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Our plan for our final class!

imagesWe have finally made it to the finish line of the semester, as we plan for our final class next week!  I look forward to our potluck dinner, so please sign up to add to our menu for our final class party together.

I had a great time during our #DigiWriMo twitterchat, and I think our questions spurned some thoughtful collective reflection.  I also enjoyed the playful aspects of our conversation (especially the thought of a course on the Semiotics of Emoji use in varying local subcultures 😉 – there was definitely some LOL moments.  NWP colleague Keving Hodgson (aka @dogtrax) was kind enough to create a storify of our social/public conversation.  Please check it out!:

Thanks to Hope for having us read and view our final selections for the semester: the video – “Writing as Making/Making as Writing by Connected Learning TV“ and the article – “Writing Assessment in the Early 21st Century” by K. B Yancey.  We closed our semester long conversation on writing process with a consideration of Yancey’s 4th wave of writing assessment.  Then we turned to thinking about different pathways to writing – though the Connected Learning lens of “Writing-as-Making”.  Unknown-1I am glad we closed up the semester long conversation with the frame of production-centered learning in order to shed new light on writing experiences.  Writing-as-Making leads to the discovery of new pathways for writerly identity.  The “maker” sensibility is an exciting opening, loosening up the constriction often felt for students when it comes to learning how to write.  To think of writing-as-making (especially in a digital 21st century environment) means to embrace a “tinkering” sensibility.  Students can create and make without a script or formulaic set of instructions.  Students can be transformed from consumers of media to producers of media.  And when something doesn’t work, students can figure out “work arounds” until they get to a place of new understanding, building an important resiliency in the midst of learning.  “Making” yields a kind of persistence, and helps combat a pervasive fear of failure that is so much a part of the typical schooling experience.  I enjoyed your blogs for this week, and they highlighted to me the enthusiasm you feel for connected learning principles, and what these ideas can do for writing students in this day and age.

For our final class:

-Remember to plan and bring your potluck contribution.

Remember to complete your final class portfolio and send it to me via email.

Be prepared to co-write the “About” page for your final class project, while we eat and celebrate the close of the Fall semester.  🙂

Thanks for a fantastic semester with all of you.  I can’t believe how it just flew by….


Dr. Zamora

Ps.  Our final class party is open to friends, family and anyone you feel inclined to share with :).


The homestretch & #DigiWriMo / #WhyIWrite Twitterchat (12/6, 6-7pm ET)!

3a3ff37It was wonderful to have such a rich post-Thanksgiving discussion during class this week. Thanks Katherine for walking us through the question of research and writing, as well as the paradox of the formulaic paper with “Why the Research Paper is Not Working“ by Fister, and “The Popularity of Formulaic Writing (and Why We Need to Resist)” by Wiley.  It seems that the academic research paper has inadvertently contributed to thwarting authentic student inquiry.  Young researchers have heard the mandate to emphasize precedent scholarship over their own intellectual curiosity.  But the best research is a beautiful weave of both – a kind of dialogue between the writer who contributes new knowledge to a conversation by considering the preceding arguments that have directed the field of inquiry thus far.  Students seem daunted by such a task, and their tangible fear of mistakes in this context is a clear result of a methodical emphasis on formal citation.  On the other hand, a culture of attribution is a key aspect of intellectual integrity, and the fair attribution of ideas somehow seems lost on many a young student (despite their research anxiety in the academic context).  We discussed a kind of spectrum: intellectual curiosity verses intellectual integrity – and we considered the ways some research paper processes have situated students (problematically) along this fault line of concerns.

Regarding our discussion of formulaic writing, we acknowledged the significant limitations of approaching writing via a step by step protocol.  But we also acknowledged that some young writers really need set of instructions to refer to. The analogy of training wheels seems apt here.  Many felt that as long as there was a moUnknownment where the formula could be overcome (i.e. the training wheels are no longer needed), then the emergence of a more authentic writer might have a chance to blossom.  But the key question (asked early on by Stephanie) is:  When do we really know when the proverbial “training wheels” (formulaic writing) can be removed?  And how can we manage this transitional moment in a classroom context (i.e. each writer needs their “training wheels” removed at different times in a developmental spectrum)?  These are significant challenges for classroom writing instruction.

