10.15 Response

I also enjoyed following Edward and Susan’s research process in”Googlepedia.” The chapter made me think that it might be helpful to ask my students to record their own research processes and then have a class discussion where they reflect on what they did and how helpful or not helpful certain resources were. For me, the reading also emphasized how important it is for us to show our students what resources are available to them through the library. Once Edward and Susan used the databases with McClure, they seemed fairly open to using them in the future. I know in the past I’ve been guilty of assuming students know how to use these tools when in reality they may never have even tried researching through the library’s web portal. The article reminded me how it important it is to guide students through library sources.

I found the Reflective Annotated Bibliography Tip Sheet extremely helpful. In particular, I appreciated how McBeth showed where the various parts of the reflective annotated bibliography fit into a paragraph of an essay. I think seeing how the bibliography transfers into a complete paragraph would help students see the value in the assignment.


Victor’s Post

I must say that I quite enjoyed following Susan and Edward in their research. Although I think we all have different ways of “getting the job done,” it is also imperative to give students some guidelines about research and direct them to more appropriate resources. In our day an age, because of the almost unrestrained access to information we hold, information literacy is an extremely important skill. To be honest, there is not much I have to say, except reiterate how important it is to engage properly (systematically, discerningly) with a given topic. McClure very insightfully points out Susan’s lack of engagement with her research, and I believe that as instructors we must begin by trying to encourage students to find topics that they are interested in, or at least to find a particularly interesting aspect of a topic they have been assigned. Once that has been achieved, students should realize how helpful yet ultimately insufficient Wikipedia and Google are. Of course, I use these resources all the time, but they seldom yield very advanced or insightful results. They are seductive, of course. I would like to take an example from last class: in reading one of the student essays that Professor Blankenship brought to class, a quote by Emerson caught my eye (it didn’t “sound” like Emerson, perhaps too pop, too modern). I looked it up on Google, and many, many websites (Goodreads included) attributed it, in fact, to Emerson, but failed to give its source. I eventually found a couple of sites that identified it as a misattribution of a passage from E.E. Cummings’s “A Poet’s Advice.” The point, however, is that I had to go out of my way to discover this, and this is something that we seldom want to do. (Also, this is not meant to harm the student’s grade!!). As McBeth’s tip sheet for the RefAnnBib shows, research is not necessarily an easy process—it must be thoughtful and organized. It must be, as the title belies, reflective. So I’m thinking that meditation can also be a good thing to practice while we are doing research!


10.8 Response

In analyzing an example of a student paper where a teacher has made both interlinear comments and marginal comments, Nancy Sommers writes:
In commenting on this draft, the teacher has shown the student how to edit the sentences, but then commands the student to expand the paragraph in order to make it more interesting to a reader. The interlinear comments and the marginal comments represent two separate tasks for this student; the interlinear comments encourage the student to see the text as a fixed piece, frozen in time, that just needs some editing. The marginal comments, however, suggest that the meaning of the text is not fixed, but rather that the student still needs to develop the meaning by doing some more research.
Reading this passage was a sort of “ah ha!” moment for me, although, not, at first, as a teacher. Rather, this passage brought greater understanding to an experience I’d sometimes had as a student in early undergraduate creative writing courses. I recall trying to rewrite a short story and feeling paralyzed because I was unsure whether to start by addressing the comments on my individual sentences or the suggestions the teacher had made about plot and character. Where was I meant to start first? What was more important? Was I meant to keep the individual sentences that were marked while I attended to the larger issues of revision? In addition, I didn’t want to destroy what parts of my story I knew were working in order to fix what wasn’t, and this made me hesitant to make changes, adding to my sense of paralysis (a student concern Sommers also mentions in “Responding to Student Writing”) . Sommers’ breakdown of the example articulated exactly what my problem was: the teacher was asking that I both edit and develop at the same time. This passage was an important reminder to look back on my own history as a student and to try to avoid some of the mistakes my past teachers made. It may be obvious, but I think sometimes, especially when we’re sitting down to mark papers, we can forget about what bothered us most when we were receiving feedback. These experiences can be a great resource.
Switching to the G&G chapter “Evaluating Student Essays”…One idea that sounds very helpful to me is that of grading seminars. However, as G&G rather lightly note, “they can be difficult to organize.” I feel like the idea of time is often left out of these “how to” articles. While I am, of course, concerned with learning how to be an effective and thoughtful grader, I’d also be interested to hear if anyone wants to share personal tips/tricks for managing time and stress when grading a big stack (or stacks) of papers and balancing other responsibilities.


