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Writing as Making/Making as Writing

make-writing

The materials for this week occupied both ends of the spectrum for me. I was dreadfully bored by the twenty-two page article Kathleen Yancey decided to write, where she touches on the three waves of writing regarding writing assessment. Not only did I have a deja vu moment because we read her article about historicizing writing that basically said the same thing, but I also lost all interest in that moment to continue. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the video about writing as making and so my post today with mostly center around that topic.

Although there were areas where the discussion dragged in the video because of weak internet connections and not all of the panel members being there consistently throughout, I felt the conversation about writing as making/making as writing was very successful. Elise offered some very insightful comments about the work that she does and the concept of writing as making in general that really set the tone for the entire discussion. I made many connections to the discussions that we have had in class as well, and I think that that says something about the teaching of writing and how it is incorporated into the classroom. It is good to know that these conversations are present in college classrooms before the material is even introduced.

I feel the message the movement is trying to convey (to refrain from solely consuming, and instead participate incarnation) resonates with me because it is a creed that I have had for my life since I was a young girl. I never really thought much about my consuming the books I was reading, but rather focused on how I could get to the point where I’d be the writer of them. I guess i was a few steps ahead then, but I am grateful for that mindset that I held because it got me to where I am now. The very idea that I have been repeating all semester of getting student’s interested in what they are producing and creating a context for them to feel like they’re voice/work matters is exactly what Andrew touched on. I was excited to be hearing my very words uttered in different words.

What I found very interesting was the segment that touched on identity. Elise made a note that a student’s writer identity is something that is gained over time and I absolutely agree. Usually, one does not come to terms with themselves as writers until much later in their writing lives. In their younger years, student writers are not that confident, but I think that in time that can be rectified. I really liked what Elise said about intelligence persistence through iteration. I tis important to get student writers into that frame of mind where they have a sort of respect and appreciation for the revision process. Celebrating the beginning stages of a work and its drafts are just as important as praise for the final result. Also, students are going to feel empowered and feel motivated to be themselves and grow authentically into their writing identity when given the opportunity and safe “space” to be able to. These communities and subcultures invented on the web and in areas like DIY.org etc. are where it starts.

Formulaic Writing and the Research Paper

formualic

I thoroughly enjoyed the readings that Katherine has chosen for this week. I felt as though they worked so well together as a unit actually because I found myself referring to one article as I read the other. To begin, I would like to the address the article “Why the ‘Research Paper’ isn’t Working” by Barbara Fister. Her criticism of the research paper resonates so closely to my personal thoughts and opinions about the research paper and its uses. One of the most common criticisms of the research paper is that a student cannot be original, but yet it is looked for almost as a requirement in student writing. When one has a great amount of structure imposed upon them all of the time, they become dependent on it and are not able to release themselves from the box that is created. In addition, regarding the commentary given on citation, I feel there is indeed an immense pressure put onto students when it comes to citations and style, and the question of whether it is most important should be raised.

However, I do feel that how much emphasis is being put on citation at a particular stage in the writing process makes all the difference. If one does not wish to stifle student writers, as well as send them mixed messages about writing in general and what it is, then making sure other concerns are adhered to and locked in place first (before citation is a thought) is crucial to their growth as writers. I think that everything has its place, and while there are parts of writing that are absolutely imperative, there’s a time and a place where it should be addressed. Every situation and writing task will not call for impeccable citation as a high order concern, but it shouldn’t be ignored or pushed aside either.

Moving along, the second article “The Popularity of Formulaic Writing (And Why We Need to Resist) by Mark Wiley was very intriguing. Formulaic writing is an impediment for student writing in so many ways, but I can also see where the advantages are. Jane Schaffer’s Approach, I agree, would be magnificent to implement in ninth and tenth grades and then move beyond the approach by eleventh grade and on. However, if students aren’t making progress in terms of engaging with content and being able to express themselves then how is the Jane Schaffer method really effective? I felt as though Schaffer answered the issue of formulaic writing with a formulaic approach, which doesn’t make sense to me at all. What makes her approach different than the many traditionally influenced approaches that came before hers? The reason that made everyone want to use her approach because it would be “different” is contradictory and renders the approach useless.

While I have so much more to say about the topic, I feel this is a good area to stop and continue in class discussion. I will probably update this blog because it is a topic I found myself very passionate about, which i think has everything to do with my writing background and the my experience as a writing coach.