What is up for next week:

Our last seminar-style presentation for the class will be by Hope.   She will cover a video (with resources) called “Writing as Making/Making as Writing by Connected Learning TV“.  She will also discuss the article “Writing Assessment in the Early 21st Century” by K. B Yancey.  Please read/view and blog on this material for next class.   

In the second half of class we will conduct our #DigiWriMo & #WhyIWrite twitter chat:

We have prepared our questions for our twitter chat, and we will use tweetchat in order to manage our conversation.  This tool makes it easier to follow the our tweet stream and it automatically adds the #digiwrimo & #whyiwrite hashtag onto each of your tweets.  I look forward to our open, networked discussion on writing in the digital age!

Update on the final project:

Your final project is nearly finished!!  This week you should all be sure to post your final edited material in the project website.  The information you need in order to accomplish this is in  the shared folder pertaining to the collaborative #whyiwrite project.  Each of you has a partner who you should be checking in with, in order to make sure you both have successfully posted your material into the site (you can help each other in this task during class next week if needed).  The only outstanding item not yet completed for the final project website is the “ABOUT” page – a short description of what the project is, and in what context it has been produced.  It seems we will have to do this together on our final class party evening (12/6).

Our final class party will be on 12/6 and it will be a potluck dinner.  I have started a google doc here so we can sign up for what we plan to bring (food-wise) – that way, we can get a sense of what might be on the menu.

We are on the homestretch guys!

Hang in there,

Dr. Zamora


Your #WhyIWrite Project & the final few weeks…

images-3Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

We had a very productive workshop during last class, and I think we now have the website “shell” for your final collaborative project, along with a kind of template for what you need to input there in order for the whole collaboration to really come together. Here is the link to the files associated with the organization of materials for your final project.  Please remember that by next class you need to have completed:

a URL for your final draft (**When editing, please keep in mind the feedback received from last week’s peer review session.)

an image for your bio (whatever image you like, does not need to be personal photo)

your bio (3-4 sentences)

a short author statement (a quote or short statement – this is optional)

an image for the “gateway” or “entry click” to your work

***Please drop all of this information into the files in the shared folder.

For next week:

UnknownKatherine will be leading discussion with “Why the Research Paper is Not Working (Fister) & “The Popularity of Formulaic Writing (and Why We Need to Resist)” (Wiley).  Please read this material and blog your reflection on the work.

We will use the second half of class to:

1. Address the final steps for completing the collaborative project/website.

2. Brainstorm & decide upon four questions for the #digiwrimo  #whyiwrite webchat from 6-7pm on 12/5.

See you all soon,

Dr. Zamora



…Looking towards our #WhyIWrite workshop next week

images-25It was good to gather on Monday, and I think that the readings that Hailey selected for us to discuss were perfectly timed as we turn the corner from Election Day together.  Hailey’s presentation prompted us to think further about the role that identity and voice might play in shaping what is possible in our learning environments.  As we reflected together on these readings we recognized that the development of “voice” (in writing and in life) is connected to both embodiment and subjectivity.  In addition, Identity is often a matter of dynamic and changing “becoming” rather than a static notion of being.  Sometimes we are acutely aware of being in-between the more easily apprehended categories of identity.  UnknownSometimes we struggle to see a similar reference point for who we think we are (in all of its layered complexity).  This means we must navigate the reality of identity in the classroom with acute awareness of diverse (and sometimes paradoxical) experience(s).   As such, we noted that voices via bodies are metaphors – marked and read in particular ways, bearing the sway of power and politics.   One important aspect of our conversation seemed to be the issue of listening.  We also talked about the link between writing voice & identity, and the ongoing yearning/reach for authenticity and “true self”.   What is clear is that there is an important link between voice and empowerment, and our writing classrooms must be thoughtfully designed as spaces wherein students feel they can explore and discovery their own developing voice.

images-1In the second part of class we settled on some key plans for the final class project.  Next class period will be solely dedicated as a #WhyIWrite workshop, with the overall goal of getting the majority of the collaborative work accomplished.  That work will include your collective website design efforts & a peer review session.  For the first half of class, you will explore themes and design options for the overall web presentation of your group work.  It seems you are steering towards Wix as a tool to do this work together.  You will also map out the infrastructure of the site, creating the appropriate tabs you would like to present the “frame information”, and well as the grid like portal into your own individual contributions.  In the second half of class, you will break up into your small groups of three, doing a round robin peer review session together.  By the close of the class, you should be nearly finished with the key work for the final #WhyIWrite group project.

