« January 2006 | Main | March 2006 »

February 28, 2006

Course Objectives -- Gary Peter

These objectives are for GC 1422, Writing Laboratory: Communicating in Society (second semester writing course):

At the successful conclusion of the course, students should be able to:

o Demonstrate a solid understanding of conducting research using a range of sources, including online, print, and personal/experiential;

o Identify and analyze different rhetorical contexts (for example, websites, newsletters, pamphlets, essays, stories) as effective ways to convey information, ideas, and arguments;

o Analyze and explore a particular topic from a variety of perspectives and contexts;

o Continue to work effectively with the writing process (brainstorming, drafting, revising, editing) and other writing strategies to solve particular writing problems in your own writing and in your classmates' writing;

o Demonstrate an awareness of the choices a writer must make when writing for different audiences and purposes in terms of content, style, and word choice;

o Summarize, paraphrase, quote, and accurately cite sources, including integrating research with your own ideas;

o Apply guidelines for using and documenting sources according to MLA style;

o Understand the definition of plagiarism and its implications, including ways to avoid it in written work.

Course Objectives - MLQ - Intro to Creative Writing - 1101




1) You’re a writer now. Take yourself seriously.


2) Immerse yourself in the experience. Creative writing is not a body of knowledge to be memorized—it is something to be lived. "The teaching of writing is Socratic," author Wallace Stegner has said. I will not tell you how to make a beautiful story. Your fellow students will not tell you how to make a beautiful story. We will ask questions, investigate writing that works, and tell you what we hear in your words.


3) Gain a deeper understanding of how to read literature. If you can understand how a poem or story works—how it creates characters, for instance—then it’s more likely that you’ll create a successful one of your own. And the opposite is true: If you can create a story or poem, then you will understand other authors’ narratives more fully.


4) Attempt to communicate your vision of the world. Creative writing is not just about expressing yourself—it’s about sharing your vision with an intelligent audience. As poet Michael Dennis Browne would tell you, writing isn’t about having an emotion. It’s about giving that emotion to the reader.


5) Recognize that poems, stories, and essays can be made better. Great stories are not (often) created in a single sitting. Or two. Or three. Or...


This list will be modified and expanded by your goals, and the goals of your peers. What do you want to get out of the course? Why did you take it? We will create goal statements at the beginning of the semester and treat them as living documents.


Laura's topic choice ppt

Download file

February 27, 2006

Heather's Intake Assignment

I actually used an intake assignment similar to this on the first day of class this year. Pamela (I think - perhaps it was someone else) said something about moving beyond the "get to know you" idea. That actually is one of my goals in this assignment. I think that freshman comp is one of the few classes in which my students really get to know their instructors, and their instructors them. I want my students to feel comfortable coming to me with questions, and I find that knowing a bit more about them helps me to make that personal connection.

This assignment elicits a 5-paragraph type response - but that's also part of what I want. I don't specifically tell them to do that, but I think if they've been trained in Amercan-style essay writing, the prompt will lead them to organize that way. Many of my students don't typically follow a thesis-driven rhetorical style, and some may not even really be familiar with it. Of course I want them to get beyond that, but I think they do need to learn it - and it helps for me to see right off the bat how many of them are familiar with that pattern. Here's the assignment:

To give me a better sense of your strengths as writers, as well as the areas in which there is room for improvement, please complete the following assignment by Thursday, January 19th. As you write, think of me – your instructor – as your audience. Organize your answer as you would an essay for a standardized test, such as the TOEFL.

In 1 – 2 pages (typed, double-spaced, 12-point font), please respond to ONE of the following prompts. In addition to providing me with a sample of your writing, your response will help me get to know you a bit as an individual.

You will not be graded on the assignment, but I will respond with comments that should help as you work on future assignments in this course.

1. How are the expectations you had of the United States prior to coming here similar to or different from your experiences in the country?

2. What is your major, and how did you choose it? If you have not yet declared a major, what are some of the options you are considering, and why?

February 26, 2006

Steven's Intake Assingment

I was thinking of this as informal writing assingment given to them on the first day of class. It would give me a quick sense of their writing ability and also, hopefully, get them thinking about how they feel about the news. My experience is that most undergraduates feel very guilty about not being better informed, but is this really their fault?

Write for twenty minutes about your feelings about “the news.? You may focus on a particular news story that you’ve been following or that you’re interested in knowing more about. Alternately, you can write about your relationship with “the news.? What role has it played in your life? Do you read or watch it? If so, which news sources and how often? If not, feel free to write about why not. Please try your best to write in formal English, but do not worry too much about organization.

