Third Panel: Computers & Writing 2010

All from University of South Florida
USF has a single curriculum for freshman comp.
Tension btw new tech and single curriculum.

colored-laptopKendra Gayle Lee (Re)Discovering Their Voices

66-88 students/semester = adjunct

Okay, I confess, I thought… What a wimp! 66 students… But just because I had 130 doesn’t mean we NEED 130. Certainly I would be better off with fewer students. Perhaps she was trying to establish that she doesn’t teach a single class.

Many of students were unable to write an academic paper, but could blog well.

Problem with their writing comes from the FCAT (Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test). In other words, they write for the FCAT and they do not write well.
High stakes test.

95% of freshman students at USF are from Fl. so most look at FCAT.

10th grade persuasive essay prompt:
Situation: At the present time, young Americans volunteer to enlist for military service. To maintain our presnt military operations, more people may be needed.
Directions: Do you agree or disagree with the opinion that all Americans, both men and women, should be required to perform two years of military service?
Prompt: Write a persuasive essay.

1101 Project 2: Rogerian Argument in Film
Long background: 12 lines of background “Rogerian arguments are more like negotiations than arguments” is one line
Use Rogerian argumentation in your organization and in your content, by showing that you are well acquainted with the other side.
Assignment: 1200-1500 words
Thesis comes at end of the Rogerian argument.
9 lines
4 outside sources
Outcomes:
Construct a Rogerian argument
Analyze how visuals are used rhetorically
Three other lines

Very different prompts. Very different rubrics.
Focus ad organization criteria remains similar
logical development
engaging writing
audience
style, grammar, and mechanics

25% of their grade is the research and must analyze relationships between ideas. This is something my students don’t understand and I have not been talking about well.

Students in K-12 are taught a formula.

Many students have trouble developing analytical and evaluative ideas and conveying those ideas with clarity… 3/4s of all 12th graders.

SOLUTION? She introduces idea of solution, but doesn’t immediately go there.

lack of familiarity with academic discourse
tend to write only for the professor

Cheryl C. Smith “Technologies for Transcending a Focus on Error: Blogs and Democratic Aspirations in First-Year Composition”

Problem: student don’t give substantive commentary on how quote ties back into their argument.

“Blogs lend power to the author….uncomfortable with academic discourse…especially democratic” (look up source, might be interesting to use)

Blogs get them to engage in conversation.
Respond to the conversation.

Showed example of student paper versus blog example. The blog was much better, in terms of meeting the goals.

Students start class with 0 sense of agency.

Great note: Students would never just respond at a party, “Hi, you’re Kendra. You go to USF.”

Solution:
Blogs play more integral part in classroom. Yancey, (again) Intertextuality
Smaller blog groups= more frequent and substantive comments
Show students how bloggers interact and explain how class will approximate that interaction in comments.
Thought provoking prompts that can be approached from multiple angles. Require reading an outside source.
Require students to back up their POV with at least one (more) outside source.
Comments will be in-depth, focused on one aspect of a classmate’s post and must include a source.

Some of the students never got a comment on their blog. What was my question? Is this a single blog with multiple posts or a blogroll? Why choose this?

The answer was she requires comments but they don’t have to be on the class blog. That would make a serious difference. I require three on my class blogs. The prof who ended up as chair does 2 (class) and 2 (not-class) comments.

computer-w-purpleQuentin Vieregge, USF “Sound Off with Style: Teaching Students w Op-Ed Column”
predominant part of blogging happens throughout the course
junior level expository course

Excellent relevance indicated, to earlier comment and to the earlier speaker. Amazing at that.

The Problems:
The “Fat Finger” Approach to Blogging
May 6 Dow Jones dropped 1000 pts w/in an hour- theory was that some stock broker hit B for billion instead of M for million (not true)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus got a star on the walk of fame—misspelled her name on her star, had to go and rewrite it
Predilection toward error in our culture
Bob Green? his arg was that we, for a variety of reasons, are less attentive to details
see blogging as something less particular, don’t need much work
(blog: my life in one sentence, 1000 wd sen.
some paid detailed attention to the writing- diction on a wd-for-wd level
Writing for an audience helps. INVESTMENT-must give a purpose, so a rhetorical context where writing to a real audience about something they love)

Students are not paying attention to their writing, in terms of punctuation. Indicates a lack of investment. Students aren’t getting as much out of it as they could.

The “Right” Word >The “Precise” Word

Students are looking for the right word. What is the word my teacher would use?
Blogging gives the students the opportunity to write without fear.

Students sometimes look just for the first word. What is the first word that came into their head?

Want to teach them to have the precise word. How can it best be said?

Context matters
True that they write to each other, the teacher, fellow classmates, adult new to Tampa
Just an audience is insufficient. Needs to know community the person belongs to and how that community works.

I wanna be free; I wanna be me
Asking students to think through… But how do you do that in a blog without bringing the student to fear.
The students like best that they don’t have to write “academic” papers, but can write on the blog.

The Inspiration
Op-Ed Column blogging
opinionated (blogs work best when argumentative)
clever (often take on other persona)
bring in variety of sources
interconnected with Twitter and comments
corresponding blog to their column (distinction btw blogger and columnist is minor, except for institutional support)

The Plan: Students as Columnists
500 word blog posts
Response to something else on-line (thus entering an on-going conversation)

Framing the Discussion
rhetorical context
throughout semester students would have class presentations
periodical, then (wrote an?) article related to the periodical- on the publication
figuring out the context of the periodical: who, what age, register of language, genre, length, topics? guideline for submissions? how would you describe the audience?

Op-Ed Column
intending to situate in larger rhetorical audience
began semester by looking at different Op-ed columnists-
Gladwell (anecdotal, stories from sports & history)
Dowd (playful tone, obscure references to Shakespearean drama)

The Process
blog > response > discussion > revision > reflection (1st year syllabus)
analysis > context > audience > tone > directed reflection (his 3rd year class)
Directed reflection was looking at their own writing. Looking at how they were pinpointing it for their particular audience.

Institutional Context
1st time taught expository writing
Going through SACS
Hedged his bets, so 6 writings, with 3 were with contextualized audiences
Successes:
used sources
creativity (one friend created one b/c wanted to)
diversity

Struggles:
15% of class
What got rewarded, got done.
Revision. Wanted them to plot out blog post.
Wanted other students to comment on How you met your audience (or didn’t)

Successes:
use the blogs as examples of good work, models
So when students are having a problem, like with concluding paragraphs, use an example from the blog posts.

The Next Step
Online Newspaper: All assignments focused on that.

talking-peopleComments:
*2 comments on their blogs and 2 comments outside the class blogs
*First week: one word? What would you change if you could only change one word?

*Asked Quentin to comment on changing the course for freshman. Quentin did a great job of discussing changes on the fly.
Scaffolding- require less at the beginning, 200 words
towards the end, ask them to expand on the blog posts they have already written
would NOT use the Online Newspaper
lower expectations a little
would still bring in articles asking them to think about all the ways the author meets
needs of the audience
figure out a way the blogs would be connected

Jim Quarter “Argument… Love…” article, supposed to be wonderful
uses They Say, I Say Debra Tannen article at the end very useful
Here’s what I want to say yes to. Here’s what I agree with. THEN what do you want to disagree with.

Something to look at:
Cross-cultural rhetoric project at Stanford
blog, pairing
paired with a specific class, but interesting
Christine Alfano

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