For next week:

Please have a solid (well developed) #WhyIWrite draft completed and ready for sharing during the in-class peer review session.

For your blog, please prepare a “memo” which is a short reflection on your #WhyIWrite draft.  Your cover memo should include 4-5 thoughtful questions/concerns about your own writing.  The questions should be directed to your two peer reviewers.  At the end of blog post, please include the link to your #WhyIWrite draft.

Next week will be a fun and busy (crucial) night of collaboration and thoughtful exchange.  I look forward to it.


Dr. Zamora


Writing our way to better futures….

To my #WritingTheory students,

This has been a rough couple of days. I woke up yesterday morning and tweeted:

The same sentiment that I uphold for my parenting efforts holds true for my efforts as an educator. As writers, educators, educators-in-training, …as co-learners, I pause to connect with you in our weekly blog fashion, but this time it can’t be just business as usual. I think we can recognize that there is so much work to be done as we face the dawning of a changed world, a new political era. I am hatching plans and keeping the faith in our common love for learning. As we move forward, I have decided to devote my Digital Media & Learning blog to my perspectives as an educator (in the midst of the immanent Trump presidency) as we all finish up this tumultous year of 2016. I will certainly share/tweet my writing from that locale with all of you.  But I wanted to address you all here on our public class website as well, so that you all know that I am thinking of you and so many others.  I am determined to keep our writing community a thriving place of intellectual exchange as we continue to imagine better futures.

Thank you to Sara for our last class, and for designing a thorough and thoughtful discussion of “Teaching Writing in the Multilingual World” by Paul Kei Matsuda and “Blogs, Wikis, Podcastsby Will Richardson.  images-24These two timely readings effectively highlight the ways in which writing has evolved in the 21st century. Both technology and globalism play a major role in the way we think about (and teach others) how to write. What does it mean to write in a networked world, and in what ways do/should those new affordances transform our writing pedagogy? Sara was able to enhance the nature of our discussion by incorporating a digital tool ( into her presentation.  By prompting us with reflective questions to contribute to her live slide show, we were able to see the results of our collective responses in visualized and survey style form.  This helped us catch a snapshot of our concerns/perspectives on key issues regarding technology in the classroom.  It was certainly an effective way to highlight our collaborative thinking about the use of technology – and served as a useful example of when tech is at its best.

What kinds of cultural understanding should be required of writing teachers in the 21st century? In an ELL context, are writing studies first and foremost about language acquisition? Or is there a more nuanced understanding of what writing can (and should) mean to multi-lingual writers? imagesA lack of linguistic knowledge is indeed an alienating experience.  What remains is a feeling of pervasive discomfort (as we discussed by sharing our personal experiences with the struggle of language acquisition as learners).  I am glad we started our discussion with the psychic truth of ELL experience firmly established.  For any academic consideration of these issues (through theory) should always be rooted in a compassionate understanding of that inherent struggle.  As Sara pointed out, the issue of multiple literacies plays an important part in starting to address these questions of writing pedagogy.  As we have read in Matsuda’s article, Writing Centers, tutors, first year Comp programs often create learning environments where the ELL student is an afterthought.  There is little preparation and even less effective policy that truly supports this vast population of learners.  This truth despite the dramatic diversity of our local context.  Our NJ could very well be more multilingual that the UN (or at least on par).  And still, we have little in place to support this multi-linguistic reality in our shared learning contexts.

What is up for next week?

Hailey will lead us through the two next readings:  Bi, Butch, and Bar Dyke: Pedagogical Performances of Class, Gender, and Sexuality by Michelle Gibson, Matha Marinara, and Deborah Meem; & “Looking Back as We Look Forward:  Historicizing Writing Assessment” by Kathleen Yancey.  Please read these text and blog your reflection on them for next week’s class.

In addition, your first draft of your “Why I Write” contribution to the final collaborative project is due next class period.  You should have a draft copy ready for some forthcoming peer review work.  In the second half of class next week we will co-design a peer review protocol together, and get started with that work.

