I was recently asked to talk about creating effective presentation slides with Bo Bernhard's hospitality graduate students as they prepare for their research presentations (slides below).
Monday, November 16, 2015
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
I was recently invited to Southern Utah University by Dr. Julia Comb to talk about writing on November 10. She wanted me to do two things: 1) a 30-40-minute lunchtime presentation to faculty on bringing writing into their classrooms; and 2) a 90-minute workshop on writing practices for students.
Below are the slides from the student workshop.
Primary goals for the workshop:
Interrogate our current and future writing practices
Begin an inventory of current writing tools and practices
Develop strategies for finding and using new tools and techniques for writing effectively and efficiently in the future
And here's the point of this presentation: What's peer review got to do with it? A knowledge society is more and more a sharing society. Peer review is the first opportunity to really work out loud, even if it's not presented that way in class. Peer review allows us to develop skills and strategies for sharing our work, getting feedback, engaging with that feedback, creating better products, and incorporating new strategies into our learning AND WRITING toolboxes.
I was recently invited to Southern Utah University by Dr. Julia Comb to talk about writing on November 10. She wanted me to do two things: 1) a 30-40-minute lunchtime presentation to faculty on bringing writing into their classrooms; and 2) a 90-minute workshop on writing practices for students.
Below are the slides and text from my presentation to faculty. Since this was a buffet lunch, our thinking was that a hands-on workshop at this time would not really be as effective as we would like, so, instead, we opted for a straight presentation. My goal was to give them as broad an introduction and as broad an overview as possible. There's a lot here, and it only scratches the surface, so hopefully they'll have me back for a series of workshops in the future! :)
As with most of my presentations these days, SlideShare cannot really capture the presentational aspects or the music and videos that I incorporated, so if you'd like to see the whole thing and watch in "presentation" mode, I'll be happy to send you the ppt file. Just let me know.
Slide 1 - Opening
I want to thank you for inviting me here today. When Julia asked me to talk about writing with all of you, I was jazzed. Something that I love to talk about, some say something that I can't shut up about. But Julia said that since it was a buffet that I probably shouldn't try to do a workshop (maybe something that we can do in the future!) So I thought, instead, that I would try to give you some broad coverage on writing in the classroom. This means that I'm going to try to cram A LOT into my talk today. To stay on time (30-40 minutes), I'll read from prepared notes. Here we go!
Write Bytes appears to be a fantastic program, and can be used to promote important conversations that revolve around writing. And that’s what I’m going to take as my charge today: What are ways that you all can frame the conversations around writing for the future? I hope when I’m done that I can give you some ideas for future discussions, future conversations, future brown bags, future workshops. I'm sure Julia will be ready and willing to continue the conversations and arrange for future opportunities. But I also want to talk about one of my personal hobby horses: How can we integrate writing in ways that support our teaching goals but are not OVERTIME? In other words, how can we use all the pedagogical tools at our disposal, especially writing, and still maintain work-life balance? Before I answer these questions, questions which may possibly ask you to think about changes in all kinds of fundamental ways, I want express the sincerity of my message.
As I was planning this presentation, I read an interesting post by Kate Bowles on institutional change that posed a whole bevy of questions that she wanted answered before she would agree to willingly participate. To me, her questions capture the intellectual skepticism that faculty often bring to institutional change. And since bringing writing into classrooms across disciplines/across the curriculum often arise as institutional initiatives (not that that is what is going on here), but I found her questions compelling enough that I wanted to use them as a starting point, as a way, I hope, to convince you to take next steps and participate in future opportunities to bring writing into your classroom more effectively and more efficiently.
For me, the reason that I'm here is to show you that a powerful pedagogical tool is at your disposal and that it shouldn't be difficult to use, or complicated, or overly time-consuming (although, all pedagogical tools are, for the most part, time-consuming). Writing is ubiquitous, especially in a digital age, and so if it's not a part of your teaching toolbox, then that, in my mind, is a problem. And this cuts across disciplines and across the curriculum, something that very well could be an institutional need.
