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Testing a Theory of Writing in FYW

Nicholas Jackson
University of Louisville
nicholas.jackson.2@louisville.edu

In 2016, four other instructors at UMaine (where I was teaching at the time) and I began incorporating elements of the Teacher for Transfer curriculum into our WAW first-year-writing course. The theory of writing has been the TfT element I find the most useful, and I have students return to it repeatedly throughout the course, asking them to reflect on how they would make changes in light of their most recent reading and writing and then to revise that theory accordingly.

In planning our assignment sequences, we discussed the benefits of explicitly asking students to reflect on writing in other classes as well. This prompt is what I developed to foster that reflection. It is part of a scaffolded assignment sequence in which students engage in new writing tasks between (almost) every class to work toward final portfolios. This prompt is typically when I see students begin to make more thorough connections between the writing they do in first-year-writing and the other types of writing they engage in or expect to engage in in the future. While many of the readings I include focus on writing in new contexts, some of which are non-academic, asking students to apply their own theories to those other types of writing helps them see these connections more clearly than when they just read what others have said.

Prompt: Your last assignment asked you to “test” your theory of writing against your experiences writing your last essay in order to think about how complete and useful this theory is. While this is a good start to evaluating the usefulness of your theory, you should once again recall Downs’ and Robertson’s claim that “The better–the more completely, consistently, and elegantly–a theory accounts for past experience and the more accurate its predictions about future experience, the stronger or more robust it is, and thus the more useful it is” (111). As such, it would seem useful to test how consistently your theory of writing can account for your past experiences with writing and make predictions about future writing experiences for writing experiences outside of this class. Therefore, for this assignment you will turn your attention to writing you have produced (or are producing) outside of this class in order to begin to develop a clearer picture of the usefulness of your theory of writing.

For next class, please select a piece of your writing from outside of this class. It can be something you have completed or something you are still composing. You may choose an academic example (a history paper or lab report you wrote last week; an essay from high school) or a non-academic example (a tweet, a post on an online forum, a letter to your grandmother, fanfiction, a prayer journal, etc.). The more unlike the writing you do in ENG 101 this sample is, the more fruitful and interesting your examination will likely be.

After you have selected the piece of writing, use your theory of writing as a frame to explain what you did as you composed this piece of writing, how you did so, and why, much as you did in your last assignment. Like with the last assignment, the length will, in part, be determined by the usefulness of your theory of writing. If you find yourself unable to write much, you may want to instead begin thinking about how you will revise your theory of writing to account for this other type of writing.

You do not need to send me this piece of writing (though you can), but you will need to make sure I have enough context to understand what you’re saying, so you’ll want to cite specific examples from your text. Make sure you also explain what your theory of writing fails to account for–that is, are there ways your theory of writing as it is currently written fails to explain what happens when you write, say, a tweet instead of an academic essay? How will you revise your theory of writing in light of this information?

When you have finished, please revise your theory of writing based on the work you did here. Please send me your revised theory and the writing you did above.

Hendrickson & Garcia de Mueller 2016 – “Inviting students to determine for themselves what it means to write across disciplines”

Hendrickson, Brian, and Genevieve Garcia de Mueller. “Inviting Students to Determine for Themselves What it Means to Write Across Disciplines.” The WAC Journal 27 (2016). Retrieved from https://wac.colostate.edu/docs/journal/vol27/hendrickson.pdf

In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph: “Situated in the literature on threshold concepts and transfer of prior knowledge in WAC/WID and composition studies, with particular emphasis on the scholarship of writing across difference, our article explores the possibility of re-envisioning the role of the composition classroom within the broader literacy ecology of colleges and universities largely comprised of students from socioeconomically and ethnolinguistically underrepresented communities. We recount the pilot of a composition course prompting students to examine their own prior and other literacy values and practices, then transfer that growing meta-awareness to the critical acquisition of academic discourse. Our analysis of students’ self-assessment memos reveals that students apply certain threshold concepts to acquire critical agency as academic writers, and in a manner consistent with Guerra’s concept of transcultural repositioning. We further consider the role collective rubric development plays as a critical incident facilitating transcultural repositioning.”