February 25, 2006

another call for papers

Hi all. Here's another call for papers that focuses on teaching writing. I'm on a listserv and get CFPs every Thursday, so I thought I' d post some relevent ones for the class.

Subject: CFP: Second Language Writing Across Contexts (6/30/06;
Date: 22Feb06 1:52pm

Call for Papers-Building Bridges: Second Language Writing Across

This CFP is posted online at:

We invite contributions for an edited collection, _Building Bridges:
Second Language Writing Across Contexts_, which attempts to close
existing gaps in international conversations among second language
writing scholars in elementary and secondary schools, two-year colleges,
post-secondary institutions, and community programs. Much current
scholarship on second language writing comes out of post-secondary
institutions in the United States. This volume attempts to build bridges
between this context and other sites of second language writing
research, theory, and pedagogy.

We anticipate contributions to five major sections:
-Exploring Boundaries: Disciplinary Realms for Second Language Writing
-Understanding Contexts: The Current Status of Second Language Writing
-Posing Questions: Sites of Inquiry in Second Language Writing
-Supporting Collaboration: Projects that Cross Contextual Boundaries
-Identifying Resources: Annotated Bibliographies on Second Language
Writing in Context

Contributions might focus on, but are not limited to:
-The current status of second language writing pedagogies, research, or
theories in a specific context;
-Institutional locations of second language writing instruction and
research in relation to disciplinary boundaries;
-What second language writing scholars would like to learn from their
colleagues working in other contexts;
-Underrepresented sites of second language writing scholarship;
-Questions developing out of teaching or researching second language
writing in a specific context;
-Reports of in-progress or completed research that crosses contextual
boundaries for second language writing;
-Reports of in-progress or completed projects that reflect
collaborations among scholars working in different contexts; or
-Suggestions for initiating and supporting collaborations among scholars
working in different contexts.

All contributions should be accessible to readers who are new to the
field of second language writing or who primarily work in a related
field. Given the volume's focus on contexts, authors also should include
descriptions of their own institutional contexts.

We request that submissions not exceed 20 manuscript pages (including a
list of references, tables and figures, and appendices). Please follow
the manuscript preparation guidelines outlined in the 5th edition of the
APA Manual. We plan to send each manuscript out for external review to
help us assess its quality and to generate feedback for revision.

Please send submissions to Jessie Moore Kapper (jkapper@elon.edu)-as
Microsoft Word (.doc) or rich text format (.rtf) files-by June 30, 2006.
Any questions also should be directed to jkapper@elon.edu.

Jessie Moore Kapper, Elon University, and Elizabeth Patton, Purdue

This CFP is posted online at:

Jessie Moore Kapper
Assistant Professor, Professional Writing and Rhetoric, TESOL
Professional Writing and Rhetoric Coordinator
Department of English
Elon University

2192 Campus Box
Elon, NC 27244


Professional Writing and Rhetoric Concentration: http://org.elon.edu/pwr

From the Literary Calls for Papers Mailing List
Full Information at
or write Jennifer Higginbotham: higginbj@english.upenn.edu

February 24, 2006

Edward Eiffler's Intake Assignment

Edward Eiffler
(This would be written in Spanish for class use. It would be handed out as a worksheet.)
This is a writing sample to determine your writing ability before the start of the semester. Please write at least 10 sentences for each of the following scenarios. You may use the back of the sheet if necessary.

1. Describe a memorable day from your last vacation. Use both the preterite and imperfect forms of the past tense.

2. Describe a typical day here at the University of Minnesota.

3. Write a letter to a foreign school at which you wish to study asking questions about the area and program.

Lisa's intake assignment

Download file

February 23, 2006

Maru's intake assignment

The following assignment is designed for Language and Communication, a writing composition class for freshman in the Humanities, in a national university in Venezuela.

Usually in Venezuela the students don’t receive any kind of specific training for writing before start College; they are expected to learn this by themselves.

This particular intake is a personal transition between I used to do in my Venezuelan classes and what I’m learning here, in my PhD. It has elements that I suspect are linked with the way academic activity is conceived in my country (we “assume? that students have to know how to write, in despite of anyone cares about how they can learn)

I conceive this in-class assignment with time and word limit, because I want to see how concise-good writing can be my students, as opposite the idea good writing is long writing.

I, representing the “Humanities academic world?, am the audience of this assignment. Its purpose is clearly assessment of the student writing abilities and must be done individually.
Usually I don’t provide any criteria for success, except time and extension limits, but the students can use dictionaries.
Universidad de Los Andes. Venezuela
Language and Communication

First day in-class assignment

1) Explain in a 150 word essay what does “writing appropriately in college? means for you. Include any information or course that you have got in order to learn how to write in college.

