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The Weekly Blast: March 26, 2010

This week's exercise “Getting Rid of Generalizations” comes to us from Annie Kleeman. Specific Vs. General: This Time It's Personal. To see the full details, click on:

What Adding to the Conversation path are you following this semester? How is it going? Share your thoughts, concerns, and successes on the Resource Center database:

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: 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.

Media expert and co-author of Beyond the Echo Chamber: ReShaping Politics Through Progressive Network Media, Tracy Van Slyke will be visiting our area during the week of April 12. She will be speaking at Food for Thought on 4/13 at 7:30pm. She is also willing to come to speak to sections of Basic Writing/College Writing. Below are links that discuss the book and her work. If you would like to have her speak to your class contact Peggy (
About the book:
About the Authors:
An interview they did with GRITtv:

Tyler Meier, Managing Editor of the Kenyon Review will be speaking to Zach Savich’s College Writing class on April 22 at 7:00pm. Zack is inviting all Basic Writing and College Writing students and instructors to his class that evening to participate in this event. Meier will be speaking about Kenyon Review’s recent expansion into the digital world and his work as an editor. If you would like your students to take advantage of this opportunity, please contact either Peggy (pmwoods@acad.umass) or Zack ( by April 5. (This will enable us to get the appropriate size room.) Any questions please contact either Peggy or Zack.

Plans are under way for the Writing Program’s Celebration of Writing. The experimental writing classes promise to have great displays and readings. We are also looking forward to presentations from this year’s Technology Fellows. Several College Writing sections will also have displays. Henk Rossouw, former foreign correspondent for The Chronicle of Higher Education and current MFA student will be our keynote speaker. If you would like to display any of your students’ work from last semester or this current semester, please contact Peggy ( Look for the bookmarks in your mailboxes when you return from spring break!

The final deadline for the Writing Program’s Best Text Contest is April 7. This deadline is for students who are currently enrolled in Basic or College Writing and for students who took Basic of College Writing in Fall 2009. For more information see:

We have begun accepting applications for undergraduate tutor interns for 2010-2011. Please tell your students about this great opportunity to learn more about writing and writing education. Interested students can find more information by visiting our website ( and clicking on "Become a Tutor". If you have a student who is a strong writer and a thoughtful peer editor, please encourage them to apply. Applications are due April 10. Contact the Writing Center if you have any questions.

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