All posts by Devon

blog 9

My summary/ responses for my presentation pieces tomorrow:


Why the “Research Paper” Isn’t Working by Barbara Fister

Fister opens with the topic of collegiate subject juggling—how students are expected to switch between the individualized dialects of different subjects with ease and promptness (depending on their class schedules). Teachers try to instill English-based skills (writing skills) and overall skills students can use to navigate college; however, there are still teachers (especially the mandatory comp teachers) are out of touch with students. They pick topics, sources and formats that are irrelevant to the student, which causes them not to disassociate from the assignment. Fister brings up a point about citing and sourcing—the meticulous process of creating a works cited page detracts from the information that source provides and the ideas that information might instill in students. Essentially that we’re killing intellectual discussion and creativity for the sake of correctness and procedure. Instead it is suggested that citation correctness should be taught at the end of academia, when students will begin writing actual research papers (what Fister calls “truly academic”) and integrating more meaningful sources. The issue with sourcing for research papers is that students are often unable to grasp the material in the first place, let alone summarize, use and cite it while trying to make it fit in with their own work. The research paper is smothering students with rules, when in “extracurricular writing” they excel due to the elimination of restrictions. The hardest part of research writing is interpreting and understanding the information. Fister ends with the suggestion that the research paper is an ineffective teaching tool and should be replaced with a more interactive system. She states that picking a topic of interest and developing skills from there is more likely to result in better researchers (as opposed to just better research papers).

This piece was interesting, and I felt that most of it was agreeable. Especially the section about the works cited pages. One section, in particular, stood out to me: “The first year “research paper” has always sent a mixed message. You’re supposed to be original, but must quote someone else to back up every point you make - while in constant fear that you’ll be accused of stealing from them.” This is so very true, at least for me. I am neurotic about my citations, completely paranoid that even the smallest mis-citation will result in my expulsion. I have always carried that fear with me. So this section I really enjoyed. Having that dear acknowledged, and for once not belittled, was nice. Also, is the idea of not being able to integrate your own ideas. That, to me is very sad and unfortunately very true. It’s as if administrators or even professors can’t conceive that students could know anything about a topic without sitting down to research it.

The Popularity of Formulaic Writing (and Why We Need to Resist) by Mark Wiley

Wiley begins by stating that high school teachers are often at a loss as far as writing goes. Many schools are underfunded, understaffed and (generally) the teachers are undereducated in effective ways to teach writing.  The formulaic writing system (namely, the 5 paragraph essay, form what I understand) has become a crutch for teachers instead of a tool. The expectations placed on teachers to instruct an overabundance of students, while simultaneously squeezing in standardized test practice, essentially forces teachers into a corner where they have no other choice but to follow this formula, without any hope of deviation. However, Wiley argues that it is not the formula that is the problem, but the dependency (“pedagogical blindness”) that teachers have on it. The formula is good in that it is easy to understand and easy to teach, but there is no explanation outside of the initial lesson, and so students begin to think that the formula is an unbreakable law. Instead of the standard formula, Wiley discusses the Jane Schaffer Approach, which is significantly more detailed. Teachers like this method because it is easy to implement, ensures school-wide consistency, expedites the grading process and facilitates student-teacher communication. Furthermore, the mandatory commentary sentences help students differentiate between facts and their own ideas and how discussing facts after presenting them increases the strength of the overall paper. The biggest advantage to Schaffer’s system is that writing as a process becomes more manageable and therefore “accessible to everyone.” Criticism includes “uninformed writers” thinking this is what writing “really is” and formulaic dependency. Also is the issue of genre variety, which the Schaffer method overlooks and oversimplifies as far as writing tasks go. Wiley concludes with the use of formulaic writing in moderation and with consideration to genre.

Overall, I liked this method. I especially liked the condition that 11th graders should be taught to move away from the formula. I, too, would probably become bored by this format, had it been taught to me. I was interested in the “fear” that students would lose the motivation to shape their own papers; however, I am included to disagree with this fear. For one, writing isn’t for everyone; for students who won’t need writing as much or for those who cannot shape a paper at all, this one, very reliable method will really help them (“accessible to everyone”). For another, I feel it is a teacher’s job to help with this; if the formula is capped at 10th grade, then students should learn in their upper-classes about individualization (which combats the criticism that uninformed writers will not know what “writing really is”). Finally, I don’t think students can effectively shape their own papers if they don’t have a basic understanding of what an essay “shape” looks like. As far as the “next” step goes, the only thing left to do is to teach deviations: paragraphs that only have one concrete idea that needs more than two commentary sentences, one commentary sentence that has the strength of two, mixing up the order of concrete and commentary sentences. Wondering “what’s next?” shows that teachers are again formulaic writing as a crutch instead of a springboard. I agree that, in comparison to the flexibility of traditional essays, Schaffer essays are extremely limited; however, context is too influential to discard through comparisons. The phrase “real writers” and “real writing” is belittling to those writers who are in the process of learning. This essay is talking about students in high school, not collegiates about to graduate. All writers began with the basics and the basics as of right now are (primarily) grammar lessons and the 5-paragraph essay that is helpful to a degree, but still immensely vague. This is a good structured system that students can easily model that won’t stunt their developing skills or style. And that’s not even mentioning how hard it really is to teach students citation analysis. As a tutor, I can say this is an especially difficult concept to teach someone. Most beginning level writers don’t understand why they need to talk about a source/quote when it’s already been put in their paper. So the mandatory 3 commentary sentences can really help them fine-tune this ability. Which they will really need in college, where they will be expected to write more than just two sentences about a source. Not to mention “commentary” can be anything, and therefore is less limiting than the criticism would allow. 

blog 8

"Using Rubrics" thoughts and feedback.


