All posts by Sabine

Title choices

All of these titles sound like they all could work.  
I like the play on the word "revelation.” “Beyond Words,” kinda sound interesting. To me it has an artistic vibe to it. So, I’m going to rearrange my choices and put it at number 1. #2 is “Writing from the Heart.” # 3 is “Writing Matters."

Made Not Only in Words (Yancey) & The Movement of Air, the Breath of Meaning: Aurality and Multimodal Composing (Cynthia L. Selfe)

 Made Not Only in Words

I thought that Yancey’s article was a great read. I like that she includes the histories behind the four quadrants of writing.  As I read more of her article I’m beginning to notice that this style of dividing topics or subgroup topics of composition and connecting them with appropriate histories is her thing or should I say is her trademark. Yancey begins the article by talking about the exciting changes that has and is still taking place in composition. As I read further into her article I came across a question that that she ask that took me back to the twitter chat session when we were asked to answer the question how have writing change? Yancey writes, “Never before have writing and composing generated such diversity in definition. What do our references to writing mean?” Again, the question took me back and made me think of the impact technology has had on writing. Like for example when I think of writing, in any genre or writing for any matter I don’t simply think of word on paper. I think of sensory.  And when I say sensory I don’t mean metaphorically or sensory details that can only be obtain in the though or mind when writing on a blank paper. I’m talking about sensory details that are brought forth by technology and that are instantly accessible, already connected, and that brings forth powerful reaction and more importantly sensory that has subliminal influences. For example, like imagery, emotion, voice, and sound, music that technology brings on. I am able to think about and use these new forms of sensory details all because I am part of the digital world. Yancey eventually gave her answer to the question she had asked and also provided her stance on standardize writing. Yancey writes, “Do they mean print only? That's definitely what writing is if we look at national assessments, assuming that the assessment includes writing at all and is not strictly a test of grammar and usage. According to these assessments-an alphabet soup of assessments, the SAT, the NEAP, the ACT-writing IS "words on paper," composed on the page with a pen or pencil by students who write words on paper, yes-but who also compose words and images and create audio files on Web logs (blogs), in word processors, with video editors and Web editors and in e-mail and on presentation software and in instant messaging and on listservs and on bulletin boards-and no doubt in whatever genre will emerge in the next ten minutes.” Overall in this article I feel that Yancey is urging writing teachers and the education sector which to her seems to be lagging behind these new and exciting changes and trends to move in step with current times, so that writing can continue to evolve.

 The Movement of Air, the Breath of Meaning: Aurality and Multimodal Composing

Although, Selfe’s article was a bit long I think the point that she is making is very similar to Yancey’s article, “ Made Not only on Words.” And just like Yancey, Selfe also includes the histories regarding composition and aurality. In her article she basically argues that the current way composition is viewed and taught is limiting students. She states,“our contemporary adherence to alphabetic only composition constrains the semiotic efforts of individuals and groups who value multiple modalities of expression.” Again like Yancey, Selfe urges educators to move in step with the different forms of modalities in writing because she states that these modalities are not only becoming important for human communication, but by doing so educators can better assist their students in becoming effective communicators in the future.

Why the Research Paper is Not Working (Fister) & The Popularity of Formulaic Writing (Wiley)

I thought this was an interesting article because Barbara Fister touches on some important issues college students including my self are facing. For example I am in the process of completing a thesis proposal right now for my final graduate course and I feel restricted in so many ways. For one, the citation aspect is so stressed. We not only have to use APA style, but we are restricted in how it is use. If we are to implement this style we have to use strategies from one particular author. So that means despite the many free APA style recommendations and sources online written by so many experts we still have to purchase an APA book. I mean…isn’t APA or for that matter all citations supposed to be universal? There shouldn’t be one particular author or guidelines to follow. This thesis is also restricted creatively. I feel like I have to conform to a certain style, pace, and even topic. For example my thesis has to be written in the third person perspective and it can’t be personal.  I just don’t get the point of all of this? All of these guidelines and restrictions do not make me a better writer, in fact it confuses and limits me as a writer and observer and basically it doesn’t teach me anything. Since I have been in college talking about, practicing, and writing research I haven’t learned one thing yet. You know, I think the real problem behind all of this is how research is interpreted by some professors. With the issue of citation, I think it’s an important aspect to any research because it legitimize the student’s work, give credit where credit is due, and allows the reader to find the sources themselves, but I don’t think that citation is taught properly. A subject such as citation that carries so much weight in the research world is usually thrown at students rather then taught and developed over time. Well, at least that how it was in my case. The subject of college research is one that needs to be evaluated and reconsider because it is too tedious and restricted. There need to be a better way in how to go about academic writing. I applaud Barbara Fister for talking about this and even more so, I applaud her for her realistic suggestions. 

