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The Weekly Blast: March 11, 2011

Daylight savings time starts Sunday. Remember to turn your clocks ahead one hour Saturday night.

The office will be open limited hours during spring break. It is best to call or email first to make sure someone is here before you come in. Enjoy your week off!!

Kate Litterer (with a shout-out to Lauren Silber) brings us an activity that enables students to “teach” one another sentence-level issues. To see the full details of “Sentence-Level Edits Without Lecturing” click on:

Class Discussions? Peer Review? Join the conversation on the Resource Center Teaching Blog: (If you cannot access the blog, please let Peggy know (

To assess how our new “Final Exam” procedure is working this year, and to propose any needed changes to the policy for 2011-12, we’re forming an ad hoc committee, open to all Basic and College Writing instructors, that will meet several times during the rest of this semester. The first meeting of that group will be Friday, March 25, at 1:00 pm in Bartlett 316. Please join us!
In the meantime, I wanted to remind everyone that there is a required final class meeting in Basic and College Writing, held during the final exam period and scheduled by the University. As stated in the Englwrit 112 standard syllabus, “A final meeting for this course . . . will be scheduled during final exams week and will serve as the culminating event of the course. This mandatory class meeting is a chance to reflect as a group on the writing you’ve done over the semester. Be sure to account for this meeting when making end-of-semester plans” (4). Although the procedure did change somewhat this year, we have ALWAYS had a required course activity during the final exam period; we believe the changes have improved that activity for students and teachers alike. I have more to say about all this in a statement placed in your mailboxes today. For further reading, go to the Resource Database ( and click on “Unit #5” to see the PDF document, titled “Final Exam for College Writing,” that we wrote last summer about this activity. And remember that the University has a policy in place for students who have conflicting exam schedules: see . Also be aware that some students registered with Disability Services will think that this is a traditional “exam” and will request special accommodations even though this is not a testing situation. You may want to clarify that for all your students.
-- David Fleming, Director

In your mailbox you should have received a letter from Judy Holmes, chair of the University Writing Committee, asking TOs to participate in the review of First Year Writing this year. Committee members will be meeting with TOs at the following days/times:
• meeting with experienced TOs: Monday, March 28, 4:00 - 5:00 pm in Bartlett 303A
• meeting with new TOs: Tuesday, March 29, 11:15 am - 12:15 pm, in Bartlett 303A
• meeting with Basic Writing TOs: TBD
Attendance at these meetings is voluntary but greatly appreciated. If you did not receive this letter or would like more information about the meetings, you can contact Judy Holmes at

As we all know this has been a transition year for the Writing Program with the changes in class size and section load. As we begin the planning for fall, I would like your help in determining what kinds of support new teachers need when moving from teaching one section in the fall to two sections in the spring. I’m inviting all teachers to attend a meeting to discuss the particular challenges and concerns you faced this year and suggestions to help make the transition smoother. The meeting will be Tuesday, April 12 from 11:15-12:30pm in the Writing Program conference room (Bart 303). If you have any question let me know.
Thanks! Peggy

The last day students can drop classes and receive a “W” is Tuesday, March 22. Since this date is after spring break it is important that you provide students feedback on their performance before they leave for break. Mid-Term Grade reports (D/F) are due in the office this Friday, March 11. You can print the form from our website or pick one up at the office.

In an effort to collect more papers from the spring semester, we will be once again setting due dates for each unit. Please submit your Unit 1 papers to the upcoming 2012-2013 Anthology by March 11. If this presents a problem to any of you (such as you do Unit 1 at a different time in the semester), just stop in and talk with me.

Thanks to all.
Pat Zukowski

This is the time to be encouraging your students to submit to the BEST TEXT CONTEST. Deadline for submissions is Friday, April 1. 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 or Heidi Terault 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.

You may have already received the below email from the Dean of Undergraduate Education concerning students who are National Guard members being faced with an April deployment. The Dean is asking that rather then encouraging students to Withdraw from the course or to take an Incomplete, that instructors help the students complete the course before they are deployed. If you have any students in your classes who this affects, please see Peggy Woods in order to work out a plan to enable the students to complete the course.

March 1, 2011
Dear Instructors:

I write to elicit your help for students on our campus who will be called to active military service prior to the end of this semester. There are many National Guard members facing a likely April deployment
as well as other veterans who may be activated.

The policy governing military call-ups at Massachusetts public colleges and universities states, in part, that: "Students shall receive nonpunitive withdrawals in all courses from which they are required to withdraw." Given the investment that these students will have made in their ongoing courses by the time of departure later this spring, I endorse the request made by the Student Government Association that instructors provide, whenever possible, an opportunity for course completion prior to departure. In a late semester call-up scenario such as this it is difficult to imagine a "nonpunitive" W from the perspective of learning and degree completion.

I urge you to respond positively to students who contact you about a plan for early course completion related to military activation, should an activation occur. The Dean of Students Office (DOS) is contacting those students likely to be affected and urging them to speak with their instructors as soon as possible. Students who are called to active duty will be aided by the DOS in all aspects of departure, including an official notification to instructors.

Thank you in advance for your contribution to the best possible
arrangements for these students.
John Cunningham, Dean of Undergraduate Education

JOB ANNOUNCEMENT: Assistant Director of the Writing Center
University of Massachusetts Amherst

The Writing Center, a part of the Writing Program, is a community for student writers and the study of writing. We invite applications for the position of Assistant Director for the 2011-2012 academic year (with possibility for renewal in 2012-2013). This position offers a graduate student the opportunity to tutor student writers, provide support for a staff of ~30 undergraduate and graduate student tutors, and participate in the Center’s ongoing development and contribution to the university. Responsibilities include the following:

◦ Tutor student writers in the Center (5-10 hours per week).

◦ Mentor undergraduate and graduate student tutors. Encourage conversations about tutorial sessions; assess tutors through regular observations; co-coordinate a half-day orientation in September and January; organize professional development workshops, and/or brownbag discussions; circulate research on writing and tutoring writing; and participate in the annual New England Writing Centers Association conference. Note: In the first-year, the new assistant director assists in English 329H and teaches English 298H and tutors fewer hours; in the second year, the veteran assistant director organizes the workshop series and tutors more hours.

◦ Coordinate the Center’s daily activities. Organize the tutors’ schedule and the WCOnline system; review tutors’ performance; manage day-to-day office duties; respond to university-wide inquiries about the Center; and write reports on the Center’s activities.

◦ Support the Center’s Growth. Generate ideas for promoting the Center in the university community; collaborate with the Learning Commons leadership; and assist the Director with university outreach as needed.

Note: The Assistant Director position is a full-time TO position, a 20-hour-per-week responsibility. These 20 hours need to be worked in the Center with at least one evening and some Sunday shifts. Each semester, the Assistant Directors and Director coordinate hours in order to be available for tutors and students during the Center’s open hours.

Qualifications: Experience tutoring in a Writing Center required; experience tutoring in UMass’ Writing Center preferred. Interest in writing center research/scholarship desired.

Applications: To apply, send a letter explaining your relevant experience and qualifications, a resume, and contact information for a reference who can comment on your tutoring, teaching, and/or knowledge about writing. Application materials are due by 5 pm on Friday, 11 March 2011, to the Writing Program, Bartlett Hall 305, Amherst, Massachusetts 01003 (if hard copy) or electronically to If you have questions, please Donna LeCourt, Director, University Writing Center.

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