All posts by Jessica Taylor

Cynthia L. Selfe’s “The Movement of Air, the Breath of Meaning: Aurality and Multimodal Composing”


In Cynthia L. Selfe’s own words, her article, “The Movement of Air, the Breath of Meaning: Aurality and Multimodal Composing” is meant to “offer some perspective about the way in which U.S. composition studies has subsumed, remediated, and rediscovered aurality during the past 150 years”. Yet the story is admittedly far from complete, and our profession continues to show a clear preference to words communicated through written form. Yet Selfe makes it clear that she is not against the value that we place on writing. However, she does “want to argue that teachers of composition need to pay attention to, and come to value, the multiple ways in which students compose and communicate meaning, the exciting hybrid, multimodal texts they create- in both nondigital and digital environments - to meet their own needs in a changing world”.  

 

These different compositional modalities offer additional forms of expression that Selfe feels are necessary and extremely beneficial in the turbulent world that we live in. Using other forms of composing, such as aurality, has not been something that I have spent much time thinking about in the past, so this article was interesting to read. I liked hearing Selfe’s argument and opinion concerning this issue.

Cynthia L. Selfe’s “The Movement of Air, the Breath of Meaning: Aurality and Multimodal Composing”


In Cynthia L. Selfe’s own words, her article, “The Movement of Air, the Breath of Meaning: Aurality and Multimodal Composing” is meant to “offer some perspective about the way in which U.S. composition studies has subsumed, remediated, and rediscovered aurality during the past 150 years”. Yet the story is admittedly far from complete, and our profession continues to show a clear preference to words communicated through written form. Yet Selfe makes it clear that she is not against the value that we place on writing. However, she does “want to argue that teachers of composition need to pay attention to, and come to value, the multiple ways in which students compose and communicate meaning, the exciting hybrid, multimodal texts they create- in both nondigital and digital environments - to meet their own needs in a changing world”.  

 

These different compositional modalities offer additional forms of expression that Selfe feels are necessary and extremely beneficial in the turbulent world that we live in. Using other forms of composing, such as aurality, has not been something that I have spent much time thinking about in the past, so this article was interesting to read. I liked hearing Selfe’s argument and opinion concerning this issue.

Wiley’s “The Popularity of Formulaic Writing (and Why We Need to Resist)”


Both readings this week offer insight into what is not working for the writing curriculum and offer advice on how to move forward. In Mark Wiley’s “The Popularity of Formulaic Writing (and Why We Need to Resist)”, the author opens by noting that the desperate situations in urban schools—too many teachers are poorly prepared to teach writing while others are defeated by the less than desirable classroom conditions—are ripe for teaching writing as a formula. Formulaic writing is attractive. It is easy to teach, easy to learn, and produces prompt results in raising standardized test score. But, Wiley argues, it is not what students need.

Wiley focuses on one formula: the Jane Schaffer Approach to Teaching Writing. Schaffer advocates the four paragraph essay and provides an exact formula to achieve success. Each of the body paragraphs should contain eight sentences and be structured as follows:

Topic sentence

Concrete detail #1

Commentary #1a

   ” #1b

Concrete detail#2

Commentary #2a

   ”#2b

Concluding sentence

 

Wiley offers criticism of this formulaic method. He notes that it “sends the wrong message to students and uninformed teachers about what writing really is”. Students need to learn to make choices about genre, content, structure, organization, and style in order to grow as writers. As writers, they must ask themselves, what is my intention, my desired effect, and who is my intended audience? Formulaic writing is stifling; it discourages ongoing exploration and experimentation. Students don’t get the opportunity to engage in the “rich chaotic mess from which true insight can emerge”. Furthermore, this method creates a codependency for struggling students.

Wiley concludes by offering advice on how to move forward and away from teaching formulaic writing. Because writing tasks vary, so should writing strategies. Wiley notes that a strategy is different from a formula because it is adaptable. It is more beneficial to teach the Jane Schaffer Approach as one strategy. For example, it is a strategy that would work well for a timed writing task. Most importantly, teachers should not become dependent on teaching formulaic writing because then students become dependent on that single strategy.

