Composition Pedagogy

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Take 20: My Version

At CCCC, I made sure to pick up my copy of Take 20, Todd Taylor's documentary film about teaching writing. For those of you who don't have access to the DVD, you can watch the trailer to get an idea. The premise: take 22 writing teachers and ask each of them twenty questions about teaching writing. I wasn't one of the 22 people tapped to be interviewed in the film, so I decided to answer the questions and make my own movie. Enjoy:

Uploaded by culturecat

By the way, if you want to upload videos longer than ten minutes (YouTube's limit -- my movie is a little over sixteen minutes), DailyMotion gives you twenty minutes.

The Mother Lode

I just uploaded tons of presentations to SlideShare. I hope you'll create an account there and do the same -- or, if you already have an account, add me as a contact.

Of interest to civic literacy devotees

Friend Who's Into Politics Makes You Feel Stupid Again, from The Onion.

[. . .] whose impromptu analysis reminded you that you still haven't gotten around to reading the Obama cover story in that issue of Time magazine you purchased five months ago.

Sad, but also provocative of discussion.

What presentation format is most conducive to your learning?

Reading a paper aloud (provided the presenter reads well and makes eye contact, paper is written *as a talk*)
34% (28 votes)
Speaking extemporaneously (provided there's a clear structure in the talk and the speaker doesn't go off topic)
40% (33 votes)
Poster presentation
1% (1 vote)
Discussion (couple of questions/prompts and/or visual aids/artifacts, then presentation time is allotted to group discussion)
25% (21 votes)
Total votes: 83

My CCCC presentation

I should have posted my presentation earlier, but better late than never; here's my presentation as a PowerPoint file. The first three slides need a bit of context: they both involve instances in which people plagiarized from my blog. The first one contains an excerpt of an email to me in which the guy said he'd stolen some material "just to get started" with his blog. That's where I came up with the "plagiarism as placeholder" idea. I went to his blog, and I didn't see my posts anymore. I surmised that he had deleted my words and replaced them with his own (or some other not-me person, for all I know).

Of course -- and I should have said this in the presentation -- it did cross my mind that it could just be a $p@m ploy to get Google juice, lest the geeks think I'm utterly unclever. It wouldn't be such a bad idea, actually; start a fake blog at the address that is your soon-to-be Viagra/Cialis/Phentermine site, and purposefully plagiarize some text from a few bloggers. Then make sure they find out somehow, either by emailing them or grabbing images remote-hosted from their sites so that they see the traffic in their referrers. Then, if the bloggers take the bait and link to the offending plagiarist in order to call him/her out and do some public shaming, that translates into a higher Google PageRank for the site, if I understand PageRank correctly. Maybe $p@mm3r$ are already doing this.

And the third slide: The second time someone plagiarized me, it was this post about a first-year composition with a public health theme. I found out about the plagiarism when I saw her site in my referrers; she hadn't linked to me to give me credit for my post, but rather had done the remote-hosted image thing I referred to in the last example. I was irritated about the plagiarism, but I didn't say anything about it here because when I looked at her other posts, they were all in a very OMG ROTFLMAO!!!!!111!!! style. I thought then that if it came down to a dispute, no one would believe that she had written the post.

Finally, here are the links to the sites I cite in my presentation:

Humanity Critic: and as I said in my presentation, I can't recommend him highly enough. He deserves all the weblog awards he has gotten these few years running.

Kuro5hin: The Cruelest Cut and the specific segment of the comment thread.

Copyscape, and their About page.

UPDATE: Here's my presentation in Slideshare:

CCCC Awards

You heard it here first, dude! These are the awards that were presented tonight at the ceremony:

Best Book

On a Scale: A Social History of Writing Assessment by Norbert Elliot

Rhetorical Listening: Identification, Gender, Whiteness by Krista Ratcliffe

Berlin Award for Best Dissertation

I didn't quite catch the title, but the first part was Learning to Love the Bomb, and it was about risk communication, nuclear weapons, and the political climate after 9/11 (I think). It's by Julie Staggers, who got her PhD at Purdue. Her dissertation was directed by Patricia Sullivan.

Braddock Award for Best Article

The Place of World Englishes in Composition: Pluralization Continued by A. Suresh Canagarajah

Outstanding Dissertation in Technical Communication

Again, I didn't catch the title, but the author is Natasha Artemeva, who got her PhD at McGill. Anthony Paré directed her dissertation.

Writing Program Certificates of Excellence

  • Ball State
  • Michigan Tech Writing Center
  • Purdue's ICAP (Introductory Composition at Purdue)
  • Swarthmore's Writing Associates Program
  • University of Toronto

Best Article in TETYC

Reading Lolita in Tehran Leads to Reading, Writing, Drawing, Painting, Sewing, and Thinking in Saranac Lake, New York by Shir Filler

Nell Ann Pickett Service Award

Jody Millward (an old site, but it seemed to have the most information about her)

How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them

The title of this post is the subtitle of The Freedom Writers' Diary, which I'm reading right now (among many other things). Here's the premise, in case you've been living under a rock:

As an idealistic twenty-three-year-old English teacher at Wilson High School in Long beach, California, Erin Gruwell confronted a room of “unteachable, at-risk” students. One day she intercepted a note with an ugly racial caricature, and angrily declared that this was precisely the sort of thing that led to the Holocaust—only to be met by uncomprehending looks. So she and her students, using the treasured books Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl and Zlata’s Diary: A Child’s Life in Sarajevo as their guides, undertook a life-changing, eye-opening, spirit-raising odyssey against intolerance and misunderstanding. They learned to see the parallels in these books to their own lives, recording their thoughts and feelings in diaries and dubbing themselves the “Freedom Writers” in homage to the civil rights activists “The Freedom Riders.”

The story of these students is so overtly about the power of writing and language that I'm frankly appalled that we're not talking about it in composition studies. I keep waiting to see a thread about it on WPA-L or posts on blogs, but I've seen nothing (and if these discussions are happening and I'm missing them, do let me know). What are the implications of this story? What composing practices are taking place? What rhetorical interventions are being made? What connections can be made between expressivism (scroll down) and the writing these students are doing? What, according to these students, does it mean to write about their experiences? What are the consequences?

I am going to write a review of this book when I finish it. Maybe I'll send it to a journal. I'll either do that or post it here.

Blog Overload [in the Chronicle]

You should all read what Kara M. Dawson has to say about using blogs in her teaching. I agree with much of it; in fact, I'm using Moodle instead of blogs in my classes this semester for some of these same reasons. I'm particularly interested in others' responses to the article, and I'll keep an eye on Technorati for posts about it. How about this passage (her very first recommendation for teaching with blogs):

Keep a Blog Yourself

I have a blog. I just don't use it. I am too busy reading other people's blogs, responding to student postings, and writing for outlets that may one day secure me a full professorship. How can I expect my students to devote time to something that I don't find important enough to do myself? So if you're going to require students to create a blog, you should probably have an active one, too.

Why is it that a lot of us have been thinking and saying this for years, but back in 2004 it was controversial, shaming, alienating, what have you? (Blogging is a clique!, etc.) Yet it sounds so sensible when Dawson says it here. Of course, I thought it was sensible in 2004 too, so maybe I'm biased, but I am interested to see how this statement goes over now.

Oh, and this is simple brilliance: "All students were responsible for demonstrating their interaction with class content from week to week and sharing the results." They could do this, she argues, with concept mapping, podcasting, blogging, digital video, or who knows how else. I like this plan.

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