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Formula vs. Freedom

Formula vs. Freedom

Thanks to Brandon for closing our presentation series with an engaging discussion of Mark Wiley’s“The Popularity of Formulaic Writing (And Why We Need to Resist).” and Donald Murray’s Teaching Writing as Process Not Product.  Wiley ultimately points out the pros and cons of the formulaic nature of Schaffer’s pedagogy (the multi-paragraph essay).  You each seemed to have clear feelings about this writing approach – there were both “pro” arguments and “con” arguments expressed.  Perhaps teachers should consider the use the formula approach as one “strategy”, but not necessarily a “formula” per se.   “To develop as writers, students must develop a repertoire of strategies for dealing effectively with various writing tasks presented to them in different situations. They must also learn to make choices about genre, content, structure, organization, and style; and they must learn to hone their judgments about the effects of the choices they make as writers.”  Teachers (and school districts) can build “formula” strategies for students, but from there, they should decide what more there is to do once students have a framework for the multi-paragraph academic essay.   The Schaeffer method won’t work in all contexts/situations, and it shouldn’t.  Once students have learned this strategy (or concurrently as they are learning it) they should move forward, outward, and onward to genres, audience, critical thinking, and exploration of their own writing.  Think of bike riding – the formula-approach is like training wheels that should come off as soon as possible, so that students can feel free.  Sometimes this kind of “formula approach” really can work in onboarding reluctant writers, by giving them just enough confidence to get them “in the game”.  That is a remarkable outcome, in and of itself.  But there should be more to the overall process, and the guard rails cannot be up forever if a writer is to become a writer.  I really enjoyed our interactive game as we considered the lyrics of prominent musical artists and scored each one based on stylistic distinction versus academic distinction.  This was a telling way to tease out a more nuanced and complex sense of what good writing can (or cannot) be!

Here are the agenda slides from class.

Your Final Project

You have decided upon a final project: the production of a chapbook, along with an accompanying Instagram to highlight chapbook features and showcase its production.  A chapbook is a short collection of writing with a unifying principle, theme, question, or experience. It is commonly understood as an artisanal book, made with care, and with specific intention. A small publication containing poetry, tales, ballads, art images, or tracts, it can be like a “calling card”.  It can connect the authors with others, and it can grant  a unique legitimacy and capture a special moment or certain ideas in time.  It seems to me a perfect medium to explore the power of voice in a time of chaos, which seems to be your unifying theme.  A working title for now seems to be “Voice of Chaos”, and I think it will be beautiful to capture the power of writing, especially in the context of this pandemic.  In addition, it can be a playful meditation on the tension between analogue or “old school” modes of writing, and digital forms of writing.  At this point, it seems you are imagining the content of the chapbook to include a -forward or collaborative preface; author bios; table of contents; & diverse/varied author contributions from the five of you.  I really look forward to watching this come together.

Your to-do list:

In order to jump start your production of this special chapbook, please generate at least three pieces of content for next class.  Your 10th Blog Post should summarize the tasks below and include these following elements (via link) as a “Progress Report”:

  1. Write one text (it can be a poem, small story, short tract or philosophical musing, vignette, or any other short version of prose)
  2. Draw, paint, compose or create one image
  3. Create one “wildcard” piece  (this can be any sort of content you are inspired to make for inclusion in the chapbook)
  4. Select a song (for inclusion in a the chapbook playlist…imagine a QR code that takes readers to your collective Spotify playlist)

In addition, please research and bring along to class any info regarding:

  1. the making of chapbooks
  2. ideas of how you want the chapbook to look (design)
  3. your idea of what you want for your author bio
  4. ideas on IG for digital view
  5. Design ideas (materials, paper types, color scheme, layout, etc.)..bring materials in!

