This has been an excellent class for a multitude of
reasons: Dr. Zamora studied and
organized a collection of theorists who predominantly advocated for the
development of student voice within the context of a non-authoritarian learning
environment. What was exceptional about
this learning experience is that we, as the students, had the opportunity to
experience the empowerment that the theorists, we were reading, espoused; because,
our professor and facilitator seamlessly integrated these ideologies and
applied them to the creation of our learning environment. Thus, we had the rare opportunity to
understand many of the pedagogical theories we were reading about on both an intellectual
and visceral level. Having transformed within the context of this teaching
style, I am convinced that I would feel fulfilled emulating it, if given the
opportunity to act as a facilitator with a class.
The authors we read offered theoretical explanations,
research to justify their viewpoints, recommended resources and practical
advice on practices and methods that can be integrated into ones teaching
style. The theoretical dimension of the
readings gave us a window into “why” a given approach has value ; however, after
having gained an understanding of “the why”, I believe I would benefit in the
future by having an organized collection of segments referring to practices and
methods or “the how”. Regarding the final project, I would like to leave
this class with a manual of direct excerpts from authors we read, VERBATUM, pertaining
to applicable practices. I think as a
class we can achieve this in three weeks.
Week One: Choose unit headings and break into groups
under those headings. Assign one or two articles to each group member. Each
group should open a google doc. and share the link before the end of class. Also, a works cited page should be created
and shared with the whole class.
HW for Week One: Cut excerpts from the articles
assigned to you and paste them in your shared google doc. VERBATUM. (If you are
unable to convert the PDF file to a format that allows for a cut and paste
option, please retype the passage(s) as written by the author) Cite author in
text and on works cited page.
Week Two: Each group should get together and organize
the authors quotations, pertaining to applicable practices, in an order that is
cohesive or makes thematic sense.
HW for Week Two: Write brief transition statements between each
authors recommendation’s or each conceptual shift. (I say conceptual shift
because some authors, such as Peter Elbow, recommend methods and practices that
relate to the development of contrasting skill sets).
Transitions: Although, there may be some benefit in
briefly referring to the pedagogical reasoning behind the method or practice,
my conceptualization of this project has a predominant focus on concrete
applications and not the theory and research that stands apart from the
directly tangible dimensions of pedagogy.
In other words, once the project is finished, we will all have a manual
of practices we can apply to evaluation or teaching practices.
The class should synthesis each of the individual units (or google docs)
into one cohesive piece. Then we can
proof-read it as a class. (Swapping units is an option at the stage of
proofreading to allow each group to benefit from a new set of eyes.)
In trying to present a somewhat concise description of this
concept, my communication may have come across as vague. To avoid a lack of clarity, I will provide an
example below. Dr. Zamora has already
given us a framework upon which we can build this project, because of the way
she organized the reading roster.
ENG 5020 Reading Roster, Fall 2019
Perspectives on the Field of Writing Studies
and Composition by Janice M.
at the Turn of the 21st Century by Richard Fulkerson
Kathleen Blake. “Made Not
Only in Words: Composition in a New Key.” College
Composition and Communication. 56.2 (2004), 297-328.
Writing Again: Embracing Contraries by Peter Elbow
Lil and C.H. Knoblauch. “On
Students’ Rights to Their Own Texts: A Model of Teacher Response.” College Composition and Communication.
33.2 (1982), 157-166.
National Writing Project. (2018). Civically
Engaged Writing Analysis Continuum. Available at https://cewac.nwp.org/.
Writing in the Multilingual World by
Paul Kei Matsuda
ESL Students: Issues & Options by Muriel Harris and Tony Silva
Place of World Englishes in Composition: Pluralization Continued.” College Composition and Communication. 57.4 (2006),
Cope, B., & Kalantzis, M. (2005). A
pedagogy of multiliteracies designing social futures. In Multiliteracies:
Lit Learning (pp. 19-46). Routledge. Available at: http://newarcproject.pbworks.com/f/Pedagogy+of+Multiliteracies_New+London+Group.pdf
Rubrics & Assessment
Rubrics to Develop and Apply Grading Criteria by John Bean
Assessment in the Early 21st Century by Kathleen B. Yancey
Back as We Look Forward: Historicizing Writing Assessment by Kathleen B. Yancey
Formulaic Writing & Process
Wiley, Mark. “The
Popularity of Formulaic Writing (And Why We Need to Resist).” The English Journal. 90.1 (2000), 61-67.
Writing as Process Not Product by Donald Murray
Garcia, A. (2016). How Remix Culture Informs Student Writing and
Creativity. School Library Journal. Retrieved at https://www.slj.com/?detailStory=how-remix-culture-informs-student-writing-creativity
Classrooms as Text: Exploring Student Writers’ Interpretive Practices.” College
Composition and Communication. 46.3 (1995), 411-429.
Strategies of Student Writers and Experienced Adult Writers by Nancy Sommers
S. (2013). Preaching What We Practice. Journal of Curriculum and Instruction
(JoCI), 6(2). Chapter available at: https://lead.nwp.org/knowledgebase/preaching-what-we-practice/
Comments on Student Papers by John Bean
to Student Writing.” College
Composition and Communication. 33.2 (1982), 148-156.
