Jennifer Marciniak


Do I know anything about the topic?

After talking with Laurie De La Vina at South Texas College, I have a lot more knowledge about developmental writing challenges at community colleges in the borderland region of Texas and Mexico. I found it interesting from her experience that 1301 English teachers and developmental teachers are not only in different departments at South Texas College, but also in different buildings. And with that segregation a hierarchy is formed, and also stigmas attached to each. Since STC is the only comparison I have to what Bernstein will most likely talk about, I am interested in focusing on the similarities and differences in students’ backgrounds, learning levels, and motivations, as well as the teachers’ curriculum and style of teaching.

Do I know anything about this author?

No, I don’t think so. I hope that is the right answer, although this was one of many books we received during practicum.

What preconceived notions do I have about the reading?

I am interested in the students’ perspectives and how they teach the writing process at the developmental level. Also, when do they start applying critical thinking? Is collaborative learning a viable option at the developmental level, or do some teachers think it is two early for group work. Engaging difference is a one that I am really interested in reading about, but I am wondering what Bernstein, who is from U of Cincinnati can tell us about working with diverse populations, specifically Latino populations. I know Cincinnati is pretty diverse in some areas, but is her work there (if, that is, her research was conducted there and not somewhere else) a good indication to what to expect here in South Texas, taking into consideration differences in the populations’ mentalities, environment, and culture.

(I did not know it was three authors when I conducted the pre-reading analysis, hence the Bernstein references.)

Post Reading


I think the idea of a pilot assessment is great. I have no idea if our Univ did that initially, but any changes in mass curriculum should definitely be piloted to look for not only successes, but also problems. Going through the 7-step statement helped me see where the holes are in my own curriculum. I kind of feel like I am lacking now in certain areas. I felt that way a bit last semester and am taking a step back to evaluate it this semester being I have another chance to teach 1301. The inventions in my class need to be stuctured in a way that they hold the students interest, and I think that was a problem in the fall since they held on to their discourse community for the whole semester. They got bored writing about the same topic. I am confused, however, about Number 2, and it's extra pages. What exactly are those extra pages? Are they more info in the paper? Are they another step in pre-writing for drafting? That was not clear to me.

I completely agree with wanting them to "experiment with changing a text they thought was completed" in a second revision, or even in a separate portfolio. It can be as simple as a genre rewrite (although my recent experience with that was worrisome since the students really over-thought it to death, note to self to find a clearer and more accessible explanation, or even clearer text), but it can also include a compare/contrast twist, interview additions, or even an experiment or survey.

Number 4 was also a mile marker for me. Introductions in 1301 have been ok, but can be more expressive, more illuminating and more detailed. Conclusions, by far, need the most practice and work, and I am going to make a point of working through those in Portfolio II, but also discuss it a bit in Portfolio I, but not as much. Titles of papers are amusing. Or at least can be. It was difficult in the fall to get some students to consider anything besides "Portfolio I Paper" as their title! I was really shocking to me, but I have to realize this may have been their reality in high school. One funny story, in PI in the fall, my directions were to "Make sure you have an interesting title, be creative." Well some, actually a lot, took it to mean be creative with your title page. I got a lot of "Portfolio I" in glitter and squishy letter stickers! I of course restated afterward what I mean, but I still got squishy letters and glitter, but in stead of "Portfolio I" it was a five word title, meaning 10 times the glitter in my carpet!

Formatting has not been a problem. I go over it a lot with games and competitions during Portfolio II, so I think they get it pretty quickly. Getting them to utilize the Purdue Owl is difficult because I think they are afraid of it. I have to walk them through it about 5 times, and play a lot of scavenger hunt games to get them used to its navigation.

Again, Number 6 makes me feel like a crap teacher. I need to implement more reading in to the curriculum. I did not do this in the Fall very much, and I really need to get some service learning pieces into the plans. But first I have to find them. I think I need suggestions. Maybe ask Adam. It has to be accessible, especially with the number of international students I have.

The last part of Uehling's article left me a bit empty. She basically wrapped it up with TAs?, describing our program exactly, and did it with just one sentence. It seemed like the beginning of a whole other relevant topic, but nothing grew out of it. Also, I never really thought of myself as agreeing with an expressivist way of teaching writing, but apparently I fit that category more than I thought.


Lots of interesting concepts here revolving around basic writing teaching methods. Of the five mentioned, I am most interested in the studio model (as this is one area I would like to focus on in doctoral research), and the one I am most opposed to is the directed self-placement.

The theory behind the studio model is progressive, and it takes more manpower and communication between teachers, profs and instructors to pull it off. Yes, placement in the first two weeks of the semester would be a sticky situation with the registrar. So what are some paths we can take around that. How can schools, or first year programs place students in studios before the beginning of the semester. What kinds of assessments need to take place before the first day of class? What kind of communication between university and high school can be used (i.e. reference letters from HS teachers). I know that not all developmental students are straight out of HS and some completed GEDs? instead and some are non-traditional students who have not been in HS in years. There are many things to consider. But once those bullets are dodged, the studio model seems an English teacher's dream. Small groups, practice and discussion on certain topics. More individualized attention. It seems to be the situation that ameliorates the instructor debacle, "I wish I had more one on one time with students because they all have different needs."

The Directed Self Placement and the Intensive Models seem consist of a wider circle of problems. My biggest gripe about the DSP is not only the placement test, but that the people who concocted this monstrosity seem be delusional. This is going to sound negative, but it is something that needs to be taken into consideration. This model puts the responsibility on the student, most likely a Freshman, to tell the university where he/she believes he/should be. First of all, let's remember who we are dealing with here. Some of these students are not going to tell the complete truth. They will either do themselves a disservice by padding the form with better numbers so they can get into a higher level class (maybe something mom and dad are pushing, like I have seen a lot of recently), or they may think that they are not as good as they really are, and in order to keep out of a higher level class because they are afraid of the challenge, they falsify the form in other ways (i.e., "I just want to be average," in Mike Rose's Lives on the Boundary). At the risk of being called completely blasphemous, I think the standardized placement exam is more reliable that the directed self placement, because there is a likelihood for more human error in this model than in a scantron test. This is not to even mention this model's lack of legality.

The intensive model is not quite as radical, but I still think it has problems. Too much repetition is going to burn students out. We see it already in the first year program, and these students follow a more mainstream model, which by comparison seems less intensive. It seems like they are taking almost two different classes for their credit. It is almost like an overload of the studio model, and actually defeats the purpose of the studio model's "lab-like" small group setting.

In the whole scheme of things, whatever model a university chooses, it must be right for the demographic. Like Uehling said in the first part of our reading, pilot programs are important! I think a studio setting may work better in a diverse area like South Texas, but a self-placement would not. We have to look at the entire makeup of the demographic. Students here in STX need assistance in choosing. This may not be the same situation in Allendale, Michigan or some other homogeneous area.


Gibson's experience sure brought back memories from last semester and students whose bluntness about their socially conservative feelings put up some fences in my class. Yes, we ask them to be themselves, but what if their mentality is not socially acceptable to a progressive and liberatory standard, like Contessa's? How do you allow them to express themselves without shutting them down? I think Gibson did the right thing by asking questions in comments on her paper. By answering the questions in revision, Contessa added more layers to her writing and made it a bit more understandable to the audience. Gibson said that "in the final revision, Contessa was no more able to fully articulate the complex interactions among her multiple ways of seeing this issue than she had been when she was writing" (107).

Taking into her considerably difficult views on a very sensitive and emotional issue, I can see why she could not. It reminds me of our heated debate last night in Death and Dying. Should it be considered patricide to kill your father in order to save a larger group of people? Well, it depends on your views and how you see the situation morally and ethically. That seemed to be Contessa's problem. Does she choose her friend who she loves or does she choose her religion? Since we did not get to see the whole essay, I think I may have directed Contessa to section off her essay. Sectioning it off with subheads makes organizing tough ideas easier for me. If she does not like it, she can replace the subheads with transitional sentences. I applaude Gibson's use of her "multiple identities" in working with Contessa's revisions (108).

Although she did not agree with Contessa, she was objective and tried to ask the question "so what?" to Contessa's accusations and theories, making her think even more. The fact that Contessa actually worked through the revisions, although they were still unstructured and modernist, shows that Contessa did not necessarily have the characteristics of a traditional developing writer. It was more of an identity crisis, an "unarticulated identity negotiation"(109).