Victor’s Response

This week’s readings didn’t elicit much of a response from me. Possibly because rather than revolving around a heated issue, they simply gave very helpful tips for evaluating the work of students. Walk’s piece was particularly useful in making me think of commenting on a student’s paper more as a conversation that I am having, not with the paper, but with the student her or himself. “Marginal comments are by nature dialogic,” Walk says, and I cannot but think of the innumerable comments I received on my papers and how much they helped me develop as a writer. Nevertheless, one of the most fruitful experiences I had in my composition class came from actually sitting down with the Professor and going over my essay. I think these kinds of meetings are invaluable because they allow both parties to express themselves in ways that because of time or other factors, doing so in writing makes harder. 

The chapter of the SMG was also quite helpful (as were the rubrics in there!!), especially in its insistence on designing clear assignments, since, in many ways, we get what we ask for. The different criteria for grading were very interesting, too. I, for instance, had never heard of contract grading, and although I am not necessarily a big proponent of it, I do think it allows us to think of the process in a different, more personalized way. This, I guess, leads to the broader question of grading in general, and the seeming contradictions between the aim for individual attention and the need for standardization in education. But this, I think, is a different story…


Am I making helpful comments ?

The readings this week were right on time, as I am in the middle of grading my first papers. I spent a lot of time on the first drafts offering feedback, so as I am looking at these papers, I really understand the first line of chaper 5 in The St. Martin’s Guide, “ In a sense, it is unfortunate that we have to grade student essays at all…”

On the other hand, while reading Kerry Walk’s essay I was reminded how important comments on student writing actually are and the impact these comments make on the students. It IS a personal and lasting intervention. I believe that sometimes I forget this while I am jotting down comments, albeit carefully, left and right on student papers. One of the biggest “take aways” for me from these essays was the breakdown of each part of teacher feedback that both Glenn and Goldthwaite and Walk offer. I always write terminal comments, and I prefer offering feedback that refers to the essay as a whole. This causes me as a reader to slack a little bit on the “in paper” or marginal comments. I used to use a number system, and put numbers into the paper and then on another page write comments because my comments were so ridiculously long. After the readings today, I realized that this may not be helpful at all for the students and may be really overwhelming.

I am definitely interested in using writer’s letters and reflections but I didn’t do this on my first assignment. I am wondering if it is too late to implement this? Or if I can still do this when I return the papers? In any case, reflective letters seem to be a great way for students to assess themselves and also to really focus on the structure of their own work, rather than take my comments as law (or perhaps ignore them). Ultimately, I want to know that my comments are effective and my one question for today is how do I know whether or not these comments are helpful? Can I gauge this in a way that isn’t completely time consuming?


10-8 Response: Comments and Grades

This week’s readings were all very useful in providing an uncomplicated but comprehensive guide for commenting on and grading papers, but two points in particular stood out to me: Kerry Walk’s assertion that “Comments illustrate to students that their papers are written to be read” (31) and Glenn and Goldthwaite’s suggestions for course-based grading criteria in The St.Martin’s Guide (138-139). Walk’s comment, although simple and perhaps even self-evident, really resonated with me— from class discussions and reading responses, I have discovered that most of my students have had a less than favorable experience with past writing and English classes. Many have complained that their past assignments felt like meaningless busy work, or that their instructor was simply fishing for the “correct” answer and not interested in what the student actually had to say. Others have said that they felt a disconnect between their writing assignments and the rest of their academic and personal world. Walk’s statement, therefore, seemed like the answer to this problem: by providing genuine feedback on their papers, students will realize that their assignments are not merely busy work and that they are not submitting their final papers into an empty void—that someone is actually listening to what the student has to say.

