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 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 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 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 final...how 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 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 final...how 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.