Looking forward to seeing you next week.  Keep the faith in the significance of the work we do together.


Dr. Zamora




More on responding to student writing, & the concept of voice…

Unknown-1So November is upon us.  I hope all of you enjoyed the holiday last week.

Thanks Richonda for a thorough presentation of both Sommer’s article on “Responding to Student Writing”, and also Elbow’s piece on “Voice in Writing Again: Embracing Contraries”.  It seems we have covered the well trodden ground of the challenge of responding to student writing with many of our class readings thus far, and yet, as Richonda aptly pointed out, there isn’t a crystal clear pathway to ensure an overall improved strategy.  One thing is clear though – that a lack of professional development or training in this area is widespread, and it is certainly an area in which teachers need further focused support (at all levels of education – from elementary school to higher education).  When more and more teachers are given the chance to consider (and workshop) new strategies for responding to student writing, I believe we will also see a shift in the way students respond to writing instruction in general.  The response from a teacher is a key determinant of how many student’s develop their overall disposition regarding writing.   UnknownIn addition to Sommer’s work, we also spoke about the concept of “voice” thanks to Elbow’s article.  We thought together about the fine tuning of the “voice” as writers develop.  “Voice” is framed by Elbow more as a rhetorical tool – a writing skill that needs to be considered (applied or withheld) depending on writing context.  We also spoke of the effectiveness of “read-aloud” when learning how to edit/revise writing.

For 11/7:

We are moving on to some new topics thanks to Sara’s selection of the next two readings: “Teaching Writing in the Multilingual World” by Paul Kei Matsuda and “Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts“.  Please read both texts and blog your response for next class.

We were also able to create a timeline for your final group project, so please check the course calendar to refer to the draft deadlines.  Please take note that a rough draft of your individual “Why I Write” piece is now due on November 14th, in order to be able to have time for peer review and editing before final submission at the close of the semester.  In the second half of class on 11/7 you will have time to work on your “Why I Write” drafts, and I am available for one-on-one consultation regarding your ongoing work and progress with that part of your course contribution.

I look forward to seeing you all soon.  (It seems like it has been a long time ;)….

Dr. Zamora




#WhyIWrite inspiration via a Genius Hour collaboration….

This week’s texts were not as explicitly “paired”.  The Fulkerson article presented an overview of influential writing theories and methodologies to emerge in the past few decades (i.e. critical/culture studies, expressionism, process & post process methodologies).  On the other hand, the Brannon & Knoblach’s article asked us to think further about the Student’s Right to Their Own Texts.  Still, Marissa’s presentation was effective in linking the efforts of these different researchers while prompting us to think about more current influences in writing pedagogy.  It should be noted that both articles are somewhat dated.  Despite this, the pairing of these two articles did capture the diversity of concerns for writing researchers in the 21st century.   imagesWhile Fulkerson approached his theoretical overview from the perspective of the college composition class, Brannon and Knoblach looked at writing from an earlier developmental lens.  Marissa’s three discussion prompts helped us find a bridge to these two readings:

#1. Do you think that Critical/Cultural Studies(CCS) classes are effective ways of teaching writing to students? Why, or why not?

#2. Discuss the differences between the dominant tradition of composition and current cultural studies/expressivism/CCS.

#3. Do you think that Brannon and Knoblauch’s model is realistically possible to apply in a traditional classroom setting? And if not overall, how could certain elements be utilized?
Some of us reflected on how we learned to write in classes wherein the instructional emphasis was placed on close reading and interpretation of text (a CCS model), rather than any formal writing instruction.  We also talked about how some learned to write with (or despite) a heavy emphasis on formulaic writing process orientation.  We also spoke of the importance of student’s ability to bring their own self-driven interest into their writing efforts (i.e student choice for topic).   We concluded that the writer seems to emerge in the interstices of all of these specific methodological approaches.  Each methodology might contribute to one part of an overall understanding of writing along the way, but it is the accumulation of a variety of learning approaches that ultimately supports the development of an evolved writer.  We also talked about the difference between adjusting to each new classroom expectation – sometimes done in the name of what the teacher is looking for (a limited experience) verses adjusting to a new writing methodology as a course of personal learning accumulation (perhaps a more cohesive developmental understanding of what can happen when a student is introduced to different approaches over the course of an academic career).  Thanks again everyone for another rich discussion.
In the second part of class you made some real progress on the identification of your final group project. After jotting down some ideas on the white board together, it seems you selected the notion of the genius hour as an anchor concept for your collaboration:

You will pair this passion project “infrastructure” with an umbrella question:  #WhyIWrite.  …..Why do you write? UnknownThursday October 20, 2016 is National Day on Writing, and the #WhyIWrite hashtag will certainly be “on fire”.  By building out your individual responses to this broader inquiry, you will each add a component to this special collaborative effort to answer this question.

