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Welcome to Professional Development!

Hi everyone– and welcome to the professional development.  To take part in the PD this semester, you will need to attend the bulk of our Wednesday 4-5 pm meetings.  If you can’t do that, you can take the PD in a different semester (which is fine!)  Let me know if you won’t be able to make this time slot.

If you want to meet with me, please email me at: chall@citytech.cuny.edu

You will also do a bit of reading, writing and lesson planning for this PD, all of which will take place on this site.  To do this, you’ll need to join– so please do so as soon as you can!  At the end of the semester, you will submit a series of in-class or homework assignments, or a new unit that fits with the pedagogy you’re learning here.  We’ll discuss (and maybe tweak) this more as we go.

We’ll meet again next Wednesday, Feb 24 at 4 pm to go over the 1101 Model Course Syllabus as a whole, and also to talk about engaging ways to use breakout rooms.  To prepare, please:

  • Join this site!
  • Familiarize yourself with the Model Course Hub, and skim through the “1101 Model Course Outline Revised for Spring.”  I will attach the outline below.
  • Sign up for Perusall.com.  To do this, you will go to perusall.com and go to the login page.  Once you are signed in to the site (you will need to set up an account,) it will ask you for a course code.  The code for this course is: HALL-G6ZRH. We will start to use Perusall next week.  

Our tentative schedule for the semester is as follows (note: we will use the same zoom link all semester) :

  • Feb 24 ZOOM Overview of 1101, specific discussion of Unit One. Discussion of effective use of breakout rooms
  • March 3 will be an asynchronous meeting (continued discussion of genre and research– 1101 model course pedagogy )
  • March 10 ZOOM we’ll meet – discussion of Units 2 and 3 1101 curriculum
  • March 17 ZOOM tentatively: discussion of final portfolios as well as strategies for teaching reading online.
  • March 24 asynchronous.  Begin to discuss “Discourse Communities” and 1121 Syllabus.
  • April 7 ZOOM Tentatively: discussion of linguistic diversity
  • April 14 asynch: mentor texts
  • April 21 ZOOM 1121 Unit 2
  • April 28 asynch: teaching multimodal writing
  • May 5 ZOOM 1121 Unit 3
  • May 12 LAST ZOOM
  • units or assignments due by May 28
  1. Download (DOCX, 893KB)

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Discourse Communities!

Hi everyone.  We haven’t been doing much on the website– but now we’re back– after a VERY WILD weekend.  For this week’s virtual meeting, please read “Understanding Discourse Communities”  and then post a response to it on this website.  I believe you are all members of this site, but if you are having trouble posting, do let me know.

Respond to the article in any way you’d like: what did you take away from it, learn from it, find difficult, disagree with, think you could use in your teaching, feel you could do without, have questions about etc… If you like, respond with the units for the 1121 model courses (all of which are designed around discourse communities in mind.) Please write this response by Thursday, Nov 12.

By Sunday, Nov 15, please respond to at least two of your peers’ posts– again, however you’d like.  I just would like us to continue this conversation.  (For the record– I’m making this purposely open-ended for our PD, but if I were teaching, say, Freshman Comp, I would give more rigid guidelines for responding, generally)

On Monday, Nov 16, we will meet again on the Zoom, and will be joined by Robert Leston, who will be talking to us about “mentor texts.”  In order to prepare for this conversation, please take a look at this NYT article on mentor texts.

You may also want to look at this compendium of mentor texts, which is less COVID focused. It is an extremely useful resource!


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For Monday (10 AM)

Okay everyone!  This has been kind of a whirlwind!

We have our last meeting on Monday at 10 am.  I’ll resend the link to the meeting on Sunday

For Monday, please

  1. Please read your colleagues’ blog posts on research.  They are delightful.  If you have not posted, please do so now!
  2. Clone the Open Lab Site. I want everyone to try it, even if you decide not to use it.  Just to see what the site is like and what’s on there.  Here is the link to the materials: https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/fyw-pedagogy/how-do-i-download-my-courses/. This site is “the hub,” meaning the hub for the FYW Model Courses. This is where you will find the model course link and info about cloning, etc…

If you need help: https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/fyw-pedagogy/how-to-clone-a-course/

(There is also other help here under “technical help!” if you need help with writing a blog or editing a page)

3. Play around on there.  Look at what is on your new site. Much of the material is already uploaded for you.

4.. Decide if you want to use Open Lab or Blackboard as your MAIN site.