After this week’s class session (in which you will -select and refine content, -design the layout, select and obtain appropriate book making materials, and create the final project-management timeline) you only have only one more formal class period to work on the project.  With this in mind, please be ready to devote some outside-of-class group time to certain aspects of your production timeline. You are welcome to use the KUWSP office for your collaborative work time.  In addition, please be prepared to delegate tasks and meet small project deadlines along the way so it comes to fruition.  Remember the main elements of the overall project:  -the chapbook (six small customized handmade books); -the Instagram site; -the plan to share the work in academic contexts (perhaps on the KUWSP website, and a conference or two in Fall 22 or Spring 23).

See you all soon!  Excited about this project!!

Grammar & Linguistic Justice

Congratulations to Jasmine for an excellent walkthrough of two somewhat opposed readings – Hartwell’s piece about the role that grammar plays in establishing a confident writer, and Baker-Bell’s piece on linguistic justice and equity in the writing classroom.  I found Jasmine’s approach to our discussion was thoughtful and innovative.  By having us think about the role that discourse can play in developing a writerly confidence, she made us also think about how students might feel coming into writing from different cultural contexts.

The small game of “decoding” Shakespearean quotes together helped us all consider how the strain of discursive differences can be overcome with a little translation work, and a  mutual appreciation of our universal struggle with the human condition.  No matter who we are, or where we come from, our fears and vulnerabilities as human beings becomes the basis for bridging understanding between so many different worlds through so many different uses of words.

Our agenda slides:

Launching your final project

It was really a productive time to generate some initial thoughts about your final group project last week.  This initial brainstorming process and your shared document for capturing your early ideas is a testament to your collective creativity and your group chemistry.  As I mentioned, the hardest part of this process is to identify a sense of “shared-purpose” that all of you can agree upon.  I really love some of the project ideas that surfaced last week, and I hope you will all take the time to revisit the document and refine in your own minds eye what came of this first “brainstorming session”.

The plan for next week is to pin down (with clarity) the actual final project plan,.  You will also develop a project management timeline for the work in order to complete the project by May 8th.  The first step in doing this is a reflection that must be added this week to your blog.  Please be sure to make a clear “decision” about your favorite final project idea, and please share you sense of the work involved with that selection in your blog post this week.  We will synthesize these reflections together in class to come up with your final group project vision plan.

Some important upcoming dates:

  1. April 21 Brandon presentation & Final Group workshop; Blog #9 
  2. April 28 Final Project workshop; Blog #10 Due
  3. May  5 Final Project Workshop; Blog #11 Due 
  4. Friday May 8 (No class meeting):  FINAL PROJECT and FINAL CLASS PORTFOLIO DEADLINE

Your “to-do” list for 4/21:

  1. Please read:

2. Write your 9th blog  on Formula & Writing (Brandon’s above readings).  ***In addition, please add to your blog a final paragraph about your final project.  Please choose your “favorite” idea based on our discussions last week, and try to articulate more details about the project – the actual project; the outcomes; and a schedule/management timeline for the remaining class time (3 weeks).


The Power (and responsibility) of Words

Last week we were able to deepen our conversation again in meaningful ways.  Thanks to Chelsea for a thoughtful and impactful presentation, in which she  weaved some important questions for us to ponder, along with clips from “Blackish” and poignant reflections from her own educational journey.  Chelsea was able to effectively bring to life our readings by thinking of our theory through the lens of both storytelling and her lived experience.

bell hooks on feminism & Delpit on “the Silenced Dialogue”

After our consideration of Freire with Kathryn at the helm, we have turned to Lisa Delpit’s The Silenced Dialogue thanks to Chelsea’s thoughtful pairing with bell hooks’ Teaching to Transgress.

