Spring Symposium: Participation 10%: Re-Thinking “Student Participation”

Dr. Katherine DeLuca, Dept of English, University of Massachusetts, Boston and
Dr. Lisa Blankenship, Co-Editors of eRhetoric of Participation: Interrogating Commonplaces in and Beyond the Classroom (forthcoming, Computers and Composition Digital Press / Utah State UP, 2018)

Our Spring Symposium examined the functions of and assumptions about this understudied aspect of teaching. We discussed the book’s findings, including a national survey of writing faculty, and ways of addressing participation in inclusive, fairly assessed, and meaningful ways.


Participation as Reflective Practice: Digital Composing and Feminist Pedagogy (PDF)

Fall Symposium: Time Saving Grading Practices, 2 November 2017


Nancy Sommers: Responding to Student Writing
Lisa Blankenship: Time Saving Grading Practices

Great Works End of Semester Meeting, 18 May 2017

Meeting Program

Hybrid Assessment Results Presentation

Donald Mengay’s Materials from the Workshop:

Jeanne Stauffer-Merle’s Materials on Using Expressionism to Teach Kafka’s Metamorphosis

Reading Process Resources

Elinor Fuchs – EF’s Visit to a Small Planet: Some Questions to Ask a Play – An engaging article that imaginatively explores the process of asking questions while reading plays, applicable to literature more broadly.
Daniel T. Willingham – The Usefulness of Brief Instruction in Reading Comprehension Strategies – Though focused on lower grades, this article offers direct, succinct advice on how to effectively employ reading strategies.
Writing Commons Articles on Critical Reading Practices – A collection of articles on reading practices from the open educational resource Writing Commons.

Designing and Assessing Multimodal Assignments, 22 and 23 March 2017

Cosponsored by the Department of English’s First-Year Writing Program and Great Works of Literature and the Center for Teaching and Learning

Wednesday, March 22, 4:30-6:00pm, NVC 14-270 AND/OR
Thursday, March 23, 12:30-2:00pm, NVC 14-280

Multimodal assignments ask students to use more than one of the modalities (i.e., visual, audio, gestural, spatial or linguistic) to create a meaning. In this curated forum, we explore what ways faculty from across disciplines might create multimodal assignments that harness the potential of digital media. Leave with assignments you can begin using this spring. Especially important for all faculty who currently teach or want to teach ENG 2150: Writing II. Come to one or both sessions.

Online Resources:

Multimodality FAQ

Assessing Multimodal Writing


Scholarly Articles:

Student Example Projects:


Teaching in the Age of “Fake News,” 1 & 2 March 2017

March 1: 4:30-6p, VC 14-270
March 2: 12:30-2p, VC 14-280

As faculty, we face an across-the-curriculum challenge to address the proliferation of maliciously fabricated news and to help students identify the biases, perspectives, and methods that influence the news they read. The rapid rise of online news and social media have created new challenges in information literacy by narrowing readers’ communities, introducing vast quantities of fabricated or unverified articles, and blurring the distinction between reporting and opinion content. The resources below should support instructors when addressing these issues in the classroom.

Online Resources:


Handouts and Materials:

Example Assignments:


Responding to and Assessing Student Writing, 24 March 2016

In the first session of the Spring workshop series for instructors of First-Year Writing, Prof. Blankenship gave an overview of approaches to teaching Rhetoric, with an emphasis on the Toulmin methodology. In this second session on March 24, the focus was on course goals and assignments. The discussion revolved around responding to students’ writing, including how to give useful feedback and how to design rubrics that clarify and correspond to course goals. For those who were not able to make it to the workshop, here is a helpful link to Blankenship’s handout with sample assignments, goals, rubrics and peer review handouts. In addition to this handout, Blankenship also distributed Nancy Sommers’  guide, Responding to Student Writers  available here.

Here are some recommended texts for use in class:

Remixing Composition Workshop, 1 October 2015

In his lively workshop, “Moving Beyond the Page: Designing and Assessing Multimodal Assignments,” Prof. Jason Palmeri of Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, defined what multimodal assignments are, what they’re good for, and why we want them as part of our writing composition curricula. He offered a theory of re-mixed composition, based on comp-rhet praxis in which meaning is derived from the arrangement of different materials in innovative ways. Stretching back to the ancient Greeks, image and text have worked interdependently to generate meaning, and given that this pairing of media can be done so effectively with today’s readily available technologies, there’s no reason to limit ourselves to the page. What’s more, there is empirical evidence that suggests a transfer of skills occurs with multimodal exercises. When students work through concepts and arguments in a digital media project, they tend to transfer those intellectual developments to their writing. Plus, they gain a much keener sense of audience and rhetorical choices when they produce content of which they themselves are frequent consumers.

Palmeri discussed how to design multimodal assignments, suggesting that they can enhance everything from informal pre-writing to peer reviews to final projects. For students who don’t learn best through text only, the option to bring graphics, video, or audio into their composition projects can help them approach it in a refreshed and less alienated manner. For more cumulative assignments, Palmeri does what he calls a “multimodal remediation assignment,” in which his students transform what would have been a print essay into a new medium and/or genre (accompanied by reflective writing).

As for goals of these assignments, students not only think critically about the benefits and limitations of technology, but they also start transferring their rhetoric skills back into writing, and become conversant in a number of technological platforms. As a final consideration, Palmeri conceded that grading these alternative assignments can be difficult. He mitigates this by creating a collaborative rubric, designed with student in-put, and with substantial written reflections by the students.

The presentation lead to some lively conversations and questions relating to audience (are the intended audiences of these multimodal projects more or less inclusive?) and the finer points of executing such projects in a classroom.

Find Palmeri’s presentation here.


Reflective Annotated Bibliography Workshop, 14 October 2014

In this workshop, Prof. Mark McBeth (John Jay College of Criminal Justice: Graduate Center, CUNY) shared one of his assignments and prompted us to think about our own practices as readers. “How many of you are holding a pen or pencil?” he asked after we began reading an essay he’d shared with us, Roland Barthes’ “Writing Reading”; “How many of you underlined sentences or made marginal notes?”

While this strategically simple exercise served as a practical entrypoint into Barthes—who asks, in the opening paragraph of the essay, “haven’t you ever happened to read while looking up from your book?” (29)—it also modeled the way that reflecting on our own habits as readers and writers can help us design assignments and in-class exercises that provoke corresponding acts of self-reflection in our students.

McBeth’s “RefAnnBib” is an update on an assignment that many of us have used in composition classes, differing from a standard Annotated Bibliography in that it not only holds students accountable for the content and bibliographic information of texts, but also requires that they deepen their own understanding of differences in form, genre, and discipline. The assignment also spurs critical reflection on the task they face, as writers and researchers, to distinguish between writing objectively about texts in the form of a précis, and responding to texts inventively in the form of a reflection—“the distinction between objective reportage of facts and editorial criticism of an article.”

Working in groups, the faculty attending the workshop tested the the “RefAnnBib” work on texts whose genre and discipline ranged from English poetry to a critical article on risk-assessment methodologies in the field of engineering. In a room full of (mostly) English Ph.D.’s, this exercise prompted us to think about how to adapt an assignment to work on texts in multiple disciplines. It also brought us back to Barthes’ suggestion “that every reading derives from trans-individual forms: the associations engendered by the letter … are never, whatever we do, anarchic; they are always caught up (sampled and inserted) by certain codes, certain languages, certain lists of stereotypes” (31).

Click through for a detailed breakdown of the RefAnnBib assignment, including a sample completed RefAnnBib.


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