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The Weekly Blast: April 9, 2010

4-6pm, Bartlett 101:
Hand-picked from the ranks of 112 instructors each year, the Technology Fellows have been exploring the outer edges of technology and writing pedagogy since 2007. Their goal: design a unit that integrates technology in new and challenging ways in the writing
classroom. After several months of planning and teaching, the current Fellows would like to share what they have discovered with other teachers in The Writing Program. Come and join in a thoughtful discussion of their projects and outcomes. Information on becoming a Technology Fellow next year will also be distributed.

For more information on the current projects, please visit

TECH FELLOWS, 2010-2011:
Applications are now being accepted for the Writing Program’s Technology Fellows program for 2010-11. Technology Fellows are graduate TOs in the UMass Amherst First Year Writing program (Englwrit 111 or 112) who together engage questions about teaching writing with technology through academic reading, discussion, and hands-on play with technologies. Fellows meet in a small-group setting, under the leadership of the Tech Fellows co-directors, on the Mondays opposite Writing Program practica (i.e., every other week). Participation is for the entire academic year 2010-11. A small stipend accompanies the Fellowship; Tech Fellows share an office in Bart 303. If you’re interested, submit a letter of 1-2 paragraphs expressing your interest to David Fleming, Director of the Writing Program, Bartlett Hall 305, Amherst MA 01003. Email submission is fine: The deadline for the letter is noon on Friday, April 16.

The Resource Center has openings for five staff members for next year. We will be hiring 4 mentors and 1 technology coordinator. All members of the Resource Center staff work to enhance our teaching community, are involved in the planning and running of orientation, assist with the Resource Center on-line database and blog, and attend biweekly meetings.

Mentors mostly work with first-year teachers in the Writing Program. Mentors attend bi-weekly course director meetings, observe classes, and video-tape first-year teachers. Applicants must have taught College Writing for at least two semesters. No prior teaching experience required. We look for applicants who are reflective and thoughtful teachers.

Technology Coordinator maintains the Resource database and blog, serves as the mentor for the Teaching with Technology practicum, and works to develop the Writing Program’s technology resources. The Technology Coordinator works with all teachers in our program to incorporate technology into their classrooms. We look for applicants who are interested in exploring and reflecting on how technology can be used in the writing classroom. Applicants do not need to be computer experts, but should have some experience and knowledge of SPARK, blogs, and multi-media programs such as Movie-Maker, Dreamweaver, etc.

All positions are for one year. However, it is possible to serve for two years. Resource Center staff members teach College Writing (EnglWrit 112) both semesters. Staff members must be available for this year’s orientation which is August 30, 31, September 1, and 2 and for a planning day session during the week of August 23rd. Resource Staff positions will have a 1-1 teaching load (sections capped at 15 per section) and carry a slightly higher stipend.

We think it is important the Resource Center be representative of our teaching staff so we welcome applications from people in the MFA program, in the MA/Ph.D program in all fields of English, and from other disciplines. Applicants must have taught College Writing (EnglWrit 112) for at least two semesters and have a full assistantship with the Writing Program for 2010-11.

To apply, send a letter of interest by noon on Wednesday April 21, 2010 to Peggy Woods ( Please include a brief philosophy of your teaching and the qualities you would bring as a mentor and/or tech coordinator. Please indicate which position (mentor or tech coordinator) you are interested in. It is possible to be considered for both. Interviews will be arranged after April 21st. Decisions will be made before the end of classes.

If you would like more information about becoming a member of the Resource Center please contact any member of the current staff: Leslie Bradshaw, Jensen Beach, Andrea Lawlor, Emma Howes, Matt Weingast, or Peggy Woods.

We are looking for someone to teach one section of College Writing during the second session of summer session. The class will be held from 6/8-7/13. The class will meet Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday from 9:00-12:00noon. If interested please contact Heidi ( by April 28, 2010.

Placement Test Readers. The Writing program seeks new and veteran placement test readers to read for this summer’s testing sessions. We will read the placement essays of the incoming 4000+ first year students to determine placement in Basic and College Writing. No prior experience necessary—just be eager and willing to read many, many essays in an exciting, collaborative environment. Placement test readers must be available for both sessions: June 28-July 2 and July 26-29. The compensation for this work is $115.00 per day worked.