Evaluating, and Liking: Sorting Out Three Forms of Judgment by Peter Elbow
Concept of Control in Teacher Response: Defining the Varieties of ‘Directive’
and ‘Facilitative’ Commentary.” College Composition and Communication. 47.2 (1996),
Ferlazzo, L. (2018, November 3). Giving Students Writing Feedback:
Do This Not That . Retrieved at: http://larryferlazzo.edublogs.org/2018/11/03/my-latest-bam-radio-show-is-on-giving-students-writing-feedback-do-this-not-that/
Elbow, Peter. (2002). High stakes and low stakes in assigning and responding to
on writing: Rethinking ESL, basic writing, and first-year composition,
Grammers, and the Teaching of Grammers.” College English. 47.2 (1985), 105-127.
Alive! A Guide For Teachers by Brock Haussamen et al.
Erasure of the Sentence by Robert Connors
Writing & Identity
of the Oppressed, by Paulo Freire
Delpit, Lisa D. The
Silenced Dialogue: Power and Pedagogy in Educating Other People’s Children, Harvard Educational Review; Aug 1988; 58, 3; Research Library
Butch, and Bar Dyke: Pedagogical Performances of Class, Gender, and Sexuality by Michelle Gibson, Matha Marinara, and Deborah
James and Joyce Walker. “Liminal
Spaces and Research Identity: The Construction of Introductory Composition
Students as Researchers.” Pedagogy. 13.1
Then, Now, and Next
General Commentary on Writing Process
About Writing Edited by Cheryl Ball
and Drew Lowe
Hunt, B. (2013, December 11). We never use pen & paper [Blog
post]. Retrieved from https://budtheteacher.com/blog/2013/12/11/we-never-use-pen-paper/
Popova, M (2014, December 2). Lynda Barry’s Illustrated Field
Guide to Keeping a Visual Diary and Cultivating a Capacity for Creative
Observation [Blog post: Brainpickings] Retrieved from https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/12/02/lynda-barry-syllabus-book/.
as Making/Making as Writing by Connected Learning TV
Barabara. “Why the
‘Research Paper’ Isn’t Working.” Inside Higher Ed. April 12, 2011 (web).
Approach to Guiding Peer Response.”National Writing Project. March 26, 2009. (web).
During the first week, the class can agree to keep these unit headings or to organize the articles we have read under different headings.
For clarity, I have placed some examples of quotes that pertain
to the practical, applicable and concrete aspects of a theory:
Unit Heading: Feedback
the distinction between high and low stakes… here I am
emphasizing a continuum with many intermediate points. Just as important, it is
also a continuum from the least responding to the most responding.
Zero response (lowest stakes). When I am clear and
honest with students about the fact that I need to require more writing from
them than I can comment on, I help them fairly quickly get over any feelings of
deprivation or resentment. Most students come to appreciate the chance to write
with the knowledge that they will be heard but will not have to deal with my
response. In fact, many teachers require some low stakes writing that they
don’t even read. Students can appreciate and benefit from the freedom of this
private writing. (See Sargent and Elbow, Chapters Four and Eleven,
respectively, on ways to deal with private writing.)
Minimal, nonverbal, noncritical response. We can note
effective or strong or correct passages by simply putting a straight line
underneath particular words or phrases or alongside longer sections. (Teachers
often use check marks in the margin for this purpose, but I find straight lines
are more specific markers.) I can respond in this way virtually as quickly as I
can read. Almost every student needs some encouragement, and some students on
some occasions need lots. Even in very poor pieces of writing, certain parts are
always better than others; students benefit from having them pointed out. To
find strong points, even in weak writing, is a skill that will help us improve
student learning and writing.
Supportive response—no criticism. There are usually
things that students do well that are hard to point to with simple straight
lines (for example, “You chose a good approach to your topic,” or, “You write
with a clear and lively voice.”) Whether we call it praise or positive
reinforcement, the fact remains that this kind of response does the most good
with the least effort. That is, we are most likely to cause learning and least
likely to do harm if the message of 10 WRITING TO LEARN our response is, in
effect, “Please do more of this thing you are already doing here.” We are least
likely to cause learning and most likely to do harm if we give the message that
is all too often implied in critical feedback: “Start doing something you’ve
never done before.”
Descriptive or observational response. An example of
this response: “You begin with an anecdote from your own experience; then show
us how it throws light on your academic topic. Then you make your case—which
really rests on a process of definition—showing what fits and what is
excluded.” One of the hardest things for student writers is simply to see their
own text, to understand the logical and rhetorical strategies they have used.
Neutral and noncritical observations can be very effective because students
don’t need to resist them.
Minimal, nonverbal critical response. Just as quickly
as we can read and put in straight lines, we can also put wavy or wiggly lines
underneath words or alongside passages that are unclear or problematic or
wrong. It’s remarkable what a strong sense of our readerly presence and
response we can give to students when we note five or six phrases or passages
per page with straight and wiggly lines: they get a felt sense of what is
working and not working for us.
