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Another example of the research assignment

Hey you guys, here is an assignment I’ve used for Unit 2 in 1121. There are things I might change here to deepen the research, but it might give you some ideas. This could also easily be split into units 2 and 3– that is, in Unit 2, people do more in-depth research than I’ve outlined here.  They develop reports (with infographics, proposals for action, etc.)  In Unit 3, they could then enact some part of that report– write a speech to the city council, a website, a grant proposal, etc…

Community Problems – and working toward community solutions

We have spent some time in this course identifying problems in contemporary America—especially in New York City. In this unit, you will be working in groups of four or five to:

  1. Find out as much as you can about those problems
  2. Figure out who might be able to impact change on those problems (this will be your audience.) As a group, you may decide that you need to reach more than one audience.
  3. Develop a document (or documents) that you think will best reach that audience. This might be a brochure, a speech, a video, a magazine article, or anything else that you believe will impact your audience and encourage them to begin making change toward solving this problem.

It’s up to you to decide if you want to do a big final group project, or if you want to do smaller individual final projects. You should make this decision based on, not only your own needs, but also the problem and audience you’ve chosen. In other words– who do you need to reach and how can you best reach them?

GETTING SPECIFIC

I say “begin making change”  because the problems we have identified are not simple to solve. If they were, they would’ve been solved by now. Too often, student papers are oversimplified: “Racism would end if people just saw each other for who they are” or something like that. What I want you to look for here are CONCRETE steps that ACTUAL individuals can take, even if they are only steps in the right direction. For example, if we are looking at racial profiling among the police in the Bronx, we might want to address a community group to insist on specific practices for hiring a more diverse police force, or a police force that lives in a borough they serve. We might also want to address the police commissioner to ask for police cameras or training for the police.

Whatever the case, your first step is to research the problem. You might think you know off the top of your head what the solution to your problem is, but you will need to back this up with evidence.

STEPS

Step 1: Have a group meeting. Brainstorm together what you KNOW about this problem and what you WANT to know about this problem. Go ahead and do some quick Internet research on your phones. What did you LEARN from this research? What do you STILL need to know?

We’re going to go to the library after this meeting, so you’ll need to be prepared with some questions. What do you need to get a full scope of this problem? How are you going to delegate the research? There are four of you, so you should each have your own separate task. This is important– you don’t want everyone looking up the same thing. That way, you can come together and share the info. You may also want to interview some people in the community! You’re going to have a few days to do this research.

After the library research, everyone should write up a memo for the group. What have you found?

Step 2: In your next meeting, look at your research. Do you need to find out more? Also, WHO do you think you need to reach in order to start working toward a solution to this problem? What do you think will be the best genre to reach them?

Step 3: It’s time to define your own project. That is, what are the documents (or what is the document) that you guys are going to make in order to reach this audience or audiences? What I’m looking for here is a document that is enough work for all four of you—so if you are, for example, making a 20 page informational brochure to present to the City Council, that is certainly enough for all of you. However if you are doing a poster, that’s probably a 1-2 person job. In this case, some of you might do a poster, and some others of you may do, for example, a video essay to accompany that poster.

Your finished project should: explain the problem to your audience in a genre appropriate to that audience, using diction appropriate to that audience. It should look like a finished document (a decent-looking brochure, a well thought-out video essay.) I know you’re not all graphic designers, but you do need to present this document, and every document you write (for all your classes) with care. Also– even if everyone is doing separate parts of the final project, they should all fit together!

How will this be graded?

  1. The thoroughness of your research. In other words, how well do you understand the problem you are trying to impact? I will assess this through your research memos (DUE DATE)
  2. Your work on audience: have you identified an appropriate audience/ appropriate audiences? Have you identified a genre and tone that will reach that audience?
  3. The care you put into your project. Does it seem finished? Is it thorough? I can’t give you a word count here, but this is your biggest project all semester, guys. If you turn in a brochure with 100 words on it, you won’t pass. This is because you can not make a compelling argument in 100 words. You need to have ENOUGH INFORMATION there to make that argument.
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Day One Wind-Down

Hey everyone– thanks for such a great first session. I realize this was pretty theory-heavy, but don’t worry, tomorrow we get into the nuts and bolts of the matter, like how to TEACH the stuff!