“no essay received less than 5 different grades” I'm not really surprised by the varied results of the 53-teacher experiment. At first it seems shocking, but when I stopped and really thought about what I was reading, it made a lot of sense. Especially when the article went on to say that each subgroup that formed had similar criterion than others. From experience, I can say that each field of study has its own rules that generally vary to a noticeable degree when it comes to writing standards (you could say each one has a characteristic style of writing). So the results really don’t surprise me, and even though it’s interesting and does prove the point that there isn’t a standard, it also seems a tiny bit biased.

It’s funny for me to think of a grading criterion that didn’tinvolve a rubric. I guess that just shows how standardized they’ve become. Or maybe how linear my experiences with them are? I say this because I never thought of there being “different” rubric styles. I just assumed they were all the same.

Also, I think the use of “flavor” to seriously describe voice is absolutely hysterical (in a good way).

I’m inclined to disagree with the idea that writing can’t be broken down into separate parts. Of course they can. We all know that one student—maybe we’ve even been that one student—who keeps making the same mistake over and over, yet the rest of the paper is fine (more or less). It is possible to excel in one area and lack in another. Personally, I’m good at analysis, but have a hard time organizing my thoughts. I often jump from subject to subject with little or no transition or reasoning. To me, it makes sense, but it doesn’t to others. So I don’t believe it’s impossible to separate the components. Writing involves a lot of working parts; and for some students, it’s really hard to get all the parts to work together. A grading guide that breaks things down into smaller, more manageable parts is, I would think, less intimidating than a holistic approach, where everything counts equally—where your flaws might end up cancelling out your strengths.

I felt 14.2 was the most helpful of the examples. I’ve noticed that in an attempt to be universal, rubrics often use vague language (the paper isn’t “balanced” enough, or it was “thin” in some areas).  

“universally agreed-on standards for good writing” a valid point. But I do believe that there are certain qualities that are generally found within “good” writing. Sentence structure is a priority—not necessarily because it has to be correct, but because it has to work within the piece itself. Ideas and thoughts are also priorities. As well as organization. These are all aspects of good writing that rubrics attempt to assess. The problem here is the interpretation of the word “good”. I would say critics of the rubric are assuming that “good” is synonymous with “traditional”, “orthodox” or “academic” writing. Saying a piece is good doesn’t automatically mean that it is the cookie-cutter paper we expect it to be. “Good” writing, then, has become stigmatized and is expected to fit into a very specific mold. However, rubrics are vague enough that a paper can be graded as having good ideas and sentence structure, without it stereotypically good.

“oversimplifies…valued by real readers” also a good point, although I disagree that a rubric inherently implies these things.

I disagree with the comment examples given. A reader is not supposed to “work hard” to fill in gaps of information. I was never given that luxury. I was always told to tell my reader everything they need to know, and to assume they’ll never read what I’m telling them about. A reader can (and should) work hard to analyze or interpret a piece, but not to fill in the gaps. And if the organization as bad enough to drop the paper a whole letter grade, then I get the impression that it was moderately disorganized and disrupted the reading process noticeably. It’s good that the “teacher” pointed out that the ideas were “superb,” because that’s important. But organization is important too. And I think comment 2 belittles that importance, and almost coddles the writer. Comment 2 sugar coats what comment 1 is saying, and that’s well and good, but comment 2 also doesn’t say that the disorganization is why points were lost. To me, it sounds like comment 2 is saying “this was great and the readers will have to adapt to you and keep doing things like this. Also, you earned a B even though I said your work was superb.” It sounds contradictory, in my opinion. My response to this would be “if my work was superb, and the organization wasn’t that big of a deal, why did I only get a B?” Losing readers isn't really on the forefront of a student's mind, let's be realistic here. A student cares about points, and they won't stop caring about points until they have the skills to know they can break the rules and still earn the points. It is only at that point that the writer will worry about losing their readers. 

And obviously there won't be a single rubric for every field of study that exists. It's not possible because each field uses writing to achieve something different. Writing is a tool of communication. Different fields communicate different messages.

If you’re going to question grading scales, what’s stopping you from questioning letter grades? They’re the same thing, except number scales show you exactly where your work fell within the guidelines, whereas with the letter system, you have a wide ad vague estimation: “I got a B, so I must have done better than 79, but worse than 90…”

I’m not really sure what to make of his grading process. It doesn’t seem like something I can agree with. I like that he tries to be fair while keeping in touch with his technical side, but I don’t really agree with separating them in the way he does. If the technical issues are bad enough to disrupt the reading process, then the paper needs serious revision. The ideas may be good, but if the delivery is hard to understand, then the quality of the ideas are lost. I think a rubric should be used to assess the technical stuff and a teacher’s comments should be used to discuss the paper holistically. That’s how I assess papers, at least. We’ve said that technicality isn’t everything, but we can’t say that it doesn’t contribute to the holistic quality of the paper. It’s not the most important thing, but it is still important (to a certain degree).