Tammy Graham/ Pre- reading

While I have learned some surprising facts about the elements/roles of grammar, assessment, and error in developmental writing, I do not know much about actual classroom models or content. Some of the guidelines of developmental writing classes are discussed in the NCTE “Beliefs,” also Strickland & Strickland point out the differences between the “Traditional” vs. the “Constructivist” approaches. Aside from these and the Rose book, I only have minimal ideas on this topic (mostly what we read in comp. theory: process vs. post-process pedagogy, etc.).

I don’t think I have read anything by these authors, although Uehling does sound familiar.

I hope to find out more about the most crucial elements of developmental writing classes. What considerations need to be made when shaping the lesson plans? What types of content should be used? I think that the answers to these questions may be found within the students themselves, in their own interests and experiences, and in building on their prior knowledge. I would imagine that these readings will focus a lot on designing different teaching approaches so that teachers will have a variety of “tools” at their disposal. As we know, what works for one won't necessarily work for all, and teachers must be able to use a variety of approaches.

Holly C. - Pre-reading

  • Do I know anything about this topic?
    • The titles of the chapters are: “Basic Introduction to Basic Writing Structures: A Baseline and Five Alternatives”, “Creating a Statement of Guidelines and Goals for Boise State University’s Basic Writing Course: Content and Development”, and “From the Peculiar Case of Contessa: Post Modernism and Basic Writing Pedagogy”. Of the topics that I assume these selections cover, I can say that I know very little. As I did not participate in a basic writing program in college (which, I’m wondering if maybe I should have, because I certainly never felt confident), I do not know anything about a basic writing program. The reading of Mike Rose leads me to conclusions about what programs should not be, which is a grammar class or a class where subject verb agreement is touted as the most sacrilegious of writing errors. I know nothing of the guidelines that should govern a basic writing program and have never been to Boise, so I know nothing about that topic either. The words “content” and “development” suggest to me that the article by Uehling discusses what should be covered in a Basic Writing program. The last title by Gibson is one that I am not familiar with either. I assume from the blurb that Gibson will be making a discussion about her teaching practices, a case study she conducted, and how this affects her perception and teaching of basic writing.
  • Do I know anything about these authors?
    • I do not know anything about any one of these authors. I have not read anything by any of them before now.
  • What preconceived notions do I have about the readings?
    • I can assume that the article by Lalicker will outline the generally utilized basic writing program and that he will give alternatives. I am assuming that he may be critical of the the baseline basic writing program structure because he is offering alternatives. The article by Uehling will probably be about the Basic Writing course at Boise State University. I am expecting this reading to sound somewhat like a syllabus, somewhat like a student/teacher handbook, and somewhat like the TEKS because it talks about competencies that are being assessed through a portfolio. The final reading sounds like it will be interesting, The fact that the blurb says that Michelle Gibson was considering “[...]her own position as a lesbian professor of composition” (TDW xi) makes me wonder if her essay will sound anything like some of the feminist and gender study essays we read in Literary Criticism during the fall semester. In those essays, the discussion was made of who really should be critiquing what literature (should a black lesbian be the only person to critique black lesbian literature, should women be the only ones critiquing female literature, etc;). I am expecting her reading to sound somewhat the same.

Liza's Pre-reading Week 3

I do not know anything about the authors that we are reading this week. If I have read anything they have written, I cannot recall. As far as the topic, I am feeling a bit more comfortable saying that I know more about Basic Writing than when I registered for this class. Of course, I know that there is so much more to learn and I will leave this class still having more to learn. I realize that a Basic Writer can be classified many different ways and that an instructor must be willing to open his or her mind to a diverse way of teaching in order to reach these learners. I am hoping and assuming that the readings for this week will talk about more classifications of students and provide more advice on how to relate to and teach students in Basic Writing classrooms. Rose gave us one perspective that I can appreciate and pick and choose from but I would like to take readings from instructors who are both similar to and the complete opposite of Rose and compare what they do as well. I understand that not every article or book will have all the answers but at this point in my career, it is nice to be introduced to many different teaching philosophies.

Liza's Post-reading Week 3

I never seem to find myself jumping firmly on one side of a fence. I just don’t see things as black and white. That is how I feel with these models that Lalicker is discussing. Without going through and breaking down each model, my main issues lie with Basic Writers being in a separate class or mainstreaming. While I can see how having all basic writers in one class can be helpful to a point, I can also agree that mainstreaming also has a lot of advantages. I feel that this post is going to be a bit confusing because I am going to be on somewhat of a stream of consciousness teeter-totter with my responses. Students should be given credit for any and all classes that they pay for and take. I would never use grammar drills regardless of how my class was structured so that is a non-issue. Will the basic writers in a mainstreamed classroom be less or more inclined to express themselves if they are in the presence of students who “seem” to know more about writing than they do? Will they feel intimidated and withdraw? I wish that we knew which students were THEA liable when they come into our mainstreamed classes. It might help. With the THEA tutoring requirements, I guess we ultimately find out who these students are but it is a bit late in the semester. It would be nice to know from the beginning. I don’t think that I would give them too much more of my attention but I would be more aware. Awareness can be most helpful.

One problem with mainstreaming that I see I am going to pull from my evaluations from last semester. I noticed that I had several students who were just “not ever getting it” when I would talk about things. I would always have to introduce what we were doing and then go over it again with a particular group of students. I found myself trying to teach to those students so that they might be able to get it the first time and then I ended up alienating the “faster learners.” I received written evaluations saying that we did things they already knew so it was boring and they wished that things were more challenging. One even wrote that the class could be improved if there were a “more advanced group of students.” I felt these lulls and I sympathized with those very few advanced students but those who needed step by step explanations outweighed the others. What do you do in those instances? The differences were so great that asking them to work a little bit ahead would only work for so long. If all the students are supposed to be graded for the same things, then it isn’t really fair to require more of the other students just because they CAN produce more, right? The only thing that happened was that the more advanced students had their projects completed before the others. They just felt that class time was wasted on some days. Finding a middle ground is not always the easiest thing when class does not always go as planned. (I guess unless you are a superstar teacher!) Retention seems like it might be a problem too because if these Basic Writers do not feel that they can keep up with what others are doing then they might stop coming to class, not show up on days when things are due, etc.

I can appreciate what Uehling’s article is trying to do for the Basic Writing program at Boise but I would assume that these guidelines, objectives, mission statements, goals, etc. are flexible because Basic Writers are so diverse. I believe it was Darcy that said something about non-Basic Writers not even acquiring some of the things that were on these objectives. I would hope that there is room for the students to perhaps excel in some of these areas and maybe need time to become fully engaged in others. Maybe they just aren’t going to connect with Mike Rose or Victor Villanueva so it isn’t that they can’t read actively and engage in a dialogue with a text, but THAT text is just not something that is particularly striking in their lives. I don’t think I would ever choose to assign my students those particular full-length texts. (They might want to know why I don’t spend more time with them….just kidding!)

Gibson’s article reminded me why I am not too open with my students about myself and my beliefs. (Not because I think that she was being too open but because you just never know what your students are going to walk in believing.) I don’t want to preach to my students and I don’t think it’s my job to sway them to believe one thing or another about life, religion or politics. I will call them out if they are being hateful or if they really need to reconsider something that is just outright ridiculous that they are saying or writing but I have really been lucky to have very few of those instances. I try my best to add on to the ideas that they find interesting and bring my knowledge to that without asking “What the heck are you thinking?” The idea is to get them to write more and to feel more comfortable doing it so I am not going to step in and make it “Liza’s Belief Hour.” As teachers, we are supposed to help spark new ideas kind of like Rose did with more questions and let them come to their own conclusions about things. I guess until someone comes into my class and says that he or she hates something that I am – that I truly represent , I can’t really feel exactly like Gibson did but I would imagine that trying to separate yourself from a student who is making ridiculous claims is going to be quite a feat.

I really wish that students were taught from very early on that they have to work hard to make good grades and that that is what determines their success. I don’t think that students are told that they must put in the time to be successful. They are given these tests where they just sit and take the test and although they prep for it I don’t know that they really use what they learn to be lifelong learners. That seems to be the problem with the TAKS, they are not learning to really work on the process of writing and they are expecting it all to be done in one sitting. If they don’t do well, they are judged as poor writers. After so many years of this, it is no wonder that they are forced into believing they are in the “entity theory” category.

