About hflute

Heather is currently teaching two sections of English 120 at NDSU while on a journey through academic enlightenment through the path of English Composition. She is passionate about reading a variety of books and is always excited to become encapsulated in an engaging research project. She also loves coffee and puns.

Writing Centers and Tribal Colleges

For this last blog post, I chose to use this space to reflect and discuss my final project for this class, Comp. Theory.

To begin, my seminar paper is about Tribal colleges, communal space as a means to bridge the gap between orality and literacy. I had planned on focusing on the library as a means to host programs to help increase literacy in combination with orality, but finally having read about writing centers, I believe that writing centers may be the key to solving the problem of literacy among Tribal Colleges.

In Neal Lerner’s essay on writing centers, he claims, “Almost every two and four year post secondary institution in the United States has a writing center or of some sort, whether aligned with an academic department or student services” (301). The key word in that sentence is “almost”. The Tribal College that I attended while receiving my Associates degree did not have a writing center. They had a math center with someone available to help at any level of math, but by no means had a writing center.

This led me to think, would a writing center help this unique college with literacy? I know writing centers are not meant to fix all, but I do believe that it could help these students in improving their writing skills, mechanics, and process.

To further discuss this issue of writing centers and connect it to my initial point of communal space of the library could in fact be the library and the writing center and linking them together. The writing center could be located within library. This brings to raise the next questions, which library; the public library or college library? If the public library were to have a writing center this would open new doors to eventually having a public writing center. But how would a public writing center work? Would this public writing center take business (students) away from the college? Would it disinterest students in going to college since they can learn what they need to learn about writing through the public writing center?

Secondly, if the college were to have a writing center within its library, would the library be the right environment to host a writing center? One of my arguments could be that the writing center be help in room within the library so tutoring does not disrupt students.

The idea that I love about writing centers is that they encourage peer to peer tutoring as opposed solely to teacher to student engagement. “The peer to peer dynamic offers insider knowledge and empathy that teacher student conferences might lack, and the non-evaluative aspect of writing center work- in that the tutor is not grading the student’s paper- frees the interaction from a significant constraint”(304).

This could be highly beneficial for students attending Tribal Colleges because it would create an atmosphere where the student is gaining insight from a former peer. The insight from a peer may prove to be far more beneficial to learning in a relaxed environment where the students have the space to learn without the pressures of being judged, graded or ridiculed for how they may read, write or even speak as this is a unique set of Native American students who are usually shy, timid and fear judgment and ridicule. At least, this has been my experience of attending a Tribal College and I am sure many others attending Tribal Colleges that are on or near reservations feel the same.

Recap on questions:

  1. Could a writing center help a Tribal College?
  2. Which library would the writing center most benefit, the public library that is off campus, or the college’s library?
  3. Is a library the right environment for a writing center?
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Technology as a Tool: Evolving Rhetoric and Composition

There are many great points and arguments made in Kathleen Blake Yancy’s article, Made not only in words: Composition in a New Key but the one I found most interesting has to do with using technology as a tool to write rhetorically.

Yancy quotes Leu when she says “we need to learn how to read and write, e-texts- synthesizing, questioning, evaluating, and importing from them- databases and catalogues, hypertexts and archives, Web essays and portfolios (816).

I believe this information is crucial for the composition classroom for a few different reasons. First, we (as compositionists) rely heavily on language in order to write. From what I remember form taking a language course a few years ago, language must constantly evolve if it wants to continue to as a language. Any language that does not evolve will eventually face extinction. If we view language as a tool itself and that tools needs to evolve, then the way we teach language/ writing must also evolve. Therefore, we must step up our technology skills and learn to adapt to modern day technologies. What sorts of technology are students currently using? Snap chat, texting, and memes?

Secondly, this reminds me of our last reading by Cynthia and Richard Selfe Jr. Selfe and Selfe stress technology and and electric contact zones which leads me to believe that we as teachers need to be literate within technology. Selfe and Selfe state, “Few composition programs or English Departments, however, make a system effort to provide parallel instruction on technology issues they touch on educational projects” (755). This is one to begin heading in the right direction of getting compositions teachers to correctly learn how to navigate through popular technologies so they can teach them within their own classrooms. Once the teacher has learned to how properly navigate, s/he can teach more efficiently by incorporating those technological devices within the classroom.

Questions:

  1. What are some popular technological devices students are currently using?
  2. How can we include some of this technology into the classroom?
  3. Are their programs that can be incorporated into an English program to help teachers become more computer/technological literate?

New Social Media

Collin Gifford Brooke’s essay, New Media Pedagogy, has sparked many more questions than answers for me this week. I have been contemplating introducing some type of “social” media platform into my classroom in the upcoming semester, but am not sure as to where to start or how exactly to do so.

