Posts Tagged ‘Discussion’

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3 essays on rape and death threats against women in the age of #gamergate

posted: 10.21.14 by Nick Carbone

Online violence against women scares and worries me. As it morphs from virtual threat, which is bad enough and still violent even if not overtly physical, into offline threats that drive women from their homes, offices, and families and into hiding, the damage and danger has become palpable enough to make news. [read more]

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Categories: Nick Carbone
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Guess What I’m Thinking

posted: 9.16.14 by Traci Gardner

I had a disappointing, lackluster class discussion recently. I was asking students to apply details from the reading to a sample text I had displayed on the screen. I thought I was pitching incredibly easy questions to the class, but engaging the class in a conversation was anything but easy. [read more]

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Changing Class Size and Logistics

posted: 3.19.14 by Traci Gardner

Last week I talked about class size . Specifically, I explained my frustration with repeating information for three different classes instead of addressing all three sections at once. Many weeks, I could regain three hours of class time in total. This week, I want to dream about what I would do with that regained time. [read more]

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Categories: Traci Gardner
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Can We Rethink Class Size and Logistics?

posted: 3.14.14 by Traci Gardner

What I have to say this week won’t sit well with my friends who are WPAs. Still, I am going to say it. I want to have a writing class of 66 students. It’s okay. I know your blood pressure maxxed out. I’ll give you a second to calm back down. Bear with me while I explain. I’m not completely insane. I promise. [read more]

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Writing is a Public Act: Take One

posted: 3.15.13 by archived

Over the past several years, I’ve added a new section to my course syllabus or User’s Manual called “Writing is a Public Act.” In The Paperless Writing Class, all writing is public. As in most writing classes, I ask students to share formal papers in small groups and occasionally I ask individual students to allow me to discuss their writing with the entire class (they can, of course, decline). Nothing revolutionary here.

I also reserve the right to share students’ low-stakes, write-to-learn writing with the class at any point in the semester. This second bit, about sharing informal or write-to-learn writing is, to my way of thinking, the more innovative and perhaps risky practice, so I offer students an “out,” if they want it, by letting them know that if this policy absolutely creates a problem for them they can talk to me about it and we can find a solution. No one seems to care, though. They’re either too busy to give this policy much thought or too accustomed, already, to seeing their words, even their tentative, unpolished words, hanging out there in public, online.

[read more]

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Categories: Michael Michaud
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Signs as Inspiration

posted: 10.17.11 by Susan Naomi Bernstein

The composing process involves gaining access to and wrestling with our most critical thoughts, then finding language to translate those thoughts into the action of writing. At times our thoughts, so clear and sharp as we devise them in our heads, may arrive on screen or page in muddled or muddied form. Our thoughts could be too personal or too remote, too vague or too explicit to state plainly to others. We may not have communicated our meaning according to the needs of our audience and our purpose. We need clarity. We need signs.

I especially love the signs in New York City. The signs not only mark geographic points or display rules or warnings, they also provide demographic and cultural details. Like all signs ought to, these signs help me to think beneath the printed surface to find more significant meanings. Signs give me an opportunity to ask questions that I might not contemplate otherwise.

For example, consider this sign at a busy intersection in Queens, New York:


Who is the audience for this sign? What is its purpose? What story does the sign tell? Do you consider the sign convincing? Why or why not?

[read more]

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Categories: Assignment Idea, Developmental
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How to Respond to Public Student Complaints

posted: 8.30.11 by Traci Gardner

6054483552_948a71fcc0_mAs a teacher, I realize that students are probably not going to like everything that I do. I try to design activities that are fun but challenging, and I work to make sure everyone satisfied with the way the course is running. Still, it’s unrealistic to think I will never hear grumbling and sighing on occasion.

The problems begin when students post those complaints online in a class forum or other social networking space. Naturally, I have to respond, but it’s an awkward situation. Instead of addressing a student’s complaints privately after class or in my office, I have to reply in public and in full view of the rest of the class.

My first impulse may be to delete the complaint, but removing the message won’t make it go away. Businesses using social networking have learned that censoring the complaints inflame customers rather than resolve the situation. Instead, I’ve learned that it’s important to deal with the situation directly, with two basic goals in mind.