These two reading selections help us think further about empowerment and coalition, and what is happening to non-white and poor students in our own national context.  hooks’ definition of feminism is simple and straightforward – feminism  is “the struggle to end sexist oppression,” not “a lifestyle nor a ready-made identity or role.”  She makes us think deeply about the terms of coalition.  According to hooks, the struggle is fundamentally multidimensional, intertwined with other battles against oppression.  It begins with an understanding of domination and with critique of domination in all its forms.  In a similar vein, Delpit’s argument highlights an invisible  “culture of power” and the importance of gaining certain cultural capital.  As a specialist in teaching and learning in multicultural settings, Delpit seeks to provide opportunities for minorities and poor communities to articulate and effect change in the United States’ educational system.  She is also concerned with creating connections and building bridges between teachers of differing cultural backgrounds, between educators and culturally diverse children and their parents, and across the multi-cultural communities that make up our society.   In reading Delpit’s work, we come to see that everyday interactions are loaded with assumptions made by educators and mainstream society.  Delpit helps us see that by developing code-switching literacies and refining specific cultural translation skills, we might start to forge a pathway for certain children to grow and thrive as they continue to navigate a world designed to leave them behind.

Our slides:

I am so glad we were able to close class with reflections stemming from Lebanese writer Lina Mounzer’s beautifully conceived and tightly written essay, “War in Translation: Giving Voice to the Women of Syria.”  Mounzer is writing about her work translating and inhabiting the words of Syrians, particularly Syrian women.  Lina Mounzer discusses the Syrian women bearing witness to the war through writing, as well as her own complicated relationship with the English language, and translation as a symbolic act.  By reading some of this piece together after contemplating the work of Delpit and hooks, we can start to grasp the central role that words and writing play in negotiating both meaning and power.  Mounzer’s elegant and sometimes breathtaking essay cuts to the quick in regards to the ways words can sever and violate, and how they can heal and provide hope.  Ultimately, she makes us feel the weight and responsibility of words/rhetoric in shaping life itself.

Your to-do list:

Please read:

Blog #8 is due before 4/7 (Theme: Grammar & Linguistic Justice);  Your blog post should be a reflection on Jasmine’s reading selections. 

Looking forward to next class!  After Jasmine presents on the Hartwell and Baker-Bell readings, we will spend some time starting to think about your final project.



Voice in a Multicultural World

Returning back from Spring Break, we reflected on our time “off” which was helpful in synthesizing life overall.  We then jumped back into our shared work, as Edna lead us through a thoughtful discussion of writing in a multilingual & culturally diverse world, and the question of finding our ‘voice’ in writing.

Edna’s presentation spurned a truly thoughtful conversation, culminating in an exercise I really enjoyed – personal letter writing to our former selves (or to those younger than ourselves).  This approach to our shared thinking about “coming of age” as a writer – in the educational context as we know it today – was a wonderful way to pull out personal wisdoms from each of us.  In other words, that interactive activity helped us bridge our theory to practice.

Matsuda & Multilingual Writing Worlds

The article layed the ground work for an important lens on the field of writing in general.  A sense of legitimacy and power conferred in the mastery of language (in writing) requires a certain kind of determination, as well as a ceaseless supply of intellectual curiosity.  Yet 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 is a truth despite the dramatic diversity of our local context.  Our own NJ could very well be more multilingual than 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.  Matsuda’s article makes it clear that the ELL reality is not for the faint of heart.  To learn institutionally under such limited resources while experiencing a dismissal of any previous global, cultural, multi-linguistic knowledge often becomes part of a sting of stigmatization & “remediation”.  What remains is a profound challenge that is rarely confronted comprehensively (whether by educators or institutions).  I think it is important to acknowledge the “psychic” toll of this truth which is a part of any ELL experience.  Any academic consideration of these issues (through theory) should always be rooted in a compassionate understanding of the inherent struggle of the learner, and a “eyes wide open” understanding of the teacher’s constrained context.