 

 

 

Wiley’s “The Popularity of Formulaic Writing (and Why We Need to Resist)”


Both readings this week offer insight into what is not working for the writing curriculum and offer advice on how to move forward. In Mark Wiley’s “The Popularity of Formulaic Writing (and Why We Need to Resist)”, the author opens by noting that the desperate situations in urban schools—too many teachers are poorly prepared to teach writing while others are defeated by the less than desirable classroom conditions—are ripe for teaching writing as a formula. Formulaic writing is attractive. It is easy to teach, easy to learn, and produces prompt results in raising standardized test score. But, Wiley argues, it is not what students need.

Wiley focuses on one formula: the Jane Schaffer Approach to Teaching Writing. Schaffer advocates the four paragraph essay and provides an exact formula to achieve success. Each of the body paragraphs should contain eight sentences and be structured as follows:

Topic sentence

Concrete detail #1

Commentary #1a

   ” #1b

Concrete detail#2

Commentary #2a

   ”#2b

Concluding sentence

 

Wiley offers criticism of this formulaic method. He notes that it “sends the wrong message to students and uninformed teachers about what writing really is”. Students need to learn to make choices about genre, content, structure, organization, and style in order to grow as writers. As writers, they must ask themselves, what is my intention, my desired effect, and who is my intended audience? Formulaic writing is stifling; it discourages ongoing exploration and experimentation. Students don’t get the opportunity to engage in the “rich chaotic mess from which true insight can emerge”. Furthermore, this method creates a codependency for struggling students.

Wiley concludes by offering advice on how to move forward and away from teaching formulaic writing. Because writing tasks vary, so should writing strategies. Wiley notes that a strategy is different from a formula because it is adaptable. It is more beneficial to teach the Jane Schaffer Approach as one strategy. For example, it is a strategy that would work well for a timed writing task. Most importantly, teachers should not become dependent on teaching formulaic writing because then students become dependent on that single strategy.

 

 

 

Respose to Straub’s "The Concept of Control in Teacher Response: Defining the Varieties of ‘Directive’ and ‘Facilitative’ Commentary"


In “The Concept of Control in Teacher Response: Defining the Varieties of ‘Directive’ and ‘Facilitative’ Commentary,” Author Richard Straub discusses facilitative and directive teacher commentary in response to students’ writing and how some types of commentary assume more control than others.

To begin, Straub mentions two pioneering articles written in 1982 by Sommers, and Brannon and Knowblach. These authors urged teachers to be careful about the amount of control that we exert over students when commenting on their papers. Yet, as Straub points out, many questions still remain in terms of distinguishing facilitative and directive commentary. For one, how much should we try to help students develop their attitudes toward writing versus how much do we allow students to find their own way? The categorization of these two types of comments is sometimes very vague. What types of comments can be considered directive or facilitative?

Furthermore, Straub askes, how do different comments exert control? Is there even a way to offer guidance without assuming control?

First, Straub points out, directive commentary is easy to distinguish because it is highly critical and focuses on what is wrong and what needs to be changed. As for a method for analyzing comments, Straub suggests looking at their focuses and modes. Facilitative comments focus on global concerns and often make suggestions that deal with the student’s writing process.

Also, “the extent to which a teacher assumes control over student writing is also determined to a great extent by the way he frames his comments—by the mode of commentary he employs”.  Straus notes that comments framed as corrections assume greater control than those framed as advice or inquiries. An example is provided which demonstrates how directive commentary can be made more facilitative. It is important that the student be given direction, yet not told exactly how writing “should look”. Therefore, a comment can be made about revising an opening paragraph, but that revision is still left to the student.

Ultimately, Straus’s study, as well as this article, go against the idea that comments can either be facilitative and helpful, or directive an ineffective. Straus proves that comments can be both, not either/or. He notes that the best commenting styles play on our strengths as teachers and highlight our goals for the classroom.

Respose to Straub’s "The Concept of Control in Teacher Response: Defining the Varieties of ‘Directive’ and ‘Facilitative’ Commentary"


In “The Concept of Control in Teacher Response: Defining the Varieties of ‘Directive’ and ‘Facilitative’ Commentary,” Author Richard Straub discusses facilitative and directive teacher commentary in response to students’ writing and how some types of commentary assume more control than others.

