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The Weekly Blast: September 11, 2009

GREETINGS
I want to welcome the new TO’s and returning Vets to the English Writing Program. I hope everyone had a nice relaxing summer and stayed somewhat dry. It is nice to see all your smiling faces. Be sure to check out all your smiling faces in the Writing Program photo.

PHOTO OF WRITING PROGRAM TEACHING STAFF
We’re happy to unveil the Fall 2009 photograph of the UMass Amherst First Year Writing Program teaching staff. Enjoy! http://www.umass.edu/writingprogram/images/writinggroup2009.jpg .

CONGRATULATIONS TO ZACH SAVICH!
Congratulations to Zach Savich, who won the 2008 Iowa Poetry Prize for his debut collection of poems, Full Catastrophe Living. Zach is a Teaching Associate in the Writing Program. The UMass Amherst news story about Zach’s prize was written by another of our TOs, David Bartone: http://www.umass.edu/umhome/feature-story/article/48 .

EXERCISE OF THE WEEK
Each week the Resource Center will bring you a new exercise you can try out in your own class. These exercises have been “tested” out by one of our own teachers. Feel free to adopt this exercise as is or modify it for your own class. The Resource Center staff is on the lookout for new exercises so if you have an exercise that you would like to share, please give it to any member of the Resource Center staff (Emma, Jensen, Andrea, Matt, Leslie, or Peggy). This week we have an exercise from Natasha Azank and Writing Program Alum Richard Sonnenmoser called “Context the Makes Me—Famous Pairs Activity.” As you will see this is a great activity that can be used anytime during the semester in order to discuss audience, purpose, context, and specificity. It is also a good exercise to get the students moving around the room. To see the entire exercise click on: http://www.umass.edu/writingprogram/teaching/database/ContextThatMakesMeFamousPairsActivity.html

LESLIE’S TECH TIP
It's not too late to create a Spark section for your class! Spark is a great way to store documents, discuss readings with students, and save paper. It's also really easy to set up. Go to http://oit.umass.edu/spark/faculty/index.html or email Leslie at lbradsha@english.umass.edu for more information!

TUESDAY WORKSHOP – SEPTEMBER 15
Our first Tuesday Workshop will be held on September 15, 2009 from 11:15-12:30 in Bartlett 125. Marcia Curtis and Peggy Woods will be presenting on Unit 2: Interacting with Texts. Please remember that all Tuesday Workshops are mandatory for new TOs. All others are welcome.

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 14 FIRST PRACTICA MEETING
The first meeting for those enrolled in English 698D, 698F, 698G & 698K will be Monday, September 14 at 4:00pm. Please be sure to check SPIRE for the location of your practicum.

MORE COPIES OF PENGUIN HANDBOOK & ANTHOLOGY COMING MONDAY
The Textbook Annex has sold out of The Penguin Handbook and Student Anthology. Additional copies have been ordered and are expected Monday. There are still copies of Other Words for sale, though more copies of it have been ordered as well. The high numbers of all three books sold so far suggests that most (if not all) of your students have purchased their own copies by now. For those who have not, they should be able to borrow from a friend until more copies arrive.

LIBRARY TRAINING IN ENGLWRIT 112
All College Writing instructors need to introduce their students to the research resources, both print and electronic, of UMass Libraries. This is a key part of Unit III: Adding to a Conversation. We recommend that you do this around October 28-29. You can reserve a computer lab in Du Bois Library by going to the librarians’ blog for College Writing: http://blogs.umass.edu/ugradlib/college-writing/ and clicking on “Reserving a Library Instruction Classroom.” Do this as soon as possible so you’ll be sure to get a computer lab when you wan

REQUIRE 1.5 LINE SPACING IN YOUR STUDENTS’ PAPERS!
The Writing Program now recommends 1.5 line spacing for all student papers. To learn more, go to http://www.umass.edu/writingprogram/teaching/line%20spacing.html .

NO SHOW FORMS
No Show Forms are due Monday Sept 14. Please return them whether you drop students from your class or not. There are several students waiting to register for 111 and 112 when space is available.

SYLLABUS
The last day to drop off a copy of your syllabus and grading policy is Friday Sept. 18. Remember to write your name on them. New TOs do not have to turn in a grading policy.

OFFICE HOUR FORMS
The last day to turn in your office hour/address form is Friday, Sept. 18. Every person must turn this form in whether changes have been made or not. Please complete the entire form. Extra forms are in the office.

OFFICE ROOM ASSIGNMENTS
Office rooms have changed this semester. A list of room assignments is posted on the office bulletin board. Please see Becky to pick up your office key. Vets assigned to another room this semester need to return their old key ASAP. I need to distribute them to other instructors. To assist your students, please complete the office hour label that is located on your door. There might be a time you when want to hold a meeting outside of Bartlett. Keep me posted where and when this will happen. Office space is limited. If anyone plans to hold office hours in dorms or elsewhere please let me know. I will assign another person to your office. - Becky

PAY CHECKS
Pay checks will be available Friday, September 18 after 11:00. The automatic deposit
checks will be put in mailboxes. Others may pick their check up from Becky in room 305 Bartlett.