John Lamerson – Pre-Reading

We were asked to read for class on Tuesday Karen S. Uehling’s “Creating a Statement of Guidelines and Goals for Boise State University’s Basic Writing Course: Content and Development,” William B. Lalicker’s “A Basic Introduction to Basic Writing Program Structures: A Baseline and Five Alternatives,” and Michelle Gibson’s “From the Peculiar Case of Contessa: Postmodernism and Basic Writing Pedagogy.”

I have not read anything else by these authors, nor even heard of them. With regards to the goals of a basic writing course, my initial thought is that the purpose of such a course is to bring students who, for whatever reason, are reading at a lower level than there peers to the level of their peers. My initial impression is that this process will be the purpose of Uehling and Lalicker’s articles. I have to believe that they, like Rose, will come to the conclusion that basic writing must be taught differently than other freshman writing. Lalicker's article will also probably reference other basic writing programs, and may rank them in terms of effectiveness.

As to Michelle Gison’s article, I have no earthly clue as to what that title means, although I’m very interested to find out.

Right now, I am predisposed to think that most of the articles we read for this course will focus on teaching basic writing as its own unique subset of English studies, not just a simplified form of composition studies.

Joanna Hodges - Pre-Reading

At this point, after reading Mike Rose's Lives on the Boundary, I do feel like I know a bit more about basic writing, mostly from one person's experiences in the field. Also, recently doing the observation and interview with Dr. Craig have helped gain more insight on what goes on inside a community college basic writing classroom, at least locally. I am interested to see what other types of activities happen in the basic writing classrooms, if they are all constructed similarly to Dr. Craig's, and, if not, what some alternative ways of teaching the class are. I'd like to see some of the background of how basic writing classrooms have developed over the years, how they have changed, and what different schools have done, so that I can compare where we are at now with the basic writing classes to how they were in the past.

I'm pretty sure I don't know anything about these authors. Except, naturally, that they have some stake in the field of basic writing.

Some preconceived notions I have about the reading are that they might be like Rose's in that they look at the individual experiences or focus on personal involvement. Not to say this is bad--I don't think it is--but I'd like to see a little more of a broader sense of the field. Then again, by looking at some of the titles, I can see that one is looking at the structures of basic writing programs, so it actually might be the type of thing I'm looking for.

Edith Delgado- Pre-Reading

(A Basic Introduction to Basic Program Structures: A Baseline and Five Alternatives, Creating a Statement of Guidelines and Goals for Boise State University’s Basic Writing Course: Content and Development, From the Peculiar Case of Contessa: Postmodernism and Basic Writing Pedagogy)

What I know about the topic varies, even though the semester just started, I believe I'm understanding the bases of the topics. The titles of the reading assignments give me the impression that they are related to Mike Rose’s personal experience, except in a broader sense and take place in different areas of the nation. No, I don’t know everything about this topic, but yes I do have some idea.

No I have never heard about the authors

My preconceived notion about all the readings are that they will have to do with the professors using the writing process, students’ essays or a student’s essay, and how basic writing works or doesn’t work in universities. Mainly, what goes on in composition courses, lesson plans that work and lesson plans that don’t.

Edith Post-Reading

William B. Lalicker

My understanding of the text begins to break down when Lalicker’s surveyed a variety of writing programs in different institutions. And as the title states, it’s a baseline that includes five alternative structures to basic writing programs. As I’ve learned through interviewing a developmental instructor, some colleges and universities don’t really care for developmental writing courses. It’s not so much the institutions, rather the instructors of the institutions. Lalicker seems to cover the necessities of a qualitative study because it describes the baseline of each model, their grading system, how students are placed in courses of developmental writing, if there is a basic writing program, and most importantly what he sees as the advantages and disadvantages of the particular models that offered. Of the five models: stretch, studio, directed self-placement, intensive, and mainstream, it seems that a lot depends on the type of institution, not to mention the demographics. I don’t think that many of the people in South Texas attending junior colleges for the first time would know how to handle the self-placement model. But then again, I may be incorrect. This reminds me of the standardized testing when it asks students to answer something that can only be found in another region and they are clueless as to what it is. Finally, as Lalicker mentions, the alternatives help determine the answer that best suits the program’s theories and goals, matching the institution’s mission and resources and most successful for meeting the literacy challenges of the basic writing students (25). I agree. It all comes down to the goals of the writing course and what it can do for a writer, which is to make him/her a better writer.

Karen S. Uehling

This reading, I felt, did not cover much of the issues on the list; instead it covers a collaboration of the institutions’ mission statement and working other words or ideas into it. From my understanding, Uehling, along with five adjunct colleagues, recreate the school's “Statement of Goals and Guidelines” for their institution’s basic writing course, and basically the end result is that it takes teamwork to be able to give students a good education. I think this type of collaboration gives tenure professors and everyone else teaching a clearer picture of what goes on in developing students into becoming better learners, for instance, the writing process, and goals of a writing course. The break down of the statement details exercises such as brainstorming, freewriting, think critically, which reminds me of the things that are practiced in composition in this university. I can see many similarities between Boise State University and Texas A&M University-CC. And then again, there are some differences such as graduate students are not working toward changing or adding the mission statement. The points Uehling writes about is basically the topics we have discussed in class, what is a basic writer, teacher’s role and goal in a writing course. This text connects to Mike Rose’s book because it explains in detail many of the things or processes in writing and helping a student understand what it is that they are writing. The mission statement also mentions that the university is very diverse, while Rose’s experience has a lot to do with diverse students, cultural differences and such.

Michelle Gibson

I found this reading a bit more interesting because the professor was confronted with a different challenge in her teaching experience. It, ultimately, gave her another perspective on teaching. In this reading, it’s not only about the basic writer, but how the writer incorporates her personal beliefs, which are so irrelevant to the professor’s beliefs. I felt as if nothing positive came out of the student-teacher work, “my commentary did not acknowledge either Contessa’s or my own competing identity fragments” (Gibson 108). I think this reading still connects to other readings we have engaged with in that it has to do with writing and the process of it, but at the same time, it’s so different because in this case, the teacher is an advocate for homosexuality and identifies herself as a lesbian (107), her personal anecdote can not be compared to those experiences that Mike Rose mentioned, such as his understanding of people’s backgrounds and where students come from, this is totally different.

Andrea Montalvo Pre-Reading

Do I know anything about this topic? - As far as each essay is concerned, I know about basic writing from the reading and class discussions we have had so far. These seem to be about developing basic writing courses, which we have yet to discuss in detail. Although the titles seem to deal with basic writing, I'm sure this material will be similar to what we read from Mike Rose.

Do I know anything about the author(s)? - I can't say that I do...Sorry!

What preconceived notions do I have about the readings? - I guess I'm expecting these essays to be all about the nuts and bolts of developing basic writing courses and prgrams. I'm sure there must have been some trial and error, so I would like to read about what worked for these authors and what didn't. It's nice to know just how human we all are. Also, like I mentioned above, I'm assuming this material will be similar to Lives on the Boundary. I'm also hoping to see some examples of student writing, as well as what constitutes "good" and "bad" writing.

Andrea Montalvo Post-Reading

  1. William Lalicker essay: I found this first essay interesting because I was unaware of the multiple alternatives to basic writing courses he discussed. Of course we don't have this at our campus, however, I don't think all of these would bode well for the students. We have the "baseline" model, however some students (some of mine anyway) still do not seem prepared for first year composition. I liked how he broke down each alternative into six parts because it was easy for me to understand and see how and why some methods worked as well as why they did not. I found the studio model to be the most interesting because the classes are smaller and there is more one on one time with the teacher. But, this type of basic writing course might cost more, and college is expensive enough as it is! I felt the third and fifth alternatives would be the least effective because they do not emphasize, in my opinion, basic writing. The directed self-placement model allows students to "take responsibility for their own literacy" which doesn't seem plausible for first year students (21). It seems like a good way to foster creativity, but I don't think it will necessarily prepare students for composition, or any other English course they may take. The mainstreaming model "essentially eliminates basic writing classes and puts all students, no matter what their apparent writing ability, into standard comp classes" (23). I think you would have to take into account students' writing ability when placing them in a course because it will affect their performance.
  2. Karen S. Uehling Essay: I didn't enjoy this essay as much as the first because I felt like I was at orientation for the English program at BSU and not a student trying to learn about basic writing. But, I thought the seven competencies she listed were useful because I had the opportunity to learn about another university's expectations of their basic writers. However, I feel that not all students will fall into these seven competencies, so then what will they do? She mentions that these courses are mainly taught by teaching assistants (like here, yay) "who use a modified expressivist and reading process approach with free writing, conferencing and group work "(34).
  3. Michelle Gibson's essay: This essay intrigued me the most I think because Gibson focuses on a single student who wrote a paper about a topic that directly affects her. She mentions the "trailer" courses she teaches and what she notices about these students. For instance, "many of these students have intellectual ability that far exceeds their ability to express themselves in writing" and "they tend to come from families that tend to value education as a means to a 'better life' economically..." (102). Contessa was one of these students. Her essay dealt with homophobia, and she had to consider her values as a Christian along with her personal opinions about the topic. She included an anecdote from her gay friend Robert, as well as various texts concerning homosexuality. Gibson, as a lesbian, had to remove herself from the topic at hand in order to help Contessa revise her essay and remain unbiased. I admire this because I think as teachers we will all have to do this at some point, and its nice to read about how one teacher handled the situation.