The course-based grading criteria suggested in chapter 5 of The St.Martin’s Guide was likewise very helpful and illuminating for me. For the first formal assignment, I presented my students with a grading criteria that I developed on my own. I tried to be as transparent as possible with them, and have repeatedly told them that if they have any questions or issues with my grading criteria, they can discuss it with me. However, after this week’s reading, I’m now inclined to try out a class-based criteria for our upcoming papers. Not only would this force the students to really consider what exactly constitutes “good” writing, but it will, as Glenn and Goldthwaite say, “make them participants in the process rather than mere pawns of other powers” (139). As we’ve discussed in past classes, we have to strike a balance between instructor-centered and student-centered classes, and allowing students to determine the grading criteria of their assignments seems like an ideal way to achieve that balance. I would be interested this week to hear from any others who have used a course-based grading criteria, in order to learn what does and does not work


Freedom to see Language as Play

When I think about incorporating other forms of technology into the composition process I start to get very anxious. I start sweating. This is not an aversion but a lack of confidence in my own ability to wield the necessary technological prowess necessary to bring all of these different ‘modes’ together but also maybe a crotchety old unfounded fear that the visual will take over the alphabetic texts and they will cease to exist.

After reading the Palmeri text, I realized that the unconscious actions that make up the writing process is something that we can engage with and possibly have better access to through multimodal types of composition. I think it was inspiring to think about how this approach could make writing more of a play than a theoretical process existing outside of the writing itself.

To switch gears a little bit, the Adam Banks keynote was a breath of fresh air for me! It was like listening to a pep talk, and I really felt as if he offers the justification for multi-model forms of composition in that there are ways in which the stagnant, academic discourse that sort of forces students to conform loses a lot of students but also really doesn’t bring with it the sort of freedom that writing really can give an individual. I like the idea that by combining these things, students and professors can really connect on different levels and that these combinations could bridge gaps that maybe seem unbridgeable. Bank’s speech itself was refreshing in the sense that I feel that encouraging students to incorporate their own types of languages and ways in which they express themselves is a form of composition in many ways. I think we should be messy, even though I do still fault the monster that is the academy for brushing the importance of rhetoric and composition aside. Overall, this was an extremely uplifting and inspiring set of readings and I would love to do a multi-model project with my class for the final writing assignment.


10.1 Response

Adam Banks encourages us to take risks and be messy. Indeed, risky and messy is often how I feel when thinking about incorporating multimodal activities and assignments into my classroom. Questions that cross my mind when I do ask students to consider, for instance, music and video clips as texts, when I think about asking them to tell their own personal narratives in forms other than an essay, such as through Instagram or in a video (as I will ask them to do for their final project) are : Am I being rigorous enough? Am I meeting the goals of this course? Am I teaching what the college wants me to be teaching? On the other side of it, I also wonder: Are these activities “different” enough? Am I pushing things far enough? Or am I still staying too close to the traditional? In other words, I sometimes feel that the idea of bringing multimodal texts and activities into my courses makes me unsure.

We are fortunate to read about multimodal writing and discuss a variety of pedagogical approaches in this practicum, and we have each other as support, but what about instructors who don’t and won’t have a home base like this? How do we change the way our classrooms look, when the people who are meant to be changing things are sometimes out there, operating solo. Often as a new adjunct, a sample syllabus might be all you get as a resource, and as these syllabi are from past semesters, they often don’t stray much from standard assignments (at least in my experience). I suppose my concerns center around practicality: How can new (and experienced) instructors learn about multimodal learning and composing and be encouraged to incorporate multimodal techniques?  Where would an adjunct who wants to stray from alphabetic texts, who was on his or her own, turn for inspiration and guidance? I know I for one am often interested in implementing a pedagogical strategy into my classroom and then find myself at a loss for models. What could an administration/department do to help instructors interested in this endeavor? At what point, or rather points, should we begin this transformation?