First, if possible, I want to resolve the problem or at least explain why I cannot. Often the student is frustrated and just wants to vent. Responding to the complaint can help diffuse the situation. Second, I want to lessen the chance of future complaints. If the rest of the class can see I’m reasonable and fair, they are more likely to come to me in private than to vent in public in the future.

So what do I do? If the comments are threatening, violent or inappropriately rude, I follow the school’s and/or department’s guidelines for reporting and dealing with the message.

After that, I consider what kind of complaint is being made. I’ve adapted the breakdown of complaints from American Express’s OPEN Forum post How to Deal With Negative Feedback to fit classroom situations: [read more]

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Categories: Teaching Advice
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Change of Venue

posted: 5.6.11 by archived

At the college where I teach, computer labs are in scarce supply and are reserved, for the most part, for classes in computer science, graphic design, and other fields for which computers are an instructional necessity. For my composition classes I have been able to schedule two or three sessions per semester in an open computer lab, where I help students set up blogs and get them started on finding sources for whatever research project we’re doing that semester (which typically involves prodding them over and over from the Google home page into the library’s databases).

This coming semester, though, I will be participating in a pilot project in which one of my comp classes will meet in the computer lab once a week (for an hour and fifteen minutes). A great feature of this pilot program will be the chance to talk with some of my colleagues who will be participating. And the fact that this is a pilot will encourage (force) us to be more explicit about what we hope to accomplish and, later, to reflect on how it has worked out.

We hope that class time in a computer lab will help our students be more comfortable with technology (about 10 to 20 percent of my students have limited experience with even basic word processing) and more skillful with research. I’m working on articulating what else I hope my students will gain from this change of venue. And, of course, I must consider how this will change my approach in class and, more specifically, what activities we should undertake.

We’re beginning to collect resources and ideas. Do you have any suggestions about books, articles, or blogs that have offered practical suggestions about teaching writing in a computer lab? If you’ve taught in a computer lab, how have you adapted your curriculum? Are there any activities you’d recommend? Do you think your students have benefited from writing in a computer lab? If so, how? Advice, suggestions, and comments are welcome!

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Categories: Community College issues, Holly Pappas
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Cell Phones in the Classroom

posted: 5.4.11 by Barclay Barrios

I just finished reading Traci Gardner’s post on cell phone use in the classroom. I think she’s spot on when she suggests that “the acceptable range of behavior in the classroom is changing, and we need to find positive ways to take advantage of that shift.”

I always had a “cell phones off” policy in my classes until about two years ago. One of the students in class pulled out her phone and I chided her. But then she told me she was adding the assignment I had just given to her calendar. As much of a techie as I am, that was the first time it hit me: phones are increasingly powerful and connected mobile computing platforms, and sometimes my students are using them in legitimate ways. I’ve run across other instances: a grad student checking his e-mail to get my comments on an assignment; students in group work using the Web through their phones to locate information and look up terms; even students e-mailing me from their phones to remind me of the appointment I made with them in class (and would have forgotten had it not gotten into my own schedule somehow).

I’ve since changed my policy on cell phones in the classroom. It now reads:

Use portable technologies responsibly or not at all.

I explain to students what responsible use means. It doesn’t mean using such technologies for class purposes only. It also means that if you have a call you need to take, you step outside the classroom to take it. I don’t assume my class is more important than their lives, but I do think they need to learn a certain set of “adult skills” or general social skills that will serve them later in life. If they can step out of my class to take a call, then some day they’ll know to step out of that meeting at work to take a call, too.

Of course, I still have students texting or on Facebook on their laptops. That’s okay. I’ve come to believe that the writing classroom is a self-punishing system. I don’t have to penalize them for using that technology; the fact that they’re not engaged in the work of the class will be reflected in what they hand in and this will be reflected in their grades.

I will say, though, that my assistant Mike has taken this a step further. He actually uses Twitter (brilliantly) in his class. But I think that deserves a whole separate post.

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Categories: Teaching with Technology
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End of Semester Boost

posted: 4.27.11 by Barclay Barrios

Okay, the end of the semester is in sight. No, more than that: the end of the school year is in sight. It’s a good thing, too, because I am completely flagging and sagging—as are my students.

So tell me, what do you do to push through to the end of the semester—either personally or in your classes?

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Categories: Emerging
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