#WhyIWrite Peer Review Blog

why-i-write

I feel I so far behind in my progression for my final project, but I am trying my best to get everything in order and done. I was struggling for quite a while with my concept. I finally settles on a topic that might be hard to talk about sometimes, but offers immense insight and perspective into the lives of others. Below I will attach a link to my work and the five questions that I came up with for my group members.

 

Breaking the Manacles

 

  1. Do my visuals effectively communicate the message I’m trying to convey within each poem? If so, in what way(s)?
  1. Does wix seem to be an adequate platform to house my project? If not, explain and possible suggest tool you know that could help achieve what I am trying to do in a better way.
  1. What are some of the ways in which I may be able to make this piece even more interactive?
  1. Can you see how my theme connects to writing theory regarding voice and self in writing? In what ways can it be improved or altered?
  1. As a reader/navigator of this piece, what are some of your visceral reactions? (your responses may help me to locate any glitches within the pice that I would have to rectify.

Multilingualism and New Technologies

multilingual

For this week, I don’t really know if I was able to connect with either one of the readings. I felt that reading “Teaching Composition in the Multilingual World” by Paul Matsuda was very repetitive and didn’t really offer any new information that I did not know. I strongly feel that the conversation reverts back to the “what’s the takeaway?” discussion that we fall upon in every single class now. While I don’t think that the article really added to or took away from my current knowledge of the topic, I am however able to understand the urge and need for globalizing composition. I can agree that there is a myriad of factors to consider and there needs to be a division amongst second language writers that directly correlates with their previous existing knowledge of the english language, which also factors in their diverse backgrounds. The purpose of this article is perfectly articulated in this one line from the article: “In other words, the questions is no longer limited to how to prepare students from around the world to write like traditional students from North America; it is time to start thinking more seriously about how to prepare monolingual students to write like the rest of the world” (Matsuda 2012, p.50 ).

technology

Moving along to the second article about blogs, wikis, and podcasts, I feel it emphasizes important ideas about new technologies that are completely relevant today. This brings forth the prevalent idea of the “born digital age”. One of my classmates brought up a very interesting idea of the teacher (much like the discussion in the first article) being affected by a “second language” of sorts and not having as much of a digital literacy as their students. Inevitably, the teacher’s knowledge is diminished, which in turn affects the classroom and how well they are able to relate to and converse with their students surrounding the topic of new technologies. There are endless opportunities as of late regarding ways to put content out into the world using the web. One might say that there is no ceiling for the possibilities available. Sometimes I feel as though, as the author suggests, always at the beginning of a sort of new era with technology that will continue to thrive and grow forever. What can come from the many tools we are now fully exposed to is beyond my own imagination, and hopefully it will continue to positively impact its users similar to the strides it has made in education thus far.

Own it. It’s yours.

fight-for-your-write

I really connected and engaged with  “On Student’s Right to Their Own Text: A Model of Teacher Response” by Brannon and Knoblauch this week. from the start of this article, I immediately felt the authors advocating for student writers and arguing the fact that they should be given a bit more credit than normal in terms of their capabilities and competency when it comes to writing. I thought it was very interesting when the authors mentioned the fact that readers never really question an author one they have an impression of their credibility in mind, but instead put blame on themselves in regards to the quality of a piece of work. I never really thought about that before, but that is very true. Most readers will say they must’ve misunderstood something rather than chalk it up to an author needing to re-write. The idea of authority is prevalent when it comes to teachers and student-writers in the sense that a teacher will think twice about the moves a student makes because they are novice writers and still need to be told what to do and how to do it rather than believing they work with some sort of purpose or logic that mirrors someone that is more established.

I remember saying the word “ethos” over and over again in my mind while reading this article because that is very much what the first half of the article is about… credibility. However, as I read through to the end I got the sense of a student’s voice being diminished in their own work as well. Students will get the wrong idea about their work not having any value and sometimes even lose interest in writing altogether, but the key is to find a way to guide them to see the significance in their work rather than tearing them down. Student need to feel like their words and what they are writing about has value to another to establish a sense of responsibility. I questioned the work I do in the writing center towards the beginning of the article because I felt that we, in some way, approach every session with an “what can I help this student fix” kind of attitude as if we know what they should be writing and help help to get them to a version of an Ideal Text. I do think there is a way to move even farther from this idea, but I do believe that our purpose is alluded to by the end of the article when the authors suggest that a better way of handling the issue is by getting students to think carefully about the choices that they make in their writing and to not tell them what to do.