Holly C. - Post-Reading

  • Lalicker – Pages 15 thru 25
    • Lalicker’s article discusses the baseline structure for a writing center, as well as five alternatives for basic writing programs. The baseline, as I understand or am assuming, is the one that is in most common usage, with the five alternatives being programs that are different from the baseline basic writing program. Contrary to my assumption, Lalicker is not critical of any of these programs. The article reads like a research report and was constructed by surveys that he placed on a Writing Program Administrators’ list serv. Lalicker indicates that “institutions of every type have developmental writing programs” (15). Lalicker gives brief overviews of the basic writing programs and also of their pros and cons. The main thing I took from this article is that there is not any one perfect way to organize a basic writing program, and that there are probably even more possibilities for basic writing programs outside of the ones listed in this article.
  • Uehling – Pages 27 thru 38
    • Karen S. Uehling’s article “Creating a Statement of Guidleines and Goals for Boise State University’s Basic Writing Course: Content and Development” is a discussion of how Uehling, along with her staff, wrote up a mission statement explaining specifically what the basic writing program at Boise State University entails. “The heart of this document is the seven competencies for basic writing because the competencies are tied to portfolio assessment and thus significantly influence what goes on in class” (28). The seven competencies that the students must meet in order to be successful in the basic writing program include developing confidence in themselves as writers, being willing to use multiple strategies for revising and editing, and producing writing in the appropriate format for the appropriate audience. There is also an emphasis on students learning to self edit. In this article, Uehling mentions Noguchi’s “writer’s grammar”. As I have not heard anything about Noguchi’s grammar, I checked for it online. I didn’t find any direct links to anything specifically about Noguchi’s grammar, but I did find a link to a thing from a college in Hawaii that talks about it. Specifically, the pdf file says that Noguchi is cited in a book called Grammar and Teaching of Writing.
  • Gibson – Pages 100 thru 112
    • Gibson’s article discusses her experiences coaching the writing of a student she calls “Contessa”. This student was a basic writer working on a composition for Gibson. The topic of Contessa’s composition, the treatment of homosexuals, turned out to be a composition in which Contessa could not pull together all of the identities she had into a coherent essay. In parallel, Gibson, a lesbian and a writing teacher had difficulty reconciling her own feelings on homosexuality with the fact that he main objective with Contessa was to make her a better writer. This article also makes mention of how sharing one’s personal experiences and opinions within the classroom might diminish the effectiveness of the teacher/writing reviewer. I see both sides of this argument. To me, this particular tension is present in any aspect managing a classroom. If a student starts to see the teacher as too human and not a robot that lives in a broom closet in the school on weekends, then the student make reach a comfort level that renders the teacher ineffective. If Gibson had “came out” to Contessa, which it seems interesting to me that many of Gibson’s other students were quite aware of her sexuality so I wonder why not Contessa, Contessa might not have seen Gibson as a person who really could objectively critique her essay.


Pre-reading Response for Christine Cashion:

Knowledge on topics – (Lalicker) I cannot say that I would be able to successfully implement a basic writing program without doing more research. My idea of program is a series of implementation strategies set for a target audience. I have taught basic writing but I would not call my classroom a program of basic writing. I would just call it teaching basic writing. I am curious to find out where Lalicker begins with what he calls a baseline and ends with five alternatives. I want to know what he is proposing as the alternatives.

The next author is Uehling who discusses a Boise State basic writing course with consideration for content and development. To me, content and development are attained simultaneously. I do not know about Boise but I would venture to say that most writing courses would be streamlined to teach underprepared college students. To teach a student content, I would say, is not an easy approach. Content is unique to the topic. You can tell a student to explore a topic using information they already have, in addition to research. Then, you develop the content and continue to reformulate between content and development.

The final author is Gibson. She talks about the case of Contessa, in regards to Postmodernism and basic writing pedagogy. I do not know much about Postmodernism other than what I studied in Dr. Mermann’s Literary Criticism class, which I loved. I am going out on a limb to say that Contessa is a student about whom a study was conducted. Gibson probably used the scenario as a foundation in which to examine pedagogy.

I am not familiar with any of the above authors but I do like it that two of them are women.

The preconceived notions I have about the reading are that I expect I will acquire much insight into basic writing pedagogy. I especially look forward to understanding why Gibson chose Contessa to discuss. I also want to know why Uehling chose content and development specifically to discuss. They are great topics but there are truly many other areas of the writing process she could have chosen to explore. My final notion is about Lalicker’s five alternatives. I would like to see his process in delineating the five he selected. Structure is important and anytime a teacher can simplify something for a student by outlining a process, then I think it can only be helpful.

Christine Cashion – Post Reading Response:

Lalicker helps to define a basic writer by taking a look at how basic writing program structures cater to the needs of its students. He conducted a survey with program directors to determine models and features. The result was five alternatives in which Lalicker gives a bird’s eye view into how each type of program can operate. Good writing can be taught to a student; however, students have different needs. Some are weak in grammar but strong in developing content, or the opposite. It is important to note “prerequisites” (17) as Lalicker suggests for these types of programs because anything ought to start with a base. In addition to a description of these programs, Lalicker discusses credit status, placement and grading components. With any program, there needs to be a type of evaluation where advantages and disadvantages are weighed. There is great detail in this reading the goals of basic writing programs. I think politics come into play because administrators will want to emphasize certain aspects depending on their preferences but ideally, the programs should be determined by the needs of the students.

Whereas Lalicker focused on types of writing programs for basic writers, Uehling hones in on just the course. With specific attention to Boise State, the author chooses to look closely at how the course prepares a student for the skills required to succeed in a college-level English class. Bravo. Uehling states that students need confidence building and to learn what will be expected of them in the university classroom. Amen. I know that Del Mar College has approximately 60% of its students in one or more remedial class. I am not quite sure what those numbers are for English. However, I know that in counseling students, I encounter some who express that they do not feel “ready” to be in a college level English class. I also get comments like, “Ooh, English is hard.” Because of this mentality, it becomes increasingly evident that students need that extra push in their remediation. They need a teacher that says, “You can do it. Here is how you will accomplish it (activities, terminology). Expect this and that and so forth.” I appreciate Uehling’s guidelines and goals to help instructors understand the facets of teaching a successful developmental English course, including such factors as diversity, attitude, and multiple strategies.

“Contessa enrolled in my English Composition…” (page 101) And so the story goes that Gibson works with her student, Contessa, in the classroom. Gibson states that she does not believe necessarily that a student may be ready for college-level English classes just because they have completed what she calls “trailer” courses – the courses that “trail” behind English composition. I have never heard that term before and I can say that I do not like the connotation of the terminology. Gibson contends that there are real life experiences that should be considered in the student being ready for higher level English. Gibson became attracted to this student apparently because of a topic “Homophobia” the student chose to discuss in a paper. Gibson goes into great detail regarding the content of Contessa’s essay. - I have never read an article like this before. Gibson, as an instructor, became fairly personally involved with the student’s beliefs. She stated that she was in “near shock” (108) at what Contessa had asserted – “Homophobic behavior is just as wrong as homosexual behavior” (107). – Is it hot in here or is it just me? Yikes. I can say that I have not come across many papers like this – Postmodernism in a nutshell, I guess. My question is how much should the instructor critique the personal views of the student versus form, structure, addressing the topic, etc.? ____________________________________________________________________________

Ben Howard's PreReading?

