Tuesday, June 11, 2013

SNL Writing Instructors Report Back from Spring Conferences

The Voice – The Question by Steffanie Triller Fry who attended the Association of Writers and Writing Professional’s Conference

Something we all think about as writers and as teachers of writing is the elusive concept of “voice.” Students often tell us that they want to “find their voice.” Sometimes we tell ourselves this very same thing. In a session entitled “Finding Your Voice” at the Association of Writers and Writing Professionals’ annual conference this year, four established writers discussed what voice is and whether or not it can be taught. One particular comment may be very effective for our own students who are trying to find their voice: All great work carries a question inside of it. When a student paper is missing that “something” that ties it all together or makes it relevant in the world, they may be missing that question that is being explored. What does the reader want to discover in this piece? What do they want their audience to discover? Asking our students about their question may not only engage more passion in each writing assignment, but may prepare them for the larger writing tasks ahead, such as Research Seminar.

The Impact of Cultural Identity and Experiences on Classroom Learning by Kamilah Cummings who attended the Conference on College Compositon and Communication

The thing that most resonated with me after spending four days at the four C's was the impact that one's cultural identity and experiences can have on the classroom learning experience. In theory, this is not news to me. However, I was particularly inspired by the current research and application of it. For example, I participated in a workshop on fighting linguistic dominance in the classroom where I learned how African-American Verbal Tradition (AVT), which is different from African-American Vernacular (AAV), can be taught as a convention of academic writing. During that same workshop, I also learned how service learning class assignments can be designed to afford ESL students the opportunity to apply their linguistic skills through civic engagement with organizations in their respective communities.

Additionally, I attended sessions on topics that ranged from exploring the effect Hmong perceptions of masculinity have on the learning experience of Hmong males at Fresno State to using the hip-hop cipher as an inclusive practice. As a result, I left this year’s conference encouraged by how cultural identify is being leveraged to improve the learning experience. It provides opportunities for both teachers and students to enrich the classroom with greater diversity and creativity. I look forward to implementing what I learned in my own classroom.

What Other Schools are Doing to Promote Metacognition and Knowledge Transfer by Kathryn Wozniak who attended the Conference on College Composition and Communication

Faculty from Wayne State, Oakland, Seton Hall, and George Washington universities discussed their implementation of writing assignments and program trajectories to promote writing transfer and metacognition. Each institution implemented a slightly different version of the reflection assignments intended to promote transfer and metacognition based on their individual program's needs and population. For example, one university did not integrate writing about writing as a program requirement due to curriculum limitations. Another program compared instruction with high-level rhetorical emphasis and instruction with low-level rhetorical emphasis. However, each institution did include a common reflection assignment and studied groups of students as they moved through their writing courses in each program. All institutions showed some development related to transfer based on use of a reflection-based or writing-about-writing based pedagogy, though the development was not always significant at a statistical level due to small sample size. The speakers will present more of their findings at next year's conference.

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