I feel this topic is really important because it adds to the conversation of how much a teacher can either build up or tear down a student’s sense of self-efficacy. I like how the authors tackled the idea of how writing is taught. This concept is crucial to then understanding what is wrong and how it can be rectified.

Writing on and Responding to Student’s Papers

red-pen

 

I can definitely say that I spent more time mulling over the first article I read, “Response to Writing” by Richard Beach and Tom Friedrich. I can tell that in most of the articles we’ve had to read so far this semester, all of the ideas seem to be trying to move further away from comments on student’s papers and feedback being too general and uninformative in the long run. When I was younger, I would always get general praise on my writing assignments, but was never told what was good about what I had done and the choices I decided to make. I never had too many of my teachers write something too negative in the margins, but instead very vague and confusing “awkward” statements. I can definitely see how old/traditional processes of responding to student’s writing may stunt a student’s growth, which is why I am glad that later on I had better professors. I am also thankful that as the instruction I received became better, I was able to get to a point where I could now help other students. I feel this coincides with the work that I do in the writing center, and I have a feeling that most things this semester will.

Beach and Friedrich spoke about teachers needing to shy away from being judgmental and start responding to writing as readers. Instead of having the student view the assignment as something only the professor would see, maybe the stakes would be higher if they had to write the assignment as if anyone could see it. This helps students to establish purpose with their writing and understand the value of and why changes are being made and how they can help instead of just “going through the motions”. By responding as a reader, a professor could easily show the student how something that is confusing to them can be confusing to others. This idea ties in nicely with the way Beach and Friedrich noted that the way a professor responds fosters a particular way in which a student revises. When looking at the second article, “Writing Comments on Student’s Papers” by John Bean, he mentioned that tone and meaning in teacher’s comments can be misconstrued, which brought me back to the reasons why oral commentary (like in Beach and Friedrich’s article) would be helpful. I don’t know if a professor has to always tape their comments to have them be oral, but as a student, I find that speaking in person with a professor helps me just as well. There is more time to carefully explain what is meant rather than leaving a vague comment that can cripple a student mentally.

In a way, the second article seemed like a plea for teacher’s and professors to reframe the way they think about commenting on student’s paper as well. Instead of viewing the situation as having to correct a paper, it may be more beneficial to look at it as if one has to respond to papers. In this way, a student is then encouraged to reframe their negative thoughts about writing, what it is, and the purpose of it based on the intricate care the professor took in responding to them in a more beneficial way. I liked the way in which the second article went into the questions to be thought about when commenting on papers, as well as the examples given to visually help emphasize the point. Sometimes students learn better with visuals and a huge difference is made if a professor drew an arrow showing where a block of text might fit in better with a comment and explaining why etc. Overall, I thought these articles served their purpose well in terms of looking at how teacher’s/professor’s techniques are evaluated and working out ways that they can be improved to better assist their students.

 

 

Authenticity and the Teacher-Writer

teachers-write

I appreciated the article “Teacher-Writers: Then, Now, and Next” because on one hand, it opens up the very real idea that teacher writers are somewhat models for their students. Today, more than ever, students are shying away from the act of writing as if there is only one type of person that can do it and do it very well. Teacher-writers sort of shed light on the fact that writing can be this sloppy mess that is improved over time. If the students have someone who is taking on the same challenge with them, it helps the students to feel as though they are not alone in the act. Also, I feel as though it is very important to have gone through something if one is going to then teach another about it. For example, in the writing center we ask that our writing coaches take Research and Tech before they can be hired as a coach. In order to better assist the student, it is crucial to not only know about a research paper, but to have written one as well.

In addition, the article brings up the very controversial idea of what/who a writer is/can be. The article is meant to rectify the misconception that teachers can’t also be writers, as well as acknowledge the texts that they have produced and show how they can work within different contexts. It seems so easy for those who are entering the teaching world form the other side. Is the field suggesting that authors can become professors and teach about their texts, but professors cannot switch over to then be writers and do both at the same time? The three phases when breaking down the history of a teacher-writer really puts things into perspective about how teacher-writers are viewed and their positons throughout time. It is important to know the work that teachers do because they contribute so much to conversations involving education, but are just not always given a space for their voices to be heard. This lack of acknowledgement can also definitely be on the teacher-writer’s part as well if they are not as confident in their identifying as a writer simultaneously while they identify as teachers. Are they putting themselves out there enough? If not, why and how can it be fixed?