I really still feel pretty limited in my knowledge of teaching developmental writing, and especially in regards to creating guidelines or any kind of course structure, but I have a little bit of an idea how to structure things after reading Rose. However, I didn’t really see anything in his teaching methods that seemed conducive to the idea of having a set of guidelines, and he kind of seemed to suggest that the class needed to be adjusted accordingly throughout to fit the needs of the writers, which is something I would entirely agree on. It seems like you could come up with a list of activities and a list of goals to accomplish by the end of the classroom, but trying to figure out how to get these goals accomplished would be kind of a work in progress as the class went on, so I’m interested to see exactly what is suggested here. As for the second two, I really don’t have any prior knowledge. This is all still pretty new to me, except where it ties into what we discussed in the history of composition and rhetoric over the summer, which is similar but focused more on historical information than actual modern theories and practices.

I really don’t know anything about any of these authors, and my preconceived notions about this reading are that it’s going to have a lot of good suggestions, but a lot of it is going to be really presumptive, and more of the same “this is useful in certain situations, but doesn’t apply to everything” kind of answers that we seemed to get from Rose. I think that’s kind of going to be a theme in any class that deals with methods and theories though, because the idea is to give us glimpses of different methods and allow us to decide how to work these all into our own workable theories.

Darcy Lewis - Pre-Read

Since this week’s reading is about teaching BW and BW paradigms, this will all be new to me. I have talked to other BW teachers about what they do in the classroom, but don’t know much about the paradigms or concrete curriculums that follow. From what I gather, the majority of BW programs offer courses meant to be taken before Freshman Comp and do not give the student actual college credit for the course. This probably fosters resentment on the part of the student, who has to pay good money for the course only to then have to go on for another year of “regular” college comp. The students also probably feel stigmatized by being classified sub-standard, and like Rose was saying, this can follow them around throughout the rest of their academic career—not only in the way it makes the student feel and respond to subsequent writing assignments, but also in the permanence on their transcripts. I am not sure if a situation exists in which a student can get discriminated against later in life for having taken BW...maybe in attempting to get into a really competitive graduate program or something like that.

I haven’t read any of these authors yet. Any preconceived notions about the topic would probably all hinge on the fact that (from those I’ve talked to) I know both BW students and teachers are largely frustrated with the system…i.e. the “perfect” system has not yet been found. Also, I think it is probably a lot easier to determine what does NOT work than what actually does. As with most things in life, it’s easier to identify the negatives than figure out the solutions/positives…especially when dealing with factors outside one’s control like bureaucracy and politics.


Sean's pre-reading

Do I know anything about the topic?

I know from our practicum course that creating a structure for a writing course requires some thought beyond tying the assignments together. Thinking about what the students will retain for future use and being able to assess writing on a student-by-student basis are also fundamental to the continued value of the instruction after the student leaves the class. Being able to connect assignments to other parts of the students' lives also contributes to the overall experience. With these things in mind, I think that creating a basic writing course would have to follow some kind of pattern for writing that would be readily and easily continued once the course is done.

What preconceived notions do I have about the reading?

Much like the way the portfolio pattern is instrumental to our FYWP, I would suspect that the models for basic writing instruction utilize some sort of process-based assessment that allows the instructor to see each students writing as individual and resulting from different experiences and histories. In a basic writing course, it seems that there would be a wide disparity of practiced skill; therefore, without a model that allows for this disparity, the teaching would inherently favor some students over others.

Sean's post-reading

Lalicker: First of all, I have to mention that I got a chuckle from the description of advantages Lalicker lists for the baseline model of basic writing. That "it...refutes accusations of...mollycoddling" and that "a 'tough love' system" does "our students the good service of preparing them for the rigors of academic discourse" sounds to me like a list of advantages for the teachers and administrators more so than for the students themselves (17). The idea that by subjecting basic writers to a series of hurdles that demand of them something they obviously have not picked up in their previous instruction is, to me, a lazy, ineffectual way of militaristically brainwashing students into "grammar drones." Not a baseline I would agree with.

The Self-Placement alternative seemed to me to follow some of the tactics of, for lack of a better word, laziness that I see in the baseline model. I like the fact that it encourages students to take control of their own decisions; however, I think that, in accordance with Haswell and Wyche-Smith's determination mentioned in the Studio model disadvantages, student placement is most effective when carried out by well-trained faculty. In that regard, I think the studio model makes more sense, as long as a commitment to instructor training is present.

As for Mainstreaming, I think that it most resembles the ideas that were expressed in the Rose text, in that it requires more intensive teacher involvement. I like the idea that Mainstreaming allows students to interact with fellow writers of all skill levels, which can lead to faster development than other methods (especially a Stretch model, which seems to me to be similar to the "mollycoddling" that Lalicker denounces). However, Mainstreaming reflects the concerns about retention that I felt were important in my pre-reading comments. If retention is given high priority, I would think that some kind of additional instruction and time is necessary (I like the Studio model for this reason). After all, we seemed to agree, in our class anyway, that not many instructors have the kind of time available for the level of interaction that Rose seemed to have and that mainstreamed students might require.

Uehling: The interesting part of this article to me was how closely it reflected some of the criteria we discussed in class about how a basic writer is defined. The section on "Transforming Attitudes" (p. 35) very nearly mirrors my initial reaction to Rose's accounts, in that it describes a lack of confidence as the primary and most difficult obstacle to writing progression. Also, in the Competencies section of this statement, I found evidence of what we intuitively felt that Rose was describing; basic writers exhibit deficiencies in some or all of the characteristics listed here as needing to be satisfactorily attained.

I was especially drawn to the seventh criterion - editing. In this statement, editing is listed as something that does not need to be "perfected," but merely sufficient so that "surface features of the language do not interfere with communication" (31). This fits my personal philosophy, in that I believe that editing should not be introduced into the writing process until very late stages, and then in a collaborative way so that there is concensus and agreement about grammatical choices. One of the things I took as most valuable from my experiences in the realm of linguistics is that language evolves and that gramamtical rules will never be concrete in the sense that mathematical equations are. Instead, we should use editing as a tool for increased communicative fluency, which is entirely dependent on audience and purpose. Therefore, I think for basic writers to attain an ability to identify where and how their writing communicates effectively to a specific audience is more important than trying to reinforce rules that are detrimental to the creative process and revisionary tactics, both of which may rely on a very individual understanding of voice and style.

Gibson: This article really made me think about how we assess our students' writing, especially in terms of how their own experiences and identites come through to us (they may not all be effectively communicated). I think that in relation to Rose's astute ability to identify the needs of each individual writer, Gibson's methods seem to offer some credible and accessible means to that end, but I still think that it is more of a tricky thing to do than this article demonstrates (Gibson seems to be on the same page with Rose in that regard). I think her strategies are useful, but difficult to adopt. I'll put this one on the backburner, I think.

Darcy Lewis - Post-Read

Starting with the handout on entity and incremental theories, I can see how the pervasion of entity theory in American schools could contribute to the BW phenomenon while also perpetuating the negative stereotype associated with BW students. On page 59, Carol Dweck is quoted as saying, “An emphasis on innate ability makes Americans preoccupied with categorizing children as a basis for deciding who can benefit from particular kinds of education. Expectations of ‘low ability’ children are reduced, and they finish their education with inadequate skills and insufficient knowledge for finding jobs and adapting successfully to contemporary society.” Perhaps introducing an incremental theory-based approach to the BW classroom could alleviate some of the stigma and anxiety about the end evaluation and allow the students to really work toward changing their bad habits and patterns. That being said, it is probably not easy to deprogram such deeply ingrained theories of learning in students at the college level. I know that I grew up with the entity theory throughout school and can see how that has affected me as a student.

In Lalicker’s article, he gives a useful rundown of the different BW program structures. The prerequisite model is the one I am most familiar with. I found it interesting that in the sections on advantages and disadvantages, the cost of administering the program and the legality of state requirements for low scoring standardized test-takers were major factors. Instead of the student’s needs and the ability of the faculty to meet those needs being the only considerations, BW is subject to campus and state politics. Rose talked about running across those same issues when he went back to UCLA and ran the tutoring program. It would be nice if teachers could just teach under the best of circumstances, but I guess that’s naïve.

Out of all the models Lalicker talked about, I felt the Studio Model had the potential for being the most effective. This kept students from getting behind the regular track and gave them extra help where needed but allowed them to experience the same reading and writing curriculum as their fellow students. Plus, I don’t like the idea of stigmatizing students from the get-go based on scores from one standardized test. Some people simply do not test well, and many writers cannot write well under pressure in a timed environment. This system places the onus on the composition teacher to diagnose BW students, which would probably be effective in most cases.

