I have so many ideas twirling around and bumping into each other in my head about what to do for the What I Know So Far Paper that I decided it would be best to write through some of my thoughts for this week’s blog post. I am hoping that by getting some of this shit out there and on the page about the course readings, my participation in English 30, and also my experiences with teaching English 130 as well as my future plans for the course I will have a better idea of what exactly I want to do for the paper. For this post I’m going to focus on some of the course readings, in part, because I have found it so interesting that for the readings I have already read prior to English 431 my takeaways and focus from when I first read them are so different. Additionally, this is something I have readily accessible because for the online readings I either copy and paste from the PDF or type out the quotes that I like or that struck me the most into a Google Doc so that I can go back and add a comment or two; this is also helpful because I have the page numbers to refer to while we are talking in-class and for writing later on.
While reading “1.0 Writing is a Social and Rhetorical Activity” by Kevin Roozen from Metaconcepts I starred and underlined quite a bit in this section that had to do with my experiences teaching English 130. One instance is when Roozen explains, “If teachers can help students consider their potential audiences and purposes, they can better help them understand what makes a text effective or not, what it accomplishes, and what it falls short of accomplishing,” I had written ‘“Backpacks vs. Briefcases’ with 130 class” in the margin. “Backpacks vs. Briefcases: Steps Toward Rhetorical Analysis” is a scholarly article written by Laura Bolin Carroll that explains the rhetoric which most people encounter everyday, most importantly the rhetoric that is used by the media. In the article Bolin Carroll also explains important rhetorical terms such as exigence, audience, and constraints. I had written about this article in the margins of “1.0 Writing is a Social and Rhetorical Activity” because I was surprised by how much connection and application my students discussed in-class when we talked about the Bolin Carroll article. This is one of the longer readings I have my students do for 130 so when it was first assigned last semester they were not thrilled, however, after reading it many students participated in an interesting class discussion that included them talking about the rhetoric in texts and other compositions that they see around them on an everyday basis. Although it was not required, many students also included discussing “Backpacks vs. Briefcases” in their blog posts that were due later in the week. The rhetorical awareness that Roozen discusses I likewise see at work in my English 30 internship. The annotations that 30 students must include in their ePortfolios is specifically asking them to reflect on audience, purpose, genre, and context for each of their 6 artifacts. In addition to the annotations students were also asked to create an “About Me and My Writing” page where they reflect on their artifacts as a whole and think about the changes, similarities, and/or progresses that they see in their writing. This page is further where students include their decision of whether or not they believe they will need assistance with English 130 in the Digital Studio; Professor Fosen and the mentors in English 30 then used the artifacts and student reflections to corroborate or contradict their decision concerning continuing mentorship in conjunction with their English 130 class.
This was my second time reading Russell’s “Activity Theory and Its Implications for Writing Instruction” and I had some very different ideas reading it two years after my first initial reading and after having some teaching experience. As an undergrad student, I was not a big fan of having to do blogs for some of my classes but especially those classes (not Kim’s classes!) in which I would have to do a certain amount of writing and extended thinking and then that professor would give barely a sentence of feedback, comments, or even an actual grade. However, as an instructor myself I realized that blogs are a great platform for lower stakes writing because of it being easily accessible to both myself and students to comment, students feeling more comfortable with this type of more informal writing, and because of the fact that I also became an advocate for the benefits of having FYC students create ePortfolios. Additionally, blogs as an early writing activity show students that the traditional outline is not the only option for writing out ideas and further questions for a larger writing assignment. Furthermore, Russell also explains what I hope students will learn about how to use the ways they participated in early writing through their blogs and the Inquiry Paper Proposal as showing that they will then be able to “master a new genre more quickly, since it is more likely that there will be some features of the new genre/activity that resemble features in a genre/activity one already knows” (11). Many courses that have a large paper or project due will have students write some type of a proposal, outline, or annotated bibliography before beginning the extensive paper or project. When I was first creating my syllabus and assignment sequence I was very torn about whether or not I should have students write an annotated bibliography using possible sources for their Inquiry Papers. After reading Russell’s article “Activity Theory and Its Implications for Writing Instruction” I feel much more confident in my decision that there was not enough time for my students to write an annotated bibliography and that the proposal, the in-class activities we do with their sources, and other early writing that they do for this large paper will allow them to be able to use these same “features” for the extensive papers that they will do in their other university courses.
I wrote a lot more than expected for each of these readings so I will leave it at that for now! : )