For tomorrow, please write an assignment sheet– as you would give it to students– for the culminating paper for Unit 1 of 1121. I understand that this is a draft that you’re writing overnight– so it’s gonna be ROUGH, but do your best to clarify what the question is you want your students to answer in their final paper, or what the task is you want them to perform.

PLEASE NOTE: I CAN PRINT THESE UNITS OUT FOR YOU IF YOU EMAIL THEM TO ME BY 9:15 AM TOMORROW!! (chall@citytech.cuny.edu)

We’ll be working on scaffolding and assignment design tomorrow. Robert, Jackie and I will be coming around to groups and helping you (if you want) with homework and in-class activities.

Here are links to the slide shows. Use them if you like!:

INTRO SLIDE SHOW 

DISCOURSE COMMUNITY SLIDE SHOW 

In your questionnaires, many of you asked for readings you could give to students. Many of the sample assignments have some. I will say that I find both Swales and Gee a little heady for students, so I usually assign them excerpts from Gee and show them slides like the ones I showed you. A great reading about a particular Discourse Community (The University) is “Inventing the University” by Dave Bartholomae, which you can find HERE.

There are also a number of readings about stages of the writing process posted on this website, both under “Umbrella Readings” and “Unit Readings.”

 

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Hello Winter Institute!

Hi everyone, and welcome to the Winter Institute! We’re really excited to meet you and get started on Monday!

A few updates:

  • We’ll be meeting in A106 (that’s the new building) at 10 am. Be sure to be on time, as we have a lot to cover.
  • The “Winter Seminar Guide” has been posted (under Winter Institute tab) Please skim it if you can.
  • Please review my previous email to look over the reading and writing we’d like you to do in preparation for this seminar.
  • Email me at: chall@citytech.cuny.edu if you have any questions!

 

 

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Portfolio Materials

Hey Everyone,

Some things promised from the last meeting;

  1. Here’s the Ed White Phase 2 article I was discussing. Worth the read.
  2. Here’s the Institute Guide that I reminded you of. The guidelines for the reflection paper for the portfolio suggest three things:
    • Students should address change as readers, writers, and learners.
    • Students should document their changes by referencing specifics from the course.
    • They should look backwards, inwards, outwards, and forwards to address the issue of transfer.
  3. Here are four sample final reflection portfolio assignments.
  4. Here’s a sample Portfolio of 12k words, but please note that it does not reflect the current changes in the curriculum.
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Weds, November 6

Hi everyone! We’ll be meeting next Wednesday, November 6.  In preparation, please review 1121 (yes 21!) UNIT ONE from the packet I handed out last session and write a draft of an assignment that unit– we’ll be workshopping these. Please print out three copies. *

If you are having problems with the copier, (I know this is an ongoing issue) please email them to me at least an hour before the PD. I have recently been absolutely inundated with emails, so please send this as its own email (not as a reply to something else)  write something in the subject line like PLEASE PRINT in all caps. Don’t worry about offending me with curtness. 

Also, we will be going over commenting strategies. If you have a student paper you’d like help commenting on, please bring in three copies. Please remove the student’s name and all identifying information. I can make copies for you if this is an issue.

We will have some time at the beginning of the session to talk about how teaching Unit Two (of 1101) is going in your current classes. If you are feeling pressed for time with the deadlines we gave you this summer, don’t sweat it–needing an extra day or two is okay; I trust you as professors. But do make sure that you leave yourself enough time for Unit 3 and the portfolio.