In Uehling’s article, it was helpful to see how the Boise State program was developed and on what principles. The seven competencies were ambitious, to say the least, but I suppose it’s good to aim high. I’m not sure students who leave “regular” Freshman Comp have mastered those competencies. However, I think it’s a nice balance between writing for content and context, editing for clarity and error, critical reading/thinking, etc. It seemed like their program doesn’t assume that BW students can’t be critical thinkers or good writers, just that they haven’t connected it all together yet. The BW teacher I observed at Del Mar indicated something similar about her students. She said that their biggest error is a general fogginess in pulling together their papers, not some specific prescriptive grammar error. Anyway, this article also said something important about the need for BW students to be writing as much as possible. It was buried in the middle of the Appendix, but she said, “Students in writing classes should continuously produce written work. This includes evaluated work, such as formal assignments and subsequent revisions, as well as informal and non-evaluated work, such as journal entries, in-class writing exercises, rough drafts, and peer responses” (36). Taking BW students down to the sentence level (or even paragraph level) sends a bad message and keeps the BW student from achieving the whole point of the class—writing.

Gibson’s article was a good cautionary tale (not sure if she meant it that way, but that’s how I took it) about trying to be a fair grader without interjecting your personal life into your teaching and grading. If we implement a process approach in the classroom and allow the students to write about what they want to, there is no room for taking offense to what they write. I agreed completely with Gibson’s assessment of Contessa’s writing and could see the flaws in her logic, but I don’t think it was Gibson’s place to be “engaged in my own, unarticulated identity negotiation” in the space of a student paper. If we open up the floor to student opinions, we’re going to get all sorts of, well…crap. These are babies who mostly haven’t had any life experience yet, haven’t met a wide variety of people, haven’t had a chance to test their opinions (which are mostly their parents’ opinions), and are still trying to define themselves. More importantly, this is probably their first foray into thinking critically for themselves outside the context of high school and being beneath a parent’s wing, so to expect them to navigate their “competing identities” and articulate those in a paper is unfair. I’ll close out with a quote from a pretty interesting op-ed piece in the New York Times by Stanley Fish about how he approaches teaching Freshman Comp (which he apparently still teaches). He finds that over-emphasizing content takes away from teaching language: “We don't do content in this class. By that I mean we are not interested in ideas - yours, mine or anyone else's. We don't have an anthology of readings. We don't discuss current events. We don't exchange views on hot-button issues. We don't tell each other what we think about anything - except about how prepositions or participles or relative pronouns function. The reason we don't do any of these things is that once ideas or themes are allowed in, the focus is shifted from the forms that make the organization of content possible to this or that piece of content, usually some recycled set of pros and cons about abortion, assisted suicide, affirmative action, welfare reform, the death penalty, free speech and so forth.” It’s a good reminder that there can be a balance struck between ideas like Gibson’s and those of Fish.

James, pre-reading


The title of Uehling's article, Creating a Statement of Guidelines and Goals for boise State University's Basic Writing Course: Content and Development, suggests lesson planning or the construction of some sort of rubric or syllabus perhaps. I know about these from having done them while teaching.

Lalicker's A Basic Introduction to Basic Writing Program Structures suggests in its title that it will show different course designs or models for the basic writing curriculum.

Gibson's title suggests that it will be a case study on the writing of a girl named Contessa.


I don't know any of the authors.


If these readings follow the trend of readings in this class and comp theory so far, there will be quite a bit on the writing process and the teaching of it (in keeping with process theory readings from comp theory) and student-centered instruction (in keeping with everything else). I am most curious about the curriculum designs that will be talked about and seeing which ones fit my current ideas and which ones might challenge and add to those ideas.

James, post-reading


As I thought, this seems a lot like a list of objectives like I would write on a board when teaching such as, "The student will be able to perform "x," "y," and "z," but this is more like course objectives than daily objectives (which I used to write out daily). It is almost like setting up a TEKS but for a basic writing class and in a way that is centered around more than just being able to pass a test.

I see a lot of process theory in Uehling's competencies; in fact, it seems based on that theory. This connects to other authors I have read. I immediately think of Tobin's article in the Tate book from comp theory.

Since this is process-based, there is a good deal of attention paid to the progress of a writer.

Other than that, it seems to be just a list of agreed-upon things that students need to know how to do to write in the academy and is therefore a sound basis of objectives for a basic writing course to be built around.

Also, it certainly seems to be student-centered which is really the thing to go for. The first competency really pinpoints this by acknowledging diverse student backgrounds and how some students may not feel confident in their reading and writing abilities. It is this first step that is crucial, getting all of the students comfortable with themselves, before the processes can go smoothly in the class.


These models or templates seem to run the gamut. I would say that they seem to go from least progressive to most progressive.

The baseline model seems to be the most traditional and the one I know of from when I began undergraduate study before entering the Air Force. I never had to take basic writing which was then called remedial writing, but I always knew it as a separate class and one that did not award any college credit. It was like the class the people who could not write well enough for a college class had to take in order to get into the college class.

At the opposite end, the mainstreaming model sounds good for social reasons, but mainstreaming, or, as it is now called in public schools, inclusion, does not always work smoothly in practice. The common complaint of teachers is that the lower functioning students hold the class back because they need more one-on-one attention, and that takes away from the teacher's ability to teach the rest of a class that is ready to move on. There are some ways around this such as pairing students, but that can be tricky too since you are dealing with people with different levels of understanding. You really have to be sure that you have a classroom of mutual respect between students regardless of how quickly or slowly each student learns.

I think that the models that require additional lab time for students who are having trouble sound like the best solution for basic writers. This allows them to be with their peers in an inclusion classroom (least restricted environment) and earn regular credit, but it also allows them to supplement their learning and master the things that they might not have completely understood in class if the class itself moves too fast for them.


The most interesting aspect of Gibson's article, to me, was in its description of the postmodernist inner conflicts of both the student and the teacher and how they got in the way of the instruction of how to write in a focused and modernist way (which is what is required of most college writing).

Contessa was conflicted in her attitudes toward homosexuals in that she felt that homosexuality was immoral but also felt that treating homosexuals badly was inappropriate. Gibson identified this as being a problem in Contessa's writing because there was a gap between the complexity of Contessa's feelings and her ability to express them in a focused way. This came across, time and again, in Contessa's writing.

Likewise, Gibson had conflicting attitudes toward Contessa's writing since she was a teacher trying to help Contessa write better and also a very open homosexual who was hurt by some of Contessa's assertions about homosexuals and homosexual behavior. This came across often in Gibson's commenting on Contessa's writing.

Gibson ends with the idea that it would be good to teach postmodernist ideas without explicitly mentioning the theory but by acknowledging that writers have different feelings and thoughts on things that they write about which should be explored prior to writing. Then, a primary focus can be achieved to do the type of writing the academy requires but also with the benefit of fully exploring the conflicting thoughts/feelings that the student has.

One thing this led me to think is that the academy as a whole should start looking at postmodernist writing in addition to modernist writing and recognizing its validity. If the conflict of thoughts and feelings on controversial topis is truest of the current human condition now, shouldn't the university own up to the fact that postmodernist writing will be what most accurately depicts the condition of the students in that world? Why does it stick so hard to modernism? If one teacher can admit this, why can't the university as a whole? That is where my understanding breaks down and where I want more answers.

Joanna Hodges - Post-Reading

I found the handout about entity theory and incremental theory very insightful about the American educational system and students' attitudes toward learning. The table of self-theories does a great job of outlining the differences between the two and makes it crystal clear which theory is better for learners to follow. Students who are entity theorists pretty much seemed doomed to failure from self-fulfilling prophecies, while incremental theorists feel that effort will help them improve or, as the adage goes, hard work pays off. In my education class last week we were actually discussing the differences between Asian and American students (high school age, mostly) and the different attitudes they have toward learning and education. When the Asian students (and this was based off of international students) my classmates were talking about first came to the American high school, they were shocked at how lazy American students are. I feel like I see a similar pattern in the Comp classes I have--almost all the international students I have had have been extremely hard workers. Then again, I always wonder if it is because they are the kind of students in the first place who would come to another country for education (because they care so much about their educations), while many of the American students are not as invested for some reason or another--they did not have to travel so far or work so hard to get where they are (that's just a broad generalizaion, I'm not saying it is like that for everyone). Anyway, I just found the differences this article points out to be realistic and truthful, especially about how the American schools propogate the entity theory with the standardized tests, measures of intelligence like the IQ test, etc. One quote I especially agree with for American students: "it is better to be thought lazy than stupid" (61). Being lazy is a "choice" whereas being stupid is not; therefore, students feel better being labeled lazy because they feel they could improve if they wanted to; it is the fear of failure, of being labeled as inadequate, that scares them away from living up to the potential and working towards an education.

