Made Not Only in Words: Composition in a New Key by Kathleen Blake Yancey and The Movement of Air, the Breath of Meaning: Aurality and Multimodal by Cynthia L. Composing Selfe
Wow, I can’t believe this semester has gone by SO quickly! I feel like I just had to say that.
For this week, we read Made Not Only in Words: Composition in a New Key by Kathleen Blake Yancey and The Movement of Air, the Breath of Meaning: Aurality and Multimodal by Cynthia L. Composing Selfe. Both articles were very insightful and presented great information.
In Yancey’s essay she brings in the idea of writing being words on paper but she also makes the connection with writing and the digital world. As I read her essay I thought about our final projects and my experience creating mine. I first drafted a few pieces of my project and as I thought about what I did, I realized that I never used pen and paper. I got on my laptop and used my word processor to draft my piece. I continued to draft my piece until it was completed; all on a word document using my laptop. What I found more interesting about my experience was that when I went to transfer my written vignette into my digital application, I actually found myself revising my piece because the way in which I was presenting it in the digital application almost required for me to change a few of the pieces of my vignette. I found this fascinating because I am still editing my vignette in the digital application and Yancey talks about writing being not only words written on paper.
As I read Selfe’s essay I thought about times where I’ve been in a classroom where the teacher/professor has gone beyond presenting written text to deliver information to the students. Often I’ve seen how there has been videos played to proof a point or simply to deliver information to us. For instance, as I wrote this blog post I thought about Sabine’s lead night. Everyone did a great job on their lead nights but her presentation was the first one that came to mind as an example for my blog post. She presented a video where we saw what was going on in a classroom. I think that the same video she presented could’ve been presented in a written case study format. But the video delivered the information necessary for the audience effectively. We were also presented with a written poem which showed me that both multimodal and a written poem were both powerful tools to be use in the classroom. I don’t think that multimodal should replace the written information students need to receive but I think that it can serve as an aid when teaching.
Looking Back as We Look Forward: Historicizing Writing Assessment by Kathleen Blake Yancey & The Concept of Control in Teacher Response: Defining the Varieties of “Directive” and “Facilitative” Commentary by Richard Straub
As I read, Looking Back as We Look Forward: Historicizing Writing Assessment by Kathleen Blake Yancey, I felt like her essay was talking about similar aspects as the one we read by her, last week. She ones again talked about the writing assessment and how it used to be testing, then turned into a holistically scored essay, and then it took the form of portfolio assessment. Although she was presenting some of the same information, I felt that the way she presented it in this essay, it was more direct, organized, and easier to read.
From her essay, I felt like the idea of having students being involved with writing portfolios was helpful. I still understand how, at times, tests are necessary and how scoring an essay can be a helpful way of assessing students. But I feel like it is not always the best way. It is hard to really pick and choose what’s “better” for the students when so much research has been done and it seems like we are not sure about what works best for the students just yet.
I find extremely interesting how all these readings are full of dos and don’ts when it comes to how to interact with the teaching of writing. All these essays focus on what’s the “best” way teachers should go about teaching based on research that has been done. However, while they all sound very convincing, the fact that they are always finding out new approaches or going back to old forms makes me think that there is no “right” way yet. I have my preferences based on my experience as a student, but even then, I know that other students may think differently than me and will have other preferences.
In The Concept of Control in Teacher Response: Defining the Varieties of “Directive” and “Facilitative” Commentary by Richard Straub, he brings in the idea that teachers should comment on students writing in a facilitative way rather that directive way to allow the student to find things out on their own. He also talks about the idea of telling teachers that they must not take over when commenting on students writing or when helping students.
In his essay it was shared that a teacher stated the following “as a teacher, I must be careful not to take over – because the minute I do, the success (if there is one) becomes mine, not his – and the learning is diminished.” I can totally agree with this statement. It sounds like the students need just that right amount of commentary to allow them to learn on their own.
Reading the essays this week made me think about what we’ve read so far this semester. I find that these essays often make me think about what I’ve gone through as a student and they make me wonder how well could teachers interact with every single student to be able to help them in just the way they need.
