MLA: Fun in Developmental Writing

Wendy Galgan, Saint Francis College, NY, “Can the Fundamentals Be ‘Fun’? Assignment Design in the Developmental Composition Classroom”

This is a live blogging of the session.

Much of current literature focuses on the how to. Yet little discusses whether students should have fun.

Can you bring fun into the developmental classroom?

Professors who teach basic writing have multiple levels of language use. ESL, goof offs, readers, non-readers…

Keep academic level high but fun. All too often our small in-class writing was viewed as make-work. Role of small exercises is to teach the student how to play a small part of the writing. (E.C. Smith?)

There are few if any virtuousos in developmental writing classes.

Homemade comp class as happening. Help students see what writing really is. Perhaps have fun along the way.

line-drawing-hand-writingWm. Kohl “teaching of writing as writing is the teaching of writing as art” Art is engaging, provocative, and very personal.

Sirc says composition is an opportunity to concentrate on the risks and everyday life…

Days when peer review going well… I try to remain unobtrusive.

Other days.. Students have struggled through the assignment. “just couldn’t focus” Ask the students to upend their own view of academic writers. Stripping down the materials to a series of text events.

I borrow shamelessly from performance and other disciplines. Best raw material comes from the students themselves. Close observation, reflection, searching, helps.

One example:
“Happenings happen. They are not passed down from one to the other.”

About midsemester entire class had struggled through. We needed something to shake us up. I borrowed and asked each student to write ten sentences. Each started with “I remember.” Students began to read. They laughed, read, teased, and supported each other. Obviously I wanted to draw upon this exercise.

In the next class… I sent the peer groups out into the college. On each floor they were supposed to write down something. Then find 5 words that rhymed.

Homework: Write two poems. One on the observation. One on the remembering.

A number said how much they enjoyed the poems.

“Shock and surprise are frequent x of the happening.”

I want to model for you how our students might feel when our students are given

When did I last have fun writing? I found the papers that I am working on pretty long… I liked writing the poetry about my parents’ illness because it made me feel less stressed. It made me remember concrete details that made me smile and remember.

I enjoy writing on my blog. I really liked writing about Elizabeth E coming to visit! That still makes me grin.

Writing that was fun… The CHE forums. I like writing on the CHE forums. Those are fun. Those are times when I can say where I am an expert.

I would love to write some memoir/biography/autobiography work. If I could go back and write about not using facebook in the job search… I want to do that. Give ideas again.

I like to write things that I feel really comfortable with.

I enjoyed writing about Dielli. I enjoyed the book more before I asked people to read them. Once they did, I think that I felt the work wasn’t good. But writing it, I loved it. I haven’t worked on the next two books because I hit a wall and stopped. But some of the reason I stopped was because I didn’t know where to go and I wasn’t working on the next section after all.

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