Notes from September Meeting

Notes from Koshland Art of Teaching Writing Seminar Monthly Meeting on 9/19/19:

-Getting googled? Same username for class WordPress website as for this site – fear of students seeing our seminar posts on teaching
-Possible solution: use a different name when posting on this site

-How many people use the wordpress site? Students might not be checking in the website very much. Analytics give some clue but not much. Sometimes you have to post on bCourses AND the website (the former for readings, so you’re not publicly sharing copyrighted stuff). recommends exposing your students to the website in class (projecting homework, assignments, etc).

-Afraid students aren’t reading comments on their paper – suggests handing out comments five minutes before class and writing an exit ticket on what advice is most available to them before leaving class.

-Diagnostic essays problem:
the majority of the diagnostic essays are summary! Even though has taken care to make sure that they know that they’re not supposed to summarize. Someone suggests giving one-on-one feedback. Or, break down assignments into summary and argument components so that they don’t just get stuck on the summary. Talk about the distinction between “form” and “content” – some students get this faster than others. Breaking the argument into the “how” and “what” and “why” (the form, what’s going on in the text, and why it’s happening) is a good way for them to think beyond pure summary. Also, reading sample student essays.

Related problem:
to grade or not to grade diagnostic essays? Don’t want to stress out students, but also want them to realize that there are issues in their paper. mentions that diagnostic essays in the English department are not graded. suggests asking them to write a reflection on the diagnostic essay and comments and make goals for the semester, and retroactively reflect at the end of the semester about their progress.

Common Pitfalls in student essays:
argument in the last paragraph, generalizations, “since the dawn of time,” diction, syntax, juxtapositions, binary oppositions—they don’t talk about effect on meaning. Helpful phrase: “identification does not an argument make”—tough to figure out –is this close reading?

Possible solutions to Common Pitfalls problem:
: “Is this close reading?” handout with examples has made up—label things e.g. identification of examples, definitions.
Another option from : devious decoy deadline—have them say the paper is due on a certain day, go over common pitfalls, have them go over them and then turn in on next day. Use examples of close readings vs over-generalizations and not close-readings.

Issues with preparation of classes and work flow when teaching solo and
Possible solutions:
-Student presentations, sheet of activities when you don’t know what to do eg. affect inquiry cards, splitting up readings in pages and —use the materials of others,
-interactive activity: low-labor cost for teacher but high-yield for students. Eg. affect inquiry cards—good for suggestive stories—one side of the index card they put the affect, and on the other side they put a question (they are anonymous)—if you got your own, pretend it’s not your own—and then pair and share—what did you hear, what did you notice, then open up to a group discussion—another version with a quote on one side and question on the other—
-other activity—each student writes down question, they use it as a discussion question, people answer, and then when they feel like it’s time to move on they call on someone else-
-another activity-divide room into 3-4 positions on a text, they choose, people explain their positions, and then they can decide whether to change positions after hearing other students and they discuss along the way, also exit tickets.
-Close-reading activity—3-4 groups, preassigned to small segment of pages in book and present about one aspect of the texts. For example: language and violence–, language and sthing else, also, small group discussions (a waste of time?)
–we shouldn’t be reinventing the wheel!—can add people to comp lit resources

Another issue: How to make small group discussions meaningful?:
Possible solutions:
-make them accountable in those small groups: Have them write something down, or work in shared google doc and you can look to see what they’re doing—make it related to a small task (there’s an end goal), have them create questions, have them be responsible for lines of a poem—helping shape what happens later in group discussions,
-give roles: written, oral, keeping time etc…,
-or jigsaw groups—each group gets passage they discuss, or by theme, literary device, and then form groups with one person from each group and then they report back, in large group discussion—when one group talks about something that another group finds interesting, they can jump in and begin after.
-or have them post about readings ahead of time, and then you can reference what they wrote in class—they feel complimented and you know they’ll have something to say.
–also, quickwrites are good—about a question, or about a definition of word: what is a medium?
—or pair writing—gave question, and between the two of the people, produce a paragraph—they are more careful about word choice, etc.., you can add a reflection afterward,–ask them “how what and why” in their own writing, in future paired groups can share with class, or post,

-Other issue: How to get people who don’t talk to talk?
—asking them to talk, or when you’re overhearing you can ask them to bring up good comments and tell them to mention
-Inclusivity in the classroom—a thread in the conversation—go around group and say one thing someone else said they are interested in sharing, or please share one thing someone said during the class—and it’s an organic summary of the class, and have them credit each other–

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