Go Poetry (Victor)

I would like to begin this week’s response with the text I was least drawn to, that is, Lauer’s discussion of the terms “multimedia” and “multimodal.” I would be interested in seeing what my colleagues got out of this reading: I felt that, while Lauer did at some point distinguish between the two terms, the examples she provided only showed how interchangeable they usually are (depending, of course, on the context, as she stated). In other words, I still wonder: what’s at stake here? This feeling might come from the fact that the other two examples we looked at this week seemed particularly relevant to the current status of English departments. Banks’s address, I thought, was absolutely brilliant, not only because of what he said (which, admittedly has been said before), but because he said it so well. The address was the perfect formal example of the multimodality that these week’s reading encourage. Were we to have simply read the address, we surely would not have been impacted in the same way. That Banks was able to get his message across in such a candid, at times formal, at times purposely colloquial, but always clear way is proof that proper communication does not have to be dominated by high language. While I’ve tended to be hesitant of the marriage of what I used to call composition and creative writing, I am slowly beginning to think of ways in which these two disciplines might actually communicate with one another. This is a certainly a reform that needs to be thought through; nevertheless, I think that scholars like Banks are doing a wonderful job in defying common held assumptions about composition. Palmeri’s piece was also thought provoking (if not as engaging as Banks’s speech) in its revisiting of the Process Movement. This piece made me think of the ways in which poetry taught me to do many of the things that Palmeri supports: for instance, in his continuing call for teachers not to limit themselves to alphabetic texts, I thought of the ways in which poetry incorporates other arts in its development. Ekphrastic poems, for example, are a phenomenal way of showing students the ways in which painting or sculpture can be related to writing; synesthetic devices in poetry, too, shed light on the interconnection between the senses; poetry teaches us to pay attention to the sounds of the written word. Go poetry!



I think I would like to start with a question that continued to poke at me: Does the media in which one is working in define the mode? For instance, if one is writing a script for a podcast or radio show, would then the modes be predetermined? I guess, like Palmeri, I am interested in the possibilities in invention. Far too frequently, I being included, overlook the critical questions and steps needed in which to propel one into the process of writing, or the process of composing. Furthermore, I am highly interested in the possibilities in composing, as Palmeri articulates vis-a-vis Flower and Hayes, when “writers and artists engage in the composing process… they may often find themselves redefining their problems, generating new ideas and imagining new goals” (30).  How this can apply to the classroom? What methods, ways, or examples are available in which to stem these reflections and questioning from students? I am trying to imagine the process of starting this and then scaffolding it.

I am also extremely enraptured by the idea of multimodal thinking and how writers do not think or imagine in words alone. However, I am not sure ways in which to effectively teach students this approach, nor, for that matter, how to even teach myself how to do this. I pride myself on, as well as enjoy, being a creative writer rather than an academic writer and I have never considered my approach, or the ways in which I imagine something into writing. And the final form, typically, is something manifesting itself as prose, so the idea of translation, or describing the deer on ice as an act of translation as the Flower and Hayes example attests to, is, yes, an act of translation, but still is of language, and sequence, and narration. How, then, can we capture these other modalities of imagining and composing? Sound and visuality is suggested but is that all? I don’t know where this idea is heading I just guess I am itching to know more about the possibilities of multi-modal thinking and being able to unlock its potentials. At this moment, to be honest, I am not too clear how to do it for myself, so I can never even dare to try to teach it.

I also found the terminological shift from writing to composing brilliant in rethinking how we view our classes and the work our students will produce. Composing seems to have a more artistic bent, and perhaps can move students away from viewing writing as a tedious, dull process.