2) List at least 3 resources that you use to obtain help when you write something for academic purposes

3) Summarize in few paragraphs your favorite movie (1)

(1) I realize that the underline segment is a manipulation that I used with my students in order to say: “Hey, we are in Humanities Community, and we are used to being involved in cultural activities such as seeing movies?. Additionally I have a hypothesis (and this is part of my interests in my PhD) that seeing movies is a facilitating activity for syntactical strategies

Ed Schiappa's Plagiarism intro.

Download file

February 22, 2006

Mike Rose - "Rigid Rules, Inflexible Plans, and the Stifling of Language: A Cognitivist Analysis of Writer's Block"

Roses’s central point is that “writing rules? or “planning strategies? “often impede. . . rather than enhance. . . the composing process? (95). He bases this conclusion on the experiences of ten of his undergraduate writing students, five of whom suffered from writer’s block. Rose offers definitions of “rules? and “plans? that are rooted in cognitive psychology, and he notes the difference between two kinds of rules: heuristics and algorithms. Whereas, heuristics are merely “rules of thumb,? algorithms are rules that generate certain results. Rose then notes that “Plans subsume and sequence heuristic and algorithmic rules? and that “plans . . . [unlike rules] include criteria to determine successful goal-attainment and, as well, include ‘feedback’ processes? (97). A plan, in turn, differs from a set “in that set represents a limiting and narrowing of response alternatives with no inherent process to shift alternatives. It is a kind of cognitive habit that can limit perception? (98). Rose then provides examples of his “blocked? students’ comments about their writing processes and notes how those students employ bad advice that often comes from their previous writing instructors. His students, for instance, are overly focused on having a good introduction, on making sure their paper has more than three points, and on developing a detailed outline. This is different from Rose's non-blocked students, who hold to more flexible rules (or who hold inflexibly to rules that prescribe flexibility about other rules, such as: "'If a rule conflicts with what is sensible or with experience, reject it'"(101)). Rose then suggests that "blocked" students often take rules that are meant to be heuristics to be algorithms. Some students are also compelled by the "methodological orientation" (103) of their major to adopt rules that are unhealthy for writers. Also in contrast to their non-blocked peers, "blocked" students seem less concerned with "testing" their writing against the feedback they get from their audiences.

Peter Elbow, "Closing my Eyes as I Speak: An Argument for Ignoring Audience"

Near the end of this piece, Elbow sounds the following warning: "If we are trying to advance contraries, we mus be prepared for paradoxes." The same advice should be given to readers as they prepare to tackle this article!

Elbow's central point is that sometimes it's best NOT to think about an audience when writing - even if the writing really is targeted at a particular group of readers. Since concerns about audience reaction can intimidate writers, stifle creative thought, or even cause a complete block in the composing process, Elbow says that writers should sometimes consider ignoring the audience. If that's not possible, he suggests at least thinking of a friendly, uninhibiting audience when writing. He claims that "writer-based prose" can be better than writing that caters to an audience's expectations.

In defending his ignore-the-audience approach, Elbow discusses contrasting models of cognitive development, noting the ways in which they relate to writing. Using the Piagetian model ("language-begins-as-private"), Elbow says, one will conclude that the way to improve weak writing is to "think more about readers." Elbow suggests that Vykotsy's model ("language-begins-as-social") should perhaps be given more emphasis in writing - and that the result would allow the possibility that weak writing could be improved by a writer engaging herself more.

Elbow also touches on the paradox of written discourse being both social and internal. Cautioning against an either/or approach, he says that writers should sometimes consciously address an audience (be it self or other), and sometimes ignore one.

He ends with several practical guidelines. One suggestion is that teachers respond to student writing by "replying" rather than simply "giving feedback." Another is to put readers out of mind when one finds them stifling - and then to bring them back in the revision stage. Elbow suggests, too, that writers increase awareness of their own writing processes and of the effects that audience awareness can have.

February 21, 2006

Gary's intake assignment

This is a revised version of what I brought to class last night -- I received some excellent feedback from Ann, Edward, and Pamela that, for a first assignment in the first semester of a first-year writing course, what I had was a bit much (and, somewhat unwittingly, I was encouraging students to write a five paragraph essay! Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course...)


Intake Assignment - Marcia

Download file

We talked about ways the goal statements could be used as the semester goes along, and specifying that at the beginning. The poem (would potentially) be included in the student's final poetry portfolio. I haven't done that piece of the assignment...it's only later I realized I would have liked a poetry sample right away.

