Reading for PD Wed., 3/27 3 pm N321, 4th Seminar

Hi folks,
We’ll be reading this piece by Reiff and Bawarashi. Rather than writing individual blog posts as a response, please posts your responses below in the comments section. We’d be interested to hear the connections between the reading and your own teaching this semester.

Our meeting is scheduled in the Dean’s conference room, not in the President’s room. If anything changes I’ll be sure to let you know. See you Wed!

Update of Curriculum

  1. Review revised assignments for 1101 and 1121
    1. 1101
      1. Lit Narrative
      2. Researched Rhetorical Analysis
      3. Genre Project
  1. 1121
    1. Genre and Discourse Community Project
    2. Inquiry Based Argument Project
    3. Repurposed Multi-modal project
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9 thoughts on “Reading for PD Wed., 3/27 3 pm N321, 4th Seminar

  1. Jackie Blain

    Reiff and Bawarshi’s idea of “boundary crossers” and “boundary guarders” caught my eye when I/we read Chapter 4 of Yancey’s Writing Across Contexts (I looked it up to be sure that’s where we read it). Thinking back to Ancient Times when I was a freshman in college, I remembered that I was very successful as a writer in high school and figured I’d have no problem in college; in other words, I was already a guarder. It took an F on my first paper in Eng 101 to shake me up; as my prof explained to me, I wrote upside down, that is inductively, and college writing (at least in those days) was always deductive. He told me to write my way, then put the last paragraph first before I handed it in. Boy, did I learn; in fact, I soaked up everything Dr. Sutherland said to me after that, and the guarder became a crosser although I never thought about it in those terms before.

    How does that apply to this term? I have quite a few excellent writers in my 1101 class, and their Portraits (literacy narratives) were polished, spoke of how much they liked writing in high school, how successful they were once they learned the rules, and how much they hated those rules. I suspect they’re giving me what they think I want — the smart ones do that. We’re rushing toward the Inquiry Project, and I’m wondering how much difficulty I’m going to have with some of them as I batter at the 5-paragraph structure so many of them use as security blankets. How do I get them to “not” talk and to push them into new strategies so they can achieve high-road transfer? I’m going to try Reiff and Bawarshi’s strategy of asking students what the new assignment reminds them of, what they already know that can help them. But I know I’m going to have to make it low-stakes writing since they don’t talk! What a minefield this 1101 class is this term…

  2. Kim

    One thing that strikes me when reading the Reiff and Bawarshi article is that I want to encourage my students to break down their writing process into a number of strategies that are transferable across a number of different genres and situations. I like the idea of encouraging genre-crossing behaviors and letting go of the “I know how to write a 5-paragraph essay” knee jerk reactions.

    So this is my first time teaching a writing assignment with a mentor text, and I think that analyzing and using a mentor text for inspiration could be a helpful way to explicitly draw out the boundary crossing strategies in students that could be used in approaching a number of different genres. My students have had an interesting time analyzing their mentor texts — looking at how popular articles in magazines and websites begin (with a provocative argumentative statement, or a quote, or a story, anecdote, or driving question) and then examining how their particular author made moves to create a compelling argument. It’s been interesting for me, too, because everyone’s mentor text functions somewhat differently, but having students use these texts as rhetorical guides is giving me some hope that they are developing transferable strategies for approaching unfamiliar writing situations. TBA!!!

    Anyway, I’m excited about doing more genre awareness work in the classroom, and will be keeping Reiff and Bawarshi in mind as I get into the inquiry and genre translation project, and look more closely at digital multimodal genres with my students. Looking forward to hearing how others’ genre awareness assignments and class activities are going, and to getting some inspiration from you!

    1. SSchmerler

      I’m interested to hear more. I know I am pre-loading our next meeting here but: what might you say is a digital multi-modal genre?
      I feel like I want genre to fuse into the inquiry-based project and wonder if you / the gang have thoughts on how to use Mentor Text there? Anyone?
      Okay, see y’all soon,

      1. Kim

        Hey Sarah,

        So yeah, I’d be happy to talk more about this. I feel like I made my Assignment #2 more focused on discourse communities and rhetorical analysis — which is certainly about genre awareness but not necessarily genre choice — and so now I’m merging genre awareness and choice into my Assignment #3 inquiry project. I’m also merging the inquiry project with the re-purposing in multimodal genres — i.e., genre choice — to kind of kill two birds with one stone and try to make everything time out okay.

