I'll provide a hard copy of the syllabus on our first day.
ENG 461-001 The Teaching of Writing | The Writing Teacher as Researcher Tues/Thurs 830am—945am | 318 Humanities Classroom | SPRING 2017 http://sp17teachingofwriting461.weebly.com/ | password: teachwriting
Dr. Hannah Rule Office Hours: Tues/Thurs 10—11am & by appointment Office Location: 203 HUO (Welsh Humanities Office Building) Contact: email@example.com
Course Description The Writing Teacher as Researcher [S]tudents preparing to teach writing in public school or college should understand important conceptual underpinnings of composition and the teaching of writing and should test them out in practice” (134) Richard Gebhardt, “Balancing Theory with Practice in the Training of Writing Teachers” (1977)
Writing is a “uniquely powerful multi-representational mode for learning” (125) Janet Emig, “Writing as a Mode of Learning” (1977)
It is in the nature of the reflective process for us always to be evolving. We never have the luxury of regarding ourselves as fully finished critical products who have reached the zenith of reflective evolution. We see our ideas and practices as needing constant investigation. In the aftermath of action, we try to find the opportunity to reflect back on the memories, experiences, and interpretations that caused us to make what felt like instinctual responses. When understood as a critically reflective process, good teaching becomes synonymous with a continuous and critical study of our reasoning processes and our pedagogic action” (42) Steven Brookfield, Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher (1995)
This course explores the theory and practice of teaching writing, mostly in middle and secondary school contexts. It is designed primarily to support majors in education and the Secondary Education English track, though it may be of use to students interested in college level writing instruction, tutoring in writing or other kinds of teaching. It’s not a requirement to know that you want to be a teacher, but it will be necessary to practice thinking like a teacher in order to succeed in this class.
The above quotations introduce three of the tenets that organize this course: First, that teachers(in-training) should understand and interrogate relationships between theory and practice—how our concepts, beliefs, and philosophies perpetually inform what we do in our classrooms and vice versa. Our textbook and other readings will help us think in this way: readings will provide background and research on important aspects of writing pedagogies as they relate to classroom applications and practices, including assignment and activity suggestions. Second, writing itself is a method of exploration, discovery, and learning. As such, you will doa lot of writing to reflect on the teaching of writing, and to experiment with approaches to writing in your own future classrooms. Lastly, you’ll approach your developing role as a writing and ELA teacher as a critical, reflective practitioner, or said another way, as a teacher-researcher. The writing teacher-researcher is an orientation toward teaching practice that emphasizes inquiry, reflection, observation, revision & redesign, and ongoing development through immersion in professional literature. In this course then, you will learn about important issues impacting the teaching of writing and you’ll have the chance to evaluate, revise, and extend those issues toward building your own approach to teaching writing. You will cultivate your knowledge not only as a future teacher of writing, but also as a writer, thinker, and professional.
Course Goals and Outcomes Any course in education won’t be able to equip you with formulas or standard procedures for teaching. Teaching is not formulaic, but that’s actually a good thing: the unpredictability and improvisational nature of teaching is what makes it both exciting and challenging.As a result, the course goals encompass habits of thinking about teaching, immersion in research and concepts in the teaching of writing, as well as attempts to try out “on-the-ground’ practices including the drafting of activities and assessments of student writing. That is, throughout the course, we’ll be working on balancing theory, research, and reflection with approaches to concrete practices you might try out in your own future classroom. Through this course, you will:
Become familiar with major trends and challenges in the teaching of writing; understand and respond to current research and issues in the teaching of English Language Arts
Engage in ongoing inquiry, including primary and secondary research methods, to discover knowledge about your professional field/the teaching of writing/educational practices
Develop a philosophy of teaching writing and teacher-research portfolio
Work on your own writing—write in a range of genres, including primary research, reflection, no-stakes, blog, journal writing, etc.
Articulate approaches and possible activities that can support the development of student writing
Experiment with response and evaluation strategies
Learn to think of yourself as a reflective teacher
Required Texts 1) Kelly Gallagher, Teaching Adolescent Writers (2006) (Available at USC Bookstores and from online booksellers at the cost of approximately $17)
2) Other required readings available through the Course Schedule (links and PDFs) Always bring these readings, print or digital access, to class on the assigned days for discussion. I recommend that you print and/or save materials for reference/use beyond this class
3) A 70p. spiral notebook, used only for this class, as your Writer’s Notebook Notebooks can be larger, but don’t mix in writing from other courses. (You may also need a simple two-pocket folder for portfolio submission)
Course Policies and Expectations Classroom Community Expectations Please be courteous and respectful of everyone, particularly when we are sharing ideas, both written and verbal. Please be on time as habitual tardiness is disruptive (and may begin to accrue as absences). Be prepared every day to be an active participant as it is your activity—writing, thinking, reflecting, and speaking—that is the real content of this course. Be sure to bring printed or digital copies of the readings on the day there are due so that you may reference them during discussion and other activities.
