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The Weekly Blast: October 30, 2009

IT’S A PROCESS: THOUGHTS ON TEACHING WRITING BLOG
What essays from Other Words did you use for “Interacting with Texts?” How did your students react? Respond? How did you teach these essays? What would you do differently? Are you wondering what essays other teachers selected? Check out the new Resource Center teaching blog at: http://blogs.umass.edu/pmwoods/

EXERCISE OF THE WEEK
This week’s exercise reaches back into the database. “The Copyediting Factory” designed by former Resource Center staff alum, Brian Baldi, turns the classroom into a well oiled copyediting machine. To see how to turn your class into a copyediting factory click on:
http://www.umass.edu:80/writingprogram/teaching/database/CopyeditingFactory.html
Please note: substitute Penguin Handbook for E.W.

DIVERSITY ON TAP REINVENTS ITSELF
The exciting discussions and Friday afternoon camaraderie continue!

Friday November 6, 4 PM at Northampton Brewery.
Friday November 13, 4 PM at ABC

Celebrate your upcoming weekend, a bit early, and discuss the relevance diversity plays in our teaching, our writing, and living.

We'll just rotate the brewery every week, but Fridays. Beer. 4(pm). Diversity

INFORMAL MID-SEMESTER TEACHING EVALUATIONS
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. The mid-semester point is a good time to do the evaluations. 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. We would all agree that asking questions such as “Am I doing okay?” or “Do you like me?” are not useful. As with reflection letters and peer response, students will need some questions/prompts to guide their responses. You can find sample questions at: http://www.umass.edu/writingprogram/downloads/midsemestereval.pdf. 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, we 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.

FINAL CONFERENCE AND FINAL GRADES
Now that we are entering November we are starting to make our end-of-the-semester plans. As you make your plans be sure to keep in mind the following important dates for final conferences and final grades.

Final Conferences: 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 Monday, December 14 through Saturday, December 19. Finals conferences can be held anytime during this week.

Final Grades: Final Grades MUST be submitted through SPIRE no later than Wednesday, December 30 at noon. We strongly encourage you to make sure you have access to your section on SPIRE before the deadline. We also strongly encourage that you complete your final grades and submit them in advance of this deadline.

Hard copies of your grades MUST, also, be submitted to the Writing Program Office by noon, Friday, December 18. If you have trouble meeting this deadline please see Becky or Heidi

UMASS AMHERST CHARITABLE CAMPAIGN (UMACC):
You will find materials for the UMass Charitable Campaign in your mailbox. This campaign, coordinated by department volunteers from across the University, is a very cost-effective way to contribute to a charity that is meaningful to you. Pledges can be turned in to Becky, or mailed directly to Whitmore. Thanks for your support. Feel good about helping others. Every gift, even a small gift, makes a difference in your community and beyond.

PLEASE DO NOT CANCEL CLASSES DURING THANKSGIVING WEEK
The University’s Thanksgiving recess begins AFTER the last class on Wednesday, November 25, and classes resume Monday morning, November 30. Please hold ALL regularly-scheduled classes during that week, the week before, and the week after. As we state in our Handbook, instructors should NEVER cancel class except for illness or emergency. If you have any questions about this, please let me know. – David Fleming

IMPORTANT DATES:

November 6 Diversity on Tap

November 11 Veterans’ Day

November 26 – 27 Thanksgiving break

December 14 – 19 MANDATORY Student conferences

December 30 Final Grades - LAST day to submit through Spire

January 15, 2010 General Meeting

 
UMail / UDrive / Spark / Spire