Great article! While reading it I couldn’t help to think where was this article when the class was duking it out over the memorable five-paragraph essay. This article would have definitely given us food for thought. Although I never heard of the Jane Schaffer Method I have to say I like some aspect of this method. In fact I didn’t know that such method existed, if I did I wouldn’t have waste so much time creating my own step by step writing formula for my ELL students. I think the Schaffer method definitely would work on struggling and ELL writers. I know because I had used and created something similar for my own students and I saw first hand the positive effects it had on some of my ELL students. Some students especially new comer not only lack the language for writing, but they lack the mechanics and structure to start the writing process.  Most times they don’t have that skill in their first language as well. In most cases you can’t really blame them because writing is considered one of the last skill an ELL student learns. But like I’ve said I’ve seen some positivity in step-by-step writing formulas. With such skills writing is definitely demystify and consistency is developed and students know what to do with a blank paper in front of them. But I also think that her method is a bit exaggerated. In one part of the article the author talks about having student check their writing for proper concrete details and commentary by counting words, sentence, and paragraph to meet that 1:2 ratio. For me I think that’s a little excessive. A writing formula should have a balance to it and students should be able to advance beyond it and also should not use it as a crutch for everything writing. I agree with James Collins when he said that, “when writing is taught as a formula, teachers are providing students only ‘declarative knowledge’ about writing.” He defines declarative knowledge as information about writing facts. Collins argues that aside from learning "declarative knowledge,” such as introductions, body paragraphs, and conclusions, topic sentences supporting details and so on, students should also be taught two other kinds of knowledge: procedural and conditional. Procedural knowledge answers the question of how to accomplish a given task, and conditional knowledge answers the question of when to make a particular choice. Like I have mentioned before I like formula writing especially for struggling and ELL writers because it gives a foundation to work from. I myself have used and created them, however I don’t think it should be use for to long of a period, I also don’t think formulas should be restricted or should be followed to a tee because writing varies and students need to develop several strategies in identifying and dealing with variances in writing. 

The Concept of Control in Teacher Response (Straub) & Looking Back As We Look Forward (Yancey)

YetYet another powerful article about commenting on student’s paper. The tone of this article was a bit different from the others though. I thought this author had a lighter and almost humorous tone to his message. He began by saying that despite the expanded quote of our inquiry and deepen discussions that we have continue to look at responses in dualistic ways. He sates, “teacher commentary is either directive or facilitative, authoritative or collaborative, teacher-based or student-based.” In this article he tried to identify the focus and modes of comment styles labeled “directive” a controlling system and “facilitative” using the comments of known composition teachers. Straub begins by examining several teachers’ comments on students’ paper. Comparing these students’ papers he found that the teacher’s comments are highly controlling. Straub states, “The teacher, like an editor, freely marks up the writing-circling errors, underlining problem areas, and inserting corrections on the student's text.” He assert that the comments written on these student’s papers don’t tell the students what is wrong with their writing and what need to be change. Straub conclude that the more comment a teacher makes on student’s paper, the more controlling the teacher is likely to be. This applied more so to the teachers who make numerous specific comments on local matter. He also concluded that the more a teacher looks at student writing processes and tried to focus on the writer’s development and not the development of the specific text, the less likely the teacher is to point out specific changes in the text.
He went on to talk more about the different type of comments. For example he concluded that comments framed as corrections exert greater control over the student than criticism of the writing. He also added that praise comments are less controlling than criticism or commands because they place the teacher in the role of the appreciative reader.  However, they can decrease the teacher’s values and agenda and contain a certain degree of control over how the student views his/her own text and how she/ revises.
At the end Straub came to the conclusion that all l teacher’s comment regardless of their style or techniques are evaluative, but the question of how teachers exert their power over students still remain.