CFP for WAW sponsored panel – CCCC 2019

The Writing About Writing (WAW) Standing Group and the WAW Steering Committee invite proposals for the 2019 WAW Sponsored Panel. The sponsored panel is guaranteed to be accepted to the CCCC program when the Standing Group submits it, and we are reaching out to the WAW community to identify potential presenters.

What kind of proposal fits the WAW Sponsored Panel’s goals?

We are interested in interactive panels as well as individual proposals. We are interested in proposals that help us extend the practice and impact of WAW pedagogy or research, particularly proposals authored and co-authored by new and emerging scholars in WAW. We are also hoping to include panels reporting on ongoing research into WAW programs and courses. We especially invite proposals that connect WAW to the 2019 conference theme of performance-rhetoric and performance-composition.

How will the WAW Sponsored Panel selected proposals be submitted to CCCC?

Sponsored Panels will be submitted by the WAW Sponsored Panel Committee through the regular CCCC proposal system, which is why we are asking for the same information as the online program proposal system.

To be considered for the WAW Sponsored Panel, proposals must be received before April 23 at 11:59pm. Please send your proposal and relevant presenter/panel information through this form.

To be considered for the Sponsored Panel, please follow 4Cs guidelines when writing your proposal. Please describe the focus of the proposed session: 1000 words or less for a concurrent panel, 250 words or less for an individual proposal. Please also clearly select three area clusters for your proposal.

Be sure that your proposal considers the conference themes and the five main criteria as listed on the guidelines page: 1) how the proposal is situated in the field, 2) its main focus, 3) what is innovative and new, 4) how it is audience-oriented and performative, 5) how it is inclusive, aware of social justice concerns, and/or engaged with political aims, discourses, and ideas, and 6) how it adds new or underrepresented voices or texture to the discussion.

If you have questions and/or concerns, feel free to email Lisa Tremain at: lisa.tremain@humboldt.edu.

 

CCCC 2018 Pittsburgh Panel Proposal

Samuel Stinson and I are putting together a panel to propose for Cs next year in Pittsburgh. Potentially, we could submit this for consideration as the standing group panel, but if it is not chosen for that, we will still submit normally. We are looking for two or three others to join us in a roundtable discussion of different approaches to WAW, the differences in theory and axiology behind them, and how WAW proponents should understand, discuss, and debate these differences. The following is our current draft of the proposal introduction:

How do you WAW? Enacting Writing about Writing pedagogies: Which one? What is your goal, and by what should your performance be Measured?

Writing about writing (Downs & Wardle 2007) has become an increasingly popular approach to teaching first-year writing courses, but as with writing instruction in general, individual instructors enact and perform WAW differently (see Downs & Wardle 2012). While Wardle and Downs (2014), as the most well-known WAW proponents have largely downplayed the significance of these variations in WAW, with Downs going so far as to say that “there really isn’t a wrong way to do things; there are practically infinite number of good ways” to teach a WAW course (296), choices about how to implement, to perform, WAW in a classroom imply differences in theory, axiology, and, therefore, desired outcomes. Other approaches to WAW (see Bishop 2004; DeJoy 2004; Dew 2003; Sargent & Paraskevas 2005), while they all forward writing studies scholarship as content, select different scholars, require different assignments, and seek to see different developments in students’ writing, requiring that both students and WAW approaches be assessed differently in order to avoid the category mistake of teaching for one result but assessing for another (see Fulkerson 1979).

In this roundtable, the speakers will each briefly describe their WAW course and the values (axiology) that underlie their choices about which writing concepts, purposes, and pedagogical commitments they emphasize in their courses. Second, the presenters will discuss what WAW proponents should do with the diversity of values evident in different approaches to WAW.

 

We are particularly looking for presenters who employ WAW approaches that focus on language, literacy, writing studies as a discipline, identity and culture, etc. My own contribution will be on the hybrid TFT-WAW approach we’ve implemented as our standard FYC curriculum at my institution. We’d like as wide a variety in the 4 or 5 presenters as possible. If you are interested, contact me at jwhicker@fontbonne.edu with a brief summary of your WAW course.