5. On your MAIN Site– the one students will go to to find homework, syllabus, course schedule, etc…, upload:

  • your personalized syllabus,
  • the announcement for the first week, and
  • the major essay assignments

please note: these are all already entered into the Model Course– and will be entered into your cloned course.  You will just need to personalize them if you want to make changes.  (For help editing a page, please see: https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/fyw-pedagogy/how-to-edit-a-page/)

6. Send me a link to your Open Lab site at Chall@citytech.cuny.edu.  For Blackboard, you will need to invite me to be a TA (I am getting instructions about how to do this.).  EVEN IF YOU ARE USING BLACKBOARD, please email me the link to your cloned OpenLab site (See Step 2!)

Edit: For Blackboard, I can’t actually figure out how to add TA’s and BB support is not getting back to me (I recall this was pretty glitchy in the spring) so for now, if you are planning on using BB, please just email me the bullet pointed documents above.

See you Monday!


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For Thursday Aug 6th

Hi everyone– thanks for the Zoom today.  It was nice to see you all.  For tomorrow, I’d like you to do the following:

  1. Respond to at least two people’s introduction posts. You can do this simply  by posting a comment.
  2. Familiarize yourself with the curriculum and the model site hub. This is the link to the site: https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/fyw-pedagogy/ .  I think it is quite clear now where the materials for 1101 are (and I have relabeled them) but if it is not, they are here: https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/fyw-pedagogy/how-do-i-download-my-courses/. You may find it easiest to look at the “entire semester weekly plan”. Also, and I’m sorry to say this, because I do really like the core curriculum syllabus, but as I think of it, I think it will be easiest for this semester if we all use the mainstream units, since all of the support materials are written for this curriculum and I think it is best if we’re on the same page.  If you really want to argue with me on this, I’m open to the debate!
  3. Personalize your syllabus. There is a syllabus for you in the documents, which is mostly finished, but there are some things you need to fill out yourself (your course times, for example.)  By “syllabus,” by the way, I am not referring to the course schedule.*  We have also planned this out for you, but these are separate documents. The syllabus is just the rules and regulations!  That said, you will need to personalize your details, including the class meeting times and you’ll have to see how you feel about the grading policy.  We will discuss it tomorrow. 
  4. Reflections on Research: If you have not done so yet, read the Summer Institute Day 2 readings. Watch my BRILLIANT 🙂 slideshow on “Research as a Process of Discovery” on the Hub and write a blog post by noon tomorrow answering the following questions (categories: Summer Institute, 1101 Unit 2)
    • When was a time when you got really interested in something and researched that thing. How did you get interested? How did you go about the research? What did you DO with that research?
    • Using what we’ve read in Kynard and Graff, how might we expand the definitions of a research project to more fully contain the curiosity and delight of research?

I will send you an email with the new Zoom link for tomorrow.  We meet at 1:30.

* We can talk tomorrow about the weekly schedule that goes out to students.  I didn’t make one for you because everybody does this differently, but I am willing to make one to go with the curriculum materials.

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Getting ready for Weds, Aug 5

Hi everyone!  Remember that our first meeting is Weds Aug 5 at 10 AM– I sent you a zoom link, but prefer not to post it publicly, so if you’ve misplaced the email (look, we’ve all done it!) you can email me at: chall@citytech.cuny.edu, and I will send it again no problem.

We will also meet Thursday, Aug 6 at 1:30 PM and Monday Aug 10 at 10 AM.

If you haven’t already, please do the blog post assignment described below, in my previous post.  If you don’t know how to post a blog on Open Lab, you will first need to be signed in to this site (you will have to accept my invitation to join) and then follow these directions: https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/blog/help/writing-a-post/.

You will be asked to choose a category. Please choose “summer institute.”

Lastly, it seems we have finally finished our Model Site!  We’ll be going over this together on Weds, but you may want to take a look around the “hub” : https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/fyw-pedagogy/, which explains how the project works.