Overall, I felt this piece was interesting and easy to read. Even if I disagreed with some of the things stated in it—especially most of the stuff at the end—I felt it provoked a lot of insight and reflection on my part; which is nice because I didn’t know I even had feelings about rubrics (considering I usually don’t read them). But it also revealed a bit about my own grading beliefs. Although I probably sound overly critical in my reflections, I don’t believe I am as “hard” a grader as I (perceive myself to) come across as. I think grading is hard no matter what, and it doesn’t get easier, and that a rubric should, ultimately, be a tool to help you reach a grade with, not an all-determining, all-knowing checklist we rely solely on. 

blog 6

Thoughts regarding "Tutoring ESL Students" Also, the links to my two vignette drafts here. I just linked them to my post "blog 7" because I wasn't sure where else to post them. 


Tutoring ESL Students: 

I like the stress put on the individual; by addressing a writer’s problems on an individual level, I think it protects the writer’s voice while still providing them the help they need. As opposed to clumping students together and saying, “Just do this.”

But I also see the problem in having a talented English speaker help a non-native speaker. This mirrors what I’m learning in my Linguistics course, and since taking it, I realize how much harder it really is to learn a new language. Primarily because the rules (and linguistically, sounds) don’t always transfer over so it’s extremely difficult for the student to translate their thoughts in a (grammatically) correct way.

I can relate to feeling like I am responsible for fixing an entire paper to the point of an exceptional passing grade.

Like the first step of acknowledging the good.
It’s also true that most readers gloss over mistakes. The brain automatically supplies what it wants/expects to see so many people don’t realize mistakes unless they’re pointed out to them.
Never heard of a translation issue somehow having a positive effect. Would like to see an example of that.

At this point the information seems a bit obvious.

Help with language or writing process; I think in this respect, it is difficult, possibly impossible, to separate the two. I agree that the distinction is not clear cut, but I disagree that finding out which one is causing the problem is as crucial to solving the problem as they say it is. I can’t put my finger on why this idea bothers me so much, it just seems like maybe the writers are oversimplifying the problem by saying it can be broken up into two categories of possible causation. I think they might influence each other too much to be properly separated.

Although the piece says that the results of “Do ESL writers compose differently” are extremely tentative, I have witnessed an ESL writer do the exact things the authors describe.
A basic linguistics curse would be more helpful than taking a grammar refresher course. I also doubt the helpfulness of self-study seminars for the given topic.

Interesting to point out that most students are looking for someone to “fix” their paper as opposed to helping them correct their writing styles. Typical of the American school system that dictates the test, the final grade, is what counts. Interesting how, despite having differences, ESL and NES kids both react the same way when writing papers: fix what I wrote, so I know what you want, so I can get a good grade. That lesson has transcended the language barrier. 

“written accent” sounds like a stylistic thing.

The “strategies that work” section was surprisingly unhelpful, and kind of contradictory to what was said earlier in the article.

blog 7

Here are the two running drafts I have for my vignette. I'm posting my second draft first, as it is what I'm bringing to class on Monday, but I'm also posting draft #1 in case anybody feels like reading it. My main concerns are (1) is it descriptive enough (maybe too descriptive)? and (2) did I develop everything enough, or is it kind of rushed at the end of draft 2?


Draft #2:

I guess it’s sort of ironic: my writing moment wasn’t even a moment of writing. It was actually a moment of reading. My aunt took me to Barnes & Nobel. Why? I don’t remember, but we went often, and on this particular trip, she bought me a book. I argued: I hated to read. I read in school all the time, every book is boring. Still, she insisted, and proceeded to buy me a copy of Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. I not only resisted, I resented this book. Its very existence insulted me. Still, I read it, for curiosity and fear of my aunt’s fine-tuned wrath struck fear into my nine-year-old heart. It started with, “We moved on the Tuesday before labor day. I knew what the weather was like the second I got up…because I caught my mother sniffing under her arms,”and I still remember my reaction to that first sentence: I laughed, even though I didn’t want to. But how could I not? The thought was just so hilarious, so ridiculous! Who would do something that?! (Little did I know the answer to that question was everyone who had hit or surpassed puberty.) I didn’t want to be, but I was hooked, and I just couldn’t stop myself from reading more. I read in class while the teacher lectured, at the table as my mother said for the umpteenth time, “Devon, put the book down and eat your dinner,” in the car, even though it made me nauseous. Everywhere until I was done. And when I was, I could feel a single seedling thought being planted in the earth of my mind; I closed the book and I just knew that that’s what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to make others feel the way this book had made me feel. I wanted so badly to pay this favor forward. I wanted to inspire the world. I graduated high school with a single goal in mind: major in English and write a bestseller by the time I was twenty. An unrealistic ambition. The reality of college struck me down: English…was hard now. It was a lot more than just typing and imagination; and it was a lot more than flubbing some analysis, quoting a book and getting an A. Moreover, my accidental enrollment was taking me in a completely different direction—I had unknowingly chosen Kean’s English Writing Studies program instead of the standard (stereotypical) Literature program. There were no creative writing classes in my curriculum, no Poetry lessons, and not a single Brit Lit course in sight. Instead, I was getting technical—I was learning how language was used, how your process is just as important (arguably more so) than your final product. Soon, Blume was an idea of the past; I no longer had the creative drive to sit down and write a novel. After years of chasing after Blume, I realized I wanted something different. I didn’t need to write a book to find my voice. I didn’t need her to support me anymore. I had a voice of my own. And it was a pretty good one, a voice much more suited to the analytics of English, not the fluff I had been trying to capture. It was like meeting myself for the first time—I had stepped out from underneath a shadow I didn’t even realize I was hiding under. And I suddenly wanted to help others reach this stage of self-recognition. I thought that publishing was where I could do the most good, and set my eyes towards that finish line for most of my time as an undergrad. But ultimately, it wouldn’t stick. I knew it wasn’t hands-on enough. I wouldn’t be able to help the author improve permanently; I would only be changing one piece at a time. I wanted to do more. If I wanted to make a real difference, I needed to be more involved. I needed…to teach. I am so grateful to have ended up here, for that book, for that first line, for every plan I never followed through. So I guess it’s kind of ironic: I still want to inspire, but my desired method has changed. 