While reading this I had to pause a couple of time to make sure that I wasn’t rereading last week’s article “Writing Assessment in the 21stCentury, also by Yancey. It’s pretty much echo what she said in that previous article. In this article she also divides the history of writing assessment into three “waves.” The first wave (1950-1970) she states focused on objective, non-essay testing that prioritized “efficiency and reliability.” The second wave (1970-1986) which she claims moved towards holistic scoring of essays, based on rubrics and scoring guides first developed through ETS and AP. The third wave (1986-present) developed to include portfolios and larger, programmatic assessments. Yancey looks at these waves from several perspectives. One includes how the concepts of reliability and validity are viewed, the other is the local knowledge of the non-expert teacher. Again just like in the last article Yancey voices her concerns for the state of writing assessments. She also provides guidance on how to further practice in writing assessment.

Using Rubrics (Bean) & Writing Assessment in the Early 21st Century (Yancey)

 Bean begins the article by discussing the subjectivity of evaluation criteria. He states, professional writing teachers grant that the assessment of writing like any art, involves subjective judgments. But the situation is not entirely relative either, for communal standards for good writing can be formulated and readers with different tastes can be trained to assess writing samples with surprisingly high correlation. To illustrate  this argument Bean brought up Diederich research on composition in which he discover that a diverse group of readers could be trained to increase the correlation of their grading. Bean wrote, by setting descriptions for high, middle, and low achievement in each of the five criterion areas ---idea, organization, sentence structure, wording, and flavor. Bean wrote that Diederich was able to train readers to balance their assessments over the 5 criteria. Bean further adds that since then many researchers have refined or refocused Diederich’s criteria and have developed strategies for training readers as evaluators and for displaying criteria to students in the form of rubrics.  Further in the article Bean went on to talk about the different type of rubric used and their importance to evaluation and the evaluator.
I agree with Bean that rubrics are important because they clarify for students qualities their work should have and I like that he value rubric, but he did not mention how little some teachers use rubric over time. Some teachers would develop a rubric for a particular assignment and project and at the end of that project or assignment that’s the end of that. The rubric is not reused or applied in different areas. I think rubrics should be designed for repeated use, or used on several tasks. Students should be given a rubric at the beginning of an instruction. Then they should complete the work, receive feedback, practice, revise or do another task, continue to practice, and ultimately receive a grade all using the same rubric. I think this reinforce learning more than anything.

In this article Yancey discuss writing assessment and how it has changed and varied across different time periods. She begins by describing the first wave of writing assessment in the early century. She wrote that “testes” what assessment were referred to at the time were indirect measures, that is a test that sampled something related to but other than the individual student’s writing typically a multiple choice test of editing skills serving as a proxy for writing. She added the most important question in this first wave of writing assessment was informed by an ideology located in a machine-like efficiency characterizing the early part of the century. “Which measure can do the best and fairest job of prediction with the least amount of work and the lowest cost?”
Yancey also discussed the second wave of writing assessments. She states that this wave dated back to the 70s and 80s was prompted by the explosion of interest in writing process and new pedagogies enacting the field’s new understandings of process. Due to these new understanding holistic scoring was developed. Yancey wrote that this type of assessment relied on a direct measure, or sample, of good writing by developing and using scoring guide that provided a reliability analogous to the reliability of indirect measures, holistic scoring was able to meet the standard of consistent scoring. She further wrote, the questions about assessment dominating this period were very different, then, than those driving the first wave: what roles have validity and reliability played in writing assessment? Who is authorized and who has the appropriate expertise to make the best judgements---teachers or experts?
Yancey further discussed the third wave of writing assessments as occurring from the late 1980s up until the turn of the century. She stated that this wave was characterized by attention to multiple texts, the ways we read those texts, and the role of students in helping us understand their texts and the processes they used to produce them. The vehicle for practicing assessment keyed to these principles was typically a portfolio of writing. Yancey defined as a set of texts selected from a larger archive and narrated, contextualized, and explained by the student himself---or herself. During this period of writing assessment the question one was asking, “Whose needs does writing assessment serve? And “how is it a political and social act?” Yancey also talks about the current moment in writing assessments, but I thought her explanation of writing assessments throughout the different periods was interesting. Yancey not only provide a historical component to her argument, but she also includes the important questions that were raised by shifts in writing assessments in accordance with their time period.  