If you would like to apply to be a placement reader, please send an email to Deirdre Vinyard by Friday April 23. In you email, please state your prior experience in placement test evaluation (if any—not required!) and your expected graduation date from UMass.

We are seeking an interested graduate student to serve as assistant to the Placement Test Coordinator, Deirdre Vinyard for the 2010-2011 academic year (including summer 2011). This position begins in September 2010.

Responsibilities: Assist the coordinator in developing essay questions, selecting training essays, revising the rating criteria, and conducting the summer 2011 placement test readings and reader-training sessions. The dates for summer 2011 have not been set yet, but we anticipate that they will occur in June and July.

Applicants must be available to serve as readers during summer 2010. Readings this summer will be held from 9-4 on the following dates:

June 28, 29, 30, July 1, 2 and July 26, 27, 28, 29

The Assistant Placement Test Coordinator will also participate in two readings during the year: During the first week of the fall semester and the first week of the Spring semester, we will do group readings (100+ tests).

Required: Experience as a reader, interest in placement for writing courses, organizational and planning skills, and a good sense of humor!

Preferred but not required: graduate area or course work in Writing and the Teaching of Writing and interest in working with the placement exam administration for more than just this summer.

Pay: $1,750

If you are interested please let Deirdre Vinyard know, by email, by Friday April 23. In your email, please explain briefly why you are interested and tell the ways you believe that you are qualified for the position.
If you have any questions, please contact Deirdre Vinyard

By having students turn their annotative bibliographies into skits, this exercise by Nick Sansone helps students figure out how comprehensively they have researched their “conversation” for Adding to the Conversation. To see the full details of “Lights! Action! The Annotative Bibliography” click on:

The weather has been beautiful. And the students are asking, “Can we go outside?” Share your thoughts about taking your students outside on the Resource Center blog:

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 (

Wow, I can’t believe I am posting this already! End of semester course evaluations will be ready for pick up on Friday April 16. Please remember that, unlike midterm evaluations, these evaluations are required. Directions for administering evaluations are on the envelope. Please read them carefully and convey the directions correctly to your students. Becky will answer any questions you have. These evaluations take 20-30 minutes for your students to complete and are best administered at the start of class. Course evaluations must be done and return to the office by Tuesday, April 27.

You may be wondering how to handle the requests from UMass to post textbook prices on SPIRE for your courses. The Writing Program will be responsible for posting textbook information, including prices, on the website and attaching this information to all sections on SPIRE. You do not need to do this yourself.

Friday, April 23 is the deadline for requesting magazine publications at Print Services.

Since I have received a few inquiries about the date of the last paycheck I thought I would let everyone know that date is Friday, May 28.

Don't miss our department's upcoming interdisciplinary conference on how performance and performativity intersect with everyday behaviors, as well as performances in literature, theater, language, visual culture, and politics.

Attending the department conference is a great way to show support for your colleagues both in and outside of the department and also helps you develop contacts and experience for upcoming professional conferences in the field.

Panels include a dynamic range of papers and performances from graduate students in English, African American Studies, Communication, Comparative Literature, French, German Studies, Performance Studies, and Theater & Dance.

Presenters and performers will be in attendance from UMass Amherst, UMass Boston, Brown University, CUNY Graduate Center, NYU, Smith College, St. John's University, SUNY Albany, Temple University, University of Colorado-Denver, University of Rhode Island, and Yale University.

The final schedule for the conference, as well as information regarding registration and attendance fees, can be found online at our website: . If interested, attendees can pre-register with Wanda Bak in the Graduate Office (452 Bartlett Hall) until Tuesday, April 13th. There will also be on-site registration the day of the conference.

We encourage those only interested in attending the reception following the conference to bring $7 or donate 5 books. Books will be used towards fund raising for next year's conference.

So come out, support, and enjoy listening to the hard work of your fellow grad students! We hope to see you there!


April 12 Tech Fellow presentation and discussion

April 16 Tech Fellows application deadline

April 16 Course evaluation ready for pick up

April 21 Resource Center staff applications due

April 23 Placement Test readers applications due

April 23 Placement Assistant applications due

April 23 Deadline for magazine publication

April 27 Completed course evaluations must be returned to the office

April 28 Deadline for Summer Continuing Ed Instructor

May 5 Celebration of Writing: Words Near and Far

May 28 Last paycheck

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