Tuesday, March 31, 2015

It's not too late to register for "Teaching with Writing in Any Course"

SNL's "Teaching with Writing in Any Course" professional development online course for SNL faculty and staff begins April 13. To reserve your place, please email snlwriting@depaul.edu.

Course Location:  Online

Times/Dates:  Section Five: 4/13/15 – 5/24/15 (six modules)

Faculty: Steffanie Triller Fry, Writing Instructor
E-mail:  striller@depaul.edu
Phone: 312-362-7631

Course Description:
This online course (six-modules) for teachers in any discipline focuses on making the most of writing as a tool for teaching and learning in undergraduate and graduate courses. In the course, teachers will explore practical ideas for in-class writing assignments that initiate discussions and provide quick input regarding student learning. Teachers will also learn strategies for developing assignments and providing feedback while maximizing efficiency and minimizing frustration. Opportunities to share ideas and receive coaching on current writing assignments and ways of giving feedback are included. This course does not have prerequisites; however, those taking it should have undergraduate or graduate courses that they wish to develop or revise and experience teaching at the college level that they can draw upon for discussions.

What Prior Participants Have Said:
“The mathematician Paul Erdös spent much of his life essentially homeless, staying with one colleague after another, arriving on a doorstep unannounced, ready to collaborate, saying, “My brain is open.”   People who take this course should arrive at it with their brains open. Be prepared to be surprised by how many things you’re already doing right, how many others you’re doing that can hamper students’ progress, and best of all, how many genuinely useful ideas and techniques you will learn from the readings and from your classmates.” – Carolyn Allen

“Be honest about the fact that all of us can still learn -- even if we have been teaching for many, many years. People have to be open to new ideas and willing to share their flaws as well as their strengths.” – Jane Wagoner

“First, take it! Do plan your schedules so you can delve into the assignments--they prompt reflection and imagination. Post your assignments early enough in the week so you can get the advantage of feedback from others.” – Catherine Marienau

“Be prepared to spend a good amount of time on the course, but it is truly worth the time. If you are debating about taking the course seriously consider changing your schedule so you can. It will make teaching easier and more rewarding.” – Barbara Donnelly

“Like any online class, keep up and read a little at a time.   Trying to read everyone's posts and write your own all at once is a little overwhelming and you will miss a lot of the benefit if you can't read your classmates' posts.” – Liz Leavy

“Take it!  I would advise future students to have a particular course in mind that they would like to revise or improve upon and to use that course as the focus in the class.” – Cynthia Milsap

“My only advice is to keep up with the readings.   Maybe, create your own Idea Log -- to list good ideas from the readings and from postings by classmates. There is so much great info each week and it goes by so fast." – Pat Szczerba

“Don’t underestimate the time it will take to complete the modules.” – Kenya Grooms

“Make a commitment to the course--the time, the sharing, the analysis of your own work.” – Rebecca Russell

“I will say, pace yourself, a lot of reading and discussion participation, and be open to changing the way you teach.  I know my concern about this class was that it was going to require me to increase my time teaching and grading.  However, much to my surprise, if I change a few things, I may be able to help my students improve their writing without increasing my workload.” – Lu Rocha

Learning Strategies & Learning Resources: This online class will use discussions, peer collaboration, readings, videos and a variety of forms of feedback as learners practice applying what they are learning to their teaching.

Required Text (will be provided free to participants):
Gottschlak, Katherine and Keith Hjortshoj. The Elements of Teaching Writing: A Resource for Instructors in All Disciplines. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2004.
Additional selected readings will be available online.

All assignments and discussions in this course will be marked complete or incomplete at the end of each module. There are 14 discussions and 2 assignments in the course, and all must be completed to earn the course completion certificate.

About the Instructor:
Steffanie Triller Fry has taught in college writing classrooms for over ten years. She has served as Writing Instructor and Writing Program Administrator at DePaul University's School for New Learning for more than half of that time. She received her M.A. in Literature from DePaul University and will receive her M.F.A. in creative writing from Lesley University in the summer of 2015. Her writing has earned her a Vincentian Endowment Fund Grant, a Steans Community-based Research Faculty Fellowship, and a DePaul TLA Assessment of Student Learning grant. For more about her current projects, see https://depaul.digication.com/steffanie_the_writing_instructor.

"Voluminous Written Feedback and 'Over-Efforting' Instructors": A conversation among writing faculty

In a recent conversation on the Writing Program Administrators List-Serv, faculty from across the nation discussed issues with instructors who provide too much feedback on students' papers and essays. According to their research, instructor over-commenting on student writing has a diminishing ROI for both the students and the instructors.