Reaction Paper

1.      Sabine Posy-Stewart
Eng. 5020
November 9, 2015
Tutoring ESL Students: Issues and Options

Muriel Harris and Tony Silva begins the article by first defining the goal of the tutor. They state, “The goal of tutors who work in the center is to attend to the individual concerns of every writer who walks in the door.” after describing the goal of the tutor Harris and Silva states the challenges tutors face when trying to explain certain concepts to non-native speakers. They wrote that tutors can be reduced to stunned silence when they try to explain why “I have many homeworks to complete” is wrong. They also note that new tutors often see a draft by an ESL student and are unsure of what to address first, their advice is to begin by looking for what the student did well in the paper and begin the session on a positive note. The authors reveal that tutors do not really know how to work with ELLS. They advise that in order for tutors to work effectively with ELLs they need some perspective on rhetorical approaches. They begin by introducing rhetorical preferences then they ask the question, is it helpful to generalize ELL students? To answer this question the authors brought up the issue of “contrastive rhetoric,” (which is how a person first language and culture influences his or her writing) vs. “contrastive analysis” (which states that positive transfer would occur where two language are similar). They assert that understanding “contrastive rhetoric” and “contrastive analysis”   would be valuable to the tutor because both describes pattern of rhetorical preferences in other culture and describe first language transfer, all possible reason that could explain the seemingly inappropriate rhetorical strategies used by ELL students.  But in the end both authors concludes that tutors should know rhetorical preferences in culture, but should not expect all ELL students to fit the molds they have learned because obviously everyone is different. Harris and Silva transition into the next discussion “recognizing differences” by stating that tutors think that all ELLs are the same and therefore must have the same problems. They advise against this perspective because every student has different strengths and weakness.  Harris and Silva suggest that tutors assess the skills the student has or doesn’t have and determine whether the student need help with the writing process or the language.
The authors briefly talk about ELL students overall writing process. In that section they discuss research on adult ELL writers. The research states that adult ELL writer plan less, write with more difficulty, and reread what they have written less. The authors provides various strategies so the tutor can better help these type of students. Strategies include helping them plan their ideas and writing in stages. They also offer other important strategies and solution to the tutors when they encounter sentence level and grammar issues. The authors wrote, “A merely intuitive understanding of how English works would not be sufficient for helping ESL writers---who do not share the tutor’s native speaker’s intuitions and who often need explicit explanations.” They further express that knowing the rules can better help tutors with ELL’s grammar errors, mechanics errors, and overall writing rules. Knowing the rules can especially help those ELL students who are rule oriented and rely on organizing their knowledge of English by rules.  But they also advice against tutors becoming “grammarians” who shout out rules.   Furthermore the authors suggest that tutors resist the urge to correct everything. They write, “Tutors need to resist their impulse to help as much as ELL students need to resist their desire to have every grammatical error corrected.”
At the end of the article Harris and Silva reiterate the goal of the tutor and emphasizes that ELL instructors and writing tutors need to keep interacting and learning from one another. They also advice tutors to be mindful of rhetorical strategies and languages of other cultures and to always make the tutoring session interactive. Overall I though Harris and Silva did a great job of identifying the issues tutors usually encounter when working with ELL students and I also though they did an even better job in providing effective strategies to remedy these issues.

