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The Weekly Blast: December 10, 2010

As the fall semester winds down, I wanted to thank all of you for your hard work this semester. Basic and College Writing are crucial parts of undergraduate general education on this campus; and you play a vitally important role in that project. Your students may not always show it, but they learn and grow in these courses, and it’s due in large part to the time, effort, and passion you put into your teaching. To those of you who were new to the Writing Program: we appreciated your openness and enthusiasm in learning our curriculum this semester. We have been glad to get to know you, and we’re excited about working with you in semesters to come.

There’s still much to be done to finish up this semester (see all the reminders and notes below); but when you’re done, we hope you’ll have a restful intersession break. For those of you who will be teaching with us in the spring, we’ll see you at 11:30 am on Friday, January 14 at the General Meeting for all spring 2011 instructors (we’ll be hosting our third annual TO-led “Spring Into Teaching” Symposium). Classes begin on Tuesday, January 18, as do Course Director meetings for new TOs (those in their first year in the Writing Program). You’ll find reminders about these and other matters below.

If I don’t see you in the coming days, have a happy holiday. I’ll see you in 2011!
-David Fleming

The Writing Program’s standard syllabus and calendars for College Writing (Englwrit 112/112H) for spring 2011 will be available by Friday January 7, 2011, as downloadable documents on the Writing Program website. January 7 is also the deadline for informing Becky that you’d like the Program to make photocopies of the syllabus and calendar for your students.

Starting to think about next semester? Thinking about how to set up your SPARK page for next semester? Check out the Resource Center blog for ideas!

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 Please also share your ideas on the Resource Center It’s A Process Blog at:
If you have any questions, please see Peggy Woods.

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.

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

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:
Please also see Peggy Woods if you have any questions.

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 or Heidi Terault at Feel free, also, to stop by their offices to discuss the celebration.

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

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.

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!

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.

In recognition that the Christmas Day and New Year’s Day holidays fall on Saturdays, UMass Amherst campus will observe these holidays on the Friday, December 24, 2010 and Friday, December 31, 2010 respectively.

Paychecks will be available for pick up Thursday, December 23, after 3:30 (but before 5:00). 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 Click on the HR Direct logo and use your campus Net ID and password to log into HR Direct.

The Office will be open Monday, December 27 and Thursday, December 30 until 3:00 P.M. However, please call 545-0633 or email before making the trek in. It’s possible I will be out running errands or at lunch. Heidi

The Office will be closed Tuesday, December 28 and Wednesday, December 29, as well as Friday, December 31 in observance of the holiday (see above).

The Kinesiology Department is in desperate need of assistants willing to help out with JYW this spring 2011. Tasks will include helping with evaluations, grading, and working one on one with students, just to name a few. If you have some time to spare and want to make a few extra bucks, please contact Patty Freedman at 5-2620. Kinesiology welcomes Writing Program TOs, along with those not teaching for us next semester.

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