For next week:

-Read Nancy Sommer’s Responding to Student Writing and Peter Elbow’s  Voice in Writing Again: Embracing Contraries.  Richonda will present her thoughts and prompt our discussion of these two works by seminal writing theorists.

-Blog your reflection on this week’s reading.  In addition, please include a short paragraph at the close of your blog which indicates your early thoughts on your own “passion project” in response to the prompt #WhyIWrite.

-Check out the #WhyIWrite hashtag on twitter since it will be full of inspiration, especially this week for National Day on Writing.

-Please tweet your early passion project ideas to both our #WritingTheory and the #WhyIWrite hashtag.

See you next week for further learning and brainstorming,

Dr. Zamora

On Responding to Student Writing…

TeachLearnBlocks1Thanks to MaryKate, we had a very interesting discussion of the stakes involved in responding to student writing via the lens of Bean as well as Beach & Friedrich.  We spoke about the shifting perspective involved in being a student and receiving a paper back, verses being a teacher who faces a voluminous stack of papers to evaluate.  Somewhere in between these two experiences lies a real need to develop an effective practice – which honors both the developing writer, while still keeping in mind the reality of a teacher’s time constraints.

feedbackBean articulates how easy it is, as a teacher, to forget that there is a person behind each essay that is being read (sometimes ripped apart for errors) and graded. It’s also easy to forget that strong feeling of vulnerability which accompanies allowing someone to read your work—especially if that person is in a position to judge you.  We considered how much room there is for misunderstanding and misinterpretation between the writer and the writing instructor during feedback.  Bean advises teachers to be more mindful of the comments that they write on students papers because the worst comments can insult and even dehumanize a student.   We agreed that there were many useful “takeaways” or “best feedback practices” that were clearly outlined in Bean’s article.  In our classroom chat, we drew closer to the student writer viewpoint by apprehending how that foundational vulnerability that lies at the heart of learning how to write.  MaryKate had us tap into our our own memories of teacher feedback in order to gain that empathetic perspective.  The key consideration that emerged was the subtle issue of power that informs teaching and learning contexts.  When one has a position of authority/power, it is important to recognize the significant responsibility in that position.  Unfortunately for many teachers, in the haste to do one’s job, sometimes these truths are disregarded.  But the responsibility that comes with authority should remain front and center in order to maintain a mindful approach to designing an effective learning environment.


In the second half of class, you were all able to reflect further about your collaboration by identifying your current individual strengths, skills and talents.  In addition, you we able to identify areas in which you feel you might need further support.  This self generated list of both strengths and needs will certainly be useful in moving forward with future project management efforts.

The next step is to actually determine the kind of project you will all embark on together.  You have done a fair amount of initial brainstorming about this.  For the second half of next’s week’s class, you will engage in an active negotiation of the final class project.  I will leave you all to it (with the white board and dry erase markers as your “blank slate” for working out what matters the most to all of you as a group).

For next week:

Please read Richard Fulkerson’s Composition at the Turn of the 21st Century and Lil Brannon & C.H. Knoblauch’s On Students’ Rights to Their Own Texts: A Model of Teacher Response.   Marisa will lead the discussion of these two texts in the first half of class.

Please blog your response to these two readings.  In addition, please include in your blog post your top two ideas for an exciting final group project (along with why you would want to do that kind of work). backchannelAnd be sure to tweet this blog post out to our hashtag #WritingTheory so we can develop on online presence for our ongoing conversations.


Next week you will all pin down your final project, so be ready to:


-think creatively

-think about a broader public purpose

-think outside the box



See you then!