Teaching composition in the multilingual world

Pal Kei Matsuda begins his article by describing the demographic shift of student population in U.S college composition program. This shift, he concludes has made the U.S higher education highly heterogeneous in terms of the language backgrounds. He urges college writing programs to provide opportunities to prepare students for a globalized world. Matsuda wrote, “ Today, with  the globalization of economy and information, teaching writing  to college students is not just about preparing students for academic, professional, and civic writing within the national boundary; it is also about preparing students--- both domestic and international---for the increasingly globalized world that  always been, and will continue to be, multilingual.”
He continues by first examining the various terms used to describe second language writing which refer to writing in any language that the writer did not grow up with.  He defines the many terms that are sometimes used interchangeably. Such terms include ESL, ESOL, and the current one ELL.  Matsuda explains that these terms have been in reference to both international and resident ESL students. Now, because the distinction of these terms have not always been clear they have caused confusion and even conflict among teachers and researchers. He further states that the terms have also been problematic for some resident students who, associate ESL with being “foreign.”  These students resist the institutional label imposed upon them and more recently have been using the term generation 1.5. This Matsuda states is a term describing college ESL students who are U.S.-educated learners of English and whose linguistic profile is distinct from that of prototypical international ESL students.  After drawing our attention to the problematic matter of terms Matsuda jumped straight into the history of second language writing in composition studies.
In this section Matsuda writes second language issues became an important concern among teachers and administrators of first year writing program in the late 40s when the conclusion of WWII brought an influx of international students to U.S. higher education and into first year writing programs. In response to this situation administrators developed separate sections of first year writing programs for “foreign” students. Although this population of students continued to enroll in mainstream writing courses at many institutions, the discussion at CCCC came to a stop in 1966 when the creation of TESOL organization “institutionalized the disciplinary division of labor.” But in the 70s and 80s that all change when the rise of basic writing and the growth of resident ESL began. Matsuda explains that second language writers were placed in basic writing classes because not all institution had separate ESL course. These placement could have been productive if only basic writing teachers had background knowledge in second language instruction. Fast forward to current times and second language issues have become more visible. Second language students are still place in first year writing program taught by teachers who may not be experience with working with second language writers of various kinds.  In response to the current demographic shift Matsuda believes that separate section of first year writing courses for second language writers need to be establish and if unable to separate the course he advice to at least make the first year writing courses ESL friendly. He also talks about the importance of creating professional development for writing teacher. While some schools are already doing this Matsuda further emphasizes the importance of making the curriculum in writing programs appropriate for students who bring a broad range of linguistic and cultural differences to the class.      
Lastly, Matsuda mentions the lack of second language issues being discussed in professional literature and text.  Which ironically focuses on international issues. He further addresses the writing center. In the topic of writing centers he ask writing center administrators to examine their assumptions of the writing center, which were developed with monolingual English users in mind. At the end of this article Matsuda basically reiterate his point and states this: Composition specialists need to embrace the multilingual reality of the global community and today’s classroom by exploring ways to engage all students in the development of global literacy.   

1.       Explain one thing that you learned about second language learners that you didn’t know before?

2.       How would you work with ELL writing students? What strategies would you use?

3.       Consider one advice you would offer an ELL student about writing? 

English is a Crazy Language

We’ll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes,
But the plural of ox becomes oxen, not oxes.
One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,
Yet the plural of moose should never be meese.
You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice,
Yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.

If the plural of man is always called men,
Why shouldn’t the plural of pan be called pen?
If I speak of my foot and show you my feet,
And I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?
If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,
Why shouldn’t the plural of booth be called beeth?
Then one may be that, and there would be those,
Yet hat in the plural would never be hose,
And the plural of cat is cats, not cose.
We speak of a brother and also of brethren,
But though we say mother, we never say methren.
Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
But imagine the feminine: she, shis and shim!
Let’s face it – English is a crazy language. There is no egg in
eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple.
English muffins weren’t invented in England. We take English for
granted, but if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can
work slowly, boxing rings are square, and a guinea pig is neither from
Guinea nor is it a pig.
And why is it that writers write, but fingers don’t fing, grocers
don’t groce and hammers don’t ham?
Doesn’t it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend?
If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of
them, what do you call it?
If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught?
If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?
Sometimes I think all the folks who grew up speaking English
should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane.
In what other language do people recite at a play and play at a recital?
We ship by truck but send cargo by ship…
We have noses that run and feet that smell.
We park in a driveway and drive in a parkway.
And how can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same,
while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?
You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language
in which your house can burn up as it burns down,
in which you fill in a form by filling it out, and
in which an alarm goes off by going on.
And in closing, if Father is Pop, how come Mother’s not Mop?

Retrieved from

Revision Strategies (Sommers) &Teach the Motivating Force of Revision (Murray)