Technology and Multitasking Technology in the writing classroom presents great advantages, but also presents risks for distraction of yourself and others. You may use a tablet or laptop or even a cell phone in class to reference course materials, including assigned readings, and engage in relevant in-class activities. But don't engage in rude, unnecessary, or otherwise inconsiderate practices with technology. Resist distraction behaviors, as they can cause distraction and irritation for others. Don’t text your friends. Don’t work on other course work. In general, self-monitor your actions and be mindful of others.
Group Discussion Practices (submitted 1/17/17) Discussion (whole and small group) is a central learning method in this course. To maximize the benefit of discussion for all, please:
Be prepared (prepare all readings and notebook prompts, have the texts in front of you, prepare thoughtful takes on the material, consider how your own experience can enlighten/extend material)
Be respectful (receive and respond to new or conflicting ideas, engage with each others’ ideas, don’t just agree, avoid monopolizing the conversation, help get others in the conversation, don’t distract yourself and others with technology)
Be present and engaged (listen carefully to others, build off others’ comments, deeply consider questions)
Attendance Attendance in this course is mandatory. I’ll take attendance at each meeting. Based on USC’s “10 Percent Rule,” you’ll be allowed three total absences(either unexcused or excused) in the course without penalty. This means that illnesses will not be excused, even with a doctor’s note (though extended, severe illness may qualify as an exemption worked out on an individual basis). I encourage you to use your three allotted absences strategically. In the case of a university-approved absence only (observation of a religious holiday, participation in a university-approved sporting or other event) you be able to make up any missed work, if you present proper and prior notification and/or documentation. Penalties for absences beyond the allotted three are described in the Grades section of this syllabus.
Late and/or Missing Work Policy Late or missing work is not acceptable. The writing you’ll produce in this course will be evaluated in a contract-based, portfolio system. It’s absolutelyimperative that you meet submission deadlines, required revision deadlines, and writer’s notebook and blog checks. It’s also important that you keep track of your materials and draft submissions—lost work will adversely affect your grade. For assignments, I’m willing to consider accepting something after it’s due, if you notify me prior to the assignment’s deadline of the circumstances. We will then negotiate an alternate due date. It’s your responsibility to contact me to make these arrangements. I can be very flexible if you contact me ahead of due dates.
Conferences I strongly urge you to take advantage of my regular office hours to discuss your work in the course. In addition to in-person meetings, I am always willing to answer questions/respond to concerns via email.
Recommended Study/Work Habits I have found that students who succeed in this class tend to:
Take notes during class—in your notebook, jot notes while doing the assigned reading, listening and participating in class discussion, reading over classmates’ blog comments, during any instructor-led lecture, etc.
Keep up with the reading—find intrinsic value in reading; participate in discussions as informed by the reading. Read and listen to learn and reflect. Regularly and thoroughly write in the writer’s notebook about the assigned readings, when prompted and not
Ask questions about assignments—ask for clarifications, pitch ideas, bring drafts to my office hours, etc.
Contribute regularly to the blog (when something’s on their minds from discussion, a reading, etc.)
Avoid procrastination on major assignments
Speak up during discussion
Formatting Each assignment may require a different format for submission. Because we’re using a paper portfolio system, you will most often need to bring hard copies to class for all the major assignment components (so you may wish to reserve money for printing for this purpose). Keeping track of your portfolio work is imperative. You should keep electronic backups for all printed assignments. For writer’s notebook, you can either handwrite entries, or type and paste them into the notebook. For the major assignments, please follow MLA style and documentation guidelines: e.g. 1-inch margins, reasonable font like Times New Roman, Constantia, etc., double-spaced (unless otherwise specified), with correct MLA heading, etc. Please title each piece in a way that reveals/“sells” the focus of the piece (e.g., Sentence-Level Style: A Case Study of a 7th Grade Editing Workshop”).
