"Most importantly, teaching reading in the composition classroom no longer defers real reading until the future; reading is done for present, legitimate purposes." TDW 105 (and you could add "writing" to this as well :) )

Our activity, inspired by Lacie Zahradnik's ESLI class

  • Each student individually chose a location (whatever location they wanted-- a city or a state) wrote it on their paper and put their names on the paper
  • Students broke up into groups of 4 (4 groups of 4)
  • Lacie collected papers
  • Lacie gave an audience: the audience would potentially be interested in visiting that location
  • She then handed out the papers to different people (not the owners) and each group had to write a total of 10 questions on the paper. The questions were meant to generate ideas and let the students know what types of information would be most relevant to the audience.

Dialect/ SE discussion: 10-25-2011

  • As a teacher of English, you teach Standard American English. How can these texts inform your teaching?
    • The texts informs our teaching to an extent because we feel, to varying degrees, that we should be teaching students SE to some level.
  • Why does CCCC advocate that all teachers be educated (as you are being) about these issues of language difference?
  • In what ways is the information we've discussed about American English true of all languages? Why?
  • Lastly, what is the responsibility of the English teacher? (to society, to her/his students, to the institution, to her/his colleagues?)
    • Catch 22: We advocate for "equal rights" in terms of dialects, yet we still have to teach Standard English because that's the more accepted way to speak/write... it's all a big hypocrisy.

Shaughnessy and Huot Activity, 10-18-2011

  • Huot questions, “Why do teachers read student writing in the first place?” (112-113), and Shaughnessy claims, "the answer to improve writing is writing" (p.3)
  • Shaughnessy, "The writing teacher has but one simple advantage to offer: he can save the student time, and time is important to students who are trying to make up for what got lost in high school or grade school" (p. 5).

Huot: reading student writing to teach student writers (113).
Shaughnessy: the answer to improving writing is writing (3). The learn-by-doing approach
Our response to both of these (sort of combined): if our purpose is to save students' time, part of our purpose is of course to guide them, but as they grow as writers, they are going to need more specialized help with writing. the teacher will need to be beyond the role of "guide"-- after being "basic", there are more difficult and diverse steps involved with the writing process. Students will really need help from true writing experts/instructors.

readings discussion T 10-11-2011

  • In what ways does literacy instruction, even in the best of worlds, reinforce racism?

Yes, because assessors/evaluators want students to all write/speak in SE (Standard English). There is a big difference between SE for NNS and SE for NNS (Eda will expand on this). (standard Turkish vs. dialects)

  • How can we "educate" faculty and teachers re: linguistic bias?
  • Agnew & McLaughlin state, "In no way are we suggesting that African-American students should not gain a reasonable mastery of the conventions of written standard English by the time they graduate college" (p. 98). How could this be accomplished while avoiding the "prerequisite" model of BW and timed test described in their chapter?

Teachers see errors as problems, but then BW scholars started analyzing the process of error (how students go about creating writing errors). In Otte and M.

4C's position statement

  • "utopian"? See intro
  • Design a writing assessment for basic writing that meets most or all of the criteria argued for by CCCC.

Our plan:

  • 1. Language is always learned... (374)
  • Teach students rhetorical situation
  • Talk to students about the rhetorical situation of each writing
  • write in different environments/contexts/situations
  • Assess based on rhetorical situation awareness
  • 2. language by definition is social (374)
  • There is always a different social situation our students write in
  • writing process is social (peer review, conferencing, etc)
  • authority and knowledge are social negotiations
  • this means our writing assessment would assess process, product, rhetorical awareness, and negotiation of meaning/writing
  • 3. reading...is as socially contextualized as all other forms of language use (375)
  • If knowledge is socially constructed (communities), then maybe it wouldn't work if only one person assessed;
  • community assessment would be ideal
  • 4. writing "ability".... (375)
  • assess writers and their products and processes individually.
  • use portfolio assessment (multiple pieces of writing in multiple genres over a long period of time)
  • 5. writing assessment is useful primarily as a means of improving learning
  • if you're going to assess, you need to show students where/how improve, but also allow them to opportunity to improve/show their learning/growth.
  • 6. assessment drives pedagogy
  • If you emphasize writing process in your pedagogy, then a big part of the student's grade should come from their participation in the writing process. Allow more opportunities for revision/feedback/etc.
  • 7. standardized tests...
  • they need to be revised/changed somehow to align with current theory/practice in writing instruction
  • 8. ... how the writing is assessed shapes their understanding of writing
  • see number 6.

Preparing for our midterm exam


  • Key terms/concepts: Create a list. What have we discussed & studied? What is important?
    • Defining basic writing (Otte & M bring in the historical perspective and talk about how the field developed. They also talk about a lot of different scholars, like Shaughnessy, )—all the scholars that are mentioned in that source,
    • Conflicting beliefs in/about basic writing – defining the field, defining ‘basic writers’, etc. (in Otte & M, look for Shaughnessy and all the other scholars) – A field that kind of undermines itself… doesn’t have a solid definition that everyone can agree on. Why are we talking about this if we don’t have a uniform definition.
    • Tailoring instruction to individual students – consider the students social/cultural/etc backgrounds (Haswell, Rose’s Lives, Otte & M [Shaugnessy?]
    • Testing/assessment (Carter “The Way Literacy Tests; Otte & M;
    • History of field (Otte & M chapter; Shor “Errors and Economics”
    • Labeling/terminology (think about how the labels affect students, teachers, how others view the ‘basic writers’—most scholars have touched on this)
    • Basic Writing Instruction Models (“program structures”) (Haswell [interpretive frame/developmental]; TDW- Lalicker, p. 29 [the different models])
  • Essay questions: Write a question. What would you ask on this midterm exam?

