Frame(works): Multiliteracies and Writing

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Good Frames make for Great Houses

In Multiliteracies and Writing, the developing of frameworks is crucial. Without giving students a framework, they will become nervous, frustrated and at worst, quit. This is something that I appreciated as part of Writing Theory and Practice. The pre-Fall 2019-me balked at the idea of giving students frameworks (too confining). I thank Nives, Susan and Linda in helping me see this issue from a different point of view. You should not hand a child a fancy balloon without one of those smiley face weights attached to it. It will go flying off and there will be inevitable tears. Frameworks provide solidity and they are a necessary part of structured learning, critical thinking and writing.

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ESL Students: All part of the Same Globe

In “Teaching ESL Students: Issues and Options,” Harris and Silva explain that there is a “pedagogy of the tutorial” (526). This involves developing a hierarchy of what is considered to be most important. Ibid. Tutors should focus on the big picture and resist the itch to correct every error (530). First, as the authors mention, tutors should gain training on the special needs of different ESL students and how their cultural backgrounds may affect the way they learn. It is also important for a tutor to get to know, as much as possible, his or her tutees. From her descriptions in class, I know this is how Patricia approaches her students. We have to remember that at the other end of the desk is a student with feelings and different perspectives. It is difficult to develop a relationship with students if they are coming into Writing Centers (WCs) on a sporadic, as-needed basis. I would encourage for all ESL students, especially those just at the beginning of their writing journeys, to consult WCs often, during draft stages, so that tutors and students can get to know each other and develop a rapport and trust.

I agree that is important that rhetorical structures be prioritized over grammar and syntax. For that, I refer back to much-beloved Aristotelian triangle:

Getting Back to the Greeks!

I agree with the stretching out of the composing process:

(1) include more work on planning– to generate ideas, text structure and language; (2) have ESL students write in stages, e.g. focusing on content and organization in one draft and focusing on linguistic concerns in another draft; and (3) separate their treatment of revising (rhetoric) and editing (linguistic) and provide realistic strategies for each, strategies that do not rely on intuitions ESL writers may not have.

529.

Adhering to grammar is important; however, it should not take a front seat. I think it would be best if ESL students had separate training on grammar and syntax. As the authors mentioned, tutors also need to have a formal way of conveying these components, because even if they come second-nature to us, we may not know how to teach these rules.

The main goal in teaching ESL students is communication. In communicating, it is always important to emphasize the positive aspects of a student’s writing. Again, trust is an important in every relationship, including the student-tutor one.

Rubrics are Useful to Both Students and Teachers

In “Using Rubrics to Develop and Apply Grading Criteria,” Bean explains that rubrics aid in planning a class at the outset and in describing the expectations required by the instructor (267). This idea, which I once disliked, makes sense because it conveys a sense of shared purpose between the student and his or her teacher.

I found Paul Deiderich’s experiment to be crucial (268-269). He was able to train readers to balance their assessments over 5 criteria: (1) quality of ideas, (2) sentence structure, usage, spelling and punctuation; (3) organization and development; (4) creative wording or phrasing and (5) liveliness of committed voice (“flavor of personality”).

I think that both analytic and holistic rubrics can be utilized. It is important to gain an overall impression of a paper (holistic) and then to grade it according to the crucial hallmarks noted above and in the analytic rubrics Bean included in his piece. It is important to know that giving too specific of a rubric can backfire, causing students to approach writing as a plug-in-the formula experience, rather than as a critical exercise of their own thoughts. I think that it is also important that there be room for teacher’s commentary on a student’s work. However, it should never be cursory or vague, as we have discussed in other classes.

In the Controversies Abut Rubrics section, I felt that Bean was speaking to the former me. I used to see rubrics as stifling to the creative process. I thought that it would lead to individuals being put in a box from which they could not easily extricate themselves. This reminded me of George Michael’s personal transformation from sex symbol to a writer/performer who had something genuinely different to say, but had to struggle in order to do so. I direct you to his beautiful song, “Freedom” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=diYAc7gB-0A).

Bean states that opponents to rubrics believe that they are unfair to students because rubrics them the wrong “message that there are universally agreed-upon standards for good writing” (277). That is incorrect. I think that students, especially beginners, need concrete structure in order to clearly organize their thoughts on paper.

I really liked Bean’s specific approach to using rubrics (279-280). However, I think that adding up numbers is too formulaic. Additionally, I wonder if Bean’s approach would be extremely time-consuming for already over-taxed teachers.

Bean’s article reaches an apex of greatness when he states that instructors have to find an approach to grading that works for them. This will most certainly vary with the subject matter (i.e. literature as opposed to scientific lab reports). As I explained before, I think that it is vital that teachers set out expectations of their students and stick to them. Bean has included some great rubrics that would have even satisfied the pre-Fall 2019 me because they allow room for creative expression.