Critical response, diagnosis, advice (highest
stakes). This is our meat and potatoes—what we tend to assume is our main job.
Obviously, we often need to give critical response to help with learning and to
explain the basis of poor grades. But my premise here is that the higher we go
on the continuum, the more we need to ask the crucial pragmatic questions: Is
this comment worth it? How much response do I need? How much criticism will be
useful? What is the likelihood of my effort doing good or harm? (Elbow, 2002)
• For high stakes assignments, it can be very helpful to
require a draft a week or more before the final version. Teachers handle drafts
in a wide variety of ways depending on their circumstances and styles. At the
very least, we can just collect drafts and not comment—simply checking that
they are done— thus forcing students to carry their thinking through two steps.
Of course, if our circumstances make it feasible, it is good to give comments
on a draft. When we comment on a draft, our response becomes almost
automatically low stakes, even if critical: we can write suggestions for
revising rather than just an autopsy. (Notice in Chapter Six how Herrington
describes the production of an essay that has very high stakes but one that
students work up to along a path of lower stakes drafts and comments on those
drafts.) It is probably worth cutting back on the amount of responding on some
assignments for the sake of giving students at least one experience of feedback
on a draft aimed at a revision. If we can only do this once, it’s better to do
it in the first half of 12 WRITING TO LEARN the semester—with the goal that
students can internalize some of our responses when they work on later high
stakes assignments. But commenting on drafts may be more feasible than some
teachers think: if we give good responses on a draft, we can make do with just
a quick verdict on the revision (perhaps using the kind of grid that I suggest
in Chapter Eleven).
• Even when we are commenting on a final version, we can
frame our comments in a forward looking way: instead of saying, “Here’s what
didn’t work,” we can say, “Here’s what to work on in future papers.”
• I find it easier to comment on important assignments if I
get students to turn in a short reflective cover letter or piece of process
writing with the assignment itself. I invite something informal, even
handwritten. I ask them to tell me what they see as their main points, how they
went about writing and what happened, which parts they are most and least
satisfied with, and what questions they have for me as a reader. Reading the
cover letter usually helps me decide what to say in my comment. Often I can
agree with much of what the student has said, and sometimes I can be more
positive about the essay than the student was. Students may have difficulty at
first with this self-reflective writing, but it promotes a skill worth working
on. It gives them practice in trying to see their own thinking more clearly.
(Herrington gives good examples in Chapter Six of cover letters for a
mid-process draft and a final draft.)
• I find commenting much easier if I read the whole piece
before making any comments except for straight and wiggly lines. I save lots of
time by reminding myself that students can seldom benefit from criticism of
more than two or three problems. Therefore, the most crucial decision in
commenting is which problems to focus on, and I can’t make that decision till I
read the whole paper through. Most of my bad commenting comes from jumping in
with marginal comments as I am reading: I am more likely to waste my time on
something that turns out to be a minor issue, or make some passing remark that
the student misunderstands, or say something that’s actually wrong (“You
obviously don’t understand x,” when later on it’s clear that she does
understand x), or get caught up in a little spasm of unhelpful irritation. If I
settle for just making straight and wiggly lines, these serve me as a map when
I glance back over the paper after I have read the whole thing and I am trying
to decide what are the few main things I need to say. (In Chapter Nine, Chris
Anson points out an exception: when we put our comments on a tape cassette, we
may want to tell the story of our reactions as we are actually in the process
of reading. Yet Anson also points out that even for this kind of responding he
sometimes does better by waiting till he has read the whole piece.)
• As Hodges points out in Chapter Seven, when we return
papers to students with our comments attached, it’s a great help sometimes to
ask students to take five minutes right then and write us a short note telling
what they heard us saying and how they are reacting to it. This helps us learn
when we are unclear or when students misinterpret our words or react in ways we
don’t expect. HIGH STAKES AND LOW STAKES IN WRITING 13
• If we are writing comments where the stakes aren’t too
high, we can save time by waiting till we have two pieces in hand, read them
together, and write only one comment on both. The comparison is often
pedagogically useful. (“Notice how much clearer your point was on this paper
compared to that one [or how much more carefully you argued]. What helped
• Though it sometimes costs me a few more words, I try to
avoid an impersonal “God/truth voice” in my comments. Almost anything that we
might say in response to a piece of writing is going to be affected by our own
point of view. Even the main ideas in our discipline are arguable. If we are
willing to say, “Unconvincing for me,” instead of “Unconvincing,” students are
more likely to pause, listen, and think—instead of just resisting, or else
unthinkingly giving in to authority. Besides, magisterial shorthand words like
“Awk” are often extremely unclear. I have been trying to learn to write more
accurate translations like, “I stumbled here,” or, “I’m lost,” or, “Wording
feels unprofessional,” or, “Too slangy for my ear,” or, “Can you be less
roundabout?” I sum up this chapter with that useful dictum “At least do no
harm.” Think how much good we do in assigning lots of writing, especially lots
of low stakes writing. But this approach is only feasible when we realize that
we can get by with far less response and criticism than we usually assume. (Elbow,