Peter Elbow & Voice

We also thought together about why the concept of voice is at once elusive but also so critical when thinking about writing.  It was an important moment for all of us to have the chance to discuss what makes up a “voice” as the writer develops.  “Voice” is framed by Elbow as a rhetorical tool – a writing skill that needs to be considered (applied or withheld) depending on the writing context.  Is the goal of teaching writing to develop the self by honing voice?  Or is voice a misleading metaphor?  Perhaps we do not really write, …for we are ultimately written by culture?  When facing these tensions around the concept of voice in writing, Elbow points out the problem of either/or thinking which often leads to a “compromise” mandate. (And compromise often becomes a problematic way of understanding the complexity of perspective.  The result is often a watered-down middle-of-the-road take away).  Elbow thoughtfully favors both/and thinking.  Thinking that might instead include two opposing perspectives in relief, standing side by side for us to apprehend in stark contrast, in order for us to gather a more profound understanding of why there might be such distinct/disparate perspectives.  (With our current political-rhetorical landscape in mind, what a timely reflection to have at this point, no?).  ….So what does a deeper dive into modes of thinking have to do with the construction of voice in writing?  The voice-as-self verses the voice-as-role debate illuminates that “voice” is indeed the perfect lens or metaphor for language as both material and historical.  It is interesting to note that Elbow always defines voice from an auditory/aural perspective.  This prompts us to think further about the embodiment of language.  For we know things in our bodies.  How do we give that kind of knowledge “voice”….in writing? …and in our lives?  What other ways can we claim “voice” (….other than through the polished act of writing text)?

Our Agenda from class:

Your to-do list:


Blog #6 due before 3/24 – Reflection blog post due on Chelsea’s reading selections

Chelsea will lead our group discussion of the above readings, and we will do some social annotation work together in Part 2 of class.  Looking forward to connecting soon.


Catching momentum post-Spring Break

This post will be short and sweet – a quick catch up.

I hope that each of you had a good Spring Break.  Often our break time may come, and then then go, …and we are left to wonder where the time went.  And it can be in our nature to plan a bit too much for the time off, and then feel like not enough “catch up” occurred.  With that common paradigm acknowledged, I truly hope some of you caught some rest last week.

We will resume our work together this week, starting first with Edna’s presentation on Writing in a multilingual & culturally diverse world and finding our ‘Voice’.    She will walk us through Teaching Writing in the Multilingual World by Paul Kei Matsuda and Voice in Writing Again: Embracing Contraries by Peter Elbow.  I look forward to our conversation.  Last time we met, I shared some initial thoughts on these readings based on your blog reflections before break.  I hope that Edna will spurn some deeper discussion and we can create some momentum as we move forward.

We will also continue with some social annotation work in Part 2 or our class time, this time using the annotation tool in order to read Lina Mounzer’s “War in Translation”.  

Regarding the usual “to-do” list for this week, you did not have any new reading for this week’s class.

See you soon!


Multiliteracies & Empowerment

Congratulations to Kathryn for kicking-off our “presentation” series with such an engaging conversation about the the New London Group’s “A pedagogy of multiliteracies designing social futures” as well as Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed.  Bravo!


The term ‘multiliteracies’ refers to two major aspects of language use today – the first is the variability of meaning-making in different cultural, social or domain-specific contexts. These differences are becoming ever more significant in our communications.  The second aspect of language use today arises in part from the characteristics of new media. Meaning is made now in ways that are truly multimodal.  The new media environment makes it possible for discourse communities to diverge in new ways.  Writers can find and develop voices that are truer to their evolving selves.  For example – identity-speak, academic-speak, profession-speak, peer-speak, diaspora-speak, generation-speak, fad-speak, affinity-speak.  New media (via our multiliteracies) intensifies the logic of “discourse divergence” (our different ways of communicating). In short, the result is that our knowledge and culture(s) become more fluid, contestable and open. Cope & Kalantzis contend that discourses become less mutually intelligible, and we need to put more effort into cross-cultural dialogues in order to get things done, and to understand eachother.  This is an easy-to-see point.  But I think one of the important take aways from this article includes this observation:  One of the great paradoxes of today’s era of globalisation is that we are undoubtedly becoming more closely interconnected in many respects: communications, media, trade, travel, capital flows, knowledge flows and culture flows.  But we are also simultaneously making ourselves more different.  For this reason we need to learn to become discerning, ethical navigators of our new media environment, avoiding the harm to self and others that can also accompany the shift in the balance of agency.

