Posts Tagged ‘writing class’

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e-Pages: When?

posted: 3.27.13 by Barclay Barrios

I had planned on colon-titling this post “Write!” but as it turns out the correct subtitle is “When?”  Specifically, “when” is the problem I faced in class this week, as in “when are students going to turn in this draft?” or “when are students going to show up for class today?”  Both of these are suddenly pressing problems, although I can’t say if it’s because of our local institutional quirks or simply the way writing classes work.  Hence, this post—part explication, part plea.

About half my students turned in a draft for this assignment.  I’m wavering between two hypotheses.  First, it’s midterm season.  Technically, for us, it’s just after midterms since we just had our spring break (early, yes, I know).  But there’s also a more general issue with this course.  As a spring section of our first semester writing course, it tends to have a very high fail rate, in part because many students taking the course weren’t able to pass it in the fall.

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A Larger WAW Presence at CCCC

posted: 3.27.13 by Elizabeth Wardle and Douglas Downs

We’ve all returned from CCCC with minds full of ideas and phones full of new contacts. This year’s was an excellent conference, with thought-provoking panels, and I came home ready to begin work on some new projects with various colleagues.

One of the biggest surprises to me at this year’s Cs was the number of panels directly or indirectly related to writing about writing. Some were led by people I knew, but many were not. Many included students, which seems quite in line with the underlying philosophy of the approach—to value what students know and can do. I didn’t have the chance to attend most of these panels, but I’m told that several were concerned with issues of reading in a writing about writing class. Yes, reading the material in Writing about Writing is difficult.  Doug and I like to remind people in the many workshops we give that teaching these articles to first-year students is not like teaching them to graduate students. We have to teach reading strategies, definitely, but we also have to focus on the larger picture: why are we having first-year students read these materials? Not to analyze every nuance of the underlying theories or methodologies, but to begin to think about writing, and their own writing, differently, and to begin to ask and answer their own questions about writing. [read more]

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Categories: Elizabeth Wardle
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Mid-course correction

posted: 3.22.13 by archived

Despite snow in the forecast, it’s spring break here and time for mid-semester evaluations, of both my students and my course/myself. Typically that initiates, for me at least, a period of glumness that can last until end-of-the-semester adrenaline kicks in.  The statistics are grim: about 10% of the students still registered for my courses are not showing up for class and another whopping 40% or more have slipped perhaps irretrievably behind in coursework. For all of my talking and thinking and writing about the excitement of course design, it is again the issue of student persistence that’s occupying my thoughts these days.

Last week a student said to me, as if to explain her failure to turn in the previous two assignments, that none of her other classes required homework. When I asked how this could be, she acknowledged that she did look over the PowerPoint slides her teachers provided just before exams, but that was all of the out-of-class work required to earn her a slot on the Dean’s List. She asked me to predict her final grade in the course, to help with her decision of whether to risk hurting her GPA or to withdraw from my class.  I can’t get her out of my mind. 

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Categories: Holly Pappas
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The Super Secret Formula: Still Super If Not So Secret

posted: 11.6.09 by Barclay Barrios

When I think back on all of the little class activities I’ve developed in my time as a teacher I don’t think any have spread or persisted as much as the Super Secret Formula.  It’s on my mind because one of our former teachers (now in Georgia pursuing her PhD) mentioned using it with success in a recent e-mail.  That same week the waiter at my favorite breakfast place (who also happens to be a freshman at school) also mentioned loving it.

So what is the Super Secret Formula?  Well, simply, it’s

Cl > I > Q1 > E > T > Q2 > Ce

Students start their paragraphs with “Cl,” a sentence that states the claim of the paragraph.  Then with “I,” they introduce a quotation from the first author, adding a sentenced that explains it (“E”).  The next sentence makes a transition (“T”) to a quotation from a different author, “Q2.”  Finally, students take a sentence or two to explain the connection between the two quotations (“Ce”) and how it supports the argument they’re making in the paper.

The concrete structure of a “formula” provides a good scaffolding for students to build a solid paragraph that works with quotation use but the risk is, of course, that all their paragraphs will becomes (literally) formulaic.  When using this exercise, I start by having groups use the formula to make a sample paragraph.  Then I challenge groups to come up with other formulas for working with quotations.

This is my Golden Tool of my Lore Bag—it always seems to work and students love it.  I think of course they love having a concrete pattern and set of instructions to learn how to think connectively and thus to synthesize while working with quotations.  But I always find that taking the writing class out of the writing classroom has some near magic effect.  There’s something about a scientific-looking formula that taps into some other region of students’ brains and bypasses any anxiety they may have about writing.

So, still super if not so secret.

(If you’d like to see more ideas for working with quotations, read my older post “5 ways I help students to work with quotations.“)

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Categories: Assignment Idea, Integrating sources, Student Success, Working with Sources
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