Academic Integrity and Plagiarism In accordance with USC’s Honor Code, it is your responsibility to avoid dishonesty, fraud, or deceit in your work in this course (and all your courses). As writing is our main activity, in particular it is your responsibility to avoid plagiarism. Violations of the University's Honor Code include, but are not limited to, presenting another’s ideas as your own, improperly citing sources, using another’s work as your own, allowing someone to write an assignment or part of an assignment for you, using the same topic or research for assignments in more than one course, and others form of academic misrepresentation. Any violation of this Code will result in a minimum academic penalty of your failing the assignment, and will result in additional disciplinary measures including referring you to the Office of Academic Integrity. For more information, please see the Honor Code from the Office of Academic Integrity, found here: http://www.sc.edu/policies/ppm/staf625.pdf
Accessibility The University of South Carolina provides high-quality services to students with disabilities, and we encourage you to take advantage of them. Students needing academic accommodations should: (1) Register with and provide documentation to the Office of Student Disability Services in LeConte College Room 112A (777-6142), and (2) Discuss with me the type of academic or physical accommodations you need as soon as possible.
Revisions to the Course Schedule It’s important to me to take account of the vibe and interests of the class as a whole. I’ve planned out our term in detail, but may wish to make changes (skip some readings, add some, add a notebook assignment, etc.) to the daily work in the course. In general you can use the initial schedule to plan out your work in the course. If course changes include changes to assignment deadlines, I’ll always try my best to give you more time rather than less.
Assignments and Contract-Based Portfolio Grading It’s my goal not only to teach you about ways of teaching writing, but to show you--through my course design, in-class activities, grading scheme and assignments—ways you might structure your future classroom. That is, I want you to learn not only from reading about practices, but by experiencing them.
In this spirit, the grading in this course is not traditional. There are no points and no letter grades assigned to individual assignments. Instead you’ll be working the entire semester to earn a final letter grade within the established contract-based, portfolio system. I recognize that this grading scheme may take some time to adjust to, but some of my reasons for doing grades this way are these:
Letter grades can interfere with writing development (Wilder; Atwell; Gallagher). For one, feedback received along with a final grade provides no opportunity for that feedback to be applied.
From a teacher perspective, giving letter grades on writing tends to make you focus on explaining the grade, rather than describing the writing and explaining how could be more effective. Eliminating discrete grades makes you a better responder to student writing, and in turn helps students learn and improve more.
Making each piece of no- or low-stakes writing (like the writing you’ll be doing in the writer’s notebook and on the blog) count for a set amount of points sends a potentially confusing message about why this kind of writing is valuable. It’s not about busy work or earning the points; it’s about the intrinsic value of sustained practice in committing our thinking to paper or in exchanging our ideas.
Emphasizing self-directed effort and goal-setting will hopefully encourage more authentic, intrinsic motivation for learning and improving skills in research and writing to communicate.
We will continue to think through the advantages and challenges of this grading scheme as the semester progresses: how to make it more effective and simpler, how it might be adjusted for a middle or high school classroom, how it aligns or deviates from the schemes described in our readings, etc. Any changes to the portfolio contract system will be presented and discussed with the class before being implemented.
The Daily Expectations: Creating a Community of Teacher-Researchers Solid efforts on these aspects of the course should be attainable by all, but failing to meet the expectations will result in grade deductions as outlined.
Writer’s Notebook Your 70p. spiral notebook used only in this class will become your writer’s notebook. You’ll use the notebook for Daily In-Class responses, notes, prompted freewrites, discussion or peer review notes, etc., as well as Writing on Readings, which will capture responses to the required readings. Prompts for the notebook will be presented in class and/or posted on the Course Schedule.
You should bring this notebook to class everyday. My expectation is that you’ll do basically all the prompted in-class and writing with readings. Additionally, you should some self-sponsored writing in this notebook—notes during lecture, freewriting or outlining before a draft, quotes from a reading, a note from discussion, etc.
This notebook is yours. You can do all handwritten entries or mix in typed and pasted entries. Feel free to doodle in it, draw in it, ask questions, be expressive, be informal. This notebook, however, is not private, as I’ll check it once at midterm and once at the end of term. Please clearly title and date entries in this notebook so you can better show me what you’ve been up to. My expectation is that you have MOST of the prompted entries in there and that you’re doing self-sponsored writing too. DON’T LOSE YOUR NOTEBOOK.