  • Under the 1101 dropdown menu, in “materials and site links” you will see a link to a Google Drive folder.  Please download this file, which has all the curricular materials for the course. Again, we will be going over this on Weds, but if you want to look over them, go ahead!
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Summer 2020 PD Participants

Hi everyone!  So, for our Zoom meeting on Aug 5, please do the following by 6 pm on August 4. Please note I prefer not to post the Zoom link publicly, so please email me (chall@citytech.cuny.edu) if you need the zoom link:

  2. Watch THIS video of me talking you through the intro to the curriculum.  Link to the pictured slideshow is HERE
  3. Write a blog post on this site in which you:
    • Introduce yourself! Who are you, what is your teaching experience, how do you feel about teaching online?
    • Tell us one thing you do in the first weeks of online class to create a sense of engagement and community.  If you have not taught online, please let us know something that has worked for you in F2F classes
    • Respond to the following questions from Kerry Dirk (approx 300 words): What is a genre of writing you know well? What are the rules of that genre? How did you learn them?

You will need to be signed in to the FYW PD site to post!

I will send you information about the model site ASAP.

Second Day Reflections on Research

  1. The first time I remember being excited by the prospect of a research project was in fifth grade. Whereas prior ventures into research had been conducted under strict rules and instructions, this project was something with which we were given greater freedom. I had come across a mention of Japanese internment camps in America during World War II in some historical fiction I was reading, and I realized that this was something I had never heard of before. I was amazed that this piece of history had not been taught to us in school, and I set out on a mission to learn about this topic. The research assignment came right as I had become interested in researching this topic on my own. As I did not yet have a computer or the internet at my home, I had to conduct this research the old fashioned way and scour the library’s card catalog for sources. The books I selected were all from the adult section of the library and I poured over them until I organized my research into a lengthy paper replete with headings and chapters. I felt much more mature and grown up with my assignment than I had in the past. The fact that this was a topic I had discovered on my own and had chosen for myself made me far more interested in it than I would have been had the teacher simply chosen a topic for us.


I had a similar experience once again as a teenager in high school when researching the Stonewall Riots of 1969 that led to the international celebration of Pride each month in June. The fact that my history lessons had never included this event astonished me. Many of the adults in my life at this time were also a bit put off and avoidant of anything related to homosexuality and LGBTQIA+ rights so my interest in this topic gave me a thrilling feeling of rebellion and also an adult feeling of being an independent thinker.


  1. In regards to the Graf and Kynard readings, I was really intrigued by how Kynard allowed the students to insert their personal experiences into their research projects and how the students became so much more invested in their work. Using personal experience as a source/a text in any kind of academic writing has long been frowned upon and is not traditionally part of this “genre”. I am sure that had I tried to include myself in as a text in my literature papers as an undergraduate and graduate student I would have received a failing mark. This is probably why I found it so much more interesting to take creative writing classes, especially creative nonfiction classes where my exploration of a topic could be connected to my own experience. I also noticed that in my creative nonfiction classes there was a bond that developed between the other students and I as we were sharing parts of our lives with one another. This created a very supportive environment.


I first began teaching at the college level by teaching freshman composition at the CUNY schools Kingsborough and BMCC. At both colleges the first essay assignment was a personal narrative assignment in which students responded to a text by connecting it to their own personal experience. They would include a quote or two from the text to which they were responding, but most of the essay would be them delving into their own experiences using writing that was more creative and descriptive than that which is usually seen in composition courses. With this assignment the students were much more motivated and personally invested in it than they seemed to be with other assignments. I think that allowing for this type of assignment can be beneficial as many students might be fantastic writers, but might just not be familiar with how to approach an academic essay. I saw some really impressive writing come out of this assignment and as an instructor I was much more interested in spending time reading and engaging with the students’ writing than if it had been an assignment where they were more limited in their approach. I also had a similar experience teaching the first essay assignment within Eng 1101co here at City Tech.

One professional writer who successfully merged the worlds of memoir and scholarly writing is Maggie Nelson in her work The Argonauts which explores gender. By inserting herself into the text Nelson creates something that is far more intriguing than it would have been if she had chosen to follow a more traditional route with her research and analysis.

I as a professor am definitely willing to let students take the reins in terms of their research topic as Kynard did, but I am aware that the students will need guidance and will need to follow the necessary steps and assignments in their research project.

I also know that some students prefer to be given a specific assignment and research question and balk when they are given greater freedom. This past semester I gave students an outline to follow along with specific instructions and questions for one of the first writing assignments just to give them practice with how an academic essay is put together. My thinking was that by practicing with an outline they would be able to apply a similar structure to future assignments. However, the following future assignments some students, especially ESL students would request outlines for all of the assignments and specific assignment questions as opposed to just being given a topic and assignment requirements.