Draft #1:

I guess it’s sort of ironic: my writing moment wasn’t even a moment of writing. Actually, it was a moment of reading. When I was nine, my literature-loving, English teaching aunt brought me to Barnes & Nobel. Why? I don’t remember. But I do remember going there often with her. I remember her always picking new books for me to read, which I hated because I hated reading. All my reading was confined to the limitations of the elementary school curriculum, and frankly, my teachers couldn’t pick an interesting book if their lives depended on it. So when my aunt picked up a copy of Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret I thought: what’s the point? I was downright insulted by this books very existence, but she insisted I read it, that I would love it. And  had it not been for my overwhelming curiosity, I may have never opened that book and found my calling. “We moved on the Tuesday before labor day. I knew what the weather was like the second I got up…because I caught my mother sniffing under her arms.” Against my own will, I laughed. It was hysterical and whacky and I loved it. I began to read everywhere: in class while the teacher lectured, at the table as my mother said for the umpteenth time, “Devon, put the book down and eat your dinner,” in the car, even though it made me nauseous. Everywhere until I was done, when I was, I could feel a single seedling thought being planted in the earth of my mind; I closed my book and I just knew that that’s what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to make others feel the way this book had made me feel. I wanted so badly to pay this favor forward—to inspire the world. I graduated high school with the intent to major in English so I could write my bestselling novel by the time I was twenty. The reality was a culture shock: English…was hard. It was a lot more than just typing and imagination, and soon my classes were taking me in a completely different direction. An accidental enrollment, I had unknowingly chosen Kean’s English Writing Studies program instead of the standard (stereotypical) Literature program. Soon I began to I understand that getting a degree in English wasn’t just the books we read and that getting a degree at all didn’t guarantee that I would ever write a good book. How many “bad books” had I read in my life? Where was that author’s English degree? No, I realized a good book was only as accessible and as unattainable as I let it be, because it had to come from within myself. And I realized that I no longer wanted to write. Creatively, at least. This revelation was truly a defining moment in my life, because it was what ultimately led me to wanting to teach. I had spent years trying to unlock my own voice, years chasing after Blume, but I already had a voice of my own. And it was a pretty good one. This discovery of self left me wanting to hear the voices of others. I had had enough of my own. I wanted to guide people who were struggling to make that book a reality. I wanted to help people find their own way, not force my way on them like a book would. I thought that publishing and editing was where I could do the most good, and set my eyes toward that finish line for most of my time as an undergrad. But ultimately, it wouldn’t stick. It wouldn’t be until I was sitting in some elective that I can’t even remember that I had the urge to lead. The professor was not inspiring, no interesting, and I found myself thinking in every class: I could teach this class so much better. And to pass the time, I imagined what I would say, what my students would be like, what homework I would assign. As the weeks went by, I began to get excited about this otherwise boring class—what would we talk about today, and how would I improve its delivery? How could I outdo the professor today? And when I finally caught onto what I was doing, I realized…I wanted to teach!

blog 5

Thoughts on "Response to Writing."


"problems that many beginning writers have difficulty articulating" perhaps it is difficult for students to articulate these problems because, by suggesting corrections, the teacher is projecting their own voice onto the student?

"receive feedback on only final drafts" that's something I hadn't thought of before. I feel I've always been made to turn in multiple drafts of a paper; at least one rough draft before the often do teachers collect final (even though they really aren't final at all) papers without having given any previous help?

"open-ended questions on content, the college student..." this is a problem; we shouldn't be waiting until college to utilize this kind of feedback. It may make a certain kind of sense (I guess) to refrain from in-depth responses when children are younger, because (supposedly) they don't have all the skills yet. But by withholding those questions, we stunt the student's growth. There is no reason why we can't comment of the technical stuff and the contextual stuff. The best way to teach a child is through scaffolding, and this falls under scaffolding for sure. How can we possibly expect them to get better when we never meaningfully challenge them.

