Preface to City Tech Writer – Sampler

Juanita But and Rob Ostrom
READ Program

This collection of exemplary student works from City Tech Writer contains a rich variety of writings across genres and disciplines. Highlighting the increasing importance of disciplinary and interdisciplinary writing and the ever-evolving demands of literacy in the classrooms, this valuable resource not only informs teaching and learning, but also inspires student engagement in reflecting, analyzing, and representing what they learn and how they learn in the content areas and beyond. At times creative, at times critical, but never dull, the pieces featured in this collection gathered more than a decade of voices, thoughts, and journeys of students who walked through the hallways, labored in the labs, sat through the lectures, and packed the elevators of City Tech. From these diverse writings come the fruits of learning and thinking that are unique to the City Tech community.

Subject areas and genres

From personal, creative, and research essays to poems, stories, and lab reports, this collection includes a wide range of genres across the disciplines. In the pages that make up this collection, creative writing abounds; take, for instance, from the English Department, two short fictional pieces: “Hurricanes” by Beau Kragovich and the directive “How to Quit Smoking” by Stan Shur. Creative writing, however, is not limited to English classes. Andrew Maloney’s creative non- fiction piece, “Ham Sandwich Theorem,” was written in his mathematics class, and Alfredo Lopez’s poem “In the Kitchen” was nominated by his Speech professor. There are fascinating research essays such as Cherishe Cumma’s “The Raven Symoné Controversy: Watermelondrea” (African American Studies), Saba Hakim’s “The Kantian Perspective: Female Genital Mutilation” (Philosophy), and Candice Powell and Olga Soloveychik’s “Queer Planet” (Biological Sciences). From the Spanish Department, one will even find a bilingual essay: “De ser Humano a Axolotl (From Human Being to Axolotl)” by Leonardo Castillo. Personal essays such as “The Memory of My Grandmother” by Anita Jiang (CUNY Language Immersion Program) and “Brownsville” by Stephanie Samuels (Human Services) capture the unique experience of our students. Of course, a collection of City Tech writing would not be complete without lab reports like Natassa Gavalas and Andrew Cook’s “Prospect Park Biodiversity Project: A Microbiological Perspective” (Biological Sciences). Indeed, this collection’s range of genres from different disciplines reflects the diversity of the student writers at City Tech.

Application of this collection in the content area classrooms

Student writers who authored these pieces demonstrate the ways of thinking and doing in specific content areas and were able to converse in the disciplinary communities as both learners and practitioners. Included in this digital edition of City Tech writer, their works are not only to be appreciated by students and faculty alike, but also can be used to inform disciplinary teaching and learning in many ways.

  • Mentor Texts – These works can be used as mentor texts in the content area classrooms to make explicit the thinking process students go through to acquire, analyze, and apply content knowledge. Students can study these texts or use them as writing models in their disciplines.
  • Genre Variations – Some of these works employ genres and rhetorical modes that are atypical in their disciplines. They offer examples for instructors to design assignments that allow students to express their thinking and understanding of content knowledge outside the disciplinary conventions. Students are encouraged to think not only critically, but also creatively as they express and personalize what they learn without genre limitations.
  • Supplemental Teaching Resources – Instructors can juxtapose textbook descriptions and student writings on the same topics as a means of instruction. The interaction of different means of knowledge production, both formal and informal, will expand students’ critical perspectives and metacognitive awareness of their own learning. For this purpose, students can also choose several pieces from their disciplines to compare and contrast the ideas and arguments presented. With guided questions from faculty, this activity can engage students to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate perspectives of content knowledge in a new dimension.
  • Pre-lecture/Pre-reading Activities – These writings can be used as interesting pre- readings of topics to be covered in class. Entire works or excerpts can be read and discussed in class prior to the topic being taught to develop students’ background knowledge.
  • Metacognitive Exercises – While reading writings produced in the same content areas, students can compare their disciplinary engagement, understanding, and presentation of content knowledge to that of the authors, who were former students of their courses.

These analytical and metacognitive thinking processes allow students to reflect on their own learning in discipline-specific contexts.