        So I haven’t introduced a mentor text yet in this assignment, but some of them really connected to using a mentor text in Assignment 2. To use a mentor text for the genre translation, I would say to students, “if you want to make a podcast, pick a podcast as your mentor text and analyze how it fulfills the formal conventions and constraints and opportunities posed by its genre” — and then let them take it from there. We might get into using mentor texts again when they start thinking about their genre translation around/after spring break.

        In terms of examples of digital multimodal genres, I would include in this videos, youtube ads, podcasts, websites, Instagram accounts/campaigns, Twitter feeds, video essays, music videos, graphic narratives, and anything else that is not strictly verbal and also can be conveyed or delivered digitally. What do you think?

  3. Carrie Hall

    I have to admit this article, while helpful in some ways, kind of rubbed me the wrong way. I don’t like these kinds of labels (and I find them hard to follow.) I think we’re all kind of boundary-crossers and boundary-guarders, and I feel like the negative connotation of the boundary-guarder paints the student in a bad light. I’m more curious as to WHY someone might guard generic boundaries, and even how that guarding could be pedagogically productive. But perhaps I’m being overly sensitive (really.)

    The most interesting line to me in this essay was “part of what defines a genre is the way it pulls from, mixes and reconfigures macrogenre text types or forms to enable its users to perform meaningful social actions in specific contexts” (318). I guess what I’m getting at here is, I can’t really parse through the minutae of the terms they introduce– I get confused by this kind of taxonomy. What I AM interested in, always, are the social aspects of language and structure– and in this case the social functions of genre. This is how I teach it. “What does this genre DO?” “To/ For whom?” “In what context?” I feel like any kind of guarding and resistance eventually breaks down the more students actually engage with these questions, but who knows? I’m not really an empiricist.

  4. SSchmerler

    I actually liked a lot of the terminology — maybe not the terms, themselves, but the way the terms empowered me begin to identify issues I’d heretofore not addressed for myself. I also found a few passages inspiring, overall, as FY affirmations. For instance:
    “If we see the FYC as a potential site for disrupting the maintenance of strict domain boundaries…and if we want students to draw on antecedent genres they are familiar with in order to negotiate what they perceive as new….we must intervene at the very beginning of the course in order to make possibilities and processes of domain crossing explicit and clear.”
    Here’s a passage that both gave me license to be a “disruptor” and told me that I ought to come out swinging with said disruption.
    I liked the identification of “not” speech. I liked the use of “high-” and “low-road” transfer and the differentiation between “triggers” and “deliberate, mindful abstraction.”
    How is all this panning into my real-time experience? I am finding that genre is requiring my one-on-one attention more than the previous unit — at least if I want to get successful outcomes. Many of the students want hand holding to open themselves up to the tasks of this unit. They need permission to even begin to analyze a TripAdvisor listing or a Yelp Review or a Menu they need to write for their Hospitality Management major. It’s as though there were some sacred borders they were crossing, and they want my permission to do so.
    I’ve tried using analogies — like dressing up or dressing down for an occasion, like tuning your instrument to get the right pitch — so many, but for many “not” sayers, only a personal talk will do. I’m encountering too many students who don’t know what they are reading on their phones, who say they read the news on Facebook but can’t identify a publication or source, let alone a type of article (news, fashion) within that source. Our Genre Unit writing activities are leading to a kind of crossover into our Research Unit in that sources need to be identified — not necessarily evaluated or judged as reliable — but identified for their voice and intent before we can even begin.
    Some nice discoveries I’ve found in the Genre Unit are: some students who struggle to even be understood in spoken English in class, and who can barely get through a sentence, can shine once giving some personal attention in this unit. One young man who has Arabic for his primary language, but who is in computer science, wrote about his love of soccer in a previous assignment and, for the genre activity, wrote about soccer in Java. His friend (from whom he is inseparable, and with whom he always confers in class) is now going to write in Python. I told them that coding is a language, and that it was okay to do that. It was inspiring, and the first young man felt really jazzed by his ability to write so fluently and mostly by how creative he felt in the visioning process. We all understood each other, all three of us, in a dynamic that had previously been quite impossible to achieve before. Before this, I just couldn’t break their social “code” of behavior. : )
    The Cons have included what our authors call “task recognition.” I have found it quite challenging to guide students into the why’s of a genre assignment without running up against their “triggers.” Over confidence is NOT what I want from them. It’s the “learner’s mind.” As our authors say, “…So one part of encouraging boundary crossing might mean talking to students about how to embrace strategically and productively the role of novice…in order to adapt…”
    I would like to discuss with the group some more about “discursive knowledge” and also how to give the students some effective meta-cognitive labels for this Unit. How can we make them aware? I like the term “factory pre-set” to evoke a new, blank slate, for instance, but how can I make this genre specific? I’m prone to hyperbole, and though tempted to label their high school experiences as “low road” and setting college up as “high road” is tempting for me, I hesitate to draw those lines so starkly. I’d want to discuss that with all of you.

