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The Weekly Blast: September 10, 2010

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 cool!

It will be fun working with everyone and learning new faces. Please bear with me, the older I get, the more challenged I am with names. - Becky

We’re happy to unveil the Fall 2010 photograph of the UMass Amherst First Year Writing Program teaching staff. Enjoy! .

Each week the Resource Center brings you an exercise/activity that can be done in your class. These exercises come from you, our teachers, and are entered into the Resource Center teacher’s database. If you have an exercise/activity that went well in your class, please write it up and send it to any member of the Resource Center staff. Also, be aware that the Resource Center staff is always on the lookout for exercises, so they will be asking you to submit that great activity you were telling them about. As with all exercises, feel free to use as is or to modify.

This week we bring you an exercise from the database called “Contexts That Make Me: Famous Pairs Activity.” This exercise designed by Writing Program alums Natasha Azank and Richard Sonnenmoser is a community building activity and enables students to think about audience, purpose, context, and specificity. To see the full details click on:

Out first Tuesday Workshop will be September 14 from 11:15-12:30. Peggy Woods and Lauren Goodman will be presenting on Unit 2: Interacting with Texts. In preparation for the workshop we ask that you read from Other Words “Is Google Making Us Stupid, by Nicholas Carr and “Google is Making Me Stupid” by Eleni Maistrellis from the 2010-11 Student Anthology. This workshop is mandatory for all new TOs. Veteran teachers are welcome to attend. Please note: at this time we are still waiting for a room assignment from the Registrar’s Office. We will email everyone as soon as we have the room. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Pondering ways to make use of the new lab access? Come join the Technology Fellows' play & discussion session from 5-6 on Tuesday, September 14th. Location to be announced. This week we'll experiment with basic sound recording as a way to re-imagine generative writing and get a new perspective on storytelling, use of detail, audience, and the concept of "voice." The software, Audacity, is compatible with both PC and Mac, free to download (, and available in all the library computer labs. Basic recording is easy to learn, and Audacity could also be used at a more advanced level for podcasting in later units. So come by, try out the tech for yourself (live tutorial and example exercise provided!), and discuss potential classroom applications and exercises with your fellow Writing Program TOs. No experience is necessary and hands-on learning is inevitable! Your friendly neighborhood Technology Coordinator (Christina Jones) will also be on hand to assist and schedule one-on-one follow-up sessions at your request.

No Show Forms are due after your second class meeting. Please return the form after whether you drop students from your class or not. There are several students waiting to register for 111 and 112 when space is available.

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 keys ASAP. I need to distribute them to other instructors.

There may be times when you want to hold office hours outside of Bartlett. Please keep me posted when this happens, I want to be able to direct students to your meeting place.

We are excited about gaining a new computer lab this semester; however, it has put a limit on office space. If anyone plans to hold office hours in dorms or elsewhere, please let me know. I can then assign another person to your office. – Becky

This semester, you can print, at no charge, 450 photocopies per section on the machine in Bartlett 305: that’s about 30 pages per section per week or about 2 pages per student per week. This is an increase over last year. Note, as always: the Writing Program photocopier is to be used only for teaching purposes. And remember: it’s a heavily used machine that, like all machines, occasionally breaks down. Please be gentle. Don’t rush the machine or the office staff. And be sure to log off when you’re done! Finally, even though you have 450 copies per section, try to think of ways to conserve paper: use SPARK, overhead transparencies, the board, email attachments, in-class projection, etc.

The last day to drop off a copy of your syllabus and grading policy is Friday Sept. 17. Remember to write your name on them. New TOs do not have to turn in a grading policy or syllabus.

The last day to turn in your office hour/address form is Friday, Sept. 17. 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.

Thanks to everyone who responded so quickly and efficiently to the mass “doodle” that Heidi sent out requesting dates for OIT lab use. You’ve got one more week to fill in this calendar! If you haven’t already responded to your “doodle” poll, please do so by next Thursday, Sept. 16. A draft version of the final calendar is now available at . Let us know if you see any errors. And, if you would like to add, subtract, or change dates, let Heidi know ASAP. For more information on this new partnership with OIT, see .

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 early in the unit (in the standard calendars, we recommend a session in a computer lab sometime around October 27-29). You can reserve a lab in Du Bois Library by going to the librarians’ blog for College Writing: and clicking on “Reserving a Library Instruction Classroom.” Do this as soon as possible so you’ll be sure to get a lab when you want it. Also, remember to talk to your students about plagiarism! See And don’t forget about the new “paths” through Unit III that we developed last year: .

We have eliminated the required Final Reflection conference from the standard College Writing calendars. In place of a one-on-one conference with each of your students during Final Exam week, we have instituted a Final Reflection meeting with your entire class, held during Final Exam week (this year, December 13-18). The University is currently scheduling a two-hour exam for your section(s); your schedule will appear soon in both your and your students’ SPIRE page. We ask that you use at least 50 minutes of this time. Remember: we have always had a “final exam” in College Writing: it was when the Final Reflection paper was due and was a chance for you to meet with each student individually after regular classes were finished. We are retaining that important moment in our curriculum for student reflection. But we are reducing the time commitment from you (with 24 students, a 20-minute meeting with each student took 8 hours; with 30 students, 10 hours; with 15 students, it would take 5 hours – all during a very busy time for you). The new time commitment is 2 hours total per section. This Final Reflection meeting remains the due date for the Unit V: Final Reflection paper, but now the event can be more a communal experience than a one-on-one conference. Please make this more than just a time for students to drop off their final papers! We have developed some ideas for the Final Exam meeting at . Also, be aware that the University has policies in place for Final Exams. See (this page should be updated by the Registrar soon).

The Writing Program now recommends 1.5 line spacing for all student papers. To learn more, go to .

This is the anthology with the swan taking flight on the cover. If you did not receive the current anthology, please stop by the office to pick up your copy.

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: .

EXPERIMENTAL WRITING WORKSHOPS – Proposals due Friday, October 1
The Writing Program is committed to offering several experimental writing workshops this upcoming spring semester. This is the opportunity for you to design a writing course that you have always wanted to give or take, the sort of course that breaks the usual bounds of form, content, or intended audience. The courses are 200 level workshops with the emphasis on experimental. Two-person teaching teams are encouraged, but teaching alone is fine as well. Everyone selected receives an additional stipend and attends a one credit practicum in the spring. For more information about the experimental workshops and to submit a proposal please refer to our website at:

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. For more information about these projects and how to apply see our website at:


Join the best group ever.

Diversity Action Group

…is looking for new members from
the Writing Program and the English

Do you want to inform and educate yourself and others about diversity?
Would you like support for your teaching and scholarly roles in the English Department?
Do you want to have a say in how diversity is enacted in the Writing Program?
Are you interested in projects that will be relevant to future job contexts?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, or if you are interested in learning more about the Diversity Action Group, please come to our kick-off meeting of the semester:

Monday, 9/13 @ 5pm
Bartlett, Room 303.

You will be leaving practicum; we will have pizza waiting.
(Please RSVP to Deirdre so that she can order food accordingly:

UMail / UDrive / Spark / Spire