Sommers begin the article “Revision Strategies of Student Writers and Experience Adult writers” by stating that, “although various aspect of the writing process have been studied extensively of late, research on revision has been notable absent.”   Sommers suspect the reason for this is that “current models of writing process have directed attention away from revision.” Then she went on to name two type of writing models, first, “Gordon Rohman’s model which suggested that composing process is move from prewriting to writing and rewriting. Then James Britton’s model, which described the writing process as a “series of stages described in metaphors of linear growth, conception, incubation, and production.”Sommers also describes the linear model, which she states is base on speech in two specific ways, “traditional rhetorical model” and “stages of composition.” She further add that the “linear model produce a parody of writing.” after her introduction to the writing models she continued the conversation by including her research study in which she examine the revision process of students writers and experienced writers. In the beginning of the study Sommers defined the termed  “experienced” then she introduced the students’ side of the study by saying that the students did not seem comfortable using the word revision and explained that revision was not a word they used, but a word their teachers used. She concluded that the student writers predominate concerns were vocabulary. She stated that, “students understand the revision process as a wording activity.” She also states that the students placed a symbolic importance on their selection and rejection of words as the determiners of success or failure for their composition. For the adult experience writers Sommers concluded that they defined revision as the primary objective when revising as finding the form or shape of their argument. When Sommers questioned them about this emphasis the experienced writers responded, “that since their first draft are usually scattered attempts to define their territory, their objective in second draft is to begin observing general patterns of development and deciding what should be included and what excluded.” According to Sommers the adult experienced writer seek to discover meaning in their engagement with writing through revision. At the end of the article she summarizes her thought by saying that, “students do not see the incongruities. They need to rely on their own internalized sense of good writing and to see their writing with their “own” eyes. Seeing in revision—seeing beyond hearing ---is at the root of the word revision and the process itself.”
After the reading I thought it was very interesting how the student writers and the adult experience writers differ from their point of view of revision strategies. As stated before the experience writers tried to find meaning in their engagement with writing while the student writers mostly focused on rewording, but then again shouldn’t that be expected? After all the adult writers are experienced which mean they had years and probably good reasons to have developed and perfect their skills regarding writing revision, while the student writers are still developing their writing skills, a skill as described by Sommers they see passively through the eye of their former teachers. 

Reading Murray’s article was awesome. In the beginning I thought wow! what such strong opening statement. This may have nothing to do with the reading, but I have to say Murray is by far one of my favorite writers amongst the writers we covered in this class thus far. He is such an idealist and there’s an ease to his writing that you don’t have to try to decipher his point. He pretty much lay it out there and say what many like myself would like to say, but only he can do it so eloquently. Anyways moving on to the article.  In it Murray states in the beginning that his major goal as an English teacher is to encourage students to change their sense of what it means to write so it reflects more of their intuitions and less of their trained belief.  Knowing he might encounter opposition for this statement he quickly added that he does not want to fight any more opposing forces than he already has in his hand.  Murray further described his goal by saying this: “ I want them to understand that the movement from personal writing to formal and abstract modes of writing does not involve the death and burial of the self, but rather a reconceiving of the self that writes.” A beautiful statement that pushes teachers and students to tap into creativity and become better writers, however he realized that this idea of his is a mere dream especially in the of time of standardize test. Murray continues his disapproval of the state of writing by saying that language teachers do not appreciate the importance or the excitement of revision, he said instead they teach rewriting –if they teach it at all as punishment the price you have to pay if you don’t get it right the first time.  He advise instead of teaching rewriting as punishment teachers should use revision as the opportunity to enable students to experience the adventure of writing. Murray affirms his point by providing personal examples and anecdotal experiences of how teachers can help students discover their thoughts through writing. Although he did not provide details on how the process of revision should be done or looks like he offers thoughtful and even inspirational suggestions.
Again, I can’t help to admire Murray’s effort in trying to encourage the writer to focus on their inner realties rather than outside realities or influences. Like I mentioned before he is definitely an idealist and his ideas on writing is necessary for anyone who is interested in the writing process.

Regarding the final project for some reason I had it in my head that this week’s assignment was asking us to share our titles for our individual pieces. Since it’s for the overall project I would say Laura’s suggestion stands out. I thought both titles are great, however I prefer “Writing from the Heart” vs. “Writing Matters.” I simply say this because when I hear “Writing from the Heart” I think of unique, powerful, and creative writing that naturally flows to whomever is writing and when I think of “writing Matters” I’m sorry to say, but I think of structure almost like developing writing skills. Anyways, that’s just my two cents. Again, both titles are very strong and I am excited to hear what we come up with as a group.   

Writing Comments on Student’s Papers (Bean) and Response to Writing (Beach & Friedrich)

“The paper graders are here, sir. Shall I send them in?”