Overall, I think it is great to give students the freedom to create their own research topics that apply more directly to their own lives, interests, and professional experiences, however, I do also realize that some students prefer guidance and constraints in terms of assignments.

I am intrigued by Graf’s discussion of how students can use “meta-awareness” when embarking on a research project to help them better evaluate the sources that they choose to use. Having students discuss their decision to use a particular source within their paper can help give them the tools to better develop their own research techniques as opposed to having a professor who simply tells them what to do without making the student part of a discussion.

I think that both Graf and Kynard’s strategies and tools could be very useful with 1101 and 1121 students. However, students will need to be engaged during the duration of the entire course and follow the step by step assignments that lead up to the final research paper. In my experience teaching online this past semester, some students disappeared during the course of the semester and then reappeared the last week of classes to complete and turn in the assignments all at once without doing any of the drafting or reflection assignments. I of course understood these students did not sign up for online classes and that this system was new to them. I also know that many of them were struggling with issues related to the pandemic and the economic recession. I am hopeful that this semester the students will be better prepared to follow all of the necessary steps for the research paper and that I will be able to make sure they are sticking to the research process timeline.

Day Two

Okay, here is what I left in the replies section on another person’s post. I think I am now starting a new thread! I’m still finding this hard to navigate and have not finished the readings because I only just accessed them, but my first impression is to find “Getting on the Right Side of It” fairly problematic in its efforts to examine privilege. This description stood out to me: “Meanwhile, Alice, a light-green-eyed native of Trinidad, also prided herself on her ability to speak “proper” English with a “perfect British accent” (in fact, neither of the two students actually possessed the phonological systems they claimed).” I hope we’ll discuss.

As for my own research, these last few months I have been doing a lot of fear based research about PLAGUES and AUTOCRACY. I also, like much of the country, went deeper into my research about racism and police brutality in this country. All of this research was reactive to real things happening in the world.

As far as PLAGUES, I read a lot of news articles about coronavirus in this country and worldwide. I have curated my social media sites so that I mostly see posts from news sources I have some trust in (The New York Times, Washington Post, The Guardian…). I also have ongoing dialogs with friends and family in other states and countries. We regularly share our experiences, perceptions, and research with one another and help one another make informed choices. I also read a YA book called FEVER 1793 with my daughter, and we reflected on the similarities and differences between what the girl experienced then and what we are experiencing. NPR also did a great series recently that I listened to on a long drives.
As for autocracy, I’m reading Masha Gessen and researching the best way to vote safely in November and following candidates up and down the ballot.
As for racism, I joined a study group run by my friend Naomi Extra, who is black and getting her PhD in American Studies at Rutgers. We read the Combahee River Collective statement and had a group zoom discussion where the poet Cheryl Clarke joined in. It was amazing and gave me hope.

I can’t find the readings, but I have been replacing the traditional research paper with an EMPIRICAL one for years. In fact, for some classes, I stopped making it a paper at all. Students start with a question or a hypothesis about something that interests them. At least one of their sources needs to be EMPIRICAL, as in they interview somebody who they can argue is an expert, or they conduct a survey. When they are done, they create a presentation for the class, which I would like to continue if it could be melded with the curriculum here online somehow….

michael (day two)

This summer after two months quarantining, I decided to drive across country and back. I live in the East Village, don’t own a car, and haven’t taken many road trips. So I had to do research. I called it SOCIAL LONG-DISTANCING. My goal was to drive to California to stay with friends (and to celebrate one of them being a Pulitzer Finalist!) then drive back, seeing national parks on the way. This would be in a rented van with a mattress in the back. I would sleep in the van at campsites (or in Walmart parking lots, they allow it) when I couldn’t sleep at my friends’ places. I had a cooler for food so I didn’t go to any restaurants. I saw Badlands, Zion, Bryce, Arches, Crazy Horse, Yellowstone, Devil’s Tower, Garden of the Gods, stayed at a farm, a ranch, and a gay CAMPground, etc. And visited 18 states. I was researching so many things, before and during trip. Which kind of vehicle, how much it’d cost, where to rent it. What kind of mattress, futon, air … What parks to see. What route to take. How long to leave for visits, for driving. I used the internet. I asked my friends. I called the campsites and Walmart and the national parks. Some weren’t opened now, most were. I asked many questions. I found if I didn’t ask follow ups, things like parks having limited hours would not be mentioned. I asked my friend in Wisconsin about driving to the Badlands as he was a geologic engineer who researched the Badlands. He prepared me well. I found personal interviews the best. It took 8 weeks. I drove 8,000 miles. Best thing I could have done this summer. I saw my friends. I wrote some. I taught on the road. I used the research and stayed very flexible as weather and lockdowns would happen (that meant research too, what weather would be like when I would arrive somewhere). I made it back, last day driving in the storm. And in time for this training!