At midterm, I’ll ask you do prepare a little writing about your notebook which will help me evaluate your progress and provide a ghost “grade,” guided by the following criteria, that can help gauge your progress:
Terrific!—responding thoroughly to almost every one of the prompted Daily In-Class and Writing on Readings prompts + pretty regular self-sponsored writing
Has Potential –missing some prompted entries and/or doing only short hurried entries, minimal self-sponsored writing
Uh Oh!--missing several prompted entries, entries are short, minimal or no self-sponsored writing
Your notebook will again be evaluated at the end of the term (again, along with a little reflective writing you’ll prepare), earning a proficient or not proficient grade. Earning a not proficient at end of term will result in a half letter grade deduction on the portfolio grade.
Teacher-Researcher Discussion Blog(hosted on http://sp17teachingofwriting461.weebly.com/) Blogs and listservs are an important vehicle for teachers’ professional development and learning. Teachers share and learn about teaching approaches by writing and reading blogs. You will have the opportunity to comment on a shared blog hosted on our class site. The purpose of our blog will be primarily to:
help spur and continue classroom discussion outside of class
extend our thinking about course readings
explore additional resources outside of course content
learn from one another
engage in digital writing and public exchange
You’ll be asked to get in the conversation at least 5 times over the course of the semester. You are encouraged to get involved much more. I’ll post questions and resources; I also invite you also (but it’s not required) to share things with me that you’ve seen/read to share with everyone. At the end of the term, in a brief reflection, you’ll document your participation (copy and paste your comments) and reflect on how you’ve learned or discovered by browsing/reading/responding/ talking with each other on the blog. Not proficient participation on the blog (not having at least 5 posts, leaving your posts until the very last minute, responding only in briefly or hurriedly ways, not completing the reflection as advised, etc.) will result in a half-letter grade deduction.
Details about the midterm & final reflective writing component for the notebook and blog will post on under Assignments on the course website.
Attendance Attendance is expected in all your courses at USC, but you have three free absences to use for the entire term. And please do all you can to avoid coming late to class—this is always disruptive. 2-3 lates can accrue to one absence.
If you end the term with three absences or under = no deduction
4-5 absences = half a letter grade deduction
6 or more absences = full letter grade deduction
7+ absences will likely cause failure in the course (hopefully, this can be avoided by dropping)
The contract-based TEACHER-RESEARCHER PORTFOLIO The Teacher-Researcher portfolio will set the base grade you earn in the course (any deductions listed above will be taken from this final portfolio grade). Below are the requirements for earning the B, as well as additional actions/work that can raise your grade to a B+ or an A. Details about each assignment can be found under Assignments on the course website
To earn a B: earn a check on all 4 major assignments. No final portfolio submission is required.
To earn a B+: earn a check on all major assignments + porfolio memo + one thorough revision on your own + final portfolio submission
To earn an A: earn a check on all major assignments + 4th praxis source + conference & two thorough revisions + portfolio memo + final portfolio submission
1/2 letter grade deductions for failing to meet attendance, writer's notebook, and blog criteria
Scenarios about Missing/Incomplete Work and Grade Ramifications:
In order to work toward a B+ or an A, all assignments must be in good standing. Good standing means that you meet initial deadlines for these main assignments and well as any required revision due dates. Being late with work will negatively impact the grade you can attain.
In the case that an assignment or required element is missing in the final portfolio, grade will revert to the last level fully completed. For example, if you’re working toward the A and include revisions and a memo but no 4th source in the Praxis, the grade becomes a B+. If you don’t put in the memo, a requirement for both B+ and A, then the grade reverts to a B.
If you’re working toward the B, but at the end of the term, one of your pieces hasn’t yet earned the “check,” generally your grade will lower by at least half (that B would become a C+ portfolio base grade).
If you are working toward the B, you are not required to resubmit your writing in a portfolio. You only need to ensure that you have earned a check on each one.
If you’re working toward a B+ or an A, you’ll need to submit all versions of your work in the final portfolio.
It’s your responsibility to ensure that you understand the grading process and the required work. Please see me with questions as the term progresses.
Assignment descriptions for each of these writing projects, including instructions for the B+ and A tasks, are available on our course website.
If you have a question about your progress in the course or about the contract-grading scheme at any point in the term, please see me. Ideally this system will provide even more of a sense of your progress than traditional grading and eliminate the “surprise” of the final grade. Nevertheless, if you are confused or unsure about your standing or goals, please don’t hesitate to contact me
Dr.Hannah Rule | firstname.lastname@example.org | Humanities Office Building 203 | University of South Carolina