The article written by John Bean was a nice read. The opening statement about teachers forgetting the human being who wrote the word and then becoming so harsh and sarcastic that they let their irritation show on the pages reminded me of the cartoon strip above. It is true writing teachers sometimes are too harsh of a critic. The article also reminded me of Peter Elbow, Nancy Sommers, and Donald Murray’s main points all wrapped up in one regarding constructive feedback. Especially the comment about writing teachers being coaches at the drafting stage and being judges at the final stage. This idea of teacher’s being “coaches” during the writing process was a common theme among these three authors I’ve mentioned above.  Although, John Bean’s view point seemed like reiteration of the other authors we read about, the style in which he wrote this article was different.  He not only talked from the student’s view point he also provided a sympathetic perspective. He stated, “We let our irritation show on the pages even though we know how we ourselves feel when we ask a colleague to read one of our drafts (apologetic and vulnerable).” This thoughtful approach make you want to reconsider your method if you are one of those teachers who shows no sensitivity towards student’s work and progress.  Bean also included student’s reaction and view point to teachers’ comments on their paper and alongside that he provided ideas of positive commentary. Bean further provided advice on constructive feedback and how to properly guide students through the writing process.  Again, this article was a great read because it offered in details the proper way to guide and communicate to students throughout the writing process and it also gave great tips on how to implement positive commentary without insulting or devaluing students’ work.

Beach and Friedrich’s article is very similar to the many articles that I have read in terms of discussing and providing guidelines on the effective ways teachers can provide feedback. Although Beach and Friedrich article dated a little later than the others, I don’t think they mentioned anything new that haven’t been said already by the many others that had covered this topic. They did however categorize their main points and included several research findings to back up their arguments.  Even the research findings and their recommendations were conclusive in their approach and remediation. That goes to show you that there was and still is a general consensus regarding this topic. Everyone (meaning the authors who had covered this topics and even the students and teachers who had read these articles) pretty much agree that without effective feedback from teachers, students will not engage in substantive self-assessment and revision that can help students improve their writing. It is pretty much agreed upon that teachers’ feedback need to be specific and nonjudgmental in order for it to be effective, and it is pretty much agreed upon that that various strategies need to be implemented into the writing class to further help develop the writer and the writing process. Having read yet another article on responding to students’ paper led me to believe that there was and still is a lot of focus in this area, but current writing classes do not reflect or put to practice some of these ideas and strategies recommended  through these researches because the last I remember I was still getting vague feedbacks and given really no room for self-assessment  in some of my college classes  and last I remember my teacher colleagues were doing something similar with their lower grade students. Overall I enjoyed reading the article and I will be using a lot of the strategies and tips recommended.

Bi, Butch, and Bar Dyke: Pedagogical Performances of Class, Gender, and Sexuality

The three articles were very interesting. I like how Gibson, Marinara, and Meem each talked about their own personal experience of class, gender, and sexuality performance, but for each reading you had to follow the narrative closely to tell who was telling the story. The first article examine how story telling work as a way to construct identify narratives and voices. Especially the voice of lesbian or working class. In the article she writes, “all identity, all social construction, begins with narratives.” The second article talks about how being a butch lesbian  has more advantage than being a femme lesbian because being butch is associated with both visual and non-visual characteristics. The final article talks about “speaking our memories” how writing about our personal experiences can give voices them. Although all three article were interesting and had a common theme of identity and voices, the first article seemed to stand out the most to me.  In this article Marinara discussed her position as a bi sexual and working class woman, who has “entered the academy”. In the beginning of the article I didn’t really understand the connection between the story about the little girl at the grocery store and being lesbian. With that it seemed like she jumped from one point to the next without a proper transition. Also, I couldn’t tell who the author was refereeing to because she had a general sense to her tone. Anyways, Marinara argues that we see identities primarily in terms of binaries. She writes, “This politicized voice emerges from a self –empowerment that hinges on an appeal to universalities of class and sexuality, self-empowerment that depends on binary opposition.” She basically said we can be working class or professionals, straighter, or  heterosexual or we can  create complexity in our self-construction, but the reality remain that we see things in only black and white there are no in between.  And she stated it’s because of this "dualistic system of thought" that makes it impossible for her to come out of the closet because she doesn’t fit that mold. Marinara ended her article by pointing to the fact that identity is not as simple as black and white it is by far more complex than that.   