 

write-authentically

Moving along, right off the bat when starting the article “Teaching Writing Authentically” by Carly Lidvall, I immediately thought back to one of the most commonly used articles for an English composition class, which is Gerald Graff’s “Hidden Intellectualism”. The article, in a nutshell, basically explains that students are more receptive and willing to write when it is something they are genuinely interested in. Lidvall pretty much confirms this idea by stating that “students also enjoy what they are doing and are not only motivated to write but are more successful in doing so” (Lidvall 3). In many curriculums, writing is nothing more than a have-to-do evaluative spelling and grammar check. I feel the fear of writing, then, is attached to poor instruction of the foundation, which comes from learning spelling and grammar etc.

Other than many students just seeing writing as some kind of a chore, those who are reluctant to write usually end up being the ones who did not have very good instruction in those foundation courses. I completely agree with Lidvall on the notion that students will be more receptive if they are introduced to writing in a way that showcases that it is real people writing for very real reasons. Authentic writing can be a myriad of things and does not have to stop with just the kind of academic writing taught in school. I wholeheartedly feel that if a theory like Dr. Zamora’s (writing as making and writing that can change the world and views/perspectives) is taught to students early on, they would have a very different idea about it and may be more open to writing. The goal is to just reframe the way that they think about it.

Peer Response and Reflection

peer-response

For the readings this week, I seemed to pick up on more of the ideas in the first one I read by Jaxon about approaches to guiding peer response. I feel as though I connected with the language of this article more because it shares many of the same ideas as my place of work… the writing center. I also found a great deal of myself in reading about the reasons student’s like peer responses in class. The characteristics of a peer response is basically what I do as a coach in the writing center, but being able to look at how someone else did a particular assignment was the main reason why I enjoyed peer response. There are some disadvantages in peer response because not every student always gives the most thoughtful and well developed responses to their peers even with prompts and pre-generated questions. Also, being able to really know the ins and outs of one’s own work and what one would like to see in terms of a response requires a great deal of reflection first and foremost on the writer’s part, which is something the student’s didn’t seem to make time for in the author of the article’s class.

 

As for the second article, I am not too sure why I couldn’t concentrate, but it was very hard for me to get into the reading. I didn’t really understand what I was reading most of the time. I began to connect with the reading a little more when Yancey introduced Donald Schon. I really liked the way he suggested that reflection is rhetorical because it is definitely true. In order to help others to understand and respond a certain way to one’s work, one has to know their own work. I enjoyed reading about his three types of reflection. The way that I understood each of them was as follows: reflection-in-action is like revising as one goes along. For example, if I were to be in the process of writing the paper, I would also be reflecting as I wrote and changing things as well. Constructive Reflection seems like one taking their own work and crafting it, but then setting time aside to actually engage in the revision process separately, which, to me, makes the process somewhat more objective. Reflection-in-presentation sounds like having one’s work in the presence of others and using that context to begin to reflect and explain what one’s work is and does. I am not too certain yet if I trust the notion that reflection-in-action works together and well with constructive reflection, but I will have to read the article over to make a more solid and evidence-backed statement.

CLMOOC –Letters to the Next President

 

 

Dear Future President,

 

Do you believe that Black Lives Matter? Do you even care? As an Black woman born to a Black man, married to a Black man whose family consists of several Black brothers, nephews, cousins and students, (yes students, they are my family too) this is an issue very close to my heart. In the past eight years our country has witnessed countless killings of Black men and women. In the last 48 hours there have been two black men gunned down by the police, both murders caught on tape and broadcast for the world to witness over and over again. I know as the president there will be several issues that will be important to you. You will have many favors to return and specific interest groups to repay but what about the people whose cries have been ignored for so long? I recently read a Nikki Giovanni poem that prompted me to write this letter to you, our next president.

 

I never even thought or imagined that in my lifetime I would have to proclaim, or remind people that black lives matter. Growing ups as an 80’s baby there was a semblance of racial equality. It was a post Civil Rights America in every sense of the word. We had overcome way before I was born– right? Malcolm X awakened our sleeping brothers and sisters while enlightening the masses that didn’t know or want the enlightenment. While Dr King led marches which united blacks and whites inspiring real change in this nation. These and countless other Civil Rights activists had already lost their lives in pursuit of a better tomorrow. The time had come for our chance to live because we were in charge of our life and now we have real choices. By the time I was born Black people were well on their way to reaching the “mountaintop” — or so I thought.  