Dr. Zamora

Continuing our thoughts on the teacher-writer:

Forgive me for the late post, as I have just returned from the west coast.  For the last week I have been enveloped in the 2016 Digital Media & Learning Conference at the University of California-Irvine. This annual gathering is always a key moment in my professional growth.  I spent the time in engaging workshops, transformative meetings, inspired panels, and effervescent hallway conversations, as I have continued to hatch plans for new ways to explore the #connectedlearning work we all do together.  I look forward to sharing with you some of my conference takeaways tomorrow.

I want to thank Stephanie for an excellent presentation last week that got us thinking and talking about the teacher/writer identity:

Her slides were a useful summary of the reading, and they were able to spark some thoughtful conversation among all of you.

I am so pleased you were able to outline some shared goals for this class.  Remember to keep these ideas you have pinned down in the foremost of your mind as you move forward collectively with your consideration of your final project:

Pedagogy – instructional approaches that can be used in the classroom, whether in a college setting, writing centers or a K-12 classroom. How do we make students better reflective writers?

Understand what is writing theory and why it is important. Who are the key players in the field of writing, both in the past as well as currently?

To learn more about ourselves as writers and our identity. Where do we fit in within the field? How can we become better writers ourselves through this course?

To get an understanding of where the field is going and what the future of writing looks like (digital humanities) – How do we keep writing alive? How does it change in the digital era?

Look at writing from different perspectives thanks to the diverse population in the classroom.  How does writing help bridge gaps?

Sharpening your understanding of your audience.  What is your personal pathway to more authentic writing experiences?

For 10/10:

1.  Please read  Writing Comments on Student Papers by John Bean and Response to Writing by Beach & Friedrich.  MaryKate will be leading our conversation about these two readings.  Please blog your response/reflection to the readings, and remember to tweet your blog or any related material to our class hashtag is #WritingTheory.

2.  In the second half of class you will brainstorm some final project ideas based on the collective “wish list” you developed at the end of last class period.

See you all soon.  Looking forward to it,

Dr. Zamora

On reflection and writing….

UnknownThank you to Andaiye for kicking off our “Discussion Lead” series with a thoughtful engagement of both Yancey’s piece  Reflection in the Writing Classroom and Jaxon’s thoughts  on “One Approach to Guiding Peer Response.”  Andaiye’s opening questions and later freewriting exercises were very useful in exploring the importance of reflection in overall learning.  I think there are inherent differences in “writing your way to discovery” verses engaging in oral discussion, and in some ways, we started to explore those distinctions together during Andaiye’s presentation.  Sometimes discussion can only take us so far.   It seems to me that reflection as a powerful engine for authentic learning requires a significant time commitment.  The problem of time constraints (in an academic context) remains a significant challenge for current educators as we attempt to incorporate writing process into our academic curriculum(s).  A need to cover content in the allotted time seems to trump any in-built reflective process.  I suspect that this will be a recurring issue that we must try to troubleshoot together:  How can we design learning experiences where reflection becomes more habitual and ultimately has an important role to play in shaping how students learn how to learn?

reflection-11-500x375Writing instruction is clearly THE critical interface for reflection to become a “habit of mind”.  It is evident that writing-to-learn methods are profound roads to learning, yet we struggle to find the time to model this on a regular basis.  In this way, Jaxon’s peer guided protocol is very useful – she has her students take on this reflective stance for writing outside her classroom time.   She guides her students to prepare a critical memo of their own writing work, while simultaneously, students consider peer writing through her guided protocol.  It is a way of incorporating the reflective stance into student experience, and it still leaves some classroom time for other pursuits.

What is up for next week?

-Stephanie will present both 1. Teacher-Writers: Then, Now, and Next and also 2. Teaching Writing Authentically.  Please read her two selected articles and blog your response/reflection to the readings for next Monday.  You should remember to add your thoughts about your own sense of learning priorities for this class at the close of this week’s blog post.  Also, please remember to tweet your blog or any related material to our class hashtag is #WritingTheory.

-In the second half of class, we will continue to open up an initial discussion of what is possible for your shared project.  We will pick up where we left off as we reflect together and brainstorm early possibilities regarding your preferred learning outcomes.  We will also start an early consideration of what form a collaborative project might take.

See you soon!!

Dr. Zamora