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The Weekly Blast: March 27, 2009

CELEBRATION OF WRITING - MAY 13, 2009 from 11:30-3:00pm:
Spring is near and so is the CELEBRATION OF WRITING: WRITING THE FUTURE NOW. Plan to attend the Writing Program’s 4th annual Celebration of Writing.

EXERCISE OF THE WEEK:
This week we bring you an exercise from the archives. “Adding to a Conversation: Re-Seeing the Draft” enables students to re-see their drafts in terms of audience. For the full details of this exercise click here.

BEST TEXT CONTEST—DEADLINE APRIL 10, 2009:
Please be sure to submit essays for the Best Text Contest. There will be 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place awards for essays written in Basic Writing and College Writing. We will also be awarding a prize for the Best non-traditional essay form. Check out the Writing Program website for more details or see Peggy or Heidi.

TECH FELLOWS PRESENTATION – TUESDAY, APRIL 21 @ 4:00pm:
Interested in thinking about the ways technologies shape your teaching? Thinking about the digital literacies students bring to our writing classes? Want to hear more about the projects Tech Fellows are working through this semester? If so, please join us for conversation on 4/21 in Bartlett 101 at 4:00! The Tech Fellows will describe the projects they are working through this semester and if there’s time will discuss teaching with emerging technologies in general. This would be a great opportunity to hear about some interesting classroom practices and projects. Come to find out more about Tech Fellows!

DIVERSITY ON TAP!
All TO’s Welcome!

Thursday, April 2 at 8:00, the Diversity Tap will meet at

The Moan & Dove in Amherst

Join members of the Diversity Committee to discuss issues related to writing and the classroom every Thursday evening! Bring questions, concerns, and classroom situations and enjoy a lively discussion!

INFORMAL MID-SEMESTER TEACHING EVALUATIONS:
This week we reached the mid-point of the semester. Although the students will do final course evaluations at the end of the semester it is useful to receive some feedback when we can actually make some changes during the semester. Generally students can give us some useful responses that enable us to make improvements – small or large – for the remainder of the class. It is also important for students to see how they experience the structure of the course, the activities, the assignments, and our teaching. It enables them to see that they are a part of the class and that we are trying to teach to their needs.

There are many ways to do these evaluations. I think we would all agree that asking the students questions such as “Am I doing okay?” or “Do you like me?” is not useful. As with reflection letters and peer response, students will need some questions/prompts to guide their responses. Included here are sample questions. You may want to use all of these questions or adapt them. It is important to keep in mind you want to ask questions that will elicit the information that will enable you to gauge how the class is going. It is also important to keep in mind that you need to ask questions about things you are actually willing to change.

There are many ways to do these evaluations. We would all agree that asking the students questions such as “Am I doing okay?” or “Do you like me?” is not useful. As with reflection letters and peer response, students will need some questions/prompts to guide their responses. Included here are sample questions. You may want to use all of these questions or adapt them. It is important to keep in mind you want to ask questions that will elicit the information that will enable you to gauge how the class is going. It is also important to keep in mind that you need to ask questions about things you are actually willing to change.

Please remember these mid-semester evaluations are for your use only. They won’t be turned into the Writing Program Office or read by anyone other than you. However, I would encourage you to show them to your Resource Staff mentors and/or course directors. Sometimes someone outside of the class can help us interpret our students’ comments and brainstorm with us for ways to make changes in the class.


SAMPLE QUESTIONS

1. Describe our typical class.
2. Describe our classroom community.
3. What are the main things you have been learning or getting out of the course so far?
4. During the semester we have been doing various forms of writing and activities. Select one of these and suggest ways we could make it more useful. Is there any activity you would like to do more often?
5. Do you have any other suggestions and/or comments about the class?

JOB ANNOUNCEMENT: Writing Center Tutor:
The university's Writing Center has an opening for two graduate student writing
tutors, whose appointments will begin in fall semester 2009. The Writing
Center, housed in the UMass Amherst Learning Commons, is a place where students,
faculty, and staff can talk with a knowledgeable writing tutor about
writing-in-process. The new writing tutors will join a staff of over 40
undergraduate and graduate tutors, undergraduate tutor interns (who work for
course credit), and administrative assistants. These tutors can work up to five
hours per week and must be willing to work either a Sunday or evening shift; the
pay rate for graduate student writing tutors is $19.10 per hour.

Applicants must be registered UMass Amherst graduate students during the
2009-2010 academic year. Required qualifications include coursework and/or
teacher-training in composition pedagogy; experience tutoring or teaching
college student writers; and a desire to participate in tutor workshops on
composition pedagogy. Preference will be given to applicants who have, more
specifically, prepared for one-on-one writing education in a university course
on composition pedagogy (e.g., English 329H) or an equivalent teacher practicum
(e.g., the Writing Program's practicum on individualized conferencing with
students).

To apply, please send the following to writingcenter@acad.umass.edu by April 1,
2009: (1) a letter of interest that discusses your interest in writing education
and your relevant experience, (2) a curriculum vita, and (3) the name and email
address of a course director or professor who can speak to your potential as a
writing tutor. Select applicants will be invited to an interview with the
Assistant Director, Chris DiBiase, and Director, Haivan Hoang, in early April.

NATIONAL DIGITAL ARCHIVE OF LITERACY NARRATIVES:
Join the fun and contribute to the National Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives
Invite your students to participate also. Come and tell us a literacy story to be uploaded to the National Digital Archives of Literacy Narratives.
Friday, April 10th, 12:00 to 4:00. Drop by anytime.
Bartlett 303
Refreshments will be available. Come join the fun.
What’s a literacy story? a short, personal story about an experience reading or composing in any form or context, for example, the first time you thought of yourself as a writer; a time when you were punished for reading, or not reading, writing of not writing; a story of the first time you used a computer or wrote with a crayon; creating your first Facebook page or making your first video and uploading it to YouTube; reading from the Bible or Koran; wrote a horrible break-up letter; all kinds of possibilities.

No advance preparation needed. Bring a friend if you like, and you can interview one another for your stories. We’ll show you some examples and help you decide on the story you want to tell. We’ll then help you record it in audio and upload it to the Digital Archive where it will be preserved and made publicly available for everyone’s viewing or listening. Bring snapshots, letters, and other artifacts related to your story, if you wish, and we’ll help you upload those also.

Spread the word. And, come join us!

Look for flyers announcing the day. Hosted by the University Writing Program. If questions, contact writingcenter@acad.umass.edu or Chris DiBiase, Haivan Hoang, Anne Herrington, Donna LeCourt, Janine Solberg.

The National Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives is at http://daln.osu.edu/

IMPORTANT DATES:

April 1 Job deadline for Writing Center Tutor

April 2 Diversity on Tap, 8:00pm, The Moan & Dove in Amherst

April 10 Best Text deadline

April 10 National Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives

April 21 Tech Fellow Presentation

May 13 Celebration of Writing

 
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