Thanks to Kathryn’s brilliant pairing of the “multiliteracies” work with the work of Paulo Freire, we also had the chance to consider education as a practice of freedom versus education as a practice of domination.  “The oppressed, instead of striving for liberation, tend themselves to become oppressors.” -Paulo Freire

Paulo Freire is one of the most important critical educators of the twentieth century.  He is considered one of the founders of critical pedagogy, and he envisions an approach to education that aims to transform oppressive structures by engaging people who have been marginalized and dehumanized and drawing on what they already know.  “Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.”  Kathryn’s adaptation with ‘Cards for Humanity” allowed us to respond to Freire’s work personally,  prompting us to make connections with our own current worlds/realities.  How can we imagine a pathway to freedom when confronted with the profound complicity of an educational system that perpetuates the oppressive elements of society itself?  Freire believes that part of the purpose of education is to help children develop the ability “to ask good questions.” Teachers are at the frontlines of this struggle to open up a critical eye to the world, guiding new generations to think in complex and dynamic ways in response to a world foreclosed.  Yet the question remains, can education guide us in our journey towards liberation and freedom?  Perhaps the answer is no – not the education that we all know too well.  But there is always room for new approaches and practices, and so much “unlearning” necessary as well.  So how do we squeeze new ways of thinking, doing, being, into our learning communities and cultures?

The Danger of the Single Story

In part two of our seminar class we reflected  on Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s powerful TED talk entitled The danger of a single story.  Her talk served as a perfect segue , continuing our thinking together about the role words and writing play in shaping the world as we know it. We discussed the talk via the lens of multi-literacy and also empowerment.  Our lives, our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories. Novelist Chimamanda Adichie tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice — and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person, we risk a critical misunderstanding.

Question 1 (Q1):  In what ways are stories and narrative related to empathy & bias? #unboundeq

Question 2 (Q2): Why do MANY stories matter? #unboundeq

Question 3 (Q3): How are stories related to authenticity? And to power? #unboundeq

Your to-do list:

  1. Read Teaching Writing in the Multilingual World by Paul Kei Matsuda
  2. Read Voice in Writing Again: Embracing Contraries by Peter Elbow
  3. Blog #5 due before 3/3 – A reflection on the Edna’s readings above and the theme of Writing in a Multilingual & Culturally Diverse world & Finding our “Voice”

On Feedback

Feedback on Student Writing

This week was a thorough and insightful consideration on Feedback for Writing inspired by Bean & Elbow.  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.  We spoke about the dynamic of care, and how hard it is to give care in professional contexts (teaching) if one is not receiving care, and how little evidence there is of an education system that careful (i.e. care-full).  Although we began by thinking about the student perspective, we also established an  understanding of the looming backdrop of the real constraints that teachers face in terms of meeting specific assessments, standardized tests, and district administrative expectations.  From the beginning, our bridge from writing theory to real life (on-the-ground) practice reveals significant conundrums.

Bean 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.

Our class slides:

In our classroom discussion, we drew closer to the student writer’s viewpoint.  It is critical to apprehend that foundational vulnerability that lies at the heart of learning how to write.  And I also think it is important for all of us to tap into 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 in the haste to do one’s job as teacher, sometimes these truths are forgotten or 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.  This is a lot for a teacher to navigate (when there is little supporting them in terms of systemic expectation).  By reviewing these articles carefully, it seems the challenge in responding to student writing becomes more nuanced and complex, and yet, there isn’t a crystal clear pathway to ensure an overall improved strategy.  As we continue to bridge theory to practice together, let us attempt to identify some ways to encourage and foster writing in education (and society).

#iamfrom & #whyiwrite

We turned from our analysis of writing feedback to some creative writing time of our own.  Thank you for your beautiful contributions!