I like the idea of letting students pursue their own passions. Making research a hobby instead of a chore. I like the idea of having the project be about finding topic, sources and analyzing them, not about writing the paper too. That takes off pressure and lets them learn about researching.

Day 2 Reflection: The Research Process

Getting Carried Away with Research

My father, several years ago, told me a story about his childhood that immediately drew me in. When he was a young boy in a one-room schoolhouse in 1943, a work camp for German P.O.W.’s had been erected in his small, rural Illinois town. The P.O.W.’s worked in the fields harvesting pumpkins for Libby’s canning company in the field next to their school. His casual statement spurred an entire, ongoing research and writing project: “We used to jump over the fence and go to talk to those guys. The guy in charge of watching them was always at Mrs. X’s eating her homemade pie.” He paused for a moment and then went on to say that when he later learned more about the war, he realized that at the time he was talking to those men, their homeland and perhaps their families and own homes were being “blown to bits.” Putting political reasoning aside as much as possible, I saw him working through what the POW’s might have felt while they were talking to this eight year old farm boy, in particular the German speaking Mennonites, and his neighbors who stole into the fields during recess.

That vivid image and his deep feeling while remembering spurred a long, very much in process project that has involved many levels of research and aims. It was a story, then a novella, and is now a far from finished novel. The research process has been varied but most interesting for this reflection is the advice a novelist friend offered when I mentioned I needed to read more novels written about that time to understand how people spoke. She said, wisely, that I needed to read what the people in the story would have been reading, those small town Illinois Mennonites and the German POWs. I ended up driving from one tiny town to another seeking out microfiche reels of tiny local newspapers (a dying breed) and looking through meticulously kept old church bulletins in Mennonite archives discussing church business and the challenges of their pacifist stance. I’ve looked into POW camp history (fascinating) and tried to determine what materials were available to the prisoners at that time (fascinating and difficult). I’ve listened to old radio shows and watched movies made during that time. 

So far, I’ve turned this research material into a conference presentation and successful grant proposals, but I really want to move forward on the book while I am still excited about the material. Like some of our students, I’ve learned that research can become a form procrastination from doing the actual work of writing, especially when the task seems daunting or intimidating.

How might we expand the definitions of a research project to more fully contain the curiosity and delight of research?

I am intrigued by the idea of introducing students to the process of making an Annotated Bibliography based on a question geared toward their own interests. I’ve never taught a research essay this way. When teaching a very traditional research essay model, I’ve asked students to summarize sources before writing their essay.  But I can see developing reflections into the annotated bibliography will encourage students to do more than simply analyze and restate what the authors are saying. Students will include why the source is important to them. The annotated bibliography, endnotes, and footnotes are in professional papers sometimes favorite sections. I think this may be for the same reasons that Graf offers in her discussion of teaching tools for developing “meta-awareness,” enabling students to articulate why this source or detail is necessary and unique to them as a reader/researcher. Footnotes and endnotes, I’ve found, sometimes contain ancillary information that the writer couldn’t squeeze into the paper but can’t bear to leave out. Annotated bibliographies often include why the writer was so excited about the source in addition to citation information about  where and how it can be found. Asking students to explain why an idea or detail or quote in a source that they’ve chosen feels to them so utterly “necessary” validates their excitement and their attempt at discovery.

I also think giving students wild freedom to choose topics, which I’ve tried unsuccessfully to do in the past (or it seemed unsuccessful) but would really like to try again, is  important. Kynerd shows this poignantly in her essay. The story of her student Malcolm  in addition to others emphasized the importance of providing students a space in which they can take true emotional risks and giving them a framework to make those risks pay off by gaining a sense of personal agency through writing is an ideal writing “situation.” Not all students will take the risks her students did, but Kynerd also shows (more than she explicitly states) how giving students a chance to be heard and to be truly read by their instructor encourages them to write and investigate their own ideas, in addition to understanding key elements of audience and purpose. She also shows how the more flexible final project allowed them to create something that mattered to them: a brochure, a book on language discrimination, an exploration of how to ask questions themselves. 