I feel like I did get some of what I was looking for with Lalicker's BW structures--a way to see how basic writing classes are structured in different contexts. Based on this, it actually made me feel that the one Garrett and I observed at Del Mar was the "baseline" model, which I do not think is the most efficient or effective model (especially after reading Shor's article from the Comps list!). Mainstreaming seems like it gives basic writers the best opportunity to interact with writers of all levels, plus it raises the expectations for them so they won't feel like they are given lowered expectations which hold them down. We almost have mainstreaming here, except for the Writing Center proponent (which I partially feel we might just have for the legal reasons). I also liked the idea at the end of the mix-and-match possiblities because I feel that is what we have since none of the models seemed to fit our structure (though some were close). I found the directed self-placement model interesting...I was wondering how many students would volumntarily take the class if they weren't required to. Yes, the ones taking it would be motivated, but the ones who opt out who might benefit from taking the class...what happens to them?

I really don't feel like I got much out of the Uehling article. I'm hoping class discussion will help me with it. It's good if one is in the process of developing a program, to see an example, and also the guidelines showed some indications of how universities attempt to classify the needs of basic writers. It reminded me of the interview Garrett and I had with Dr. Craig--she discussed some of the things her and her colleagues came up with as consistent errors basic writers make, such as sentence structure (fragments, run-ons, etc) or mistaking commonly confused words (their, there, they're).

As for the Case of Contessa, I found the theoretical grounding for this article interesting, although it didn't seem like earth-shattering news to me. It basically reminded me of other articles pertaining to making students aware of the multiple voices or identities they have. It was good to read about how the instructor must also understand his or her own multiple identities and come to terms with them in order to help the students come to turns with his or her identities. Otherwise, its like the blind leading the blind. Good stuff. It's a valuable lesson to remember how complex personalities can be (just for one individual), but also how difficult it can be to understand students coming from a completely different perspective than you as a teacher. There are times, naturally, where I don't agree with what my students say, but if it is based on opinion, you kind of have to step back and not force your views on them, but let the students discover their own answers.

Jennifer Guerra

Pre-Reading TDW

I have absolutely no clue what to expect. I am new to this field, and I suppose this text will be a selection of critical or theoretical essays that pertain to topic of teaching developmental writing.

I am unfamiliar with the editor as I am with the author, and I am a bit unsure of this text as I am nervous that it may get so technical or theoretical that it will take some sifting through before one finds what one is looking for.

Post Reading TDW

I would like to start by saying that I was so very far off about the way this text would play out. It is terribly practical, an easy read, and well structured. I am thrilled with what is included in the area of how programs were structured, the examples of statements of purpose for the departments and programs, the inclusion of process pedagogy, and the examples of student writing and focus. All of which proved helpful and intriguing.


This was neat, and I actually mapped it out for later use. I liked the breakdown of each program and how they noted, through the breakdown, that many of the ideas have similarities, and that many of them cannot be implemented due to legislation and departmental regulations, or due to finances. It seemed that it was never the inability for the project to function, but the upset of how things already are that prevented them from being totally effective. The text also spelled out that there are many ways to arrange how we learn to write, and the examples of the institutions employing some of the more experimental forms was impressive; I would be interested in seeing more results of their programs later. So what should we do in a basic writing class? I think this selection looks at approaches but doesn’t say one is specifically better, however I found myself partial to a mix of several of them. I think the mainstream one was the one I was least comfortable with, while the intensive method intrigued me. The intensive method sounded more like a chance to get, not only the work in, but the credits as well. The mainstream method, however, sounds like a way to get the credit, but I am concerned with the students’ ability to keep up if they really need the extra assistance that other programs can offer.

While this selection does discuss some of the role of teachers, it focuses on the programs and their implementation, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each. The author makes it clear that it is up to the reader to decide what is best; however I gathered that he leans away from the more traditional model on its own. We are reading Tate in another course and I like how he looks at process pedagogy and the changes over time, this looks at some of the variations of process pedagogy and some mixed with the pre-process as well. I would say the reading breaks down in my lack of teaching experience to be able to look at the examples given and understand more about how they might effect students and departments.


I chose to jump to Gibson next, partially because I already brought up process pedagogy. Gibson’s selection was short and had some interesting information. She, for one, gave a clear definition of a basic writer; one who is “unprepared”(110). Earlier she lists 4 characteristics that her students usually bring to the classroom: 1 Many have intellectual ability that outweighs their ability to express themselves 2. They have conflicting desires between seeking a challenge and staying safe 3. The idea that they are intelligent has been challenged due to their inability to communicate well through writing, thus they are often defensive. 4. They often come from families who do not advocate schooling, and have expectations that often conflict with school activities. The definition, along with each of these can help us as we look at who a basic writer is and how to draw them out.

Gibson chooses to introduce political, civic, and other topics in the classroom, along with literature and other written selections. She sues this to allow the students to work from interests or experiences as they write. The assignments made me think of Ira Shor, Rose, and other who seek to bring in outside influence and real world experience to teach. She also discusses creating agency within her students, another term that is associated with a process or critical literacy pedagogy.


I found this great because I feel it makes us think more about the fact that this is not some random thing. It is not randomly walking into a class and thinking that today we will free write, look at verbs, and then work in groups. There are goals that the departments want to achieve and they write out the goals and then plan ways to meet those goals. (I am torn with how much of this to put online, as I want some of it in my paper) I was privy to the Del Mars' “basic” writing programs meeting on Friday. In the meeting, they were in the process of assessing their statement of guidelines and goals. They had their assessment sheets and were working on breakdown the sections that needed to be more clearly phrased and taking out things that did not seem to work. Some of the things they focused on were the ideas of group work, how that could be more easily and clearly defined as to assess whether the students were achieving success as group members. They discussed a lack of understanding with syntax and how they could include that is something they would want as a focus, as well as how it could later be assessed. It was neat to see the selection in action and get a better understanding of how a department actually ends up putting into practice something we read about. The meeting ended with members assigning sections for revision to be looked at during the next meeting, voted on, and implemented the following year.

I see a great deal of departmental policy involved, pressures to meet state and federal standards, as well as discussions to meet the standards of the university. There is a great deal of pressure.

I would have to say that my understanding of the text (any of them really) breaks down where my understanding of running a basic writing program ends, and that, at this point in time, is limited.

John Lamerson - Post-reading

These readings were all very interesting. First, in regards to Gibson, I’ve noticed that those authors for whom cultural relevance is a primary factor in basic writing (Rose and Gibson so far) that these authors tend to use case studies as opposed to more empirical evidence in proving their points. Gibson, for example, uses the story of Contessa as an example for all basic writers whose conflicting viewpoints may be the source of their problems, as opposed to their pure writing skills. I have to think that she missed an obvious point - almost all epistemologies are made up of viewpoints that are conflicting – look at the variances in the connotation of “conservative” and “liberal.” I have to think that Gibson focused on Contessa’s article more for the viewpoint it espoused rather than any conflicts within it. Any student trying to explain his or her views on economics, politics, or religion will have the same exact problems.

With regards to the Lalicker article, I thought it was a very well written diagnosis of the problems facing basic writing courses today. He suggested five alternatives to the standardized/baseline method. These are the stretch model, the studio model, the directed self-placement model, the intensive model, and the mainstreaming model. The unstated but obvious point of the article was that these various alternatives may all have problems, but they are all better than the baseline solution. My personal opinion is that the mainstreaming model makes a great deal of sense – although I understand his arguments against it. The studio model also seems to be a very good one, assuming that our goal for revamping this system is to give students equal credit and to de-stigmatize basic writing. I cannot see the advantage of the stretch model – it’s the same program with a different package. The Directed Self-Placement Model seems to be a terrible idea, as merely insecure students will be labeled as basic writers. And the intensive model has no advantage over the studio model as far as I can see, and an extra hour to its detriment.

Lastly, with regards to Uehling, the thing I appreciated most was that he clearly did not intend for the Boise State basic writing course to be a substandard version of composition 101. He sought to have his students begin most of their collegiate career on equal footing surpass the composition, and if he is able to implement his program to the fullest of its ability his students will probably surpass the average composition student.

