Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Topic: Communication at the College Level

10-second review: With increasing employment of adjunct faculty at the college level, there is an urgent need for cooperation between the tenured and the adjunct faculty.

Title: “Dual Tracks: Creating Tenurable Teaching Lines.” L. Frost. College composition and Communication (May 2009), A-12-A-16.

Quote: “In a 2008 report to the Teagle Foundation on the Undergraduate Major in Language and Literature released online in February, the Modern Language Association recommends four broad changes to the structure of undergraduate programs in language and literature. It urges the development of:
.a coherent program of study .teamwork among the instructional staff members .interdepartmental cooperative teaching .empirical research to assess the successes and shortcomings of the program.”

Quote: “The key to instituting these changes can be summed up in the report’s insistent focus: the creation of a new model of interaction and cooperation between faculty members. ‘Faculty members rarely work together in the way that we propose and often know little about their colleagues’ course contents and methodologies.’ ”

Quote: “Yet in an interactive world, in the face of an ‘explosion’ of new technologies and disciplinary knowledge, the report argues, ‘The work of curriculum demands collaborative teamwork among faculty members to give the major coherence and structure and administrative support to sustain points of articulation with other fields.”

Comment: It has been 17 years since I last worked as an adjunct instructor in a community college and it would seem from the recommendations in this report that all is the same as it was. Adjuncts are at the lowest rung of the ladder, treated with condescension by the permanent faculty, work in isolation and provide little evidence of coherent programs. Incredible.
Granted, the gist of the recommendations seems to involve working with faculty in other disciplines, but also suggests that the English faculty are just as uncooperative as I found them to be in the community college. RayS.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Topic: Careers Beyond Teaching English

10-second review: Create a master’s degree program in professional writing

Title: “Adding Value for Students and Faculty with a Master’s Degree in Professional Writing.” Susan M. Hunter, et al. College Composition and Communication (May 2009). 177.

Comment: This is one of the hybrid articles that includes only the first paragraph to be completed on the Internet:, “The Extended CCC.” The date posted is September 2009. The idea struck me as intriguing. RayS.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Topic: Rhetoric

10-second review: Contrasts the “democratic approach” to rhetoric to the expert’s authoritarian approach.

Title: “Lydia J. Roberts’s Nutrition Research and the Rhetoric of ‘Democratic’ Science.” Jordlynn Jack. College Composition and Communication (September 2009), 109-128.

Quote: “The ‘democratic approach’ served as both a scientific and rhetorical resource for Roberts. As a scientific method the ‘democratic approach’ helped Roberts fulfill her scientific goals, which included cooperating with researchers in other disciplines, influencing public policy, and creating knowledge useful for public as well as scientific audiences. As a rhetorical strategy, the democratic approach’ sometimes served mainly to shore up Roberts’s own expertise and that of experts, while in other cases it helped to distribute expertise among a wider group of individuals.”

Quote: “…I analyze how Lydia J. Roberts, a nutritionist, employed what she called the ‘democratic approach’ as a rhetorical strategy. When she enacted this approach, Roberts typically sought to involve multiple stakeholders in knowledge-making projects, whether by surveying experts, holding conferences and meetings to discuss findings, or holding workshops to develop strategies for education and outreach work. By giving these stakeholders opportunities to influence decisions, Roberts hoped to ensure that nutrition research would serve the interests of dietitians, educators, policy officials, extension workers and local communities, not just the interests of research scientists.”

Comment: Hard to pin down just what the “democratic approach” to rhetoric is, but it seems to put the source of knowledge on groups of people involved with the topic instead of a single expert. RayS.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Topic: Hybrid Print

10-second review: Because so many good articles have been offered for issues of College Composition and Communication, some articles, because of lack of space in the journal, are only partly printed in the journal and are completed online.

Title: “The Authority of the Hybrid Word.” Deborah Holdstein, ed. College Composition and Communication (September 2009), 8-9.

Comment: Interesting way of providing complete coverage while, at the same time, conserving space in the printed copy of the journal. TV stations have been doing a similar thing, providing the leads on a story on air and the details online. RayS.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Topic: Merit Pay

10-second review: Not too seriously—but then again maybe these are serious criteria.

Title: “The CLA$$ROOM.” RA Russell, Jr. English Journal (March 2010), 105-106.

Summary: On the question of criteria for merit pay: How about personal appearance? How about aesthetics of the classroom? How about handwriting on the white board, blackboard, etc. How about handouts? How about dealing with querulous parents? And, on a serious note, how long do students go after they have graduated, to realize the importance of what you taught them?

Comment: Ouch! There’s plenty to think about on the criteria listed above, most of which -–on personal appearance—I used to loosen my tie—on handwriting on the board—illegible—on the aesthetics of the classroom—bare walls, because other teachers used the same classroom—and best of all, my first teaching assignment was in 1956 with the Class of 1960—most of the students did not realize the value of what I taught them—but today, in 2010, on the eve of their 50th reunion, they all do. RayS.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Topic: Portfolios

10-second review: Some questions students should answer in writing as they review their portfolios. The answers can also shed some light on the teacher’s writing program.

Title: “Overflowing But Underused: Portfolios As A Means of Program Evaluation and Student Self[assessment.” DA Gorlewski. English Journal (March 2010), 97-191.

What are my goals for writing?
What writing habits do I have in terms of genre, length, paragraphing, and topics?
What strategies do I employ to improve my writing?
How do I typically begin a piece of writing?
How do I typically end a piece of writing?
What mistakes do I seem to make regularly?
What problems do I encounter when I write?
Which is my best work and why?
Which is my poorest work and why?
What are my strengths as a writer?

Comment: One good reason for using portfolios or at least collecting the students’ writing. However, make sure that the finished writing goes home before collecting or parents will think that students are not learning to write. RayS.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Topic: Mentoring

10-second review: For what it’s worth, here are the characteristics of becoming a successful mentor, which is no easy task. In fact, in some cases, says the authors, for some beginning teachers, no mentoring is better than misguided mentoring.

Title: “Designing A Mentor Program.” TM McCann and LR Johannessen. English Journal (March 2010), 94-96.

Characteristics of a Successful Mentor: demonstrated record as an exemplary teacher; strong communication skills; trustworthy and sensitive to obligations about confidentiality; experienced with a similar teaching assignment; easily accessible; responsible; empathic; supportive; open; resourceful.

Quote: “It is also valuable to devise a formative assessment procedure so that new teachers can alert a Mentor Program organizer when the mentor arrangement is not functioning effectively, e.g., the mentor is not available to meet , the mentor is assuming an evaluator role, the mentor is generally not supportive, etc.”

Comment: The guidelines for the mentoring program need to be clearly defined. RayS.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Topic: Prominent Positive and Negative Features of Student Writing

10 second review: Attempts to assess positive and negative features of students’ writing, a kind of global summing up.

Title: “Prominent Feature Analysis: What It Means for the Classroom.” SS Swain, et al. English Journal (March 2010), 84-99.

Positive Prominent Features: elaborated details; metaphor; sensory language; alliteration; vivid nouns/verbs; striking words; verb cluster; absolutes; balance and parallelism; sentence variety; subordinate sequence; coherence/cohesion; narrative storytelling; hyperbole; cumulative sentences; noun cluster; adverbial leads; effective repetition; effective organization; transitions; voice; addresses reader.

Prominent Negative Features: usage problems; garble; redundancy; faulty punctuation; shifting point of view; weak structural core; weak organization; list technique; faulty spelling; illegible handwriting.

Comment: The idea of listing strengths and weaknesses is a useful way to start comments—if students understand the terms used. RayS.