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April 30, 2006

Thea's Writers' Block

April 27, 2006

MLQ's Five Minute Workshop on Tense Shifts

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April 26, 2006

Gary's Five Minute Workshop

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April 19, 2006

maru's student surveys re: out-of-class work and time

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April 18, 2006

Conception of Time and Writing. About some Cultural Aspects

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April 17, 2006

teaching statement and portfolio

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april - may updates

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April 13, 2006

Reid, "Which Non-Native Speaker?"

Reid identifies two groups of non-native English speakers who study at U.S. universities: U.S. residents and international students. She identifies the mistakes that are common in the writing of each group and gives suggestions for working with each group of students.

U.S. resident non-native speakers have typically had some schooling in the United States. Reid says that these students tend to be orally very fluent, but that they may have difficulty with accuracy in writing. She talks about native language transfer and ear-learning as two possible causes for the errors that these students tend to make.

International students also struggle with writing in English. Reid acknowledges that stduents from different countries have different experience in learning English, but points out that many of them have done years and years of sentence-level grammar exercises. They can often explain grammatical rules, but they have difficulty producing accurate sentences in their writing. Reid mentions first language transfer as one cause for their mistakes; she also notes that they are often unfamiliar with idioms.

Reid says that in dealing with NNS writing, instructors should focus on errors that impede meaning first. She says that familiarity with students' backgrounds is important because it can help instructors choose which errors to address and how to address them; knowing their backgrounds is also useful when it comes to advising students about the outside help they can access.

She reminds instfuctors that writing in a second language is extremely challenging and calls for patience and understanding when working with non-native speakers.

April 6, 2006


Rooted in Bruffee's suggestion that "How we teach . . . is what we teach" (442), Trimbur's essay argues that collaborative learning can help students find the dissensus in a discourse. Trimbur focuses on two criticisms of collaborative learning. The conservative criticism equates collaborative learning with "group think" and suggests that it undermines a student's individuality. The liberal criticism suggests that collaborative learning's emphasis on coming to a consensus is mistaken as it ignores power inequality in the construction of a consensus; in other words, it ignores the voices that are excluded or marginalized when a group comes to a consensus. Trimbur responds to the conservative criticism by noting that it suggests a mistaken understanding of the individual (one that sees the individual as not socially constructed). He also argues that instead of liberating the individual, conservative teaching styles actually keep students isolated from one another and thereby deprive them of the community necessary to empower them. Trimbur then mounts a defense of the liberal criticism of collaborative learning by discussing a problem with Richard Rorty's conception of "conversation." Rorty's vision of intellectual conversation freed from "reference to metaphysical foundations" (444) is flawed by a romantic account of "abnormal discourse." Rorty imagines "the genius, the rebel, the fool" (445) who occasionally intervenes and reinvigorates intellectual conversation when it becomes stagnant. According to Trimbur, liberal critics worry that by emphasizing the presence of dissent in conversation, Rorty ignores "the discourses silenced or unheard in the conversation" (446). In contrast to Rorty's account of collaborative conversation, Trimbur proposes a model of learning that privileges dissensus. Instead of asking students to come to "collective agreements," we should ask them to come to "collective explanations of how people differ, where their differences come from, and whether they can live and work together with these differences" (448). Trimbur thinks that collaborative learning should call into question the status of college professors (among others) as "experts" because the university system "prevents the formation of consensus by shrinking the public sphere and excluding the majority of the population from the conversation" (450). Drawing on Jurgen Habermas's ideas, Trimbur suggests that we adopt a model of consensus that is "utopian," not because consensus is a state that we could actually achieve once we removed "relations of domination and systematic distortion" (454), but because a utopian model of consensus allows students "a critical measure to identify the relations of power in the formation of expert judgment" (452). While Trimbur notes that "collaborative learning can[not] constitute more than momentarily an alternative to the present asymmetrical relations of power and distribution of knowledge," he hopes that creating a class with "a heterotopia of voices" may allow students "to imagine alternative worlds and transformation of social life and labor" (455).

April 5, 2006

Bruffee. Collaborative Learning and the “Conversation of Mankind�

Kenneth Bruffee proposes Collaborative Learning (CL) as a way to explore new conceptual biases in learning. Indeed changes in the philosophic conception of knowledge create a different rationale for CL. Bruffee outlines this by means of these four key elements:
1. Conversation, thought, and knowledge: In this view, intellectual activity usually takes the structure of dialogue. Thought is not an essential attribute of human beings but rather, “an artifact created by social interaction� p. 398. In simpler terms, “thought is internalized conversation� (p.399). Consequently writing is conceptualized as the re-externalization of internalized conversation, with a sequence: “We converse, we internalize conversation as a thought; and then by writing, we re-immerse conversation in its external, social medium� (p.400)

2. Normal discourse (ND): ND applies to conversation in a community of agreeing peers: “a group of people who accept, and whose work is guided by, the same paradigms and the same code of values and assumptions� (p.401). In Bruffee’s conception, when students work collaboratively, they actually “converse� and, as a result, are provided with the social context, common ground, and the kind of community in which ND can happen.

3. Authority of knowledge: Knowledge is the consequence of challenging beliefs and negotiating paradigms through conversation thus CL is a valuable opportunity that allows students to “negotiate their way into that conversation� (p.406).

4. New knowledge, abnormal discourse, and authority:
CL challenges the traditional structure of the classroom and thereby the authority of teachers: they are no longer defined as people in touch with privileged sources of knowledge, but “those members of a knowledge community who accept the responsibility for inducting members into the community� and, as a result, students have access to the “conversation of mankind� (p.410).
Additionally, abnormal discourse occurs when consensus no longer exists in the community of knowledge. If the disruption of normal discourse is successful, it is considered “revolutionary,� if not it is considered as “kooky� discourse. However, while teachers can only work with tools of ND, abnormal discourse is a device of creativity that could challenge “reliance on the canonical conventions and vocabulary of normal discourse� (p.408). The implication for writing instruction “involves demonstrating to students that they know something only when they can explain it in writing to the satisfaction of the community of their knowledgeable peers� (p.412).

April 4, 2006

Edward's peer editing ppt.

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April 2, 2006

Maria's Assignment Presentation PPT

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