COPY MACHINE
Each TO is allotted 600 single sided copies per class. A count list will be taped to the wall behind the machine and updated every Friday.

DIVERSITY ON TAP!
All TO’s Welcome! Thursday, September 17 at 8:30, the Diversity Committee and Friends will meet at Wiggins Tavern in Northampton 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!

Diversity Committee Seeks New Members
The Diversity Committee meets every other week to discuss classroom issues related to diversity. Join us for our first meeting, Tuesday, September 15 at 4PM in Bartlett 303.

STAY INFORMED ABOUT THE H1N1 VIRUS!
We urge you to stay informed about the H1N1 (or “Swine Flu”) virus. See http://www.umass.edu/uhs/services/publichealth/


CALL FOR EXPERIMENTAL WRITING WORKSHOPS – DUE FRIDAY, OCTOBER 2
Although the Writing Program has lost the funding for the experimental writing workshops, we are committed and determined to continue with these courses. For Spring 2010 we are committed to offering at least 2-3 workshops. We are currently investigating new funding sources for these courses and hope to be able to offer more.

THE COURSES:
Courses generally meet in seminar style (capacity 12) – one evening or late afternoon a week for 2.5 hours – and are pass/fail. The emphasis is on experimental. The aim is for you to design and teach the sort of writing course you've always wanted to give . . . or take, the sort of course that breaks the usual bounds of form, content, or intended audience. As examples, past semesters' workshops have included these titles: Collaborative Writing; Experimenting with Text in Writing and Art; “This Amherst Life”; Reading and Writing the Graphic Novel; Digital Storytelling, and Poetry in Performance. (See the Web site for more of last year’s offerings.)
All Experimental Writing Workshop participants will showcase their work at The Celebration of Writing Festival, The Writing Program’s end-of-season celebration on Wednesday, May 5, 2010.

THE TEACHERS (two-person teaching teams are encouraged):
Traditionally workshops have been team taught, with interesting results. Therefore, we would encourage (but not require) you to take a two-person team approach to developing and proposing your course. Teachers will be selected according to their proposed course design as well as audience appeal, and their interest in teaching as indicated by 111/112 teaching evaluations. While priority will be given to veteran teachers, new Writing Program teachers may also apply.

SUPERVISION:
Everyone teaching an experimental workshop will be required to participate in a corresponding graduate practicum seminar, conducted by Peggy Woods. The seminar will meet biweekly and will carry 3 credits.

PAYMENT:
Along with the credits received for the practicum, we offer teachers a $1,337 stipend to be added to their regular Writing Program teaching associateship.

SUBMITTING A PROPOSAL:
If you are interested, submit a course proposal and cover sheet directly to the main Writing Program Office. Cover sheets are available on our website. Proposals submitted without cover sheets will not be considered. The deadline for proposals is Friday, October 2. As you draft your proposal please remember the emphasis of these workshops is upon writing. Proposals should clearly indicate the ways in which workshop activities will enhance students’ writing skills by introducing them to new and perhaps untried venues for writing and encouraging them to explore new contexts, audiences, purposes and styles.


SPECIAL PROJECT REQUESTS
The Writing Program has available a small amount of money for instructors to do a class project that will enhance the 112 curriculum. Instructors can request up to $200 for a special project. Please note: the amount of funding and the number of projects that will be funded are contingent on budget constraints.

WHAT TYPES OF PROJECTS WILL BE FUNDED?
Projects may vary widely, but any project funded must show a clear and purposeful relationship to the College Writing curriculum by somehow enhancing or extending with a particular essay unit or the course as a whole. Project funding may be used for the purchase of special class materials, entrance fees to related on-campus or off-campus events, the publication of a class book, or stipends for off-campus guest speakers. All such purchases must be made through the Writing Program Office. No funds will be awarded in the form of cash to teachers or students. It is also not possible to reimburse teachers or students for any supplies that they buy.

Past funding has supported such special activities and projects as these: class attendance of a play or film related to particular essay assignment; the purchase of disposable cameras and developing of film for student creations of visual texts; design and creation of a publication; conference costs for in-house conferences involving one or more sections of 112; stipends for guest speakers.
We will ask that for all funded projects a copy be given to the Writing Program for our Resource Center files.

HOW TO REQUEST SPECIAL PROJECT MONEY
In order to apply for special project money please submit a completed Special Project Request Form, which can be found on the Writing Program website, to Peggy Woods. (email submissions can be sent to pmwoods@acad.umass.edu.) Request forms should be received no later than two weeks before you wish to begin your project. No requests will be funded for proposals received that are received after November 13. No projects will be funded retroactively. Any questions? Please see Peggy Woods
.

