Practicum Bibliography

I got some very helpful comments on the last post about the practicum I'll be teaching this fall. Now I want to get some feedback about readings I'm thinking about assigning. I should say first that at ULL, graduate students take a practicum and a separate composition theory course, which I'll be teaching in the spring. I think this sequence is good; graduate students get the bulk of their exposure to theory after they've had a semester of teaching experience and can perhaps do a better job seeing how the theory can be applied to practice. This way, I'm not dealing with a roomful of graduate students who are starved for practical knowledge about managing the day-to-day tasks involved in teaching a writing course and trying to deflect their needs and redirect them toward composition theory.

Truth be told, I've never thought that theory-precedes-practice approach was very productive. I was in a similar situation in my M.A. program, and while the professor was excellent, most of the students were desperate to talk about specific problems they were having in class, and it frustrated them to have those discussions pushed aside to talk about George Kennedy's "A Hoot in the Dark: The Evolution of General Rhetoric," Bitzer and Vatz, or even Ede and Lunsford's "Audience Addressed/Audience Invoked" -- though I myself am grateful to have been assigned these. I really think that the struggle to make the pedagogy course an introduction to the field of composition studies increases hostility toward composition studies. Sure, some people aren't going to take composition seriously anyway, but it's still nice not to have to do everything all in one course.

The readings for the practicum, then, are going to be nuts-and-bolts practical. We only meet for one hour once a week, and I expect that for some meetings, we won't have readings at all but will have presentations or discussions of classroom experiences instead. I'm pretty sure I'm going to order The St. Martin's Guide to Teaching Writing and supplement it with a few other readings. If you can think of a better book, please let me know, but I actually really like the St. Martin's Guide.

"Why I (Used to) Hate to Give Grades" by Lynn Bloom

Responding to Student Writing
Straub, Richard. “The Concept of Control in Teacher Response: Defining the Varieties of ‘Directive’ and ‘Facilitative’ Commentary.” College Composition and Communication 47 (May 1996): 223-51.

excerpt from Errors and Expectations, Mina Shaughnessy
Robert J. Connors and Andrea A. Lunsford, "Frequency of Formal Errors in Current College Writing, or Ma and Pa Kettle Do Research"

Designing Writing Assignments
Chapter 13, Developing Writing Assignments, from A Rhetoric for Writing Teachers, Erika Lindemann and Daniel Anderson

Syllabus and Course Design
Chapter 15, Designing Writing Courses, from from A Rhetoric for Writing Teachers, Erika Lindemann and Daniel Anderson

I need the most help with the following, though I'd like suggestions for all of the topics:

Plagiarism, Citation, and Authorship (there's so much to choose from here)

Teaching Philosophy (there's got to be a good essay about developing a teaching philosophy and articulating it in a statement)

Teaching Portfolios (see above -- is there anything in our field about this?)

Classroom Management, Teaching Persona, Authority (i.e., ethos, performance)


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I'd actually replace Kettle with Joseph Williams' "The Phenomenology of Error." Sounds like it'd be more theoretical, but it does two things really well: first, he seeds the essay with a bunch of errors, most of which I didn't recognize/realize on my first read, and this supports: second, he raises smart questions about just how important error actually is when grading. The phenomenology part of it is his contention that we read very differently when we read for error, and this difference gives short shrift to the papers we read.

On teaching persona, what about Karen Kopelson's piece from a few years back? (CCC 55.1) Not sure that it's practical per se, but it raises some practical concerns.

On responding, Connors and Lunsford have an essay that may be worth a glance: " Teachers' Rhetorical Comments on Student Papers" from CCC 44.2.

I don't know that it's dead on appropriate, but Kathi Y's essay on portfolios (CCC 55.4) talks about what they can accomplish in different media, and while she's talking about student work, some of it might be relevant. I don't know for sure...


Agree on Williams

I totally agree with Collin on Williams. As good as the Connors and Lunsford piece is, much of it is about methodology, and once you get past that, it's fairly easy to reduce to the list of the 20 most common errors that it provides. The Williams piece makes a more complicated theoretical point, as Collin points out, and it's a point that's essential for new teachers to understand.

I think the Straub piece is great.

On plagiarism, I'm likely partial because she's a friend, but I love Margaret Price's "Beyond 'Gotcha!'" essay both for the careful treatment I think it offers of Becky's work and for the carefully situated recommendations it makes.

On classroom issues and teacherly persona matters, there's some good stuff in "What the Best College Teachers Do." And Richard Miller's "Fault Lines in the Contact Zone" will likely spark some discussion.


Re Williams

Yeah, the two of you are probably right. As valuable as I think Lunsford and Connors' rigorous data-based research and historicization of the "OMG so many errors!" hysteria is, I also think their Ma and Pa Kettle motif is a little gimmicky and something that some graduate students may find corny.

I agree with Mike about

I agree with Mike about Price; it's one of the best articles out there. Ditto Collin's suggestion re Yancey. Authority: I haven't read it for awhile, but I have positive memories of Lunsford, Andrea A. "Refiguring Classroom Authority." The Ethics of Writing Instruction: Issues in Theory and Practice. Ed. Michael A. Pemberton. Norwood, NJ: Ablex, 2000. 65-78. Also, Celia Thompson has a nice piece that may be off the mark for your intentions but is still worth a look: Thompson, Celia. "'Authority Is Everything': A Study of the Politics of Textual Ownership and Knowledge in the Formation of Student Writer Identities." International Journal for Educational Integrity 1.1 (2005): 12 pp. 27 Jan. 2006 .

Suggestion: Elbow's "Embracing Contraries"

I'm trying to remember back to my practicum and what we read, but I'm having trouble remembering much of it. I tried finding my syllabus and couldn't (I'm in the process of moving, so some things are packed up), but one essay that prompted a lot of talk and that I still remember well is Peter Elbow's "Embracing Contraries in the Teaching Process" in College English 45 (1983). We also read an excellent essay on how to respond to students and their writing in conferences, but for the life of me, I can't remember who wrote it. Eek. If I do remember later (or find it or anything else), I'll return.

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