"self-assess their drafts" this is a good thing, and I agree with this. By self-assessing, the teacher is taken out of the picture and the student is left with only their own voice. And I think this is as easy (and possibly as complicated) as writing those open-ended questions and seeing how the student interprets and uses them.

"specific guidance" this sounds like a very nice way of saying they were told what to do. And this irritates me. They didn't get better because they learned, they got better because you made them do what you wanted them to do. The worst part is a teacher may think they're being helpful by doing this, when really they might even be making things worse. If a student begins to rely on "specific guidance" they'll only end up even less capable than they were before. Instead of being kind of confused, they will be utterly lost.

My overall impression of this piece is that it's n basically everything we've already mentioned before and also some of the information seems a obvious. Of course students prefer feedback that explains why something is good or bad. And it seems natural to me that self-editing would be more educational than just taking revision orders from a teacher.

blog 4

Thoughts on "Bi, Butch and Bar Dyke." Unfortunately, internet connectivity issues prevented me from finishing this article (WiFi at school is absolutely horrible today!), and this was all I was able to write. I'm sorry for this! I hope it will suffice for this week. 


Already, I'm excited to read this, because we talk a lot about what goes on within the English community, but gender influences and stereotypes  aren't normally a hot-button issue. I'm anxious to see what this article says.

"a stereotyped dream of success" i'm wondering, does this apply only to sexuality? or will it refer to the teaching profession as a whole? As teaching is often a profession that is looked down on (I feel, at least).

"power in the associated with...unchanging set of personal characteristics" makes me think of the inflexibility in curriculum we've discussed in the past. Perhaps it is not the curriculum that is the issue. The curriculum can't change until the people in charge change. Does that mean it is the traditional (for lack of a better word) American ideals that prevent us from progressing?

"no limits placed on the child" kind of a strange thing to say right away in a story. Also not something I feel I would ask a child if we were grocery shopping. Waiting to see where this goes.

"there is no fixed identity" I tend to disagree with this; I think personalities are fairly permanent (not in a bad way).

I feel I'm not really getting the connection she's trying to make with the "hard pea/ cold porridge" thing.

Her stance on lesbian narrators (if I'm reading the passage correctly) is interesting in that she feels it is a limited channel of expression and representation. Maybe my perspective is skewed because I'm straight, but I think I disagree with the idea that a lesbian character (hero?) is limiting to the narrative. I will agree, however, that how something like that is received definitely depends on a bit of political-ness. (Not a word, I know.) "A self-empowerment that depends on binary oppositions" is a very powerful statement, and I am not going to comment on it. I would just like to point out that it is giving me a lot to think about (mostly it makes me evaluate my own perspective on the topic of queerness).

I think I am misunderstanding a bit. When she says "autobiographies," she means real lives? The narratives we live and tell ourselves as they happen?

"categorize individual subjects as different" yes, I can see that. Very true, unfortunately. Sad tot think that someone's orientation is perceived to (negatively) influence their professionalism.

"erase differences...between public and personal narratives" interesting thing to say about a movement in general-- that perhaps, a movement meant to do good is actually not representative of what the majority feels? (Thus the "real me" commentary that follows.)

Interesting that she refers to her bi-sexuality in terms of "straight" and "lesbian(ism)" since this is kind of an issue within the bi-community. The idea that a bi-person is "half-straight" or "half-gay" is often considered offensive, as straight, gay and bi are all seen as completely separate terms with absolutely no overlap whatsoever. Perhaps she uses these terms for ease of communication, but part of me believes if she herself found the accusation offensive, she would be inclined to not use the therm lesbian, or would have disclaim earlier in the piece. This seems to exemplify of the "whole" not representing the majority. The movement says "NOT half-gay. We are BI!" but the author says "straight" and "lesbian."

“made the mistake of becoming too comfortable with this class” sad to hear a teacher say something like this; especially when teacher-student relations are already as strained as they are. Also surprising to hear the class met the piece with such strong resistance. A good opportunity to discuss aggressive perceptions, the class’ responses were surprising to see and very disappointing. But the willingness to discuss “Theft” is indeed a small victory, and maybe something sensitive like that should be taught early on, kind of like shock therapy.

“unearned privilege” interesting how this wording makes it sound like something the author is guilty of.

“center and margins of American society” very powerful and self-aware sentence. Also portrays a really interesting contrast—how one person could occupy both the highs and lows of societal standing at once, depending on what others know about you. As if one were enough to cancel out another. 

"butch or fem... not gay or straight" interesting how physicality contributes to what people think about us. Gender roles and norms and things of the like. Also interesting how she alludes to "butch" being the way a woman carried herself/acted (the soul of a man inside a woman's body).

"lesbian sex wars" is just the most ridiculous phrase I've ever seen in my life.

"butch gender performance" again with the way a woman carries herself.

"project a lesbian persona without formally coming out" she said it neither negatively or positively (very matter-of-factly) but I wonder if this trend makes her sad in some way. Does she get tired of the assumption that she is a lesbian simply because of the way she looks? Despite it being true, I'm sure it gets very tiresome.