Tammy G., Post-Reading:

Among the various writing programs/models presented in the Lalicker piece, the Baseline model is the only one described as a “current-traditional” approach. Lalicker’s description of the Baseline model states that it “frequently focuses more on grammatical conformity than on rhetorical sophistication” (16). In the Studio model, “grammatical and rhetorical issues” are studied in small-group meetings. But, such detailed descriptions are not provided for some of the other models. I can assume that the content is much the same for all of the other models, as well. It does state that the Intensive model starts students composing “from the first day.” I would venture to guess that all of these models would incorporate some grammar instruction, though. Uehling provides an outline which seems to incorporate elements of process pedagogy. Writing is taught as a process: “In our course we practice various methods of invention—free writing, brainstorming, clustering, listing, and other processes,” and students “observe pieces of writing evolving and changing over time…Often the instructor demonstrates this process” (29). Although, Uehling describes the outline as “modified expressivist and reading process approach,” there are also elements of post-process pedagogy when students “experiment with changing a text they thought was completed” (30). Grammar is taught as well, but described as “writers’ grammar.” In the Gibson piece, the description of the first-year writing class is much different from the ones described by Lalicker. Gibson employs “process pedagogy” with a “post-modern theory.” Although Gibson is teaching a first-year comp. class rather than a developmental class, she explains how her student (Contessa) continues to exhibit “basic writing characteristics.” The main issue/problem is the gap “between the complexity of her thinking and her inability to express herself.” I think that all of these models are very much the same in terms of material taught; the difference is in how and where it is taught. All of the models except the Mainstreaming model separate basic writing classes from first-year comp. classes. If I have to choose an approach, I am for Mainstreaming because I believe that students will learn more from their peers and the modeling provided by more accomplished writers. Perhaps students could be paired up with one basic and one accomplished writer to a group, each learning from one another. Anyway, that is my theory. I am sure that issues arise in every approach. I do believe in the portfolio assessment, not much on the pass/fail approach included in many of the models. If you are going to have a “Self-directed placement” model then you might as well go ahead and mainstream, having struggling students take responsibility by visiting the writing centers (which are highly promoted for most models). The readings did not really break down anywhere for me, I do wish Lalicker’s descriptions were a bit more descriptive of each model’s content, though. Gibson gives us a good idea of some of the issues/frustrations students may encounter when one area cannot keep up with the other. I liked Uehling’s across-the-models approach; although, I am still for Mainstreaming.

Ben Howard does not respond well under pressure.

I found this set of readings to be a lot more helpful than the Rose because it gave better insight into the actual goings on of a writing program.


It’s really hard to decide what to say about this because it’s pretty much “here are ways its done,” so I guess I’ll focus on which ways I find to sound reasonable and which sound kind of ridiculous. I’ll start with ridiculous.

The Mainstreaming Model (or as I like to call it, the “no child left behind model”) puts basic writing students straight into composition, eliminating the basic writing problem by ignoring it. This one deals with the whole fear or being labeled by not labeling. Let’s just avoid all of the problems altogether. Lalicker discusses the disadvantages but it basically boils down to the fact that by putting basic writers in a class with standard writers, the basic writers run the risk of falling behind because they aren’t up to par. What he doesn’t discuss is the extra time a teacher of composition will have to spend with these students in order to keep them from falling behind, which, in effect, will hold back the rest of the class.

The intensive model sounds reasonable, but it kind of caters to select students, and sounds like it could be a handful for first year college students who are in general shock to begin with. The Prerequisite model also sounds reasonable, but I kind of agree that it’s crappy that no credit hours are awarded for the class, but the stretched model kind of takes care of this problem tying the two together.

Overall, I think the most effective method sounds like the directed self-placement model, but it’s debatable how many students are going to opt to place themselves in a basic writing environment, especially given the general fear of being labeled.

Also, on page 19, at the top, he uses the word “ghettoized.” …just wanted to bring attention to that.


Uehling discusses the steps taken by her university to adopt a statement of guidelines and goals for their basic writing program. I found this particularly helpful/interesting because I’ve never had any insight into how a department comes to a consensus on teaching plans. This draft also seems a lot more practical than what I’ve been getting out of prior readings in this course and other about how teaching pedagogy should be applied. We seem to talk a lot about the ideal way to do things, so it was nice seeing a practical and realistic perspective on the same idea. All of the “competencies” that she discussed seem a lot more rooted in actual facts and discernable qualities of student writing than I got out of Rose’s reading, which seemed more about making the students simply come out of their shells. The only argument against these “competencies” would be the “who can judge whether a student has confidence in themselves as writers and readers within a college environment” (you can insert any of the competencies there) but my argument would be that anybody who is allowed to teach a basic writing class better have some kind of sense as to how a student is doing. We’re gonna have to let it all fall down to trusting the instructors here, unless we want to question it forever or come up with a new standardized test for passing basic writing. I can look at all of these guidelines and feel like “okay, that makes sense,” instead of the “oh god, yeah right” I was getting out of Rose. I also felt that it was a lot more clear in its requests than a lot of subsequent readings have been. “They can edit their work for mechanical errors to the extent that, while perhaps not “perfect,” surface features of the language do not interfere with communication” (31). This is a lot more clear than “let’s not focus on grammar.”


I felt like the defining moment of this essay took place on page 107. “In the end, though, nothing was resolved by writing the essay; the final version was neither a coherent modernist text nor a fully realized, exploratory postmodern essay. In the final revision, Contessa was no more able to fully articulate the complex interactions among her multiple ways of seeing this issue than she had been when she began writing.”

This is a stark contrast to Rose, who never once discusses this aspect of his students writings. Gibson is asking “although my student wrote and revised this text 4 times, was anything really accomplished?” I wouldn’t argue that nothing was accomplished, but I would argue that the effort put into this essay alone shouldn’t merit an outstanding grade. It’s definitely a step in learning how to write an effective essay, even if it isn’t an effective essay, but I thought it was interesting that Gibson is looking at the shortcomings instead of simply heralding the fact that this girl wants to write.

The problem here deals with the writers inability to link her own personal identities together into one cohesive identity for the sake of writing the paper. I don’t know that I would consider this a writing problem in any sense though, as it’s more of a thinking problem. I think writing is definitely a useful way to organize thought, but I think there is a whole aspect of thought not having to do with writing that has to go into writing. Obviously, I’m having trouble with that part right now… umm… baaaasicallly, if a student can’t wrap their own brain around an idea, and understand what they’re trying to argue, they can’t argue it. In this case, I’m not suggesting that it’s not our idea to help them figure this out, but should it be approached from a simple thought perspective rather than a writing perspective? More of a counseling approach? Contessa is having problems because her thoughts actually conflict with each other and thus prevent her from writing any coherent conclusions. This is the kind of problem you’d think of a counselor helping a student with. I don’t know if I’m even on the right track here, but to me, thinking and writing are separate things. Writing is the act of putting your thoughts down on paper. This doesn’t necessarily mean “think, then write” but you can’t just write a bunch on paper and hope for it to start making sense if you yourself don’t have any grasp on the concept you’re trying to handle. Oh god, I just confused myself.

Garrett Post-Read

Well, of all the readings, I most enjoyed the Gibson article if only for the fact that it seemed to talk about actual student experience, and reaffirmed something I’ve come to believe about “developmental writers”: that their intellect and their insights are more developed than their abilities to express themselves. Any of the students I’ve had that could be called basic writers sometimes had brilliant ideas, but found it difficult to express themselves. Even now in my 1302 class, most of the students are lacking confidence in one or more aspects of their writing. But just from a cursory read of their portfolio 1 projects, their ideas are awesome, and exciting to read.

So to me it seemed like Gibson took the least condescending approach to discussing this topic by acknowledging that fact that these writers are often full of cool concepts. She also hit on another concept that reminded me of our Rose reading: basic writers “want to challenge themselves intellectually at the same time that they want to maintain the safety of unchallenged values,” and they also have a “deep defensiveness when it comes to interpreting what they consider critical teacher commentary on their writing” (102). I thought of Rose’s example of Lucia at the end of Lives on the Boundary: she had been called dumb for so long, and dealt with so much frustration, that she started to believe those things. Gibson understands that its an institutional matter as well. If someone is labeled a certain way, and is already predisposed to becoming frustrated with their writing ability, it is a slippery slope into hopelessness if the student doesn’t find some way to connect.