How could we put these goals for a research project into practice? By these goals I mean:

  • helping students develop “meta-awareness” about their own sources and the transferable writing process
  • a willingness to take risks
  • a sense of personal connection to the final product
  • and, skills that they feel they can apply to other classes.

I’m not sure yet! But I do know I want to revise what I’ve been doing because I feel like more can be gained for my students and for myself through developing and rethinking this often dreaded assignment. I’m really interested. I’m curious! I suppose that makes this all a research and discovery experience in itself.

Research as a genre

  • A time I got interested in research 

In answer to this question, I’m tempted to journey back in time to my elementary school experience believe it or not. I remember going on field trips to explore places, plants, animals. That was the time when I actually had the most fun with research. I was doing it and I had no idea that that was research. I remember collecting leaves, plants, drying them and mounting them on pages with tape. Then I would write a short description of what it was and how and where it was used. I remember even nibbling on the leaves. I just wanted to know what they tasted like and I would add my impressions in my hand-written description. It was my pride and joy and I loved showing it to friends and family.

As I got older, research became a chore. I had to follow instructions. It was mostly responding to a prompt that limited my approach. I think it was only when I started taking graduate courses that I felt almost the same attraction to research that I had as a child. There were cases when we were orally told to write a research paper and the only voiced expectation was to use the MLA. I liked those assignments better as they gave me freedom to write what I felt passionate about. So, the discovery process started with the literary text first, and then with outside sources. It was more of a “what do I want to explore here and let’s see what other scholars have said about this.”

  • Expanding the definitions of a research project to more fully contain the curiosity and delight of research

One of my professors at TC used the three blind mice to make the research process more accessible. I thought that was so pertinent as research starts out as a shot in the dark, trying to find the way, exploring, looking for a path, a door that will expand the possibilities, until we latch on to something that piques our curiosity.

I agree with the readings that starting out with a thesis or giving the students the thesis and expecting them to develop it is not productive and it doesn’t build good research skills. My research assignment asks them to come up with a question and explore the how and the what. I like the focus on genre. When students look at sources, I ask them to check for bias. After doing the readings, I will adjust those assignments to ask them to be more aware of the genre of their sources and try to include different genre.

Reflections on Research

A few years ago, after hearing family stories, I got really interested in doing some research on my great-great-great-grandfather, who was one of the founding members of the Tailor’s Union here in NYC.  It began with my interest in leaving a detailed record with pictures of my family on Ancestry.com.  I began my research with the notes left behind from my great aunt, which included a photocopy of a booklet published on his professional life, but it was in pretty bad shape.  I went online and much to my surprise, The reminiscences of Robert Crowe, the octogenarian[!] tailor by Miss Helen R. Burns, Principal of the Cooper Settlement in NYC, was available for purchase from the University of Michigan’s Library! I wrote an article about his professional life, and intertwined some personal details, which the booklet was devoid of.  He had a very prolific life here in NYC not only spearheading the Tailor’s Union with his excellent oratory skills, but in England as well (Queen Victoria had him imprisoned for his union activities there).  I shopped it around various newspapers and it was eventually published in the Irish Echo for their St. Patrick’s Day issue, with a picture of him taken around the time the booklet was published in 1902 (he was born in 1823 in Dublin).  It was an extremely exciting research adventure that in many ways helped me to connect more intimately with him and my family.

Curiosity and delight in Kynard and Graff

These are fun, pieces to read, relying on personal classroom experience to explore alternate ways to research as well as write the research paper.  Carmen Kynard’s experiences at the beginning of her article bemoans the lack of variety of imaginative source material in the production of the standard research paper based on textbook examples, library websites, or unfortunately, some of my own handouts.  Why not explore (or even require) the use of some of her suggestions, such as “autobiographical accounts”  (as I frequently use for my own research, but usually discourage students from using for theirs, oddly enough; I have to think about this), “poems, interviews, and survey data.”  Certainly, incorporating these formats would reduce reliance on secondary sources that sometimes lead to unintentional plagiarism created by plugging into a format.  Kynard’s “jam” assignment, asking students to respond to a controversial subject by gathering three types of appropriate materials: imaginative writing, a visual/verbal text and a verbal text, analyzing each text for style, comparing and contrasting the texts, and possibly using the texts in a final research paper sounds fascinating and would certainly avoid the miasma of standard research and the paper that results from it.