"appropriating the power and influence" good in a way, as women often don't enjoy the level of power men do but also very sad that a woman needs t make herself  or be perceived as "manly" before being respected enough to even have power in the first place.

blog 3

Thoughts on "Grammar, Grammars, and the Teachings of Grammar" plus what I want to contribute to the group project.


“students will only learn what we teach/ only learn because we teach’ Very interesting intro. I like challenging the assumption that students don’t learn anywhere besides a classroom with guidelines, when it is generally the opposite.

“perverse beliefs” as if humanizing students, de-glorifying “tired and true” (antiquated) teaching styles, and suggesting teachers stand of the ground instead of pedestals (soapboxes) is so radical.
“nor on their ability to avoid error”

So many things wrong in one paragraph. I disagree with the proposed definition of grammar. Especially specifying the “native” nature of language. Grammar is supposed to be the rules that make language technically correct and structured. And suggesting a heavy focus on just grammar is appalling. It is the content of a message that matters, not its delivery. A sentence can violate every grammatical rule, but can still be understandable. And why would anyone suggest grammar-centric lessons when grammar doesn’t even teach people how to write? (Ironically.)

“seems designed to perpetuate…the issue” funny, since we’re all still arguing over grammar.
“improved neither writing quality nor control…” I kind of like to see results that prove grammar lessons fail. Then maybe we could stop acting like “correctness” is the absolute most important thing.
“does no harm” thinking that drilling grammar into students does no harm is laughable. Not only did grammar-based lessons not help students improve, but it also damaged their opinion of the subject. V frustrating.

“conclusion can be…ignored” seriously. I was wondering how so many people could read the same study and have such opinions (does no harm!) but clearly, ignoring the results that contradict what you believe is the only plausible explanation for such opinions.

Good questions she proposes, but questions 2 and 3 seem kind of boring/redundant/unnecessary. 1 and 4 are really interesting in that they aren’t as concrete and more abstract. I think answering questions that have no “correct” answer are more likely to lead to learning/ gaining insight. Looking forward to what she says about 1 and 4.

“rigidly sequential” again with the “formula” of writing a good paper.

Francis had some good points, despite having written them in 1954. Amazing how the conversation hasn’t changed much in 61 years.

“stylistic grammar” nice. I like the breaking down of grammars. It seems way more practical this way.

“the four young French girls” shows how grammar is innate, in a way, and knowing every grammar rule is not necessary to be able to use it. I disagree with calling it “autonomous”.

The discussion of proper plural endings displays the link between literacy and writing skills, which we discussed in our second week of class. It makes me think that knowing proper grammar is more of a modeling thing than a learning thing. (We recreate words based on how we’ve seen other words.) This is kind of reinforced by the opening paragraph of “College English.”

 Learning grammar before learning to write/ learning to use utensils before being allowed to eat is an interesting comparison.

I disagree that Seliger’s experiment complicated the issue further. I think it measures (subconscious?) retention of grammatical rules. (Especially for ESL speakers; just because they can recite the rule, doesn’t mean they choose to use it. They may be speaking English, but their linguistic roots are still in their first language, and they probably rely on those grammar rules more than their new English-based ones.)  I know people who are fiercely intelligent—smarter than me for sure—and yet they constantly violate grammatical rules. One friend often says “I seen” as in “I seen the craziest thing yesterday,” as opposed to “I saw.” (Side note, he’s not the only one I’ve heard do this). But he is still one of the smartest people I know. Similar to the violation of the “your/you’re” rule. Just because someone breaks it, doesn’t automatically make them less intelligent (no matter how much it aggravates the rest of us).   

“clear only if known” summarizes the English language as a whole perfectly. The thing we all love most is someone else’s worst nightmare.

“unconnected with anything remotely resembling literate adult behavior” amazing. It’s the theory of “here are the rules, and why you can break them” thing we discussed un class again.
“worship of formal grammar study” laughed harder than I should have at this.

“accessing knowledge…learners have already internalized” this sounds better than when I said “innate ability” earlier. This is what I was trying to say.

“there are not four errors” that was unnecessary. Grammar is hard enough without throwing in trick questions like that.

“spoken dialect are…irrelevant to mastering print literacy” I disagree with that.

“skills at two levels” yes this is good. It’s not to say that grammar isn’t important at all, because it does matter. But the extent to which education stresses grammar is out of control. This is a much better approach/suggestion— work on conveying the meaning and do so in a way that is technically correct. Good, happy medium. Also, “active involvement” is a much better way to learn something; the expression “experience is the best teacher” doesn’t exist for no reason!

“constrained to reinvent the wheel” that’s probably very apparent when you look at today’s curriculums.

“guide our teaching” not dictate.

Overall thoughts: good essay, interesting sources and studies, and kind of what formalized what I already thought about grammar (probably what we all think of grammar).