Since I have heard from SNL faculty members who feel that providing written feedback can be too time-intensive, and I have heard from students who have difficulty navigating and prioritizing their instructors' suggestions for revision, I thought it might be useful to share some key points and tips from this discussion (emphasis is mine):

-->"A common bit of advice is to avoid overwhelming students with exhaustive written feedback. As I understand it, it's a problem to provide too many written comments for a few reasons: (1) can be overwhelming or discouraging for novice writers, (2) makes it difficult for students to discern what Nancy Sommers has called a "scale of concerns", (3) is unlikely to result in comprehensive improvement may result in instructor exhaustion and frustration" –Jonathan Hunt, University of San Francisco

-->"[Our] surveys suggest that students don't even look at teacher commentary unless the grade is something they didn't think they deserved.  In other words, if they hand in the essay thinking it's a "B" and they receive a "B," then they don't look at the commentary.  If they hand in the essay thinking it's a "B" and they get a "C," then they look at the commentary." -Jill Dahlman, Ph.D., University of Nevada, Reno

-->"One thing I've done is to take real examples of student papers with voluminous feedback (blinded), and ask my colleagues to imagine themselves as the student authors. I ask them to read through the feedback and 1) write about how it makes them feel, and 2) describe their plan of action for revising. Some people have actually said that they would simply throw it in the trash!  They realize that with so much feedback (including copy-editing) they simply wouldn't know what to do." –Jonathan Hunt, University of San Francisco

-->"Comments written by teachers who are respected by students and who work to ally themselves with students' intentions (about writing that the students are heavily invested in) are devoured by students -- not just for their potential to help the writer better do what s/he was trying to do, but also for their potential to make the student feel seen and heard." -Maja Wilson, University of Maine

-->"[Piper Selden and I] are finding that when we have the students write their own notes on the essays (as opposed to our writing commentary), more is retained by the student.  The essays are coming out much better by the end of the semester.  -Jill Dahlman, Ph.D., University of Nevada, Reno

-->"The research […] recommends restricting the volume of teacher commentary in ways that are task, discipline, and learner specific." –From abstract of "The Complexities of Responding to Student Writing; or, Looking for Shortcuts via the Road of Excess" by Richard Haswell

-->"Josephine Coster-Tarvers […] advises commenters to focus on patterns rather than everything. -Christopher Sean Harris, California State University Los Angeles

-->"Try a time-limited screencast program like Jing. It allows you five minutes (maximum) of oral commentary, which also forces you to focus on the most important issues, accompanied by scrolling and highlighting through the student's paper. Interestingly, it also controls the student's focus--you lead the student through the commentary, instead of the student deciding what to look at (sometimes little of it but the grade?). We've done three years of research on this method and it surpasses written commentary on a number of dimensions (including amount of commentary: teachers who used it provided an average of 780 words in five minutes, compared with their typical written responses, which were about 150 words). Teachers said more, explained more, and, affectively, were perceived by students to be supporting them a lot more." –Chris Anson, North Carolina State University

-->"[…] even if an instructor maintains that it is helpful to, say, circle every comma splice on every students' writing, they might be able to concede that a short, interactive lesson on comma splices would both cost less time and produce more benefits." -Paul T. Corrigan, Southeastern University

-->"[Josephine Miles] was a scholar of British and world history at Berkeley, an acclaimed poet, and a widely read compositionist. At Berkeley, despite being made University Professor in 1973, she continued to teach a section of English 1A every year. She was tough and known for commenting sparsely on student papers. She would put little check marks beside passages that she liked. One of her students was Kate Blickhahn, early member of the Bay Area Writing Project. Blickhahn recalls "a great welling of pleasure on seeing several of those tiny marks on something I had written." –Richard Haswell, Texas A&M

If you are a School for New Learning faculty or staff member who is interested in learning more about efficiently providing effective, targeted feedback on students' writing, consider taking Steffanie Triller Fry's online professional development course, "Teaching with Writing in Any Course", which starts April 13. More information is here.

Works Cited
Writing Program Administrators List-Serv. WPA-L Digest 22 Feb 2015 (#2015-74). Tempe, AZ: Arizona State University WPA-L, 2015.

Monday, March 30, 2015

What is Critique Circle?

 Critique Circle (http://www.critiquecircle.com/newmembersinfo.asp) is a website where writers can submit work to be critiqued. It works on exchange system in which you trade giving for receiving critiques of your work. While it is apparently primarily for creative writers, people also submit academic essays for feedback.