Imagining a Transformed Reality: On the Web, Over the Airwaves, Around the Globe

Imagining a Transformed Reality: On the Web, Over the Airwaves, Around the Globe (CCCC 2006 Chicago — Day 3)

In this panel, three experienced comp instructors from the University of Arkansas, Little Rock report their experiences getting students to think outside the box.

The presenters asked everyone to pull their chairs into a circle, and in that environment I felt uncomfortable typing away on a keyboard, so I only jotted brief notes on my PDA. So these notes will be a bit more sparse.

Last year, I attended what I thought was too many of the”Let me tell you what happened the first time I introduced my students to weblogs” talks. These talks were similar in structure, but the new details involved what I would call a traditional computer-assisted classrom (though it seems odd even for me to write of a ocmputer-assisted writing classroom as “traditional,”) a business writing course that asked students to write an essay following the template for NPR’s “This I Believe” series, and a research and writing course in which students studied the holocaust.

I came away with an awareness of models for good teaching in meatspace.

Betty Freeland. Rose-Colored Glasses are off. Students…

Integrating computer tech in comp classroom.

Universal design for learning helps not just disabled students but all students.

Problem 1 — range of computing experience, enhanced the academic disparity between the haves and the have nots.

Problem 2 — too much high tech, not enough high touch.

Freeland is probably the only comp instructor I’ve met at the Cs who has spoken uncritically about PowerPoint as a valuable composition skill. (Though plenty of engineering/tech writers recognize that the PowerPoint presentation is a rhetorical mode that technical professionals need to master.)

Ended with a joke about how introducing computers into her classroom is part of her strategy for “warding off Alzheimer’s.”

Andrea Hermann,”This I Believe: Students Join NPR’s National Writing Community”

The “This I Believe” project invites essay of about 350-500 words, all of which will be archived by an NPR project on faith, and some of which will be broadcast on NPR. Hermann discussed the value of recovering the practice of the instructor writing all assignments along with students.

Herrmann says she thinks she didn’t do a very good job on the assignment. Her essay was on long-term chronic illness, and on her interest in alternative medicine. She read it to us.

Cheryl Harris, “The Holocaust and First-Year Writing”

Began w/ account of a visit to the Holocaust Museum, and a quotation from Elie Weisel.

Harris introduced her class, “Reading, Researching, and Writing about the Holocaust.”

The first assignment acclimates students to analyzing the rhetorical power of documentary evidence, by asking students to analyze a photograph of their family.

Next they write on four sources she provides (including two films).

Next, 5 sources — 2 from the class, 3 from the outside. Read from a paper on Hitler Youth.

Next, a research paper. “very prescriptive” list of sources. Web resources seem to be excluded.

Students who selected into the special Holocaust section of the research course tended to stick with the course far more than a typical course. Something about their serious engagement with the subject matter gets them engaged.