Your “to-do” list:

Remembering How We Learned to Write

I am still thinking about the early ground we have covered in “Writing Theory & Practice” class, since it lays such an important foundation for our continuing discussion throughout the course of our semester together.

The free writing exercises that asked you to “mine your memory” for how you learned to write yielded very revealing responses.  And in many ways, some shared themes emerged.  It seems that in some way, you all remember the feeling of being “boxed in”, or forced into mandatory or standardized approaches, and feeling uninspired as a result.  There were also accounts of boredom, and a resulting understanding that writing wasn’t something that was for you.  On the other hand, when we thought more deeply about how you REALLY learned to write, there was always a story of “coming into voice” or empowerment behind that transformation.  Sometimes identifying as a capable writer involved the care of a teacher that paid closer attention and employed thoughtful pedagogic strategies (i.e. Jasmine, Kathryn, Edna) and sometimes it happened due to self-driven interest and discovery (Chelsea, Brandon).

I am glad we started our reading series with Janice Lauer’s overview of the field of Writing Studies, so we could apprehend some of the shifts in emphasis and approach over the years.  Here are the notes that reflect some of the main threads of Lauer’s argument. As we proceed with class and consider strategies for “becoming a writer” – we can also consider the moment we find ourselves in now, and what is at stake in theorizing the art and craft of writing.

As I pointed out in class, rhetoric and writing are at the heart of how the world is shaped, and in many ways these activities are the critical engine that fuels our perceptions of what is possible.  We must grapple with the fact that rhetoric in civic discourse is now, more than ever, an amplified influence due to new technologies for writing.  And so we must take our analysis beyond just individual concerns (skills and voice) and also consider implications in the social context (power and the shaping of ideologies & systems of thought).

Our class slides: 

Twitter as a networked learning tool

I am glad we took a moment to think about how to use twitter to develop an asynchronous discussion (a backchannel) to supplement our face to face learning together.  Here is the Twitter Scavenger Hunt link.  You should share your blog weekly, and comment (quote retweet) your classmates, on their blogs as well.  Remember to dip into twitter to connect, and share, and start some creative interactions with each other.  And remember to always add the #unboundeq hashtag to your tweets for class so we can track our networked conversations easily.

You to-do list:

  1. Read Writing Comments on Student Papers by John Bean
  2. Read Ranking, Evaluating, and Liking: Sorting Out Three Forms of Judgment by Peter Elbow 
  3. Blog #3 due before 2/17 – Reflection on the Bean & Elbow readings, any thoughts that are emerging from our interactions/discussions. Remember to tweet your blog too!
  4. Dip into twitter by participating a bit in our “scavenger hunt” prompts, and remember to do a bit of reading/tweeting through our class hashtag – #unboundeq


Thinking about Equity…

Our last meeting was good transition from our virtual start in Zoom in the past couple of weeks, to our face-to-face “Writing Theory & Practice” seminar room on campus (CAS 205).  The room is perfectly suited for our small group – with windows that open, plenty of room for social distancing, and a large round table which is conducive to collaboration and conversational sharing.

I am glad we took the time to consider the resources in the Kean University Learning Commons (aka – The Library).  As a graduate student, you should be familiar with your library resources, as well as the excellent reference librarians (who are there to help all researchers).  We spoke briefly about the workshops that are available, we considered the research processes in the basic WorldCat search portal (on the Learning Commons website), and we also spoke about OER (Open Educational Resources).  In addition to that, we also took a final look at our Course Calendar to finalize our reading/discussion plans, and we apprehended the themes that have emerged from your selections for our agenda each week.  I think the course has shaped up in an inspiring way, with many of our readings pointing towards an interest in social justice and equity issues, and the role that writing might plays in centering these values.

