Posts Tagged ‘Basic Writing’

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Advice for New Teachers— and the Rest of Us

posted: 5.25.15 by Susan Naomi Bernstein

For a crowd-sourced blog post for “Beyond the Basics, ” I invited participants on the Council on Basic Writing Facebook page to respond to the following question: What one piece of advice would you offer to new teachers of Basic Writing? Why?

The responses clustered around three main themes:

  • Create classroom community
  • Draw on compelling pedagogy
  • Offer compassion, empathy, and transparency [read more]

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Categories: Basic Writing, Susan Naomi Bernstein, Teaching Advice
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Selma and "Selma": Writing Assignments

posted: 1.20.15 by Susan Naomi Bernstein

For the past several years, I have assigned readings by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in my basic writing courses. When I have been required to use specific textbooks, I try to choose texts that offer Dr. King’s work in the readings. When I can choose my own texts or have been able to use supplemental texts, I have linked to multimedia texts at the King Papers Project at Stanford University, the King Center Digital Archive, and American Rhetoric: Top 100 Speeches. [read more]

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Categories: Assignment Idea, Basic Writing, Susan Naomi Bernstein
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Nothing Is Fixed: For Ferguson

posted: 12.8.14 by Susan Naomi Bernstein

As a white woman with a vivid childhood memory of the uprisings that followed Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination in 1968, how could I make sense of the Ferguson grand jury verdict— in and out of class?

At the time of the announcement, our classes had dispersed for the Thanksgiving holiday. I had already assigned the term’s final writing project and was deeply ensconced in catching up with grading students’ essays. When we reconvened for the last week of classes after the holiday, all attention would be focused on completing the coursework. Yet the work of the course, as an introduction to academic writing, would remain deeply intertwined with all of our lives. [read more]

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A Paperless Perspective

posted: 11.11.14 by Susan Naomi Bernstein

On the first day of this semester, the first day of my new paperless face-to-face classroom, the course management system crashed. When the system revived, the projector quit. In short,  in the first seventy-five minutes of opening day I experienced my greatest fears about going paperless. More than once I longed to throw my laptop out the window, and to return to a time before Facebook and smart phones, when we sat outside under trees with ripening apples, doing independent free writing and discussing our writing processes together, unaware of the genie about to emerge from the bottle. [read more]

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Qualifications to Teach BW: Questions from the CBW Listserv

posted: 10.14.14 by Susan Naomi Bernstein

In a recent conversation on the Council on Basic Writing’s listserv (CBW), a correspondent asked about minimum qualifications for teaching Basic Writing. A listserv discussion ensued about appropriate degrees and necessary training. As minimum qualifications remain a long-standing question for the theory and practice of BW, we examined this conversation as part of our Teaching Basic Writing Practicum. [read more]

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Grammar and Persuasion: Teaching Ferguson, Missouri

posted: 9.22.14 by Susan Naomi Bernstein

Recently, the students in my teaching basic writing practicum class asked me to teach a lesson that I had presented to students. I chose a lesson in rhetorical grammar, inspired by the work of Martha Kolln, and clarified by Laura Micciche in “Making a Case for Rhetorical Grammar,” an article included in chapter 6 of Teaching Developmental Writing 4e. Micciche writes: “This shaping of meaning through writing is intimately connected with a writer’s grammatical choices” (225). In other words, we can understand grammar more critically if we examine a writer’s sentence-level choices, rather than reducing grammar to a basic skill that writers address only at the stages of proofreading and editing. [read more]

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Basic Writing Back to School Specials

posted: 8.11.14 by Susan Naomi Bernstein

This should have been an easy post to write. Who doesn’t love a back to school special? Yet, so many of us, students and teachers alike, experience contradictory emotions as August begins. Although summer doesn’t end officially for more than a month, August commences the season of longing. The summer—apparently endless by mid-July— seems so short. Even in those summers when I was involved in teaching, service, or looking for work, the arrival of August gave me pause.  Whether we are teachers or students, we have begun the season of transitions. [read more]

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Flashback to 1978

posted: 8.7.14 by Andrea Lunsford

I’ve been cleaning out all my files in my university office – about time, too, since I retired 18 months ago! – and it’s been one blast from the past after another.  I’ve come on all kinds of drafts of early articles and also some priceless student work.  But the thing that really took me back was a newspaper article from 1978.  [read more]

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CWPA 2014: Connecting Themes for Basic Writing

posted: 7.28.14 by Susan Naomi Bernstein

If the theme of the conference was “Writing Program Administrator as Worker,” a connecting theme remains in the hearts and minds of the Basic Writing educators with whom I spoke at the 2014 Conference on Writing Program Administration (CWPA): “We need to make our work visible to the general public.”

CWPA provided some excellent examples. Duane Roen’s Saturday keynote talk at CWPA holds particular resonance. In this final plenary talk on the last full day of CWPA, Roen offered a compelling argument for presenting our work as writing teachers to the general public. Citing the research of Linda Adler-Kassner, Roen suggested that we need to find “opportunities” to “tell the stories of our research, teaching, and professional organizations.” [read more]

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First Lesson for a Basic Writing Practicum: Cultivating Metaphors

posted: 7.14.14 by Susan Naomi Bernstein

This summer, I am planning a practicum course for experienced first-year composition teachers that are teaching Basic Writing for the first time. In considering our initial lesson, I realize that my thoughts center more on conceptual possibilities for approaching our classrooms. Tips and hints are helpful, of course, but without considering conceptual possibilities, we may well limit the scope of our contexts for teaching. [read more]

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