And while I don't know the specifics of your situation and how much you use or believe you need to use writing in the classroom, the fact that you have me here, and the fact that you are all here willing to listen and to engage, tells me that my message may be applicable.
And whether or not this "problem" is institutional, I will offer you ideas and starting points that will make your teaching lives better, more manageable. Obviously, however, 30-40 minutes to listen to me yap will not do it alone, but this can be the start of something better in all kinds of ways. Writing, for me, has that kind of power.
I'll briefly describe for you the ways that we have used these ideas in a variety of writing programs, strategies that helped writing teachers operate from a 10-hour-per-week perspective. In other words, we instituted practices that allowed our writing teachers to complete all of their work in no more than 10 hours per section, that includes Time in class, Time in office hours, Time preparing for class, Time responding to and evaluating student writing, and Time in teacher development.
And while I haven't spent much time evaluating your institutional environment, I do believe that everything I describe here today can be incorporated into your regular activities; more importantly, I situate all of my suggestions based on you making choices based on your values, your teaching goals and your teaching practices. They really should fit seamlessly with the work that you currently do and can add all kinds of value in the long run.
So, I have two primary goals for this talk today. First, I want to offer you a way to frame future conversations around writing, to give you a common language for exploring the possibilities in the future. Ideally, each practice and activity that I describe can take the form of a guided discussion, or a brown bag, or a workshop in the future. My second goal is probably more intriguing, and that's to convince you that doing more with writing, especially more at the front end of your course and project design processes, can actually mean working less! Yes, you heard it here first.
To meet these goals, I've split my presentation into four parts. First, why do YOU use writing in the classroom? Part II, HOW do you use writing in your courses? Part III, how can you be more effective and efficient using writing in your courses. And Part IV, what can you all do in the future to help make all this wonderful-ness happen? Sound like fun? Then let's get to it.
As you can see, my emphasis here is on YOU because, as I said, my firm belief is that we work more effectively if we can incorporate new activities seamlessly into our normal work routine. Adding something like writing to your courses should not be an add-on, should not require you to do MORE work, to pile more helpings on your already too-full plate.
To convince you that my vision is not cracked, I first need to dispel six common myths about writing in the classroom. These have been around for as long as we've had writing in the classroom, and they have been vanquished again and again, but they keep reappearing. So, I'd like to deal with them one more time.
When this slide appeared, I can imagine a number of smiles and internal snorts of derision, and while maybe none of us in this room actually believe that students spend enough time drafting, revising, and editing, we often assign writing as if this is the case.
In other words, many a writing assignment expected the kind of drafting, revising, and editing that you see playing out on the screen. For example, when we assign writing at the beginning of the semester and not require drafts or peer review or teacher review before final submission, we are assuming that students will do all of the work projected in this short video. But even if students do as much drafting, revising, and editing as you see in this example, they probably completed it in a torturously short stretch of time, the last-minute all-nighter. As I always tell my students, I'm not really interested in reading a first draft that you wrote at 4:00 in the morning on the day that it was due. But all of us recognize in this video the time and effort needed to write a quality paper, and all of us have labored over draft after draft before finally submitting it for review or for evaluation. Maybe we’re the exceptions.
But too many of us still believe that we will get a complete draft, one that looks like this one.
But, alas, too often we get our hearts broken and only get the first draft that, if we're lucky, looks like this one. So we have to know that without our help, students will NOT spend the necessary time to create a quality draft or even develop good strategies for writing well in the future.
The second myth applies most specifically to writing in the classroom because if we don't get the complete version from above, instead receiving too many first drafts, we oftentimes try to overcompensate:
The next two myths are related and are the main reasons why so many teachers break out into a cold sweat or wake up screaming in the night when thinking about using writing in their courses. Do we need to read everything? Do we even need to evaluate everything? And why do I see so many papers where the teacher has actually written more than the student? Why are there more comments than text? Is this helping any of us? These two myths combined are the basis for stacks of papers and overwork. But we don't have to look like this:
The final two myths get at the heart of most animosity towards writing on college campuses. There is this belief that there are teachers out there who brilliantly create these "publishable" writers each semester and share them all over social media. We see all kinds of testimonials of the high-quality work that comes out of some of these classrooms. How valid are these claims? To me, we might as well stand in front of a mirror and say the Candyman's name three times. As we think about the work that we do and the goals that we have as teachers, it’s important that we are honest with ourselves about just how much students can learn in 16 weeks.