In the second half of class we spoke a bit about the learning network that is an important anchor for the class – Equity Unbound.   Equity Unbound aims to create equity-focused, open, connected, intercultural learning experiences across classes, countries and contexts. The original founders – myself along with Dr. Maha Bali & Dr. Catherine Cronin – imagined a network of learners and educators that would collaborate across literal and figurative boundaries.  As I shared with you all, the motto for the network is a quote from journalist Lina Mounzer – “The only way to make borders meaningless is to keep insisting on crossing them”.  

I also spoke of the value of concepts like “crystallization” and “emergence” in regards to the work we are doing together.  Finally, we closed class with a prompt to think about your “WHY”.  What is your why?  Every single person has a deep motivation that fuels their life in the grand scheme of things. If you keep questioning why you do the things you do, you will eventually find your own personal “Why” in life.  I hope you keep coming back to this question as you refine your sense of meaning in the life you have been blessed with.

To-do list for next class

  • Read Janice M. Lauer “Rhetoric and Composition”;
  • We will have a “twitter scavenger hunt” in the second part of class next week in order to help you all acclimate to the tool.
  • Blog #2 Due: – A Blog Reflection on the -Lauer reading

Your blog posts should be a thoughtful consideration of the week’s reading as you keep in mind the context of the conversations we are having in class. Your purpose in these responses is to consider the author’s project: give an overall (brief) summary, talk about the key phrases/terms in the text, and reflect on how the reading helps you to make sense of your own writing/teaching practices.  

  1. What are the main ideas of the reading?  
  2. Do you agree/disagree with the authors claims? 
  3. Connect the author’s ideas to your own experiences as a writer.  
  4. Do you have any key questions that emerge from reading this material?  

I encourage you to include links to websites/videos/resources that help to further enhance the readings and our discussions.  The tone of your blog post can be informal, anecdotal, and you are welcome to play with stylistic conventions.  Please tweet your blog post each week to our class hashtag – #unboundeq .


“Move-In” Day

Great to see you for Part 2 of our Orientation to ENG 5020 “Writing Theory & Practice”!  Our second meeting in Zoom was a chance to further acclimate as we continue to set up the course together.  Your early responses to the “Image Gallery” check-in exercise were insightful, and it helps to get to know each other (incrementally) as we embark on this journey together.  Thanks for your generosity in participating.

I am glad we achieved as much as we did regarding our Calendar plan.  For now, we have all the dates designated (each of you knows which night you are slated to “take the lead”).   In addition, the majority of the readings have already been selected.  For the few gaps that remain in terms of readings, I will connect with individuals to complete the outstanding elements, but we are certainly on our way now in shaping an overall picture.  When we meet in person for the first time next week, we will take another look at the overall Calendar, perceiving how the class has shaped up, and apprehending certain themes together.

From Zoom to F2F

Please remember that we will be meeting in CAS 205 next week.  This room is a roundtable seminar room at the end of the hallway, and it is located on the second floor of CAS.  I look forward to being with you in person.  We will soon start to develop a Thursday-afternoon-into-evening “rhythm” for our class.  We have our work cut out for us in this course, and yet, I also hope that our rhythm and our way of proceeding together will genuinely be something for all of us to look forward to.  We will pace ourselves as we dive deeper into the world of writing theory, seeking that bridge to writing praxis.  Your preparations for the next week will continue to be “light” as we warm-up and acclimate together.

Your “to-do” list:

  1. Read:   Hunt, B. (2013, December 11). We never use pen & paper [Blog post]. Retrieved from
  2. Read:  Popova, M (2014, December 2). Lynda Barry’s Illustrated Field Guide to Keeping a Visual Diary and Cultivating a Capacity for Creative Observation [Blog post: Brainpickings] Retrieved from
  3. Listen to this 30 minute podcast:’-air-with-terry-greene-mia-zamora
  4. Please post Blog #1 (Part 2) – You can include reflections on our class time thus far, the readings and podcast for this week, and/or any reflections emerging from our Spiral Journal exercise, etc.  

See you in person soon!

Dr. Zamora