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The Weekly Blast: December 3, 2010

COURSE EVALUATIONS
End of semester course evaluations are ready for pick up. Directions for administering evaluations are on the envelope. Please read them carefully and convey the directions correctly to your students. 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 by Friday, December 3.

EXERCISE OF THE WEEK
Nick Sansone has adapted a peer response exercise for Unit III by Andrea Lawlor for the Final Reflection. This exercise is designed to send students out of College Writing thinking about their writer’s voice, how it was developed, and how that voice can continue to develop outside the confines of 112. To see the full details of “Experimenting with Voice” click on:
http://www.umass.edu/writingprogram/teaching/database/_resourcecontents.html

TUESDAY WORKSHOP DECEMBER 7
Our final workshop of the semester will be Tuesday, December 7. We will be going over important information related to the end of the semester. As usual we will be meeting in Dickinson 112 at 11:15. Remember, this workshop is mandatory for all new TOs. All others are welcome. See you there.

IT’S A PROCESS TEACHING BLOG
What are your plans for the Final Exam Meeting? What have the Tech Fellows been up to all semester? Find out and share your ideas on the Resource Center teaching blog at http://blogs.umass.edu/

APATHY AT AMHERST—FORUM by LAUREN SILBER’S COLLEGE WRITING STUDENTS
This Thursday, December 2, at 7pm in Hampden 200 (Southwest) a class of ENGL 112 students will be holding a forum to explore the question of apathy at Amherst. These students debated whether or not they were apathetic, what they were apathetic about, and what they truly cared about.

What you and your students are invited to attend is a forum—the "viral change"--that the students put together entirely on their own. At this event, you will hear short speeches that translate their Unit III papers into something that compels listeners to care.

I hope to see you and your students there. This would really help students understand that the work they do in class can carry weight outside of the classroom. Spread the word: "Apathy at Amherst?" 12/2 7pm at Hampden 200 (in Southwest). – Lauren Silber

FINAL MEETINGS FOR FALL SEMESTER
This semester each section of College Writing has been scheduled to meet during the Final Exam week. Since students will bring their completed Final Reflections to this meeting, a concluding activity that reinforces and highlights what the students have learned about writing and themselves as writers can be done. The exam block is scheduled for two hours, however, it is not mandatory that you use the entire time. You should meet at least as long as your regularly scheduled class meeting (MWF 50 mins, MW, & TTH 75 mins). Your meeting time and location is listed on SPIRE. Please do not change your meeting time or location since this could cause confusion for your students. For ideas about what to do during the exam period check out the “Final Exams for College Writing” in the Resource Center Database at http://www.umass.edu/writingprogram/downloads/Final%20Exams.pdf. Please also share your ideas on the Resource Center It’s A Process Blog at: http://blogs.umass.edu
If you have any questions, please see Peggy Woods.

FINAL GRADES:
The deadline to submit grades through Spire is Monday, December 27 at noon. A failure form will need to be submitted to the office for each student that fails the course. Becky can provide you with the form. All incompletes MUST be approved (in advance) by Pat Zukowski or David Fleming. We strongly encourage you to make sure you have access to your section on SPIRE before the deadline. We also encourage that you complete your final grades and submit them in advance of this deadline.

The Writing Program Office no longer needs a hard copy of final grades.

CHANGES TO INPUTTING FINAL GRADES ON SPIRE
In order for the University to be compliant with the Federal policy concerning the documentation of the "Last Date of Attendance" (LDA) for specific students, we have implemented a major change to course grade rosters. LDA is required for all students receiving any failing grade, defined at UMass as either an 'F' or '__' (Blank) for which 0.0 is factored into the calculation of the cumulative average.

When you are completing your grades for the Fall 2010 term and you click on the final approval of your grade roster then the names of those students to whom you have given a grade of 'F' or '__' will appear on a new SPIRE page. You will then need to check one of three boxes for each listed student to indicate his/her LDA.

