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The Weekly Blast: May 15, 2009

Please be sure to read through to the end of this week’s blast because it contains very important end of the semester information. Thanks!

Letter from the Director:
As Spring 2009 winds down at UMass Amherst, I wanted to thank all of you for your efforts this semester. First Year Writing is a crucial part of undergraduate general education on this campus; and, as an instructor in it, you play a vitally important role in our students’ development. You have put in countless hours this semester (and, for many of you, this year) in the classroom, in conferences, and in preparation; and you have read and responded to literally hundreds, even thousands, of pages of student writing. This is all hard work, and we are grateful. Your students may not always show it, but they learn and grow in these courses, and it’s due in large part to your commitment.

To those of you who were new to the Writing Program this year, we have been glad to get to know you, and we’re excited about working with you in semesters to come. Some of you are graduating this spring, and we send best wishes on your future endeavors. Others of you will be teaching in English or elsewhere on campus next fall; in most cases, we will likely see you again here in Bartlett 305.

If you’re teaching with us in the fall, please be aware of the following dates:

• Friday, Sept. 4, 4:30 pm: general fall meeting, mandatory for all Writing Program TOs
• Tuesday, Sept. 8: fall 2009 classes begin
• Monday, Sept. 14, 4:00 pm: Writing Program practica for veteran TOs begin.

We’ll send more information about the fall semester to you over the summer, including information about syllabi, course calendars, and other matters. Importantly, we’ll have three new textbooks in College Writing next fall: the new edition of the Text-Wrestling Book, now titled Other Words: A Writer’s Reader; the new edition of the UMass Amherst version of the Penguin Handbook, and the 2009-2010 edition of the Student Writing Anthology. All three publications are now in production; we’re hopeful they’ll be available by mid-summer. But be prepared to be patient: each of these publications is a major undertaking, and we are dependent on our publishers’ timelines.
-- David Fleming

Contracts are ready to be signed. Please make sure to sign your contract before you leave for summer break. Contracts must be signed no later than noon, Friday, June 12.

The last requirement for ENGLWRIT 112 is the final conference. These final conferences are MANDATORY for the students and for you. Writing Program policy, which is an aspect of University policy, is that these conferences are to be held during final exam week (not during the reading period or during the last week of class). This semester, examination week runs Thursday, May 14 through Thursday, May 21. The final conference is intended to provide occasion for you and each student to look back at what that student writer has done and to look forward to the writing the writer will do after 112. Each student’s final reflection can serve as the starting point for the conference. Remember you are not obligated to tell students their grades at the conference. In fact we encourage you not to do this. If you are not holding your final conferences in your Writing Program assigned office, please be sure to let Becky know where your conferences will be held so she direct your students to the right place.

Hard copies of your grades MUST be submitted to the Writing Program Office by noon, Friday, May 22. The deadline to submit grades through Spire is noon, Tuesday, May 26. Please remember for all students who fail the course a failure form will need to be submitted to the office. Becky can provide you with the form. All incompletes MUST be approved (in advance) by Pat Zukowski or David Fleming.

Online instructions of using SPIRE for grading are available right in SPIRE. Select HELP from the SPIRE menu (or select SPIRE HELP at the top of the page), then press FOR INSTRUCTORS, then press CLASS MANAGEMENT, and then press RECORD GRADES.

The Registrar's Office website also contains an online tutorial with step-by-step instructions for using SPIRE for grading. This is available to anyone at:

Over the next couple of weeks, Heidi will be scheduling for 111 and 112 for the fall. The schedule will be posted on our website by Monday, June 8. The schedule will remain tentative through July.

Thank you to everyone who made our 4rd Annual Celebration of Writing a success. It was wonderful to see all the writing done by our students in the experimental writing workshops, College Writing, Basic Writing, and various Jr.-Year Writing courses. It was also great to see the winners of the Best Text contests, the writers selected for the next Student Anthology, and our new undergraduate Writing Center tutors to be recognized for their accomplishments. The Celebration is truly a joint venture among all aspects of the Writing Program. The Writing Program staff worked all year keeping track of all the logistics and details that enable such an event to actually happen. The judges read all the submissions to the Best Text contest that you encouraged your students to submit. The anthology committee tirelessly read all the 111/112 submissions that you nominated from your classes. The experimental teachers developed exciting courses that enabled their students to produce outstanding work. The Tech Fellows demonstrated how technology can be infused into our curriculum. Without the good work that you all do in your classroom there would not be much to celebrate. So THANK YOU to everyone for making the Celebration a true celebration!

We would like to welcome Jensen Beach, Andrea Lawlor, and Matt Weingast as the newest members to the Resource Center staff. Jensen, Andrea, and Matt will be joining Emma Howes and Leslie Bradshaw next year as the 2009-10 Resource Center staff. We would also like to thank Amber Engelson, Mark Koyama, and Denise Paster for the great work that they did this year on the staff.

If you are teaching for the Writing Program next fall you can expect to keep your same office and key. If you are not returning please be sure to clean out your office before you leave and return the key to Becky. As offices open up, I try to move people out of 68 and into another room. It is likely that those sharing 68 will have a different office next semester.

Final pay checks will be issued on Friday, May 29. If you want to have your paycheck mailed to you, please provide a self addressed stamped envelope to Becky before you leave campus.

There will be a book party for Charlie Bondhus at the Rendezvous (Jamie Berger's
place!) in Turners Falls on May 24th at 7PM. Charlie will be reading from and
signing copies of his poetry chapbook WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED TO LOVE, which won the 2008-9 Stonewall Competition. Come along and bring a friend!


May 22 Final grades due in the office by noon

May 26 Final grades need to be submitted on Spire by noon

May 29 Final paychecks

June 12 Deadline for contract signatures

Sept. 4 Writing Program General Meeting 4:30pm

Sept. 8 Classes begin for Fall 2009 semester

Sept. 14 Practica for veteran TOs begin

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