Writing Assessment in the Early Twenty-First Century by Kathleen Blake Yancey & Using Rubrics to Develop and Apply Grading Criteria by John C. Bean In the beginning of the essay, Writing Assessment in the Early Twenty-First Century by Kathleen Blake Yancey, the author talked about assessment for students. She shared that compositionists often find themselves at the odds with writing assessment and frustrated with it. This showing that assessment is not their favorite task. Yancey presents a summary in her essay about the writing assessment. This history shared that students have been assessed through testing, on the writing process, and the attention to multiple texts, the way those texts are read. Yancey also talked about students portfolios later in her essay. She talked about digital and printed portfolios. As she talked about this, I remembered a class I took when I first came to Kean. There, we were asked to create a digital portfolio. Back then, it was explained to us that it was a class project but that we could use that portfolio to apply for jobs as well. The professor explained that the portfolio was a way to show potential employers part of our work. I didn’t really understood then what was the importance of it. After that class, creating portfolios was not a common task we were asked to do in other classes so I just simply didn’t go back to that portfolio I created. I think we were asked to reflect on our work for that portfolio and I also think we had several drafts of the same essay included on the portfolio. I think that overall, the portfolio was good to do in class. But I think that if we were asked to do them in several classes rather than in only a few, I would’ve been able to get more familiar with them. I appreciated that Yancey’s essay was more up to date, this way I was able to more easily understand the points she was trying to make. Using Rubrics to Develop and Apply Grading Criteria by John C. Bean was an essay that talked about the usage of rubrics for grading. Bean states that “as teachers, our goal is to maximize the help we give students while keeping our own workloads manageable.” I’ve often heard teachers say that they spend a lot of time grading papers. Using rubrics seems to be a helpful tool for them. But as a student, I’m not sure how I feel about rubrics. I don’t hate them, but they are not my favorite either. I feel like rubrics can be so dry at times. They have so much information that it seems like it covers everything a student could wonder about how they’ll be graded. Yet, they often make me feel like I have questions after I read them. I often have to go back and ask my professors questions about the rubric so that I’ll have a better understanding of how I’ll be graded.
I’ve never had a deep connection with rubrics. I’ve understood what they were going to be used for, followed them and found them important. I feel like a professor could easily say “I used the same rubric for all students, I posted it online, I went over it with you” so there shouldn’t really be a problem when it comes to how the students feels about how they were graded. The professor wouldn’t be wrong in saying this. But at the same time, I wonder how those rubrics could really say how each student will be graded. Rubrics are not always specific and the teachers need to clarify what it is said in them. This makes me think that they are a helpful tool but perhaps not always the best one for students.
Tutoring ESL Students: Issues and Options by Murial Harris and Tony Silva & Teaching Composition in the Multilingual World Second Language Writing in Composition Studies by Paul Kei Matsuda Both essays this week talked about teaching ESL students. As I read the essays, I found myself being able to relate to a lot of the things mentioned in them. I can completely understand how teachers could be, to an extent, lost when trying to teach ESL students to write. But I think that those students feel lost in the process as well. I remember being an ESL student and trying to figure out how could I understand all the rules that were being presented to me while at the same time trying to translate what I wanted to write from one language to another. I felt, at many times, that I was more focused on trying to translate everything I wanted to say rather than focusing on the rules of grammar. I felt so confused and frustrated at times because I couldn’t figure out the reasoning behind so many of these “rules”. Harris and Silva state in their essay that tutors of ESL students feel speechless when they try to explain why “I have many homeworks to completed” is wrong or why we say “on Monday” but “in June.” There were many times when I just didn’t understand those same examples. It was hard for me to see the reasoning behind it.
Harris and Silva also mentioned that new tutors feel like they need to fix everything the ESL writer has done wrong instead of teaching them by sections at a time. Their essay mentioned that tutors should first tell the students what they have done correctly and then approach the mistakes one at a time without approaching everything that’s wrong with their writing. This reminded me of essays we’ve read before where it was said that teachers should let the students know what’s going well with the draft first and then tell them what they should focus on to improve their drafts.
In Matsuda’s essay, it was mentioned that in writing centers ESL writers were also important. This made think about the fact that ESL students don’t only need help in translating their writing into another language but also in understanding the rules of the language. These students also need help with their writing process just like any other native speaker writer. This makes me think about the importance of individual help where you are focused on having help for what you need specifically. While not every teacher will be able to assist students individually, writing centers play an important role for students as well.