The instructions and options on the SPIRE page will be:

1) Student Completed Class - select this option if the student attended class for the entire term and earned an 'F'.

2) Student Never Attended - select this option if the student never attended your class (in conjunction with the '__' blank grade).

3) Date Student Last Attended - enter a date (required) if the student stopped attending class during the term. If attendance is taken for your class, use the last date the student attended class. If no attendance is taken, an LDA date must be calculated. First determine the date associated with the last grade recorded for the student (e.g.
quiz, exam, paper, etc). Next, look at the subsequent graded activity and use the date of the class prior to the due date for that graded activity as the LDA.

Example: A quiz was given on Mon, 11/1/10, in a MWF class and the student has a grade. The next quiz was Mon, 11/8/10, and there is no grade recorded for the student. Use Fri, 11/5/10, as the last date attended.

If you have questions on using the page, please contact the OIT training staff at sis-train@oit.umass.edu

BEST TEXT CONTEST
This is the time to be encouraging your students to submit to the BEST TEXT CONTEST. Cash prizes are given for First, Second, and Third place in College Writing and Basic Writing. Cash prize is also given for the best Multi-media, non-traditional essay. For submission guidelines please see: http://www.umass.edu/writingprogram/studentwriting.html#contest
Please also see Peggy Woods if you have any questions.

CELEBRATION OF WRITING, SPR ‘11
Attention instructors! The Writing Program is already preparing for our annual Celebration of Writing Festival. Please consider participating in this event! Our keynote speaker will be James Heflin, a UMass MFA graduate, musician, and Arts Editor for the Advocate. If you have any questions about the event please contact Peggy Woods at pmwoods@acad.umass.edu or Heidi Terault at hterault@acad.umass.edu. Feel free, also, to stop by their offices to discuss the celebration.

PAYCHECKS:
If you would like to receive your paycheck over the break, please be sure to give Becky self addressed stamped envelopes.

NOT RETURNING TO THE WRITING PROGRAM FOR SPRING SEMESTER:
If you are not returning to the Writing Program for the spring semester please be sure to clean out your office, mailbox, and return your office key to Becky before the semester ends.

SPRING INTO TEACHING AT OUR JANUARY 14 SYMPOSIUM!
For the third year in a row, our spring 2011 general meeting for all instructors and staff will take the form of a TO-led symposium. We’ll gather Friday, January 14 at 11:30 am in Bartlett 65 for a short business meeting with announcements and reminders about the spring semester. Then, after a break for lunch (provided by the Writing Program), we’ll disperse into break-out sessions, led by TOs, on topics of interest to instructors of First Year Writing. The symposium will go to 2:15 pm. Attendance is required for all TOs! More information to follow soon!

MARK YOUR CALENDARS NOW FOR KEY JANUARY DATES, SPRING 2011
As you make travel and other plans for the holiday break, please be aware that the required general meeting for all spring 2011 TOs in the Writing Program is Friday, January 14, 11:30 am – 2:15 pm (see above for more information). Classes begin Tuesday, January 18, which is also the first meeting (11:15 am) of spring 2011 Course Director groups for new TOs. Practica for veteran TOs begin meeting Monday, January 24 at 4:00 pm.

WRITING PROGRAM OFFICE HOURS DURING HOLIDAYS:
In recognition that the Christmas Day and New Year’s Day holidays fall on Saturdays, UMass Amherst campus will observe these holidays on the Fridays that proceed them, and the campus will be closed on Friday, December 24, 2010 and Friday, December 31, 2010.

Friday, December 24, is a pay date. Paychecks will be available for pick up Thursday, December 23, after 3:30. Distribution of pay advice statements will take place on Monday, December 27. Employees can access their pay advice statements on-line through HR Direct at www.umass.edu/humres. Click on the HR Direct logo and use your campus netid and password to log into HR Direct.


 
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