Tuesday, April 23, 2013

See What Shakespeare Has to Say About Your Writing

And not only Shakespeare: you could have Dickens, Poe, Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, and Dickinson weigh in as well. This nifty little tool from Google Docs gives writers the chance to experience, for better or worse, what it would be like to collaborate with the greats. As you type, Google uses its search algorithms to insert edits based on words, phrases, and passages regularly associated with these authors, thus allowing each to leave his or her stamp on your work. Here's one author's test run, in which Poe and Dickens express some strong opinions about an apple seed.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

News From the Teaching Commons & An Introduction

Reading and Assessing Digital Portfolios: Background and Strategies
Assessing individual assignments during a course is common protocol in most college classrooms, but what about holistic assessment of students’ learning at the end of a course? What happens when we move from analytic assessment of individual pieces of student work to holistic assessment of a body of work presented to us in reflective and digital forms? How do we know what our students have actually learned and what was significant for them in our courses? In this workshop, we will provide an overview of grading and assessment theory and practice and help faculty consider new ways of assessing learning from a holistic perspective with portfolios. Presented by Katie Wozniak (SNL) and Michael Moore (WRD).

May 30, 12-2pm - Loop - DePaul Center 8011 
May 31, 12-2pm - LPC - Richardson Library 400

Mobile Learning: What is it? How can it help my students?
Learn how web-enabled mobile devices like smartphones and tablets are being leveraged to increase students' participation and engagement in their classes. That's right, there's more to these technologies than Angry Birds and Facebook.

Join a Faculty Writing Group
Are you interested in participating in WRITE, DePaul's new faculty Writing Group? Since this will be a high-tech, inter-campus, inter-disciplinary effort, read the specifics and guidelines for the group in advance so you can be ready when the time comes.

Register Now for the 18th Annual DePaul Faculty Teaching & Learning Conference
Friday, May 3, 9am-5pm
DePaul Center, 8th floor

And a Brief Introduction
Dear SNL Writing Faculty, 
My name is Claire Rooney, and I started earlier this week as the new program assistant for SNL Writing and International Study. (In short: the new Kaitlin.) I'm coming over to SNL from the Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse department, where I taught WRD 104. I'm also a DePaul alum: I finished my MA in Writing & Publishing last June. During my MA program, I had the pleasure of working at the UCWbL as the assistant coordinator for the Writing Groups team, the role in which I was first introduced to SNL and its Writing program. I'm very excited and fortunate to be here, and I look forward to meeting everyone soon!  

Monday, April 15, 2013

An SNL Graduate's Story

The following email arrived at SNL this morning: 

I am a graduate of DePaul SNL 2009,  and I wanted to send a note of thanks and let you know how my DePaul L-7 Collaborative Learning Class has served me.

My mother passed away 3 years ago and afterwards my 4 sisters and I began really talking about our memories of growning up, etc.   We decided to write a book.   I am the youngest so I would begin each chapter and then email it to my other sisters.  They would then write their parts and send back to me.  I would then compile everything together.

We wrote the whole book this way so I was the only one to see it all till it was finished.  After it was done we submitted it and had it published.  We officially released the book on December 18, 2012 and so far have seen great sales and have really connected with people.

I do not think I would have had the confidence and ability to do this project has it not been for my DePaul Education.

Anita Lewis
Proud SNL grad.
Co-Author of 
Fluffy, Funny, and Fabulous: A Tale of Five Sisters

To learn more about Anita's story, see www.thefivesisters.net

Monday, April 8, 2013

Writing Support Services Available through the UCWbL

The UCWbL assists students, faculty, staff, and alumni through Face-to-Face appointments, Online appointments, Written Feedback by Email, and Chat With a Tutor.  In addition to these services, UCWbL also offers the following:

-         Suburban Campus Writing Groups: These workshops meet each Saturday at the O’Hare and Oak Forest campuses from 10:00-11:30am and at the Naperville campus from 1:00-2:30pm. The groups are facilitated by Peer Writing Tutors, and are open to any member of the DePaul community and any type of written work. No appointment is necessary.

       AP/ILP Forums: These forums allow SNL Writers to discuss their AP and ILP projects with other students, Writing Tutors, SNL faculty, and a research librarian.  Because writers at all stages of their projects are welcome, these forums are great opportunities to share tips and get advice about these critical components of the SNL program. The dates of the forums are:

ILP April 18th, 4:30 – 6:00 pm, Lewis 1600

AP April 27th, 12:00 – 1:30 pm Room 307

ILP May 5th, 3:00 – 4:30 pm, Room 219

Oak Forest 
AP May 11th, 12:00 – 1:30 pm, Room 5520

AP May 16th, 4:30 – 6:00 pm, Lewis 1600

     Creative Writing Groups: Writers can give and receive feedback on fiction, poetry, or any other creative writing. Our popular group The Writers Guild meets on Thursdays from 4:00-6:00pm in McGaw 203. A number of Writers Guild members have recently had work published and the Guild also hosts the popular reading series Aloud! each quarter in the DePaul Student Center. No appointment necessary.