But this myth leads directly to the next one: what is wrong with composition? What are you teaching students in those classes? And while I have this listed as a myth, it really is a qualified myth because they do teach writing, but composition courses and composition programs can not teach writing in all of the ways that all of the different stakeholders would like. There is no generalizable "writing" that we can teach students at an early age, no "content." We have to keep in mind that this is only a myth because the "fact" is that writing is not something you ultimately "get" once and for all, there is no inoculation, writing is something that all of us have to work on for a lifetime, and even then, we continue to learn new ways of doing things, new strategies, new practices. Come to the student workshop tonight and I’ll tell you about all of the ways that my own writing practices have changed drastically in the last few years.
So now we have a baseline, a starting point for thinking about writing in our classrooms, for thinking about writing in more constructive ways.
As I've said, and as I will discuss shortly, writing is a versatile teaching tool, so there really is no reason why you shouldn't use writing to meet your goals. I really want to focus on you using writing for your reasons.
Teachers that I have talked to over the years are often hesitant to use writing because they buy into the myths, or recall how writing was “used” on them. Writing was (still is, predominantly) used to deliver information (in “boring” text books and lecture notes), writing was used to test for recall (in exams), and writing was used, mostly in mysterious ways, to differentiate abilities (grades on essay exams and term papers).
Likewise, understanding how you write (and I'm assuming that writing is a social process for you, embodied in your interactions with colleagues, family, co-researchers, and reviewers) is a key to understanding and developing empathy for how your students write. It’s also the key to teaching them the modes, manners, and conventions of communicating in any given field. Teaching writing, in other words, is not just a matter of teaching students how to edit academic English (which is what happens when you emphasize surface-level “errors” in grading). And, as I'll describe later, writing involves the process of inquiry from start to finish, and modes of inquiry vary from field to field.
In this respect, as you can see, there are myriad reasons why we might use writing in our courses. So the most important consideration as you prepare to bring writing in your classroom is to think about tasks that are linked to key issues of the course, but also to students’ lived experience. Writing activities need to keep students interested in the task at hand and also develop and refine the particular skills that you deem important. Short, in-class writing activities can be simple—focusing on interpreting a particular text’s argument—or complex—focusing on the “big” questions of your field. Once you determine what you want students to learn or know how to do, it becomes fairly easy to incorporate writing activities that facilitate these goals. Of course, these goals should be articulated on the levels of the course, the module or project, and tied explicitly to particular texts or in-class lesson. While it may seem hard at first, thinking in terms of macro and micro outcomes becomes easier as you become more adept at designing writing activities tailored to particular goals.
Many of the writing activities that I'll be describing are not necessarily concerned with a final “product” as much as they are with capitalizing on the early stages of the writing process to assist students in identifying, exploring, and developing insights about particular problems posed by the teacher or, in due time, the students themselves. These kinds of writing activities are typically known as informal writing assignments because they focus students on critical thinking activities that help us discover or develop or clarify our understanding of course materials and concepts.
So, to reiterate, using writing in your courses should be about meeting your teaching goals and students learning goals. The advantage of this is that it allows us to articulate our work with students as transparently as possible.
For me, this means aligning with the goals articulated by our colleague at UNLV, Mary-Ann Winklemes, who is the Director of the Transparency in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education project. For me, these three questions can be applied to any activity or project or course that you design. Or if you want to take it a step further, this transparency (these questions) can be applied to the assessment that we do as individuals, as a program, or as a major. As I'll discuss shortly, you can design all kinds of writing activities designed to determine if students meet project evaluation criteria, course outcomes, or larger program goals.