As far as what I’d like to contribute to the final project, all I can say, really, is that I want to contribute my absolute best. It’s hard for me to say what, exactly, I want to contribute, because we haven’t decided on what we’re doing yet. I felt a lot of people leaning towards Idea #2 at the end of Monday’s session, and it concerns me a bit. I’m not a teacher, so I’ve never created a lesson plan or a syllabus or anything like that before, and I feel a bit out of touch with the curriculum aspect altogether (we all know that Catholic schools vary greatly from public schools in this regard). And when it comes to executive decisions, I am not the girl to go to; the thought of having to (possibly?) create my own lesson plan is concerning, since I feel I’m not nearly as good at generating completely new ideas as I am at revising existing ideas. Also, I’m awful at pop culture. Whenever someone says “pop culture,” my mind just says: ????????? I’m sure whatever we decide, I will figure it out, but as of now, I don’t have much to share aside from my reservations. I’m sorry if this isn’t helpful/ didn’t answer the question. I’m looking forward to discussing this more on Monday with you guys though.

blog 2

Again, I went a little overboard and wrote a lot. These are my thoughts on "Responding to Student Writing." I wrote a lot about this primarily because this is a subject I'm very interested in as well as something I'm very concerned about.


"it least 20 to 40 minutes to comment..." Right away, I relate to this. I often edit papers for friends, and I can say each time I review something, it takes me an hour without fail. Most of this is because I am commenting on their paper. Not even correcting things, as most of the time the paper needs little-to-no correcting.

“most widely used method…it is the least understood” this reminds me of a paper I wrote on teacher comments on student papers, and this is, unfortunately, very accurate. Many times a teacher’s instructions are unclear because they are limited by physical space (on the paper itself) and time.
“helping our students become more effective writers” what I learned from researching this topic is that the most effective way to help a student is to make suggestions /pose questions, instead of throwing around corrections. The example I often reference is the differences between comments like “too vague” compared to comments like, “What do you mean by this?” For one, the question this (ironically) more direct and therefore more constructive; it guides the student towards rethinking the wording, and lets them know that the sentence doesn’t work, but allows them the freedom to fix it themselves. Whereas “too vague” itself is too vague to be helpful because students are often left wondering, “why is it too vague?” It also insinuates that the student has failed to be clear enough, or a poor writer. “What do you mean by this?” is not only less condescending, but also implies that the fault is not (completely) on the student, and gently/subtly encourages them to reconsider and revise their words.

“communicated our ideas” this is what writing is, a medium for us to communicate our ideas, not a mold to fit our ideas into.

“dramatize the presence of the reader” interesting, since I feel that students are sometimes overly aware of the audience—the audience being the teacher, that is.

“become that questioning reader themselves” interesting way to see the writer. It is true that, once we learn this predictive skill as writers, we kind of shift role from “writer” to “audience member”. It seems as if we writers become our own audience, and our writing becomes a description of what we, as audience members, would like to see. Possibly even from other writers, not just what we envision for our own writing.

“believe that it is necessary…to offer assistance” does this imply that assistance is not actually needed? The use of ‘believe’ is interesting, and almost implies that perhaps a teacher’s commenting stems from an egotistical root?

“in the process of composing a text” again about the process, not the final product.
“comments create the motive” interesting, since students are often discouraged by comments
“as the theory predicts they should?” they do not; the theory is flawed due to poor execution.
“hostility and mean-spiritedness” surprising to hear; I, personally, never came across a teacher whose comments were intentionally mean, or even seemingly so.

“their own purposes in writing…teacher’s purpose in commenting” interesting shift of attention.
“make the changes the teacher wants” writing now becomes about the product.
“tell me what you want me to do” shows how writing is also (or primarily) about the grade, not what the student wants to say. It also shows how students rely on comments to achieve the desired grade, not to improve the quality of their writing.

“still needs to develop the meaning” interesting how the text is already, according to the teacher, finalized but the meaning is not even close to done yet. A disturbing contrast on the teacher’s part. Although I can see how such a discontinuous message could occur, I believe it is the teacher’s job to make sure their instructions are clear and consistent. Reading the sample comments of the “super bowl” paper actually got me annoyed, and I disagreed with some of the corrections. “One explanation is that people” is not “awkward,” especially if the writer is as young as the text implies (grade school, in my estimation). Also “another what?” is an unnecessary correction; the previous sentence started with “one reason,” and was followed by “another”. The “reason” was implied, I think. I think the teacher not only undermines the student with this, but also undermines the reader a bit (although I am torn, because I feel the teachers in our class will say this teacher was trying to teach their student a lesson in specifics, which is important). However, this is where a suggestion would be preferable: “this sentence works as is, but maybe getting more specific would make it stronger?” Also, the “be specific—what reasons?” is kind of stupid (sorry), in my opinion, because it seems like the student is setting themselves up to explain some of the reasons in the following sentences.

“an inherent reason” making it about the product. Not only does it completely disregard the process, but it also undermines the purpose of the writing. If you’re not writing to communicate a message, why write at all (“trivial activity” indeed)?

“their texts are not improved substantially” this is true. I never noticed this before. Perhaps they are improved in only the most technical of senses.

“do not take the risk of changing anything that was not commented on” I’ve done this.

"trained to read...for literary...meaning" true, especially when you consider that "English (literature)" and "writing" are often seen as two separate fields, and have been for a while. So of course there might be some trouble transferring one skill set to another area. Dr. Zamora herself has admitted to something similar this in class (how she took the lit track, and this is her first writing kind of course).