Thinking about Kynard and Graff, I’ve come up with a few more ways to possibly add “curiosity and delight” to research and research paper writing, and I’m anxious to try some of them out:

  • What about changing the audience? In other words, not having the students write for me as the teacher but, for example, imagine themselves as journalists reporting on a major event for a newspaper, or a lawyer arguing an unsolved murder from history.
  • Changing the character of their narrative: become a Jewish immigrant who comments on her/his memories of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911, a Japanese survivor of the bombing of Hiroshima on its 85th
  • How about deliberately and dangerously, writing a research paper designed to propagandize for a particular cause?

These assignments can be argued to change the purpose of the formal research paper that is commonly taught, but expand the concepts of audience and purpose, encouraging students to learn that research papers don’t all look alike, and that the writing skills learned in an English classroom can be utilized in other classes.





Anthony Eid Second Day Research

I believe the first time I ever really got interested in research was accidentally. Up until my grad school thesis, yes I do realize I was a late research revelation bloomer, I would just do projects because I guessed that is what you just did in academia- do what you are told to without thinking too heavily upon why you are doing it. It was not because I didn’t care, was uninterested, or anything near to not understanding the purpose of schooling. I just trusted my instructors without a doubt. However, as I have learned as a professor, trust is not easily earned from some students and you have to show them why they should care about the things they are learning. While in grad school, I taught a bridge program where we instructed students in the NY Regents ELA exam and prepared them for their first semester of writing as freshmen in college during their junior year of high school. Teaching to the Regents seemed to clash heavily with preparing them for their first semester of college.

I had not realized this clash when I was a student myself because I was in the process and not outside it. The two ways of teaching were not going on at the same time, so I was not able to clearly see the stark differences because of this as well. So, for the first time in my academic career, I did something out of curiosity that was not clearly defined by an instructor. I wanted to do it for my current students at the time to discover why they reacted so adversely when I taught the Regents exam, but took to first year writing so well. Test taking, test preparation, and thus test pedagogy are somewhat enamored with teaching to a rigid end goal of a test and the outcome of it. Rigidity limits options, curiosity, and want of learning. Unlike myself, who thrived on being told what to do, most students thrive when they are allowed to wander and experience things to develop who they are as students, and this also applies to them as writers. My thesis focused on this clash of ideals.

From the research, I

1)Shifted the way I was teaching my hybrid class- I taught the Regents portions as I would a first year writing class.

2) Learned about my own difficulty transitioning to college writing.

3) I came to understand that options and freedom are more attuned to human nature. If all students are human, then they would yearn for this more than rigid expectation. I was an academic robot most of my learning career, but they would not be.

All of this set me upon the path of seeing writing instructions more than about words on a page, but more aligned with self-discovery.

From my thesis writing experience, I also learned how to expand options for research. The person mentoring me through the process used the words: no, you can’t, that isn’t an option, I don’t know, but this doesn’t seem right to me, etc. This further showed me that freedom is quite essential for research. When I would spend a month alone toiling away in an echo chamber of blissfulness centered around my own ideas, I was immensely motivated and happy.  When I would meet with this mentor, who I was required to have through the process, I was miserable and felt unsure of myself. It took me about a week to recenter myself after those meeting to get back to focusing upon what I felt was the research that had and must be done. After that week, I was motivated, curious, and able to flow with work.

For my students, I never tell them (YOU CAN”T), I ask them (WELL HOW CAN WE DO THAT). I leave their research project very open to what they want/need to do. They can do it upon a topic that aligns with their major if they have one, one that they are interested in personally, or something we just riff about one-on-one. If a student doesn’t know what they want to do, I usually ask a ton of open ended questions to get them to where they feel comfortable and curious about a topic. Sometimes, students just ask to be told  a topic. I honestly tell them that the project is large, research is tiresome, and you’re going to be bored if you don’t see yourself in the research. Mainly, research is about finding yourself in one way or another. Sometimes, it is finding your future self within a topic you will one day dedicate your life to. Other times, it is something you dabbled in your whole life, but never focused on academically. Research is more about finding yourself rather than information I feel. If you show students they are doing this for themselves and not for some unknown purpose or reason, they become so involved that they ask, “I know you said X amount of pages, but is it okay if I can do Y.” Usually, the only time students struggle to make page counts or to find research pieces for their topic is when they are uninterested or disconnected from the topic and they just choose a topic from Google after they typed in- good research paper topics.