-         Faculty Writing Groups: Faculty Writing Groups assist professors at DePaul who want writing advice. Faculty might utilize these groups to get feedback on theses, manuscripts, dissertations, or other writing projects with peers. WRITE, DePaul’s cross-campus intra-disciplinary faculty writing group, meets on Tuesday mornings from 8:00-9:30am and Wednesdays from 11:30-1:00pm. Email mbrand6@depaul.edu for details.

-         Writing Groups by Request: Students, faculty, staff, and alumni are invited to create their own “mobile” Peer Writing Groups and meet weekly at a time and a place on or off campus that is convenient for them.  The UCWbL will provide a Tutor to meet with the group and will help foster the discussion between writers.   

Please let students know about UCWbL services, workshops, and forums.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Bridging the Gap Between Teacher and Student: How my teaching has changed since I've returned to school

By Steffanie Triller Fry

This January, I returned to school full-time to earn an MFA in Creative Writing. This is a degree that I had coveted for more than a decade, and that I finally decided I was ready to earn. My program is a low-residency distance-learning program, so I attend seminars on campus for ten days in January and June, and submit the rest of my work via email to my faculty mentors and instructors.
            On the fifth day of our first residency, my new mentor, a published writer whose work I knew, led a workshop on my own fiction submission. She began by asking each person in the workshop what my story was about. She then told me what she thought my story was about, and went through it page by page, pointing out the character details, descriptions, and turns of phrase that didn’t work. “I think you can keep about 30% of this story,” she told me.
            By the time the critique was over, I knew what I needed to work on, but I did not know how to do it well, or if I had ever done it well. Yesterday, I prepared my third submission for this same mentor. My work was due at midnight, and I turned it in at midnight. Stymied by anxiety, I kept making revisions to my fiction moments before it was due. Plagued with procrastination, I had only begun the story days before, even though I had a month to work on it.
            As an adult student, I bear much resemblance to our own SNL students. Though I regularly tell students to begin writing early, to explore various techniques for revision until they find what works, and to consider my feedback when they revise, I find it challenging to follow this same guidance from my own instructors.
            With a different instructor, I’m taking an interdisciplinary studies course in travel writing. Our main assignment is to “write a travel story.” That’s it. That’s the assignment: “Write a travel story.” There is no word count, page limit, or suggested content. In the course we are learning the elements of a good travel story. We are reading multiple examples of published travel stories. We submit drafts and receive feedback. Some of my feedback includes comments like: “delete,” “change to,” “avoid dangling modifier,” “comma,” “this sentence is awkward and long.” Comments like “delete” and “dangling modifier” remind me of tendencies I am already aware of: to be unnecessarily wordy and to misplace my modifiers. But comments like “change to,” of which there are many, confuse me. These are edits; I will make them gladly, easily, but I will struggle to learn from them. Moreover, I struggle to see how these in-line edits connect to the instructor’s narrative feedback: that I need more personal information and a theme in my story. This feedback is painfully familiar: I offer it on nearly every student draft! But, I’m not sure which is more important or more humbling: my need to find a central theme in my piece or my need to be less lazy about my grammar.
            I’m no neurologist, but I suspect that we use a vastly different part of our brain when we wear our teaching hats from the part we use when we wear our student hats. As I co-exist in the roles of both teacher and student, I’ve realized that I need to bridge the gap between teaching and learning for my adult students; moreover, I need to heed my own advice and be my own best instructor. After all, at SNL we operate on a definition of learning that requires the student to take what they already know and apply it to future situations. The more we can teach students how we teach, and how they can teach themselves, the better they will learn.
            To better help students to teach themselves, here are three specific ways my teaching has changed since I have also returned to being a student:

·      I do more meta-teaching.
I have theories behind why I do what I do, and I share them with students. On first drafts, for example, I offer little feedback, most of it narrative. I prepare students for this, and teach them beforehand how to read and use this feedback.

·      When I offer both narrative and in-text feedback, I coordinate the two rather than duplicating my efforts.
So that a student, like me in my travel writing class, does not get a different message from the narrative feedback and the comments, I consider how I can offer comments that enable the student to enact the revisions suggested in the narrative feedback. I reserve highlighting for grammar errors, so that students can better separate the local revisions from the global revisions.

·      I write clear assignments; or, if I want to leave part of the assignment up to the students’ discretion, I explain why.
As an adult student, I find myself in a tender relationship with my instructors. While they may not have more knowledge than me about writing, they have had more experience and more success with their skill. Leaving an assignment “open” respects that knowledge that students already have, if they are told why the assignment is being left open in the first place. This is different from failing to give clear guidelines and then marking a student down afterwards because they failed to meet invisible requirements.