Although I do still have many questions of which I will get to soon, one passage did help me in considering to add a media platform to the class, “It is our responsibility as writing teachers, to understand the scenes where our students write, the tools they will be using to write, and often, even attitudes our students might have with respect to these technologies” (177). That being said, it may be beneficial if we teachers do consider implementing a form of media into our classroom because our students are using some of these tools on daily basis. I have talked to other instructors who have mentioned using social media in the classroom and they mentioned that it’s helped their students envision audiences and their writing entering public forum(s). Students might be superior than us (me for sure anyway) teachers in how to navigate many media sites and tools, but the agency gained through such interactions is equally, if not more important.

In my last post from Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Freire discusses how students and teachers must learn from one another and uses the terms, “teacher-student and student -teacher” (80). This could also apply to students helping us with media as we are also helping them learn together. Sound cliché, maybe a little, but I really do believe I learn just as much, if not more from my students than they learn from me as a teacher.

Questions:

At what point does a medium cease to exist in being new? (178)

How do we teach with these new tools, yet remain the “teacher” of the class?

What are other ways to grade/ assess the media of Twitter for example, other than using the model of the “thick tweet” (186)?

Attempts to understanding Paulo Freire’s, Pedagogy of the Oppressed. (Another Extra Blog post)

Paulo Freire essay, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, addresses knowledge and how it emerges only through invention and re-inventions, through the restless, impatient, continuing, hopeful inquiring human beings pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other (72). To expand on the notion of knowledge, Freire also discusses, “teaching knowledge through interpretation and that the process is that of continuous process of “unlearning, learning, reflection, evaluation, and impact that these actions have on students (72). Both concepts teach a form of knowledge to and from the students and the relationship between the student and the teacher. In opposition to the concepts of unlearning, learning and invention, and re-invention, Freire also expands on education by stating, “education becomes an act of depositing, in which the students are the depositories and the teacher is the depositor” (72). In this example he stresses how teachers “deposit” knowledge into the student and the student is the receptacle to retain and hold the information the teacher stresses.

With Freire’s concept of banking, he argues that this concept is crippling to the student, as the student has no means to exercise their own creative powers. That the teacher assumes a sort of authority over the classroom and only the teacher can assume this role. This in turn, oppresses the student by not allowing them to learn through exploration and apply the invention, re-invention concept that also correlates with the process of learning, unlearning, reflection and evaluation within a classroom.

By apply the process of learning and unlearning, this guides students to relearn something they may already know, but in a different light. This in turn may help a student learn in a way they may not have learned before. I believe this process to be beneficial because no two students will and have to capacity to learn in the same way, shape or form. By ‘unlearning’ a subject, it may force the students to toss away all pre-conceived notions of a particular subject and relearn the same subject in a different form. One example could be learning thought reflection, possibly collaborative learning if this was not utilized in previous classroom or even acknowledging that the classroom environment applies a teacher-student and student-teacher approach to learning and knowledge. By explain this approach, students are encouraged to learn through being challenged and to learn with the teacher as the teacher learns with the students.

Questions

Q1: If the banking concept is deemed negative and forces students to learn only in a box-frame mind set, is the concept completely corrupt, or can we as teachers still make it an effective concept? How so?

Q2: What are some techniques for applying the “learning and relearning”, or the “invention, re-invention” process within the classroom?

Collaborative Writing, Woman Friendly Environment, and Bitch Pedagogy…wait, what?

I found Laura R, Micciche’s Feminist Pedagogies to be highly informational on how to apply a feminist approach within a Composition classroom. She shared many examples from credible authors and many approaches to explore within the classroom. The examples I will focus include: collaborative learning, creating a woman friendly environment where woman can feel free to use her voice, what it means to compose as women and last but not least, bitch pedagogy.

As a collaborative learning exercise, Micciche suggests placing students in small groups and discussing class related questions. This technique is applicable to any classroom and discipline as group work is the staple of collaborative learning. I for one try to utilize group work as much as possible within the classroom as it allows students to learn from one another and voice their own opinion if they are more on the timid side of speaking publicly.

A second technique to help express feminism within the classroom is to call primarily on female students to create a ‘woman friendly’ classroom (131). When I first read this I thought, “isn’t that alienating the males within the class?” but on a second thought, If a teacher can find a way to teach this technique and have students learn on their own what she (the teacher) is deliberately doing, this could also create a learning opportunity for the class a whole… a sort of role reversal from women being the alienated group, shifted upon the males. This creates opportunity to see what the males think, feel, and have to say about this experience.

This example corresponds with Elizabeth Flynn’s essay on Composing as a Woman. Flynn argues that woman write through a more about emotional sense and connection where men tend to stress individualization which emphasize separation rather than integration (588). Because Flynn believes woman write differently then men, the exercise of calling more on females within the classroom could benefit the class as a whole because it may force the males to think in different lights as to why the teacher is not directly calling on males.

In turn, the teacher could ask the students to write about this example and how it makes them feel within the classroom. Since the men in the classroom will be writing about emotion, they will then be able to write more in the mind-frame of a woman because they will be expressing an emotion, which Flynn also argues is a trait of woman writers (585).