Teach the Motivating Force of Revision by Donald M. Murray and Revision Strategies of Student Writers and Experienced Adult Writersby Nancy Sommers
I got to read two very interesting essays this week. Not that the others we’ve read weren’t, they were, but revision is a topic that I have not read much about before so I found them very interesting. I also found it very interesting because I had to take an online quiz for a different class that was supposed to tell me what part of my writing process I was. And it turned out that I am revision in my writing process – how weird is that?
In his essay, Teach the Motivating Force of Revision, Murray brought out ideas that I had not thought about in the way that he presented them. He talked about revision as a way to discover what one wants to say. I don’t know how many times I’ve revised a paper, but after reading that in this stage you are discovering what you want to say, I felt like I could totally agree with that. Because when I revise, I feel like that’s what I’m trying to do. I am trying to discover what I am trying to say. When I revise, I find myself moving things around and changing the content in the piece of writing that I am working on. Like he says, I am discovering what it is really that I want to say. In his essay he also said “writers often know more clearly what they don’t want to say than what they do.” I found this so true; I often know what I don’t want to sound like. When I’m creating characters, I also often know what I don’t want my characters to sound like. Then, I spend a lot of time trying to figure out what it is that I do want to say or what I do want my characters to say. Murray also said that a lot of writing teachers have not composed pieces of writing themselves. I was very surprised about this. He mentioned that it is hard to imagine a music teacher who has never made music, or an art teacher who has never drawn a picture but unfortunately it is normal to find that writing teachers have only written a few academic papers. I was surprised about this because I just always heard my professors make comments about how they were writing this and they were writing that. They shared their writing process or just spoke about writing as if it was something they normally did. Recently, I even had a professor say that she had written a CNF piece herself because she felt it would be unfair for her to ask us to write CNF without her having done a piece of CNF writing herself. Towards the end of his essay, Murray mentioned that the writing teacher who writes may be able to enter into the process of individual exploration with each student. I could agree with what Murray says here because it makes me wonder how can a teacher help a student discover or explore if they have not discover and explore themselves? It makes me wonder if they don’t have experience on what they are trying to teach, how can they teach it? I just really enjoyed the way Murray wrote his essay and what he said. It was easy to read and it was able to relate to it. The ideas he brought forward were interesting and the whole topic about revision was exciting for me to read about. Revision Strategies of Student Writers and Experienced Adult Writers by Nancy Sommers is an essay that also talked about revision. She started her essay by saying how there has been a lack of attention in research regarding the revision process. I am not surprised about that since I have not really read much about this topic. Sommers talked about models for the writing process. I found these models interesting because she mentioned that they were linear processes. I felt that this was new information for me. I have always been taught that the writing process was not linear so when Sommers’ essay mentioned the writing process as a linear model, I was surprised. I understand that when you are writing you have sort of like a linear process where you may start by writing/drafting then you’ll move into revision, then you’ll edit and so on. But while one is in any of these stages one tends to move within these stages in a nonlinearway. As I continued to read her essay, she mentioned she was dissatisfied with both the linear model of writing and the lack of attention to the process of revision. She mentioned that she conducted a series of studies over the past three years which examined the revision process of student writers and experienced writers to see what role revision played in their writing process. She mentioned that the student writers understood revision as a “scratch out and do over again, reviewing, redoing, marking out, and slashing and throwing out.” The student writers understood the process as a rewording activity. Whereas the experienced writers understood revision as a “rewriting and revising process.” The experienced writers described their primary objective when revising as finding the form or shape of their argument. By the information Sommers provided here, it seems like the experienced writers have a greater understanding about the revision process. I can understand these results being that the students writers are still learning about writing as a whole and the experienced writers have already dealt with all the process and are more familiar with everything involving writing. Sommers also talked about the revision process being a place for discovery like Murray mentioned. She also said that while writers may focus on a particular stage of the writing process at a time, they may also focus on other areas at the same time. Making this a nonlinear writing process which is what I believe we all experience when we write. I find it nearly impossible to focus on solely one area at a time.
Here is the link
to my Reaction Paper on Response to Writing
by Richard Beach and Tom Friedrich, One Approach to Guiding Peer Response
by Kim Jaxon, and Writing Comments on Students’ Papers
by John C. Bean.
For the Final Project, I went over the digital tools list and found some interesting possible ones I could maybe use for my vignette. I have some notes for my vignette and I think that this list is really going to help me develop my vignette further.