To begin, Straub mentions two pioneering articles written in 1982 by Sommers, and Brannon and Knowblach. These authors urged teachers to be careful about the amount of control that we exert over students when commenting on their papers. Yet, as Straub points out, many questions still remain in terms of distinguishing facilitative and directive commentary. For one, how much should we try to help students develop their attitudes toward writing versus how much do we allow students to find their own way? The categorization of these two types of comments is sometimes very vague. What types of comments can be considered directive or facilitative?

Furthermore, Straub askes, how do different comments exert control? Is there even a way to offer guidance without assuming control?

First, Straub points out, directive commentary is easy to distinguish because it is highly critical and focuses on what is wrong and what needs to be changed. As for a method for analyzing comments, Straub suggests looking at their focuses and modes. Facilitative comments focus on global concerns and often make suggestions that deal with the student’s writing process.

Also, “the extent to which a teacher assumes control over student writing is also determined to a great extent by the way he frames his comments—by the mode of commentary he employs”.  Straus notes that comments framed as corrections assume greater control than those framed as advice or inquiries. An example is provided which demonstrates how directive commentary can be made more facilitative. It is important that the student be given direction, yet not told exactly how writing “should look”. Therefore, a comment can be made about revising an opening paragraph, but that revision is still left to the student.

Ultimately, Straus’s study, as well as this article, go against the idea that comments can either be facilitative and helpful, or directive an ineffective. Straus proves that comments can be both, not either/or. He notes that the best commenting styles play on our strengths as teachers and highlight our goals for the classroom.

Harris and Silva’s,“Tutoring ESL Students” and ESL students and the Writing Center


It is sometimes difficult to explain the complexities of the English language to a native English speaker, let alone someone who is learning English as a second language. I am taking a course in Writing Center Theory and Practice, and we just recently covered this topic. It was very interesting and enlightening to see how one’s culture shapes their writing. Muriel Harris and Tony Silva hint at that idea in “Tutoring ESL Students” when they briefly discuss the idea that people of different cultures compose differently. In WCT&P, we discussed these differences in more depth. One’s culture can determine the structure and word choice that they choose for composition. For example, when composing essays we learn to typically state the thesis in the first paragraph and then use supporting evidence in each of the paragraphs that follow. In another culture, one may learn that the essay should end with a thesis and that the entire essay should work toward getting to that main point.

We also discussed how certain assignments might make ESL students uncomfortable; an ESL student may not know the right way to approach a certain assignment. For Instance, in some countries it is not acceptable to critique the government or to speak against people in government positions. So if an ESL student were asked to write an argument paper and discuss such a topic, they may not be comfortable or know how to approach the topic.

Here is my blog for WCT&P:

  English is a complex language, and I think that as native speakers, we take that for granted. In “Come Again”, Jessie Reeder asks her audience to imagine taking a challenging graduate program in a second language. This is the reality for ESL grad students. Reeder writes, “They are swimming upstream through ceaseless waves of partially-legible information”. As tutors in the Writing Center, “we give them a chance to slow down the flood for a moment”.  Tutors have the opportunity to not only help these students grow as writers, but to help them to build their confidence as students.

                But first, as tutors we must understand how to help ESL students, and we must acknowledge the difficulties that they face as students. Doug Enders approaches this topic (as well as a possible solution) in “The Idea Check”. Enders notes that although it is not ideal for any student to focus primarily on corrections and to bring in papers late in the writing process, this is especially problematic for ESL students. These students often feel extra pressure to produce correct work.

                The article details a procedure run by the Shenandoah University ESL program and the Writing Center. The program “requires all ESL students to make Writing Center visits an integral part of their process for each writing assignment”. At the first appointment, the student reviews his ideas with the tutor, and the tutor assists with organization and clarification. At the second meeting, a first draft is reviewed with global issues given the priority. The conclusions of the study of the implementation of this procedure show that the Idea Check program appears to have positively changed the way that ESL students use the Writing Center.

Writing Centers are a great resource for helping ESL students because teachers may not have the time to dedicate to continuous one-on-one conferencing with each student. Harris and Silva also discuss ways that tutors and teachers can help ESL student writers. One of their most important points is that “there is a tendency to think about ESL students as if they’re all alike when obviously they’re not”. So each student should be treated as an individual.

