"Through all my experience with people struggling to learn, the one thing that strikes me most is the ease with which we misperceive failed performance and the degree to which this misperception both reflects and reinforces the social order"(205).

  • Grammar
    • Grammatica "...is depicted as severe, with a scalpel and a large pair of pincers. Her right hand...grasps a bird by its neck, its mouth open as if in a gasp or squawk"(1).
    • "Pop grammarians and unhappy English teachers..."(54).
    • "He rarely used grammatical terms..."(55).
  • Second Language Learners
    • "...and could write a few words--those necessary to scribble measurements for a suit..."(11).
    • "Our lessons were practical...focused on spoken English..."(130).
  • Academic English/Language Variety
    • 'Every year Harvard graduates a certain number...'(5).
    • " The ethnic and geographic mix was rich..." (135).
    • "A number of studies and speculations over the past twenty-five years has suggested that the poor are intellectually or linguistically deficient..."(221).

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Who are "basic writers" and how are they being defined?

Standardized Test Version

Defined by standardized tests as failing to meet the following literacy skills

  • determine meaning of words and phrases
  • understand the main idea and supporting details
  • identify the writer’s purpose, POV and intended meaning
  • recognize effective organization
  • recognize edited American English usage


“a bundle of skills”


“the B or better rule” (Carter 11-12)

“’Most remedial students turn out to be simply those who have the lowest scores on some sort of normative measurement-standardized tests, school grades, and the like. But where we draw the line is completely arbitrary…’ (Astin in Shor, 46)

Who are the scholars/teachers and major articles/books published?

Deborah Mutnick

Keith Gilyard

Lynn Quitman Troyka


Redefining Literacy

  • “circumvent current traditional representations of literacy and growing appreciation of vernacular literacies—video game literacies, Star Trek literacies, and comic book literacies, among others” (13)

Endangered Species


  • Stretches traditional 1301 class over two semesters.
  • Standard placement measures.
  • Differs from baseline:
    • Both courses have credit bearing status
    • No exit criteria
  • Disadvantages
    • Reference their students as basic writers, but do not address the class as a "Basic Writing" class
    • Illegal in some states that mandate a 0-level class with low standardized test scores
    • Ghettoized, stigmatized idea is still felt.
    • BW still resent their inclusion in the community despite efforts at removing stigma
  • Advantages
    • No changes to regular 1301 class enrollment
    • Faculty are more willing to teach class
    • ASU boasts higher success rates than regular Comp classes

ASU link to STATS

  • As a teacher of English, you teach Standard American English. How can these texts inform your teaching?
    • Jaffe provides a teaching strategy centered on a group called “familia” to encourage students to become comfortable with their writing and sharing it with others. Reading it out loud helps them take ownership of what they have written.
      • ”While group work has been a main focus of writing courses for over two decade, the familia approach allows or more consistence in sharing beyond writing since the students work together on far more than their essays” (173)
    • Anzadula would teach to be aware of the different dialects used for one language. It is important to not discriminate based on the fact that they don’t sound like us.
      • ”Even our own people, other Spanish speakers nos quieren poner candados en la boca. They would hold us back with their bag of reglas de academia” (302)
    • Jordan explains that all dialects want to be recognized as important. When they are ignored, they feel like they are not a part of the community or they are lower on the social scale. Maybe not necessarily have a better and worse, but just an acknowledgement that they exist and that they are accepted in the community.
      • "None of the students had ever learned how to read and write their own verbal system of communication: Black English. Alternatively, this fact began to baffle or else bemuse and then infuriate my students. Why not? Was it too late? Could they learn how to do it, now? And, ultimately, the final test question, the one testing my sincerity: Could I teach them?” (315)
    • CCCC is acknowledging the fact that in the past, home discourse has been ignored in the academic community. CCCC is explaining their position with the place that dialect has. This shows us as teachers that the home discourse needs to be valued, but there is a time and a place for different discourses. This is why slang and nonstandard English are still not accepted in academic writing, but they are not ignored either.
    • ”In many larger American cities people of the same ethnic origins tend to live in a single neighborhood and have a common culture and thus share a dialect. Through their clothing, games, and holidays they may preserve the values and customs of the "old country" or "back home…Yet, a neighborhood is not a country, so speakers of several dialects may mingle there and understand each other” (7)
  • Why does CCCC advocate that all teachers be educated (as you are being) about these issues of language difference?
    • Without the knowledge of these issues, teachers will be excluding the students that these issues affect. The students who are affected by these language/dialect issues are the students who need the attention and reassurance with their writing.
  • In what ways is the information we've discussed about American English true of all languages? Why?
    • When you have different language that have created different dialects of a new language (all the immigrant languages on English), there is still going to be the idea of the best way to speak it and the worst way to speak it. Even in the same community, the social status of residents is determined by their dialect. The only way to circumvent these ideas is to be aware of the differences and the status ladder they create.
  • Lastly, what is the responsibility of the English teacher? (to society, to her/his students, to the institution, to her/his colleagues?)
    • The English teacher should:
      • Stay educated about the issues in order to have the best chance of dealing with them in the best manner
      • Give his/her students the best chance at learning the English that will make them successful in the work place
      • Strive for and surpass the goals that the administrators set for him/her
      • To keep a lively debate in order to share ideas, stay open minded while still having conviction of your own beliefs

November 1, 2011

Create an assignment/activity that asks students to read student writing and find meaning & interact verbally about it.

Peer Review

  • Students will be assigned to read "Reading and Writing without Authority" from Penrose and Geisler
  • Have students form writing groups and create a table of differences found between Roger and Janet's assignments
  • Use this table to evaluate your peers' and your own rough draft.
    • What traits can you identify in your own writing?
    • How can you shift your writing to resemble the more successful document?
    • How can you begin to take more ownership in your own writing?
    • What is one goal that you can set for your writing to demonstrate an improvement/understanding in relation to authority/Roger's writing.

"The recognition of the social dimension of writing has also become commonplace in writing classrooms in the form of peer responding"(Leki 103).