 

WAW Standing Group – Dr. Sam Looker-Koenigs on her new book, Language Diversity and Academic Writing

At our CCCC Standing Group meeting this year, we were thrilled to have Dr. Sam Looker-Koenigs talk about her new Bedford Spotlight Reader, Language Diversity and Academic Writing. Her handout from the presentation is attached; it shares her rationale for the course, chapter summaries, and a selected bibliography.

WAW Standing Group, CCCC 2018 Notes. Language Diversity and Academic Writing group.

During the WAW Standing Group meeting, our breakout group discussed:

The textbook: Language Diversity and Academic Writing by Samantha Looker-Koenigs

  • We recognized the diversity of scholars in the textbook as important. Some of us shared that our first attempts creating a WAW reading list for our students included mostly white men. More diversity of authors read in the classroom is needed.
  • The book includes excerpts rather than full articles because 1) Bedford had constraints about lengths, both for the textbook as a whole and for individual readings, and 2) because this allowed more readings to be included.

Literacy Narratives

  • This discussion began with a list of possible readings to use to frame the literacy narrative, especially one that addresses issues of language diversity. I, unfortunately, did not catch all of those readings. The two I did catch were Anzaldúa’s “How to Tame a Wild Tongue” and Alcoff’s “The Problem of Speaking for Others.
  • The latter reading is useful for moving away from issues of “linguistic tourism” in the class.
  • This idea of “linguistic tourism” framed some anxiety around asking students to engage in a literacy narrative that asks students to focus on their diverse language practices. Geoff mentioned hearing of an assignment where students were required to code-mesh, which included asking white students to use AAE. We all recognized this as a problem.
  • We discussed framing code-meshing for students using Canagarajah or Ashanti Young. In thinking about WAW approaches to language diversity, we discussed the necessity of helping students think about how academic writing already involves a meshing of codes, but that’s it important to recognize the difference in stakes for different language users.
  • It was shared by multiple people that literacy narratives often feel performative, with students engaging in transformation narratives articulating what they think the teacher wants to hear. Nick shared borrowing the “Theory of Writing” from Yancey et al.’s “Teaching for Transfer” curriculum as something students begin on the first day of class and repeatedly return to throughout the semester. This theory of writing asks students to explain what previous experiences informed their ideas about writing, so students engage in some of the same moves as a literacy narrative but in a more critical manner.

Approaches to Assignment Sequencing

  • Several approaches to structuring the course were discussed:
    • The way the textbook moves through thinking about issues of language and identity to academic writing.
    • Working backwards from that: starting with readings and discussion on the ways in which ideas of “good writing” are not stable but context-dependent. Once students recognize this, then moving to destabilize their notions of standard language.
    • Linking discussions of language diversity with discussions of the rhetorical situations. Students can begin by thinking about what type of language is appropriate for a text message and what type of language is appropriate for an assignment, and why.
    • Working towards discussions of language by beginning with discussions of nonverbal language (i.e. graffiti, body language, etc.) to think about how communication within culture and how those communicative norms change. This can then move to official signs (i.e. stop signs), as codes that are written for us, before moving to language as traditionally conceived. John Swales’ article on discourse is useful framing for this.
    • Beginning with a “language autobiography” rather than a “literacy narrative.” The first week of class is ungraded reflection where students talk about themselves as writers. Students then read the Thaiss and Zawacki article in the text book and think about how some of the things they’ve been taught to do in writing are indicative of the larger moves discussed here.