  5. Kim

    Hey guys,

    As I reflect on our discussion from Wednesday, I was thinking about the way that sometimes the entanglements with the academic language (of our rhet/comp discourse community!) like “boundary-crossers” “boundary-guarders” or even the word “novice” or “productive novice” can get in the way of talking about the actual concepts.

    On the one hand, it’s so great to have the explicit language and labels and ways that we define terms, and to define these terms to each other and to our students. On the other hand, fancy terms sometimes complicate not so fancy concepts. These days, whenever I say the word “exigency” in the classroom, I explain in subtitles that this means, “so what?” or, “why do we care?.”

    I think this is also reflected in the classroom — after we did the in-class rhetorical analysis exercise, I had one student who started calling everything a “rhetorical ______”, and even when we then worked on the popular article assignment, he kept assigning the word “rhetorical” somewhat haphazardly to things as an adjective, even when it wasn’t warranted. He would say, “this rhetorical article,” or “that rhetorical pencil” — okay not quite that far — but it was like he knew that rhetorical analysis was special, but he couldn’t quite put his finger on WHAT the special thing was. Finally, we had a long private chat where I (attempted to) explain the value of rhetorical analysis for transfer, and that his skills analyzing the rhetorical moves in the cultural artifact and his mentor text could then inform his own rhetorical choices as a writer. Also, we went through how to use “rhetoric” and “rhetorical” — I feel like this semester I have explained the meaning of “rhetorical question” more than ever before, and perhaps it’s due to an emphasis on defining terms! This makes me think of the Wardle and teaching students declarative knowledge, but I’ll continue that line of thought in a new post.

    Looking forward to seeing everyone again!

    1. Robert Lestón Post author

      That makes so much sense, Kim. Students get introduced to vocabulary and it opens up a way of seeing for them, and then everything becomes rhetorical. I laughed and then didn’t laugh at the idea of the rhetorical pencil, because pencils are extremely rhetorical in my mind. I guess this is one of the things that people mean when they talk about material rhetorics, that rhetoric itself isn’t limited to discourse, but material things, the way a building is designed, or the height of a chair, or a traffic light, moves our bodies in ways that are rhetorical and procedural, but non-discursive. It’s interesting to look behind these things and how entire situations and histories begin to open up.

      I get your point, though, about how terms can be tossed about haphazardly, and it’s important to keep things focused before they get too out of hand, but if there are going to be problems, I’d pick that one.

      Thanks for the reflection and uploading the Literacy Narratives!

      1. Kim

        Yeah, thanks Robert — I also agree that it’s a great problem to have, as compared with problems I’ve had in former classes that no one ever uses the word “rhetorical” because they are afraid to and have no idea what it means.

        Likewise, when we started really explicitly talking about genre, there was this idea of “where do we put parameters on things?” Like, we were talking about how “ESPN Sports Center” could be a genre because there is a medium, purpose, audience, specialized discourse, speaker, angle, rhetorical moves, etc — but “sports” in general is just a topic, or “Sports Commentary” (live action during a game) could be a collection of genres…. it’s really helpful sometimes to define things by what they both are and aren’t. I guess that was something that also came up in Reiff & Bawarshi, the “not this genre” — and sometimes those parameters are super useful, as students trying out a new term (as novices!) experiment with applying it to everything!

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