriculum as a commonplace notebook for students to gather and mine ideas for both personal and academic growth.

6. Style and Grammar
Tom Romano – a unit about teaching students to explictily break “Grammar A” (referencing Winston Weathers) rules and encourage the conscious development of style through innovation and experimentation.

January 25, 2009

Horvath, “The Components of Written Response”

Horvath, Brooke K. “The Components of Written Response: A Practical Synthesis of Current Views.” In The Writing Teacher’s Sourcebook. 207-223.

This review and synthesis of the research in response to student writing highlights the scholarship done in how writing teachers engage in formative evaluation in the hopes of sketching out a theory of response and evaluation. Many of the findings are presented today as tried-and-true maxims: avoid negativity, treat student texts as unfinished works-in-progress, move from global to local concerns, and act as a more experienced writing coach with students. Horvath ends by pointing out that response happens beyond the instructor’s written comments, such as responses during oral conferences, peer editing sessions, and class discussions, and includes a bibliography of scholarship in response to student writing.

January 24, 2009

Murray, “The Listening Eye”

Murray, Donald M. “The Listening Eye: Reflections on the Writing Conference.” In The Writing Teacher’s Sourcebook. 96-101.

In this essay, Murray reflects on the writing conference, a particular pedagogical technique he developed at the University of New Hampshire, where instead of holding formal classes, he meets weekly with his students in conferences, where students come to discuss their writing, talking about what they learned from their drafts and their plans for their next drafts and projects. He admits to feeling like he’s doing less teaching than when he lectured, but he believes – and he’s told and shown by his students – that his students are learning more and writing better when he takes this non-directive, writer-to-writer approach. Now, instead of telling them what they need to know, they discover it, and Murray then points out to them what they just learned and discovered.

Quotable Quotes

“I expect them to write writing worth reading, and they do – to their surprise, not mine” (99).

“I’m really teaching my student to react to thier own work in such a way that they write increasingly effective drafts” (99).

“I began to learn something about teaching a non-content writing course, about under-teaching, about not teaching what my students already know” (97)

Notable Notes

the conferences are writer-to-writer, generative, full of comments, and lead to more drafts

the subject of the composition class is the students’ own drafts

narrative style of writing by Murray and Elbow (and focus on the art of teaching) isn’t prevelent in current composition reasearch

conference questions are generative and open-ended: What did you learn from this draft? Where’s this taking you? What will you do next? What surprised you? What do you like best? What questions do you have?

Elbow, “Embracing Contraries in the Teaching Process”

Elbow, Peter. “Embracing Contraries in the Teaching Process.” In The Writing Teacher’s Sourcebook. 65-76.

A good composition teacher (or really any teacher in general) must be simultaneously for the students (their advocate and coach, helping them improve as students and writers) and for society (upholding high disciplinary standards.) Elbow argues that it is possible to be both, citing that a similar contradiction is a necessary element of the writing process: a writer begins by opening up possibilities in invention and early drafting, and then polishes the piece according to standard writing conventions.

Quotable Quotes

“In order to teach well we must find some way to be loyal both to students and to knowledge or society” (75).

“underlying structure of contrasting mentalities” (76).

Notable Notes

points at Socrates and Christ as model teachers who embraced this contrary. Oxford and Cambridge have a tutor and examining committee model.

For students, we must treat them as smart and capable, act as their advocates, show them we are on their side and are ourselves still engaged in learning, individuals with “our doubts, ambivalences, and biases” (70).

For society, we must hold high standards, critically evaluate student work, don’t get too attached to individual students

In a course – set high standards at the beginning and then work with the students to help them achieve those goals.

Comments on drafts show “this is how you can do it better”

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