Gary's proposal

Download file

Maru's proposal

Download file

Maria's proposal

Download file

Marcia's proposal

Download file

Ann's proposal

Download file

Heather's proposal

Download file

Thea's proposal

Download file

Intake Assignment - Ann

Download file

February 20, 2006

Call For Papers

Hi all. I recieved the following CFP that I thought may be of interest to our class.

CFP: Writing Across the Curriculum (3/31/06; MMLA, 11/9/06-11/12/06)

Call for Papers: Writing Across the Curriculum is a permanent section of the
Midwest Modern Language Association. The 48th Annual M/MLA Convention will be
held November 9-12, at The Palmer House Hilton, Chicago, Illinois.
This year’s theme is “Service Learning: Writing for/about the Community.? This
panel invites papers from all disciplines on Writing Across the Curriculum and
encourages proposals from community colleges and online learning institutions in
addition to traditional four-year colleges and universities.

Panel Description:
This panel will explore the various ways that the pedagogy of service learning
and civic engagement are incorporated into English composition courses and
writing courses across disciplines. Through analysis and discussion, we will
examine the relationships between theories and institutional practices and
explore service learning as a framework for discovery, engagement, and
professional development.

Please email a 250-word abstract to Joseph A. Barda (Section Chair) by March 31,

Joseph A. Barda
Curriculum Chair- Humanities and Social Sciences
Robert Morris College
Chicago, Illinois

From the Literary Calls for Papers Mailing List
Full Information at
or write Jennifer Higginbotham: higginbj@english.upenn.edu

February 19, 2006

Questions pertaining to Abbott et al's "Interchanges"

Which of the four approaches did you most identify with (either because you teach in similar ways or would like to)?

What do you conclude about the power of disciplinary discourse norms versus personality type and teaching style?

What might Elbow and Bartholomae conclude about the power of personal writing that became the emphasis of this dialogue?

Questions pertaining to McCarthy's A Stranger in Strange Lands

Although McCarthy studied only one student’s experiences w/writing in three courses over 21 months, there were a LOT of factors contributing the different ways that Dave construed writing assignments in these three courses. Which struck you as most influential?

To what extent did McCarthy’s findings about these three different courses/assignments seem applicable to patterns typical to these discourses?

What relevance might Perry’s four positions have to Dave’s 21-semester progress?

Looking at Grice’s cooperative principle and the four conditions on which successful “conversation? relies (209-210) which of the four do you think that you emphasize in your writing assignments and comments on students’ work?

How might you, in your course, help students to apply writing proficiencies they've gained in other courses to the writing (and critical reading) you're asking them to do in your course? What might you do, specifically, for students who may come to you with diverse backgrounds in academic discourse?

February 14, 2006

Assigning Online Research: Steven

Here are the links I was using in class.

Guides to online sources
Michigan State University:


U Cal Berkeley:

Democracy Now!:

Project Censored:

Project Censored's depleted uranium story:

Information clearing house on fall of Saddam statue:

About information clearing house:

February 12, 2006

Elbow: Being a Writer Vs. Being an Academic

Although we don't yet have a summary (Lu?) here are some questions to think about and comment on here:

Do you agree w/the conflicts Elbow sees between writers and academics?
Elbow is thoughtful about the treatment of published readings/models---how do his views compare w/yours?
How persuasive do you find Elbow's interest in ignoring audience and precedents? Why/not?
How might the conflicts Elbow sees between the "interests of the writer" and the interests of "academics-as-readers" affect the way you set up peer response workshops in your course?
Do you see any agreement between Bartholomoae and Elbow? Points of contrast?
How might Bartholomae and Elbow fit in Berlin's four classifications?

February 9, 2006

Summary of Bartholomae's "Inventing the University"

[note: pages 600-601 missing]

Academic writing requires students to imagine they have the authority to speak meaningfully about the content domain to someone who knows it better. Students enter unfamiliar with the conventions of academic discourse, and are aware of it. Nevertheless, it is both “necessary and enabling? (591) that as instructors, we ask students to write in the voice of our academic disciplines.

Initially, mimicking academic prose allows students to pull off the authority to speak meaningfully about the content domain to someone who knows it better. “Leading students to believe that they are responsible for something new or original, unless they understand what those words mean with regard to writing, is a dangerous and counterproductive practice? (598).

Fundamentally writing involves anticipating what has been said (in other academic texts) and what might be said (again, in other academic texts). Academic writing, then, is not about communicating fully new information; it is creating new connections among existing information.