Ranking, Evaluating, and Liking & Grammar, Grammars, and the Teaching of Grammar

Although, Peter Elbow’s article was written in 1993, his opening statement about assessment driving and controlling teaching was not only honest, it rings true in today’s classrooms. In this article Elbow talks about “sorting” the different act of assessment. He begins his argument by reminding us all that he is by no means a professional in this field, but strongly feels that nonprofessionals such as himself should work and focus on sorting out assessments because the so call professionals “have not reached definitive conclusions about the problem of how to assess writing (or anything else, I'd say).” Elbow also reminded us that decisions about assessments are often made by people even less professional than we, namely legislators. Although, this was a very small part of his argument it was one that needed to be said because it gives a reason to why assessments need to be sort out. After reading this I found myself sharing similar views to Elbow. Maybe like him I am idealistic and want to also find fairness in judging other’s work, or maybe as an educator I too find my self frustrated and want to try to find constructive ways of assessing student’s paper because some of the current assessments that are in place are shamefully stupid, whichever the reason I did find myself agreeing with a lot of his ideas and also disagreeing with some as well. One of the arguments I agree with is the problem with ranking.  Elbow writes, “I see three distinct problems with ranking: it is inaccurate or unreliable; it gives no substantive feedback; and it is harmful to the atmosphere for teaching.” He further went on to add that “ranking or grading is woefully uncommunicative. Grades and holistic scores are nothing but points on a continuum from "yea" to "boo"-with no information or clues about the criteria behind these noises.” This statement is quite true because as an educator when you assess it needs to meet several criteria in order for it to be considered valid and one important criterion is feedback. What good is an assessment if the score is based on feelings rather than judgment that tries to discriminate strength and weakness? What good is an assessment if it can’t influence students to develop or even enhance their learning? So, in these regards I agree with Elbow, we should have less ranking and more evaluation.  An assessment should be able to provide more than just a numerical score. Elbow not only argues for evaluation but he provided the beneficial reasons.  He states, “Instead of using grades or holistic scores-single number verdicts that try to sum up complex performances along only one scale-we should give some kind of written or spoken evaluation that discriminates among criteria and dimensions of the writing. “Again, I agree with Elbow on evaluation 100 percent, however we must consider current realties and be a bit pragmatic in how we view and implement evaluation.  The reality is that teachers need to rank and level students. They need to distinguish the lows from the high and the passing from the failing not just for teaching purposes but for state, international, status, and funding purposes. So, Elbow’s suggestion of minimal holistic scoring where you give only 2 scores sounds more reasonable to me. Also, Elbow’s idea of “liking” seems like a radical idea, but again because of current realities and the way teachers are trained these progressive ideas seems far away for now. After reading this, I do have to say that Peter Elbow is bold in the fact that he entertains us with the idea of changing the way we view assessment (in his case writing assessment). Elbow made a powerful statement that has truth to it. He said, “we see around us a deep hunger to rank-to create pecking orders: to see who we can look down on and who we must look up to, or in the military metaphor, who we can kick and who we must salute.” Beautifully said!  There is this feeling in education, well I can’t speak for all, but this feeling in my educational community at least, that thorough evaluation is not real enough, and that a numerical score on a paper speaks more volume. Unfortunately, I wish that wasn’t the mindset, but in many instances it is, so that is why I applaud Elbow for his attempt in tackling ranking and offering alternatives and making them sound like they are things that can be done if we put forth a little effort.

The Grammar, Grammars, and the Teaching of Grammar was interesting. After reading the first few pages I was surprised to find out how many experimental research had been done on this topic alone. 75 years’ worth of research and still counting is a lot and for the issue of grammar learning to remain unresolved still today says a lot about the complexities of language and language acquisition. I couldn’t help but to be curious about how these studies were conducted because Patrick Hartwell did not really go into details about these experiments, however the questions that came to mind were: In these grammar experiments, did students have to memorize patterns, grammatical rules, or drills? How was conversational grammar used? I asked these questions because I don’t believe that grammar teaching and learning is effective if it’s taught explicitly. Conversational and pronunciation skills are also important to grammar learning and teaching.
 I though the author did a great job of covering all 5 grammars, however I believe grammar 1 and 2 are the ones that carry weight or real significance, all the others follow after. Hartwell defined grammar 1 as “the internalize system of rules that speakers share” In many ways I agree with this statement because as a second language teacher when teaching my students grammar I’m not really teaching them a new set of structure and rules, these students already come in with their own rules and teaching them is really about helping them discover how to fit those rules into the new language.  Overall this article proved that grammar and the application of grammar is not only intricate, but also divisive.