The Dangerous Blog for Grad Students

A How-To Tale

“Portfolio Standards for English 101” Response November 11, 2008

Filed under: Response — deduvick @ 5:13 am
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Douglas D. Hesse

It was very interesting to be reading about this in our book, since this is exactly the model that we are working from in our own English 101 and 101.10 classes that we teach.  I must say, however, it is much easier to read in our table-like boxes on the rubric in our books than in this linear format!

Anyways, the key is to look at the adjectives.  An “A” portfolio writer is skillful, consistent and effective.  They make decisions that are fresh, show their wide reading, are appropriate and go beyond the obvious.  A “B” portfolio is very similar to the “A,”  but where the “A” writer makes good choices “frequently” and “generally,”  the “B” writer only  makes them “often” and “usually.”  Also, the “B” writer sometimes only “suggests” the actions that the “A” writers achieve. 

The “C” portfolios are more average – the assignments are perform “competently.”  Writers of “D” and “F” portfolios have an “inability” to perform the assignments give to them, with the “F” writers achieving much less than the “D.”  And, if a portfolio is incomplete, missing any part, it may only be given a “D” or “F.”  

It is a very understandable process and over the semester I have been grading quite a few projects whose grading standards are very similar to these.  It will be interesting to see what the students come up with when they turn everything in at the end, especially if they have been looking at how we have been grading them.


“Writing with Video: What Happens When Composition Comes Off the Page” Response November 4, 2008

Filed under: Response — deduvick @ 3:52 pm
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lovett-et-al-writingThis sounds like a fabulous class!  Not only are students learning about writing, researching and creating a text – but they are actually putting together a piece that has some relevance outside of the typical classroom.  It really seems like a great way to make students actively participate and, may I even suggest, enjoy what they are working on in class.  It is something that they can upload to YouTube, show their friends and families or even have used by the university, like Erin’s No Child Left Behind video.  

Since it really is an interdisciplinary class, students campus-wide can take it – from the art, communications, film studies, etc.  I think that that is one of the problems here at Illinois State.  It is impossible to be able to take some classes in other departments, even when it is relevant to your area of study.  For example, there is no photography class that English students can take, even if they are interested in working with magazines or journals after graduation.  But with something like Writing with Video, all different kinds of students can take it and bring their ideas together, helping everyone to learn not only from their teachers, but also from the classmates.  And speaking of the teachers, the fact that they themselves come from different departments and train grad students to teach as well just goes to increase everyone’s knowledge of the technologies being used.

I understand that there are a lot of issues to be faced with a project like this, such as funding for technology and teacher training, but I feel that this would be an excellent addition to any university and a boon to students to better enable them to communicate in a very current multimodal way.


“On the Academic Margins: Basic Writing Pedagogy” Response October 21, 2008

Filed under: Response — deduvick @ 5:12 am
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Deborah Mutnick

The article started off with a look at Mina Shaughnessy and her studies of basic and remedial writing.  Shaughnessy looked at errors as something positive, something that showed the student was trying to grasp the concepts in how to write correctly.  But, it seems to me that their non-errors, the things that were done correctly, would more accurately show what of the academic discourse they were understanding.  Errors could be made trying to find the right way just as much as not bothering to seek it. 

Also, especially in looking at students’ errors in their writing, it becomes easier to build a sense of who the student is and where the student is coming from.  They may not have a firm academic background, but they are writing as they best know how.  The argument  is made to look at our students basic writing classes, consider the remedial classes and figure out the best way to place students in these – whether by having them personally select or by having the university make the ultimate decision. Keeping our eyes open to the fact that our students, with laws being passed on Equal Access and affirmative action, will be from all different culture backgrounds and earlier academic situations.  It is then up to us to understand and train them to continue their education.


“Consensus and Difference in Collaborative Learning” Response October 14, 2008

Filed under: Response — deduvick @ 9:05 am
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John Trimbur

Trimbur makes some very interesting points in his arguments through this article.  He talks about the collaborative process in the classroom and how many times, this is is taken to mean that the students must come to a consensus.  This could lead to arguments on how the individual is shut down by the group or that a small group working to come to a consensus would completely disregard the larger social forces at work outside of the group.  Really, Trimbur thinks that if we could show students that consensus is a utopian possibility (one that doesn’t have to happen), that students may be more willing to reach a dissensus, and through doing so, they can realize the what “otherness” looks like and how it can work together.  

Though this makes a lot of sense theoretically, it is hard to see how it would actually play out in a classroom.  Say you do have a group project and the students were working together, but couldn’t come up with a common ground on which to stand.  Where would you go from there?  Would each then go on to write their individual piece?  It is fine to “agree to disagree” and I am probably widely missing Trimbur’s point here, but it hard to find the practicality to apply to the classroom setting.