2018 CCCC’s Writing About Writing Sessions

2018 CCCC’s Writing About Writing Sessions


Thursday

10:30-11:45

A.05 Ecologies of Learning in Writing about Writing (WAW) Programs Sponsored by the Writing about Writing Standing Group Kansas City Convention Center: 3501 C

Speakers: Sophia Bamert, University of California, Davis

Christopher Basgier, Auburn University, AL

Naomi Clark, Loras College, Dubuque, IA


FRIDAY

9:30-10:45

F.01 Writing About Writing Development Group Meeting The WAW Standing Group’s meeting conducts the group’s business and lets members socialize and coordinate efforts in WAW pedagogy and research. Kansas City Convention Center: Bartle Room 2207 Standing Group Chair: Andrea Olinger, University of Louisville, KY


F.12 Naming What We Don’t Know: The Possibilities of Writing We explore the pleasures of pushing against our academic voices as we write about writing and bridge the personal with the academic. Kansas City Marriott Downtown: Colonial Ballroom

Chair: Chris Anson, North Carolina State University, Raleigh Speakers: Anne Ruggles Gere, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, “Writing about Developing Writers”

Nancy Sommers, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, “The Secret Life of Objects: Writing about Family”

Howard Tinberg, Bristol Community College, Fall River, MA, “Life Work: What, Why, and How I Write about Teaching”


F.19 Writing about Writing at the Community College: Transforming Practices for Diverse Student Populations Community college instructors discuss challenges and strategies for implementing WAW pedagogy in diverse two-year contexts. Kansas City Convention Center: Bartle Room 2209

Speakers: Angelique Johnston, Monroe Community College, Rochester, NY, “Introducing WAW through Multimodal Composing in Community College FYC”

Elizabeth Johnston, Monroe Community College, Rochester, NY, “Introducing Writing as a Public Act for Community College Students” Miriam Moore, Lord Fairfax Community College, Middletown, VA, “Teaching Integrated Reading and Writing: WAW Texts in ALP and ESL Classrooms”

2:00-3:15

I.06 Engaging Technical Writing: Exigencies and Positionality of Professional Writing in Writing Programs Misfit between WaW and technical writing courses; teaching technical writing “service” courses; TechComm researcher positionality in scholarship. Kansas City Marriott Downtown: Julia Lee A

Chair: Stacey Sheriff, Colby College, Waterville, ME

Speakers: Casey Akins, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, “Insider Positionality in Technical Communication Scholarship: A Quantitative Inquiry”

Lara Kattekola, LaGuardia Community College, CUNY, Long Island City, NY, “The Politics of Teaching the Black Sheep of the English Department (aka the Technical Writing ‘Service’ Course)”

Blake Scott, University of Central Florida, Orlando, “WaW in Professional Writing: Differing Exigencies, Expertise, and Techne”


I.23 Adaptive Languaging? What Writing about Multilingual Writing Can Teach Us about Transfer This interactive session invites participants to engage critical intersections of transfer studies and multilingual writing. Kansas City Marriott Downtown: Julia Lee B Speakers: Lindsey Ives, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, FL Katherine Silvester, Indiana University, Bloomington Emily Simnitt, University Of Oregon, Salem

J.46 Hitching Pedagogy and Studenthood: Graduate Student Research in a Writing about Writing Curriculum Graduate students share their experiences using research to make sense of, and intervene into, a writing about writing curriculum. Kansas City Convention Center: 2503 A

Chair: Christopher Basgier, Auburn University, AL

Speakers: Casey Kohs, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, “In the Margins: Student Notetaking and Reading Comprehension in First-Year Composition”

Kjerstine Trooien, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, “Attempts at Pedagogy: What Writing Center Techniques Can Accomplish in a Nontraditional Classroom”

MaKayla Valdez, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, “‘Big Picture’ Reading and Writing”

Ashleah Wimberly, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, “Teaching for Transfer Is Teaching for Metacognition” Julia Wold, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, “The Knowledge/ Argument Disconnect: Reading Strategies and Their Impact on Rhetorical Choice in Student Writing”

SATURDAY

12:30-1:45

M.25 Digital Possibilities for Writing about Writing Pedagogies Speakers using WAW pedagogy with a multimodal focus navigate challenges associated with disabilities, digital composing habits, and conflict. Kansas City Convention Center: Bartle