After taking on the sound of the specialized discourse, students must try to seem as insiders with their academic audience by beginning with common points of departure (i.e. starting with “commonplaces?) before introducing new or controversial arguments.

Successful writing thus trades one set of (i.e. more naïve) “commonplaces? for another. Mechanically, successful writing is exemplified by:
‘While most readers of ______ have said _________, a close and careful reading shows that ____________.?

Level 1 Students: lack both academic “sound? and fail to exchange commonplaces (neither place themselves within nor against academic discourse)
Level 2 Students: mimic academic sound but fail to exchange commonplaces (place themselves within academic discourse, but not against it)
Level 3 Students: both mimic academic sound and exchange commonplaces (place themselves both within and against academic discourse)

February 8, 2006

updated syllabus w/presentations

Download file

February 2, 2006

Patricia Bizzell’s ‘Cognition, Convention and Certainty: What We Need to Know about Writing’

Bizzell begins by telling us that what we’re calling a “writing problem,? is really a “thinking problem,? and so we must realize that we can’t hope to bury ethical and political questions under neutral pedagogical technique. She revisits this issue of “certainty? at the end of her article.

The bulk of her article describes two theoretical camps in composition studies: “inner-directed? theorists, who are interested in how language-learning occurs and hope to describe universal function, and “outer-directed? theorists, who are focused on how language and language use are shaped by discourse communities.

Bizzell argues that both inner- and outer-directed theories must inform one another.

She demonstrates, in particular, how “outer-directed? theory could improve our understanding of Flower and Hayes’ inner-directed research. Their research, she says, is strong enough in explaining the how of writers’ decisions, but it doesn’t touch upon the why. This, she says, is the fundamental problem of the inner school when used alone—it conflates the rules that describe writing (how) with the rules that produce it (why). She shows how outer-directed ideas—like discourse communities—can help deal with the weaknesses in Flower and Hayes’ work.

Further, Bizzell speaks against the inner-directed school’s “quest for certainty.? (Here we finally have the “certainty? mentioned in the title.) She understands the appeal of certainty—many comp teachers want a universal modal that’s “ideology neutral? and works for all students. Then, if students fail, it’s their own fault. But, Bizzell says, these universal structures don’t exist because of the very nature of language, which is constantly in a state of flux, of negotiation and renegotiation within and between various discourse communities.

She ends by insisting on the need for discourse analysis in the comp classroom, and that comp instructors will and should continue to have a difficult job in navigating what, for some students, will be a different linguistic world from the one in which they were raised.


Interesting additional thing, Patricia Bizzell's statement on the possibilities of social change in the classroom, here.

February 1, 2006

Summary for Janet Emig's "Writing as a Mode of Learning"

In “Writing as a Mode of Learning,? Janet Emig posits the argument that writing “represents a unique mode of learning? different from talking, listening, and reading, other forms of composing, and composing in other graphic symbol systems (89). She gives primacy to writing over these other methods of learning because writing is the most available. She further emphasizes writing’s importance by differentiating the nature of writing from listen, reading, and most importantly, talking while noting a problem in courses that primarily focus on reading and listening. Reading and listening, Emig notes, are “receptive functions? (which implies passivity) while writing and talking are active or “productive functions? (90). She makes an important distinction between writing and talking, arguing that writing is not “talk recorded? but a unique language function. Her detail here is thorough, yet in places problematic. For example, in citing the differences that privilege writing, she notes, “Because writing is often our representation of the world made visible, embodying both process and product, writing is more readily a form and source of learning than talking? (91). Hmmm.

Drawing on sources as varied as Jean Piaget, John-Paul Sartre and Robert Pirsig, Emig attempts to clarify her thesis by defining “learning? from different disciplines and by drawing on the relationship of writing to learning as an active, organic process that follows the pace of the writer and engages the whole person. Writing is a unique mode of learning for Emig because it is both process and product—it allows for constant feedback and reinforcement of process while continuously displaying the written product. This constant back-and-forth of process and product, work and reward, is what makes writing so central to learning. She writes, “If the most efficacious learning occurs when learning is re-inforced, then writing through its inherent re-inforcing cycle involving hand, eye, and brain marks a uniquely powerful multi-representational mode for learning? (92). Lastly, Emig draws on the “epigenetic? nature of writing; in other words, writing leaves a trail of notes, journals, drafts, and “full discursive formulations? (although Emig would have to change her argument today as technology allows us to immediately delete the unsavory parts of our writing). She leaves us with a call to other scholars to continue her “crucial line of inquiry? to save writing as a “central academic process? (96).