When peer tutoring, all errors should not be given the same priority. The authors note that when looking at first drafts by ESL students, sometimes the differences in writing style or the types of errors that the student makes might be overwhelming; the tutor may not know where to start. The first step is to acknowledge what the writer has done well. Moving forward, global errors that affect the reader’s understanding should be given priority. Reading aloud is not always an effective proofreading method for ESL students, Silva and Harris note, because some students are not proficient enough in English to “edit by ear”.

One of the most important things that I learned about tutoring/teaching ESL students is that one must understand that these students are trying to learn a whole new language at the same time that they are learning to be effective writers. One of the best things that a teacher/tutor can do is to help these students succeed in the long run by preparing them to not only succeed in college, but to also be successful in their future careers. In order to do that, we must resist the urge to over-correct or to do the writing for them by simply supplying students with better vocabulary choices and corrected grammar.

Harris and Silva’s,“Tutoring ESL Students” and ESL students and the Writing Center


It is sometimes difficult to explain the complexities of the English language to a native English speaker, let alone someone who is learning English as a second language. I am taking a course in Writing Center Theory and Practice, and we just recently covered this topic. It was very interesting and enlightening to see how one’s culture shapes their writing. Muriel Harris and Tony Silva hint at that idea in “Tutoring ESL Students” when they briefly discuss the idea that people of different cultures compose differently. In WCT&P, we discussed these differences in more depth. One’s culture can determine the structure and word choice that they choose for composition. For example, when composing essays we learn to typically state the thesis in the first paragraph and then use supporting evidence in each of the paragraphs that follow. In another culture, one may learn that the essay should end with a thesis and that the entire essay should work toward getting to that main point.

We also discussed how certain assignments might make ESL students uncomfortable; an ESL student may not know the right way to approach a certain assignment. For Instance, in some countries it is not acceptable to critique the government or to speak against people in government positions. So if an ESL student were asked to write an argument paper and discuss such a topic, they may not be comfortable or know how to approach the topic.

Here is my blog for WCT&P:

  English is a complex language, and I think that as native speakers, we take that for granted. In “Come Again”, Jessie Reeder asks her audience to imagine taking a challenging graduate program in a second language. This is the reality for ESL grad students. Reeder writes, “They are swimming upstream through ceaseless waves of partially-legible information”. As tutors in the Writing Center, “we give them a chance to slow down the flood for a moment”.  Tutors have the opportunity to not only help these students grow as writers, but to help them to build their confidence as students.

                But first, as tutors we must understand how to help ESL students, and we must acknowledge the difficulties that they face as students. Doug Enders approaches this topic (as well as a possible solution) in “The Idea Check”. Enders notes that although it is not ideal for any student to focus primarily on corrections and to bring in papers late in the writing process, this is especially problematic for ESL students. These students often feel extra pressure to produce correct work.

                The article details a procedure run by the Shenandoah University ESL program and the Writing Center. The program “requires all ESL students to make Writing Center visits an integral part of their process for each writing assignment”. At the first appointment, the student reviews his ideas with the tutor, and the tutor assists with organization and clarification. At the second meeting, a first draft is reviewed with global issues given the priority. The conclusions of the study of the implementation of this procedure show that the Idea Check program appears to have positively changed the way that ESL students use the Writing Center.

Writing Centers are a great resource for helping ESL students because teachers may not have the time to dedicate to continuous one-on-one conferencing with each student. Harris and Silva also discuss ways that tutors and teachers can help ESL student writers. One of their most important points is that “there is a tendency to think about ESL students as if they’re all alike when obviously they’re not”. So each student should be treated as an individual.

When peer tutoring, all errors should not be given the same priority. The authors note that when looking at first drafts by ESL students, sometimes the differences in writing style or the types of errors that the student makes might be overwhelming; the tutor may not know where to start. The first step is to acknowledge what the writer has done well. Moving forward, global errors that affect the reader’s understanding should be given priority. Reading aloud is not always an effective proofreading method for ESL students, Silva and Harris note, because some students are not proficient enough in English to “edit by ear”.

One of the most important things that I learned about tutoring/teaching ESL students is that one must understand that these students are trying to learn a whole new language at the same time that they are learning to be effective writers. One of the best things that a teacher/tutor can do is to help these students succeed in the long run by preparing them to not only succeed in college, but to also be successful in their future careers. In order to do that, we must resist the urge to over-correct or to do the writing for them by simply supplying students with better vocabulary choices and corrected grammar.