Room 2215 B

Speakers: Geoffrey Clegg, Midwestern State University, Wichita Falls, TX, “Writing about Disability, Writing about Writing: Paying Attention to the Composing Process of Disabled Writers in the WAW Classroom”

Christy Wenger, Shepherd University, Shepherdstown, WV, “Beyond the Page: Using Social Media to Teach Threshold Concepts”

 

DEADLINE EXTENDED: MAY 4, 11:59 PM CFP CCCC 2018: Writing About Writing Standing Group Panel

Writing About Writing SG

Sponsored Panel:  Call for Proposals

2018 Conference on College Composition and Communication

March 14-27, 2018  // Kansas City, Missouri

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS  – EXTENDED TO MAY 4, 11:59 PM

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Languaging, Laboring, and Transforming

The Writing About Writing (WAW) Standing Group and the WAW Steering Committee invite proposals for the 2018 WAW Sponsored Panel. The sponsored panel is guaranteed to be accepted to the CCCC program when the Standing Group submits it, and we are reaching out to the WAW community to identify potential presenters.

What kind of proposal fits the WAW Sponsored Panel’s goals?

We are interested in interactive panels as well as individual proposals. We are interested in proposals that help us extend the practice and impact of WAW pedagogy or research, particularly proposals authored and co-authored by new and emerging scholars in WAW. We are also hoping to include panels reporting on ongoing research into WAW programs and courses.  We invite proposals that embrace the 2018 conference theme of languaging, laboring, and transforming.

How will the WAW Sponsored Panel selected proposals be submitted to CCCC?

Sponsored Panels will be submitted by the WAW Sponsored Panel Committee through the regular CCCC proposal system, which is why we are asking for the same information as the online program proposal system.

To be considered for the WAW Sponsored Panel, proposals must be received before April 30 at 11:59pm.  Please send your proposal and relevant presenter/panel information through this form.

To be considered for the Sponsored Panel, please follow 4Cs guidelines when writing your proposal. In 1500 characters (including spaces) or 7000 characters (including spaces) for panel proposals, briefly describe the focus and purpose of your WAW presentation.

Be sure that your proposal considers the conference themes and the five main criteria as listed on the guidelines page: 1) how the proposal is situated in the field, 2) its main focus, 3) what is innovative and new, 4) how it is audience-oriented and/or transformative to a wide Cs audience, and 5) how it adds new or underrepresented voices or texture to the discussion.

This year, according to Program Chair Asao Inoue, there are no clusters, only hashtags.  All proposals need to have one to three  hashtags.  The hashtags are:

  • Pedagogy (#Pedagogy)
  •  Basic Writing (#BW)
  • Assessment (#Assess)
  • Rhetoric (#Rhetoric)
  • History (#History)
  • Technology (#Tech)
  • Language (#Language)
  • Professional Technical Writing (#PTW)
  • Writing Program Administration (#WPA)
  • Theory (#Theory)
  • Public, Civic, and Community writing (#Community)
  • Creative Writing (#Creativewriting)

If you have questions and/or concerns, feel free to email Lisa Tremain at:  lisa.tremain@humboldt.edu.

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WAW Standing Group Meeting – Fri., 3/17

Please join us for the Writing about Writing Standing Group meeting at Cs!

WHEN: Friday @ 6:30-7:30

ROOM: C126
WHO: All are welcome, from newbies to experts

WHAT: Come exchange ideas about teaching, research, leading WAW programs, and other topics. And if you’ve attended any WAW-related panels at Cs so far, there will be time to share what you’ve learned. Afterwards, we’ll head to dinner at a nearby restaurant.

*More detailed agenda*

1. Updates on attendees’ WAW-related research and publishing projects

2. Small-group breakouts on topics the room will identify (e.g., teaching WAW to multilingual writers, WAW in STEM, What is WAW?, developing WAW-related research projects)

3. Elections of at-large members for Steering Committee
4. Discussion of ideas for developing our website

5. Attendees report on insights from WAW-related sessions at Cs

Hope to see you there!

-Andrea Olinger and Doug Downs, Co-Coordinators
https://writingaboutwriting.net/