THE STUDENT WRITING ANTHOLOGY CALL FOR COMMITTEE MEMBERS
We are looking for several graduate students who would like to serve on this year’s Student Writing Anthology committee. Being a committee member is an exciting challenge (and a great line on your CV!). I hope you will all agree that our outstanding committee of last year did an outstanding job of creating this year’s text. There is a great amount of satisfaction in seeing the finished book and knowing your fingerprints are all over a text being used in our Writing Program courses (and, we hope, beyond).

The main activity of the committee is to read, score, meet, and select the texts to be included in the 2010-2011 book. Our meetings last year were spirited, fun, intellectually stimulating, and it was not unusual for someone to utter some positive proclamation about how great it was to work on the Anthology. There are also other activities that offer members excellent experience such as having a say in designing the book from cover-to-cover, copyediting the final typed copy that goes to the typesetter, and reading the final page proofs. There are occasionally a very few administrative details—some Xeroxing, entering your scores on a pre-designed spreadsheet, and creating an exhibit for the Celebration of Writing. Work is spread around, and you can often choose to work on what interests you most. Any additional responsibilities will come from decisions we make in our first and subsequent meetings. Please e-mail me at pez@acad.umass.edu or stop by my office in 305 Bartlett if you are interested in joining this year’s committee. I can hardly wait for our first meeting!

Thank you,
Pat Zukowski


INTERESTED IN “THE LAST BUS HOME” FROM OTHER WORDS?
There’s a great multi-media essay in Other Words: A Writer’s Reader titled “The Last Bus Home” (pp. 217-218). Unfortunately, the illustration for the piece came out too small. If you want your students to read “The Last Bus Home,” use this PDF version of the illustration: http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/opinion/LOGAN_WEB_1200REV3.pdf


**IMPORTANT GEO UPDATES AND REMINDERS**
1) HEALTH, DENTAL, AND VISION:

a) Eligibility: After further research about who is eligible for health benefits, a sad picture has emerged. Domestic partners of any sex/gender ARE eligible for dental and vision benefits; however, only same-sex domestic partners are eligible for health. I know, the logic escapes me, too. Rest assured, this is an issue GEO plans to pursue. b) Deductible: Chickering/Aetna has instituted a new $200 deductible for indiv. and $600 for families for treatment off-campus. This, in combination with the cut in hours at UHS, was not made known to students until after the fact. GEO is in discussion with the Provost's office about this decision and how to remedy our budgets.

c) Gym Fee Hike: The increase in gym membership fee to a ridiculous $125 is another issue GEO is investigating. We are exploring more affordable alternatives on-campus and would like to remind you that, with a receipt, you can be reimbursed up to $80 for a gym membership off-campus as well. We are considering a boycott of the new Rec Ctr and would love to hear your ideas about how to combat this unreasonable fee increase.

2) Ticked off by any of this? Let your voice be heard at our first MEMBERSHIP
MEETING this WEDNESDAY, 9/16 from 6:30-8 in Campus Ctr. 163c (Free food for
members!) ELECTIONS for VICE PRESIDENT will take place at this meeting. Help
decide the future of GEO by attending and voting! SEE YOU THERE!

Kathleen M. Baldwin, PhD Student, Composition and Rhetoric
GEO Steward: English & Writing Program
kmbaldwi@english.umass.edu

Miranda Dennis, MFA Student
GEO Steward: English & Writing Program
mcdennis@english.umass.edu


MESSAGE FROM RESIDENTIAL FIRST YEAR EXERIENCE PROGRAM
If instructors are looking to connect with the Residential First Year Experience (RFYE), they should first find out where the majority of their students live (this may be different from where class is held). The contact information below lists the residence halls that we work with. We are happy to help with programming efforts or discuss any potential ideas instructors may have. Thanks for all your hard work in advance. We know College Writing is an important class for the first-year students!

Contacts for RFYE:

Kelly Gray
First Year Experience Specialist, OH/C/Northeast
(Butterfield, Van Meter, Webster, Dickinson, Crabtree, Mary Lyon, and
Knowlton)
Kgray@gw.housing.umass.edu
5-0425

Alexa Mignano
First Year Experience Specialist, SWS
(Pierpont, Moore, Cance, and John Adams)
amignano@gw.housing.umass.edu
7-2328

Stacey Steinbach
First Year Experience Specialist, SWN
(James, Emerson, Kennedy, Melville, and Thoreau)
ssteinba@gw.housing.umass.edu
5-0857


RESOURCES FROM OIT:
We’ve put in TO mailboxes the latest pamphlet from the UMass Amherst Office of Information Technologies (OIT) about the various technologies for teaching here on campus. Here’s the link to a PDF version of the pamphlet: http://www.oit.umass.edu/guides/instructional_ataglance.pdf ..

 
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