Handouts: 

Download (PDF, 118KB)

Download (PDF, 193KB)

  (I had to do it in two parts)

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Wednesday, Oct 23

Hi Everyone! We will reconvene on Wednesday, Oct 23 to talk about grading/ commenting on student essays. In preparation, there will be two readings: the classic (if you’re a Comp geek like me) “Responding to Student Writing” by Nancy Sommers and the very thought-provoking “Beyond Translingual Writing” by Jerry Won Lee.

We’ll be visited by Lubie Alatriste, the head of our ELL department, who will be talking with us about various linguistic and language issues. And we’ll talk about “minimal marking” strategies and other strategies that have worked for us when commenting on student papers. I’ll also be asking you about your commenting persona, if that makes sense: who are you trying to be in your comments? A coach, a buddy, a judge, etc… So think about that a little bit throughout the week.

We’ll be back in the President’s Conference Room, where we met last time– because we’re fancy. 4 pm as always.

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PD Next Week– Readings added

Hi!  next week, we will be meeting in the President’s Conference Room (N318– FANCY!)

Here are next week’s readings: First is a VERY short reading from Bad Ideas About Writing (and a reading you might be able to use with your students if you like,) called “Teaching Grammar Improves Writing” by Patricia A. Dunn. The second is: “Making a Case for Rhetorical Grammar” by Laura R. Micciche.

One thing I’d like us to think about for discussion is: Micciche’s students already have a pretty strong grasp of Standard Written Edited English (SWEE) when they perform these rhetorical analyses on texts. How might you use this idea of “rhetorical grammar” to teach writing here at City Tech? 

Please also (as a comment on this post) write up EITHER:

  • an exercise/ assignment that you do to teach reading/annotation/vocabulary strategies OR
  • a concern or problem you have with teaching reading.

Also, the forums on grammar/ engagement/ modes are still up. We’ll be talking about grammars next week– if you have issues or concerns you’d like to cover, post something in that forum.

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For Sept 24! UPDATE: WE ARE IN NAMM 618 AGAIN.

Hey guys, thanks for a good session! I’ll try to get us a less sauna-like room for our next meeting.

For next time, please do the following:

  1. Read “Creating Mindful Readers in First-Year Composition Courses: A Strategy to Facilitate Transfer” by Carillo and “Introducing Difficulty” from The Elements (and Pleasures) of Difficulty by Salvatori and Donahue. (links are live). They’re both pretty short, and both could be used with your students if you so desired.
  2. Comment on at least 2 of the 3 discussion forums (they are just below this post.) These are the topics that we were talking about in class. All you have to do is add a comment to the post. Super easy!
  3. Upload the low-stakes assignments we discussed in class to “low-stakes assignments.”

That’s plenty, so I’m not going to ask you to write more, but if you DO happen to have any good handouts of reading assignments or strategies you have, please send them my way! I’m going to compile a packet of reading assignments and I would love to have more to add.

Also, in case you are interested, here is the handout I have about teaching students how to email a professor. Jackie has one that’s less corny, I think, but corny is kinda how I roll (you’re welcome to use this if it’s helpful to you.)

Download (PDF, 292KB)

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How to create a new post

FYI– We meet in Namm 618 at 4 pm. Also, our upcoming dates are:
Sept 11
Sept 25
Oct 2
Oct 23
Nov 6
Nov 20
Dec 4
Dec 11
Make sure you’re a member of the PD site.
    1. Make sure you’re Registered with Open Lab.
    2. Find the PD site.
    3. Click on Join! (just below the avatar).
    4. Click on Visit Project Site on the right hand side.
    5. You’re in!
NOW to create a post.
  1. Find the little circle with the plus sign in it on the top of the site.
  2. Click on it. You will open the Post Dashboard by default.
  3. Give it a title.
  4. Type your message.
  5. To attach a document, click on Add Media.
    • The Media Library page will open.
    • Click on Upload Files.
    • Go find and choose your file.Click on Insert into Post.
    • You’ll be taken back to the Post Dashboard
  6.  When you finish your post, pick a Category from the Category menu on the right side. If you forget, you’ll get a prompt to pick a Category.
  7. Then hit Publish.
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Welcome to the semester!