 

If i can’t do

what i want to do

then my job is to not

do what i don’t want

to do

 

It’s not the same thing

but it’s the best i can

do

 

My peers in primary school were comprised of mostly Black and Hispanic children in my hometown of Newark, NJ. Yet, it never struck me as odd because my parents had a choice of where they wanted their children to be educated. White people didn’t live in my neighborhood. But, I never thought there was a “race” problem. This was their choice. As it was my parents’ choice to live in a community with their family and friends. My childhood home was smack dab in the middle of a city that looked like a wasteland as a result of the Newark Riots of ’67. While living in this reality I always thought that the ills of the past were just that,  ills of the past.  At home and in school I was taught that there was no limit on what we could do as Black people. (Well, except for becoming president.) Nevertheless, I had no concept or knowledge of Reganomics, police brutality or the need for affirmative action. How could I? I was a child. I was taught that as Black Americans, we were making strides in spite of the devastating crack epidemic that was all around me.  There were Blacks  going to college, becoming doctors, lawyers, politicians, CEO’s, the sky was the limit because we had choices, real choices...

 

If i can’t have

what i want . . . then

my job is to want

what i’ve got

and be satisfied

that at least there

is something more to want

 

In the 1990’s it appeared that America was on its way to becoming the place it was supposed to be for Black Americans. Then, in 1992 the Rodney King beating happened. The violent and brutal police assault of an unarmed black man was caught on camera for the world to see. An attack that looked more like footage from the Eyes On The Prize documentary than the 6 o’clock news.  For me, and some other naive Americans it was a no brainer, those cops were guilty– there was video proof. There was no way they could be anything other than that? The shocking not guilty verdict shattered my “free at last” ideals. For the first time in my lifetime I witnessed the injustice of the judicial system that mirrored something from days passed. Americans of my generation looked to NWA’s F*ck the Police as an anthem to deal with this moment. While I asked, “What’s going on here?” This type of behavior was no longer acceptable, we marched, we sang, we sat — things changed. Apparently, not so much, instead, the not guilty verdict sparked a riot in a city on the opposite side of the country from my Newark, NJ home that destroyed a community. Just like it did in Newark and Detroit almost 30 years prior. What is happening to our choice?

 

Since i can’t go

where i need

to go . . . then i must . . . go

where the signs point

through always understanding

parallel movement

isn’t lateral

 

Everything was upside down for quite sometime as it relates to racial relations. The OJ trial showed the world that all was not well in America as it pertained to race. In pursuit of the “American Dream” my parents’ chose to move their family to the suburbs where I attended Scotch Plains Fanwood High. Now, I went to school with Whites, Asians, Hispanics, Egyptians and a few Blacks. There were many different racial groups in the school, yet the cafeteria tables were segregated based on race. No one’s fault. That was our choice. A decade goes by and once again we see change when the nation that once had my people in chains like chattel then hung us from trees like laundry now had the choice to make one of us the leader of the greatest nation in the world.  Finally, America has allowed Black people to reach the “mountaintop.” Black boys could grow up and actually become the president of the United States of America like Barack Obama– if they live that long.

 

This celebration of equality didn’t last long because shortly into President Obama’s tenure the past is back to haunt us. The people that we are supposed to look to for protection are taking our lives — they don’t think we matter. Police are murdering us in the street with the cameras rolling, hashtags trending and then the courts are giving the assailants pats on the back. Do you know that there is a website with the names of over 100 Black men and women that have been killed by police officers– this is in addition to Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, and the more recent Alton Sterling and Philando Castille. In 2016 they are choosing to take us down like animals. Not crocodiles more like gorillas. They are showing us that our lives doesn’t matter at all.

 

If all lives were getting handled this way then there would be a very different public outcry. But it’s only Black people that are getting murdered in front of their women and children. This is a modern day lynching. Where we have members of law enforcement taking our men down, not to disarm but to harm with a lethal blow. This is a very hard pill that I’ve had to swallow because I like so many wanted to believe that things had changed. Instead, I see that life is nothing more than a series of images that change as they repeat themselves. This is not to say that all people in these positions of power are abusing it. But, the harsh reality is that the few are making   a  choice that is overshadowing the ones that are truly protecting and serving.  When the time comes every American will have a choice to make.

 

Benjamin Franklin once said, “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.” I”m asking that you, future president, future leader of the greatest nation in all of the lands, decide what side of the aisle you’re really standing on because for my people it is a matter of life or death.

 

When i can’t express

what i really feel

i practice feeling

what i can express

and none of it is equal

 

I know

but that’s why mankind

alone among the animals

learns to cry

 

Choices by Nikki Giovanni

 

Sadly, I am fresh out of tears.