Archive for the ‘Holly Pappas’ Category

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Give Me One Tree

posted: 10.4.13 by archived

Usually I start with semester with a short writing assignment so that students can get to know a little bit about each other and get familiar with blogging and so that I can have a chance to talk about specific detail and get a sense of their writing abilities. [read more]

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The Softer Side of My Syllabus

posted: 8.26.13 by archived

With two weeks until school starts (as I write this), it’s time for me to get working on my syllabus. I’m teaching a theme-based course that’s already gone through two iterations, so I know that specific hard-skills content about approach and assignments and calendar will fall into place fairly quickly, once I get going. [read more]

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Remixing the textbook

posted: 8.9.13 by archived

With much the same feeling of anticipation I used to have buying my pencil box each August, I now keep checking the course schedule for fall to watch my sections fill with students. I’m taking a break this semester from web-based or hybrid classes, so all of my five sections are labeled lecture. [read more]

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Rethinking textbooks

posted: 7.29.13 by archived

Now that I’ve submitted grades for my summer course, vacation has officially begun and with it, the time to tackle the long-planned project to reorganize my course materials. I’ve been interested to read fellow bloggers who’ve written recently with  suggestions and questions about using textbooks in class. Those posts as well as my own plans have prompted me to reconsider both my use (or non-use) of textbooks in FYC and what I’d like my students to get out of the reading they do for my class. [read more]

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Remembering what’s important: revision

posted: 7.15.13 by archived

I don’t always have the time I’d like to respond to posts of my fellow Bits’ bloggers, but one post I keep coming back to is Doug Downs’s Priorities. In that post he claims that for college writing students “the biggest growth needs are conceptual,” identifying the three areas of revision, collaboration, and contingency. [read more]

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If we build it, will they come?

posted: 6.28.13 by archived

When I first started teaching at a community college in 2002, I was an adjunct who (except when I was in the classroom) felt isolated, invisible, and voiceless. Blogging, which I began a couple years later, helped to give me a voice and connect with a few people I had never met in “real life”; though I gradually found other ways of chatting with colleagues, I kept hoping to find ways for technology to deepen and broaden connections between the faculty in my department who seldom seemed to have time or opportunity for as much conversation as I craved. [read more]

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A Confession

posted: 6.18.13 by archived

One afternoon this semester in the Writing Center, I saw two different students from the same professor with essays vigorously and colorfully marked up, much like the samples Nedra Reynolds showcases in a recent blog post. To my mild expression of amazement at all of the feedback, one student groaned that she didn’t even want to read all of the comments, so discouraged by all of the “mistakes” she had made. [read more]

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ePortfolio Day: the preview

posted: 5.6.13 by archived

As the end of the semester nears, I’ve been reminding my students every class that Portfolio Day is coming, trying to spark a last-minute flurry of revision before the day of reckoning. I disguise the tinge of dread I feel myself for the day that will be, for me, at the same time exhausting, exhilarating, and nerve-wracking (in much the same way as I used to get nervous bringing my kids to the dentist). Things will be a little different this semester, though, because I won’t be scrambling that morning to print out last-minute essays and gather up all the assignments and rosters required; this semester, for the first time, some of us will be submitting not stacks of manila folders but rather electronic portfolios.

The adjective we always use to describe our Portfolio Assessment Project is “homegrown,” and because of this one of its key characteristics has always been its flexibility:

The culture of the department grants faculty a high degree of academic freedom, so the portfolio project is a far cry from an exit exam that asks students to respond to a common prompt for ease of assessment. Instead, in our project, faculty members submit their own individually crafted assignments, which we read along with student work. The tiny window this gives me into my colleagues’ classes is one of my favorite parts of the project, though it invariably fills with a hunger for more discussion of assignment and course design. Over time my own assignments have changed as a result of the project, and I have seen similar development in my colleagues’ assignments. [read more]

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Where things go

posted: 5.2.13 by archived

As I’ve been putting my kitchen back together after a major remodel, I’ve been thinking about the process of organizing things. It’s one of my favorite things to do, this sort of thinking about thinking as I draw out the lovely filaments of analogy.

Selecting. As I pulled box after box of utensils, dishes, condiments from the living room back into the middle of the new kitchen floor, my first step was to decide what to throw away: the damaged, the unused, the redundant (crumpled sieve, melamine bowl, sixth pie plate). [read more]

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Reconsidering Plagiarism Prevention

posted: 4.5.13 by archived

For me, the issue had been decided six or seven years ago, under the influence of the comp bloggers I was reading at the time, who were for the most part solidly opposed to the use of automated plagiarism-detection software.  Their arguments were convincing: such software raised intellectual property concerns when it added student essays to its database and ethical concerns when it profited from those additions; and even more worrisome, it created a police-state climate in the classroom (for an extensive discussion of the potential resulting damage, see the comments here).

But lately around my campus, now that Turnitin has been integrated into our CMS, I keep hearing from colleagues whose judgments I respect about how valuable they find its services. One lauded how much time its grammar checker saves him in grading, and another pointed to its value in teaching students where their semi-digested paraphrases have slid into “patchwriting” (Rebecca Moore Howard’s term). At a presentation last week, when I explained my preference for course and student blogs over the institutional CMS, a science faculty member asked how I dealt with plagiarism (without the aid of Turnitin) and how much time did it take? (My response, of course, was the laugh all writing teachers give to faculty of other disciplines who dare to complain about time spent grading.) [read more]

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