"a way for teachers to satisfy themselves" DAMN. Sommers is calling teachers out on their
 nonsense. It is true, I think, that some teachers actually do get lazy and end up saying, "hey, I did my job, it's not my fault if you can't get a good grade. I already told you what to do." And many times, I think that mentality manifests itself through comments.

Final thoughts: I liked this article very much, although the sample comments made me SO ANGRY. I can only imagine how unhelpful these are to students, especially ones that are not very strong writers (yet) and are in need of serious guidance (guidance that the teachers are failing to provide). I also thought it was interesting how you could copy and paste (so to speak) teachers’ comments from one document to the next. While reading this, a consistent thought ran through my head: while editing the papers of others, have I commented this way? Am I guilty of this? I like to think no, but now I am evermore aware of how vital commenting can be. This article makes me excited to grade papers, so that I might be the helpful instructor that my students may not have come across yet. 

blog 1

These are just the thoughts I had while reading, "Teaching  writing as a process, not product.” This ended up being a little longer than I intended, so I apologize for that! And since this is just about one of the articles we were supposed to read, I may not post my thoughts on the second one ("Writing at the turn..."), simply because I had so much more to say about this one. But I haven't decided yet. The format is a bit informal because I simply wrote things down as they came to mind. The main set-up is the quote that triggered a though, and then what that thought was + all subsequent thoughts that followed. 

“Literature is finished writing.” Never thought of it that way. Also interesting to see writing and literature combined like that, considering they are often divided.

“Autopsy,” interesting analogy. Sounds like the author subscribes to the idea that teachers are supposed to destroy writing in an attempt to correct it. However, it could also imply that a teacher is so knowledgeable/ they need know their subject inside-out before they can teach it to others.

“Destroy” literature to prove our own skills. Interesting. Makes me think of when I was younger, and the teacher would say, “What did [Author] mean when he wrote ‘X’?” and we, as children, wondered how the teacher knew the author meant anything at all. Or if, perhaps, they were just assigning random meaning to words for the sake of education. But reading this passage now, I think, maybe the author means a technical dissection—analyzing components until the magic is dead. By “magic,” I mean what makes the piece captivating. The rhythm and rhyme of a sonnet is less impressive when you sit down and study the formula used to produce it.

Autopsy analogy coming together now. It’s a bit ironic, honestly. Shows the attempt to rip writing apart to make it better. But not rip it apart as in destroy, but rip apart more like to break down and fix individually malfunctioning pieces.

“Much of it brilliant, some of it stupid, all of it irrelevant” – this is really an amazing thing to say about a teacher’s feedback simply because it doesn’t really undermine what teachers do. It is able to recognize the struggle and correctness of the feedback (how it actually could be helpful), yet how its power and helpfulness is nullified altogether by the educational system.
Finally, “we are teaching a process.” This is the flaw within the educational system. It is about the formula, not the end-product.

“Teach unfinished writing” – unconventional and a very good idea. Helps students understand that potential can come from anywhere and their writing is not a summary of themselves, but rather,  a journey to their own budding abilities.

“discovery through language we call writing” – correlates back to last Monday’s discussion about how writing allows people to explore themselves.

Like the idea of having a loose process—a formula that can be altered to every person’s writing style. Pre-writing can be literally anything, can come in any form at all. I also like that rewriting can be “demanding” and “satisfying.”

“shutting up”—the hardest part of teaching honestly. I have tutored and helped others write, and it is very difficult to prevent yourself from projecting your own words, thoughts, practices, on someone else. Especially if that person is looking to you for help. It is so very hard to get someone inexperienced or unpracticed to access their own words. This is a great challenge facing teachers. What makes it so hard is that not interfering with the student is what will ultimately lead to them developing their own style. Also, implication 5, allowing students to choose their own form of writing is very important. As discussed in Monday’s class, the “5 paragraph essay” doesn’t work for everybody. But perhaps it would be easier on those who hate it if they had been given the chance to develop their own style first. Something like journaling could resonate more with a student (also discussed in class) and this could lead them to developing a system that could be used in academic writing.

Acknowledging student’s decision to make suggested changes is something I’ve often practiced, but never put a name to. I have frequently ignore changes from teachers because I believed that it interfered with the vision I had. My work is, before anyone else’s, my own and I often refused advice from teachers in high school and occasionally in college. Ironically, teachers didn’t remember suggesting changes. There have been at least 2 occasions in my life where I kept a designated “mistake” and turned the paper in anyway, just to receive praise for the “mistakes.” A paper needs to be as individualized as the writer. What helps me remember this most is when I think of bestsellers. They are bestsellers because…why? Because they did something different. They stood out. Nobody told them “do this, do that, but DO NOT do THAT.” They did what felt right and it paid off. This could be something teachers keep in mind to help prevent creative intrusion.

“No rules, just alternatives.” Nicely said, and if it were me, I would have ended the piece on that.

Final thoughts: I liked this piece quite a bit. I feel it covered a lot of ground in a small amount of space, which, as a working college student, I greatly appreciated. I felt the information was innovative and very clever. It was an interesting take on some ideas that were already circulating the English community. What I liked best about it was its suggestions were not radical in the slightest. However, one can clearly see how dramatic the results would be if these simple changes were made.