The final approach (lightly) discussed in this response is bitch pedagogy. I found this to be intriguing because the name alone made me question its nature. This pedagogy is described as “assertive, confidant argumentative stance aimed at modeling how female students can occupy positions of power” (134). This approach relies on the act of the teacher opposed to an action of the student. If the teacher assumes this role and models it in the right manner, the message revieced should be that female’s students can be authoritative and taken seriously as a men are within a working environment and she can be firm, assertive, and authorative.

Personally, the name of this pedagogy seems derogatory but in a sense made me giggle as I read it because typically men use this term to refer to women when they are acting “bossy” or authoritative, so it does make sense for a woman to own this word and make it her own. I only wished Micciche would have included more information on the approach and possibly examples as she did with other exercises and examples.

Questions:

What are some other ways a teacher can apply feminist pedagogy to the classroom?

What are some examples and exercises one can teach “writing as a woman” other than what was said in today’s readings?

Is it safe to utilize ”bitch pedagogy” within a classroom and what could be the positives and downfalls of this pedagogy?

What are some examples of how and when to use “bitch pedagogy”?

Workshops make the world go round: A response to Matsuda and Hammill’s essay.

Paul Kei Matsuda and Matthew J. Hammill’s essay, Second Language Writing Pedagogy, address ways in which composition teachers can contribute to the aid of ESL students realistically within the classroom. Although some of the strategies mentioned have an up and a down side, the tone and positivity of the overall essay reflect assertion and motivation from the teacher to include ESL, L1 and L2 students within the conversation in the classroom.

“L2 writers have lived in language communities with different sets of values and practices and learning about them can be interesting and beneficial for other students. Because of their experience outside of English- dominant communities, they may also be able to understand and analyze the cultural values, assumptions and practices from different perspectives. In addition, they can read and comment on texts written by monolingual English users from a different perspective” (272).

He goes on to say, because of the L2 culture, they can become informants on a monolingual level. Meaning, the L2 students will be able to teach other students within the class because of their unique qualities of knowing more than one language. In this sense, the student can become the teacher. This set of skills and acquirements are a great attribute to add to any classroom. The implication is refreshing in ways that the essay is highlighting the good and offering ways teachers can incorporate all students within the classroom.

To continue with Hammill, the fact that he brings the issue of global continence to rise is inspiring for a first year composition teacher to read because it offers ways to aid in the learning and teaching of ESL and L2 students. He continues in ways teachers can create further opportunity for students to speak up in class without calling on them during class. He offers suggestions such as choosing topics for reading and encouraging discussion within all L1, L2 and ESL students (276). Which in turn, leads to each individual student feeling comfortable and accepted within the classroom.

After all is said and done, I believe Hammill’s essay to be more beneficial to composition teachers because he offers valuable insights on how to approach L1, L2 and ESL students in the most positive and beneficial aspects for all students interests. I found the essay most beneficial because I had often wondered what would happen and how I would and could teach differently and more effectively to a unique set of students (ELS, L1, L2) if they needed my help.

Although the essay is beneficial in helping to realize that more training is essential to adequately help ESL, L1 and L2 students, it does leave a bitter taste in my mouth because our institution (as far as I am aware) doesn’t require FYW teachers to participate in such trainings and workshops to properly prepare us with the skills we need to teach students of ESL at our best capability.

Questions:

Why don’t universities focus on helping ESL students and require teachers to take workshops and go to conferences as suggested in the essays?

 Does this happen in every university?

And I thought genre was flexible…or is it?

Carolyn R. Miller’s article, Genre as Social Action highlight important arguments from many well-known Composition theorists on the issue of Genre and the rhetorical situation. The conversation I found most intriguing deals with genre and being linked to human action. Another element that is stressed is how reoccurrence is demonstrated as a social act compared to a materialist point of view. “In order to understand occurrence, it is necessary to reject the materialist” (156).

Miller is implying the rhetorical situation and genre are both human habits. In this argument, she takes a more cognitive approach to the situation of genre by linking it with human interaction. She mentions our “stock of knowledge” and how people learn and comprehend information through interaction and in turn, become familiarized with the patterns of the information in which they learn. Form these patters, reoccurrence spawns and creates a cycle that is repeated through the learning process, hence, reoccurrence. Once information begins to reoccur, the person then becomes familiar with the pattern.

While relating this to genre and learning genre through rhetorical situations, it leaves one to think, where is the room for creativity in a rigid and formalistic structure on how to compose, departmentalize, and categorize genres? Why and how do people categorize genres as they do?

Having demonstrated and assigned various genres in the classroom, I can relate when Miller mentions genres can become repetitive… from a grading point of view. I find it ironic that the definition of genre according to the text taught in my class, Writing Today by Johnson- Sheehan, genre is defined as being flexible (36). But the definition of genre through Miller’s article in a rhetorical sense is to ‘classify’ (155). How can one place genre within specific parameters while maintaining ones own authenticity and creativity without bending the constraints of the genre and rhetorical situation? Is there a method for this? Or, if one veers outside the imaginative lines of genre, what happens next?