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The Weekly Blast: October 22, 2010

“Creating a Conversation” by Ashley Nadeau is a great way to begin “Adding to a Conversation” by opening up a discussion of what it means to “add to a conversation.” This activity would also work well after reading a particularly difficult or contentious essay. To see the full details:

Curious about how online discussions can be used in your class? Check out “It’s a Process” teaching blog.

“Who are the Students in Your Class” will be the focus of our next Tuesday Workshop. We look forward to hearing from guest speakers from the Athletic Department, Disability Services, and Veteran Services. Morgan Lynn will also join us to discuss second language learners and Basic Writing. The workshop will be in Dickinson 112 from 11:15-12:30. Please note that this workshop is mandatory for all new TOs. Veteran teachers are welcome to attend.

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.

The final exam schedule is out. Please check your SPIRE account for the date, time, and location. The information is also posted on the wall above the copy machine in Bartlett 305.

The exciting discussions and camaraderie continue! New Day, New Time!
Celebrate your upcoming weekend and discuss the relevance diversity plays in our teaching, our writing, and living. Drop in any week for discussion, collaboration and fun with fellow Writing Program Teaching Associates. Every other Thursday in the downstairs bar of the Northampton Brewery.

Thursday November 4, 6:30PM at The Northampton Brewery.

Thursday November 18, 6:30 at the Northampton Brewery.

Thursdays. Beer. Diversity. 6:30. Northampton.

Mark your calendars for the 2011 Writing Program Teaching Symposium, to be held 11:30 – 2:30 PM on January 14, 2011. This mini-conference includes the opening meeting, a selection of 45 minute teaching presentations/demonstrations, and is a great way to gear up for the Spring semester. If you have ideas for topics you would like covered or if you would like to present at the symposium, please email Deirdre Vinyard

Instructions for submitting essays to the Anthology competition and guidelines for selecting texts are in your mailbox now, along with a sample (and usable!) Pearson Reproduction Form. Please read this important memo and submit any outstanding essays from Unit I as soon as possible

Pat Zukowski

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