1. What are the different ways that basic writing scholars try to define the field of basic writing and/or basic writers? What connections can you make between these scholars? In the grand scheme of basic writing, what role does defining basic writing or basic writers play?

Refer to Lalicker in TDW & the sources below to explore a model of BW instruction. Explain it to the class.

"The Studio Model" p. 33

  • They start in regular Freshman Composition
  • After 2 weeks, they must submit and other writing. Then, the comp instructor recommends a "studio" to supplement Freshman comp. (it could also be SAT scores or other things that don't show actual writing samples)
  • The studio is small (6-8) students and the focus on grammatical and rhetorical issues
  • The course is Pass/Fail
  • How do the colleges define this? As a lab..? This matters.
  • differences between the programs at the different universities:
    • different studio sizes
    • some are required, some aren't
    • some are credit bearing, some aren't
    • some credit blended with course, some are separate credit
  • Advantages
    • more motivation; students have choice to self-select
    • supplemental
    • don't waste time taking a BW class that prevents them from enrolling in "regular" courses
    • They don't have the threat of being withdrawn from the university
  • Disadvantages
    • not uniform across the field
    • problem with credit/no credit for course & effect on GPA
    • takes 2 weeks to review writing before the students are even placed

Basic Writing: The 1990s

Prompt: Answer these questions for your time period. Use the Otte & Mlynarczyk mainly, but you might also refer to sections in Shor and Carter.

  • Who are "basic writers" and how are they being defined?
  • Who are the scholars/teachers and major articles/books published?
  • Find a photo of one of the scholars mentioned & post it to your wiki

Otte and Mlynarczyk, defining basic writers:

  • Labeling and defining basic writers: the field recognizes the richness of the students' ethnic backgrounds and their economic struggles
    • Underscores Mike Rose and Lives on the Boundaries, which we already read & Ottte and M cite
  • No specific definition of the Basic Writer (can't easily define them)
  • It's not just "the students' fault", especially with language (2nd language learners, in particular)

Shannon Carter and BW in the 1990s:

  • Harrington and Adler-Kassner (1998) - Two major trends in the field (p. 5)
    • focus on the writer
    • focus on what happens in the act of composing

Otte and Mlynarczyk, major scholars/teachers; major articles/books:

  • Mike Rose, Lives on the Boundaries; Pratt
  • Lu ("Redefining the Legacy of Mina Shaughnessy") and Hunter ("Waiting for Aristotle") | criticism of Mina Shaughnessy)
    • lead to Bartholomae's call for the critical reassessment of the field of Basic Writing (the field/terminology was heavily contested!); spoke at National Conference on Basic Writing; published "Critical Issues in Basic Writing..."; published Facts, Artifacts, and Counterfacts; highly successful program at the University of Pittsburgh; (worked with Bill Bernhardt and Peter Miller) (all from page 30)
  • Bartholomae is then criticized by Lu and Horner
  • Ira Shor "Our Apartheid: Writing Instruction and Inequality"
  • James Traub City on a Hill

Image of Mike Rose

"Literate Stirrings"

-creates teaching methods according to students' needs/interests. For example, he gave the students a picture and they could write whatever they want.

-knowledge is constructed, not just transmitted

-students learned how to write by simply writing. "Learning by doing"

-does not believe in standardized testing.

-the tests that label students... these labels harm students for the rest of their lives. They never believe they can accomplish more. Teachers perpetuate the labels because they always look to the tests to label the students. look for quote in text. p. 124 (harold). Harold and the folder. Teachers continue to (mis)judge Harold and even go so far as to think he's mentally deficient. Rose progresses from talking about himself to talking about the students he taught. Lots of parallels between himself and his students... understands them better. There are other ways to teach them. Rose believes in more than test results in numbers. Understand the students as much as possible and customize how you help them based on their situation(s).

-He knows they can write- he knows it's possible. He goes into teaching with a different attitude.

-students parents were coming at night for English lessons

-empathy with basic writers even though he's not quite a basic writer (demonstrated in the way he writes about them-- pp. 140-41, veterans)

-pedagogy is grounded in tutoring-- he came into his own after working w/ Vets (p. 146)

Chapter 6: Tales of Style (English Folk) Haswell alerts teachers to some differences in writing style between male and female students. The "Laelic" style (p. 178) is presented as a "dialect" that might be overridden by teachers or thesis advisors. What do you think about providing a variety of styles (p. 182) and asking students to discover their personal preferences?

-The Laelic style labels students according to their gender

-not logical to define this style as a dialect

-providing variety of styles helps students to discover their personal voice, and gives them the chance to write in a way in which they feel comfortable

-giving this freedom to the students also gives them ability to grow as a writer (related to maturing process)

Haswell promotes the "transformative" model of writing instruction, claiming that, "Nor does the transformative deny the usefulness of instructing students in the rhetorical game-rules of our culture in recommending that teachers also instruct students in the ways those conventions can be an enemy to the individual" (p.187). How does this serve both the group and the individual (nomothetic and ideographic)?

- there should be a balance: teachers should guide students and teach them basics, and at the same time they should let them to use their own voices in their writings

-teachers should combine nomothetic and ideographic