UPDATE: We’re slowly adding some theoretical texts to the website that may be more accessible to students, but I also wanted to draw your attention to the free ebook BAD IDEAS ABOUT WRITING which has a number of short readings about misconceptions about writing that you may find useful to use in your 1101 course. I’ve pointed out a few that I find pretty helpful for talking about genre and discourse in the readings section of our blog. There are also a few that I think will be very helpful for discussing research, once we get there. I do intend to add a section to the website for readings on research. 

Hey everyone! I just wanted to say hi and update the site for the semester. You’ll notice that it’s no longer called “Summer Institute,” but instead “2019 Professional Development” as, sadly, it’s no longer summer.

To recap: we will be meeting on Sept 11 (location TBD) from 4-5:15. In preparation for this meeting, please just write up briefly a low stakes (either in-class or homework) assignment) that has worked well for you this semester, especially if you feel it increased student engagement. Please post this on “low stakes assignments” on this site. We’ll spend most of this session just checking in with you about how the semester is going thus far, what you are struggling with and how you’re feeling about your units, both current and forthcoming.

Also, if you haven’t done so yet, please post your units and syllabi on the site. If you’re struggling, please email or come see me. Also, I’m adding some more short, accessible theoretical readings to the site.

Hope you’re doing well, and please feel free to stop by!

(my students made that.)

 

Our next meeting: Nov 20 (and some stuff about Gee!)

Hi everyone! So here are some links to info about James Paul Gee’s work on Discourse Communities:

“Literacy, Discourse and Linguistics” an article in which he describes primary and secondary discourse communities. I personally find it fairly accessible and really interesting!

HERE is a slideshow that accentuates many of the main points from that same article. Many typos.

HERE is a website that bullet points Gee’s general theory of Discourse communities

For Nov 20, please write a draft of 1121 Unit 2 PLEASE BRING IN THREE COPIES. (the unit description is attached below– I’ve changed it slightly. Changes are highlighted. I will attach more sample assignments shortly. Please remember to keep Unit 3 in mind as you write this unit– that is, you may want to write Unit 2 as research that leads into Unit 3.

Please also read Cheryl Ball’s “Genre and Transfer in a Multimodal Class” (if you can open the file. I’m working on it) at the bottom of this page. So far, it prints in legit gibberish!

Unit 2. Inquiry-Based Research

The purpose of this inquiry-based research is to spark and deepen student curiosity. In this unit, students will further their research skills, using evidence to make an argument or explore a topic, question, or issue. With this in mind, students should begin research with a question or a hypothesis, but should NOT begin with a thesis! Students will be expected to use the library’s resources and will also have the possibility of conducting interviews or other observation based research. Research will require that students use best attribution practices including gathering, and evaluating of multiple sources, both primary and secondary sources. Students will be asked to synthesize a variety of ideas and sources while they pursue their research goals and questions. The scope and focus of research projects can vary, and can emerge from discourse community projects, genre exploration projects, or other topics that students wish to investigate. Students should be given some choice of genre in this assignment– that is: what genre is best to deliver the research they have accumulated to the audience they wish to reach?

Research assignments can be individual projects or group projects.

UNIT TWO EXAMPLES HERE.

 

(Remember that Unit 3 is a multimodal assignment that asks students to repurpose writing they have done earlier in the semester to a digital genre. Unit 3 should have an element of persuasion. The description of this is posted in the previous blog post)

Download (PDF, 312KB)

 

Research Question and Reflection Assignment

Here is an assignment I found on the Arizona State University website.  I have modified it for my classes as we have been stumbling over the creation of our research/curiosity questions (in part because we have had so many holidays and missed classes….no complaints about that though)  Hopefully, this will help.  I plan on using this assignment this week.  

Download (DOCX, 10KB)