For example, in our professional writing program, our program assessment begins in a fairly typical way, and this image represents for us the ways that all the features are designed to work together. We have seven program goals, and each of the outcomes for each of the courses and each of the criteria for each of the projects are meant to connect with each other and with these seven goals. And we want to be able to show this in our program assessments.
So, what might this look like? Ah, now he's starting to get at it. Maybe something more than just abstractions? :)
Historically, (well, since the eighties, give or take), writing activities are normally categorized as Writing to Learn or Learning to Write. And while they can be separate, they can also be linked in all kinds of fun and interesting ways.
Writing to learn are usually in-class freewriting activities that involve students taking a few minutes at the start, middle, or end of class to synthesize what they have gleaned up to that point. Tell students they should write quickly and efficiently, not worrying about surface-level correctness. The goal is to stem the flow of information and provide students the opportunity to reflect on lectures, readings, or activities. This “processing” time can increase retention. Also, knowing they will be asked to do this forces students to prepare more thoroughly and listen more actively. This kind of writing can help students summarize a text, define key terms, or raise questions for further discussion, create a list of key features of a concept, or tell you who/what/where/when. These simple tasks—formalizing their note taking—are the building blocks for higher-level thinking and help students engage the issues of the course.
Student responses may at times be fragmentary, but the act of writing will help them begin to articulate their thinking and allow you to design more effective classroom activities.
For example, a minute paper is an excellent end-of-class activity for students that helps them summarize, evaluate, or question the day’s activities and gives you an understanding of what they know, don’t know, or want to know about that day’s topic without a heavy burden placed on you.
Or you can ask students to write a knowledge probe on their topic that you can collect and respond to quickly and efficiently. This helps students focus more effectively on their research and provides you with a quick overview of their projects. Summarizing activities help students re-define key concepts or ideas by putting them into their own words. This kind of translation helps students demonstrate a more complex understanding because they have incorporated the material enough to think of it in their own terms, rather than just the regurgitation of textbook definitions.
Formal writing, unlike informal writing, calls for “finished,” “polished,” or “manuscript” quality writing. Moreover, these formal writing assignments should provide numerous opportunities to help students fundamentally improve their thinking and writing. As you know from your own experience, this kind of writing often requires several revisions, so they also provide an opportunity to model the effective behavior of successful writers.
For me, the formal writing assignment should do more than just provide a “hoop” for students to jump through, for any extended research activity should promote critical literacy for students and help them see how information is used in academic classrooms and as a daily part of their lives outside the classroom. What should distinguish the formal writing assignment is an emphasis on the relationships among writer, reader, text, and context, and the process that models the kinds of intellectual behavior that we expect from research performed in our discipline.
But, as you can see, while the traditional research paper remains a staple on many campuses, we don't have to limit ourselves to that somewhat archaic genre. Think about the kinds of writing that occurs most frequently in your discipline or the kind of genres that are most common, and develop a formal project based on that.
But as you begin to develop your projects, I want you to keep a few things in mind relative to these principles:
- Establish a reason for the assignment that meets your pedagogical goals
- Determine the skills that you feel students should develop in doing a long-term project based on a particular research method or genre.
- Determine information-gathering and research techniques that you believe students need to learn
- Select a topic that students can explore in detail and that will have some meaning to them
- Design an assignment handout that provides students with all of the relevant details
- Create prompts to initiate student thinking about the topic
- Build in-class and out-of-class activities that help students develop particular skills and lead them to the final product
- Incorporate the activities for the assignment into the course curriculum so that they coincide with the issues discussed in class
- Finally, involve students in the planning, reading, and responding associated with any formal writing assignment
In other words, the more front-end planning that you do, the less you work on the back end.
To show this, let me give you a bit of an extended example using a project template that we employ in our professional writing program. Our project process begins with an enhanced version of a traditional writing process. That traditional model was primarily individual, primarily linear. But, for us, we want to think of our projects as cognitive process and social practice.
As cognitive process, our projects (like students' learning) are developmental and recursive. Considered developmentally, we can describe our projects as evolving through these stages, but we expect it to be recursive, not linear: learners move back and forth among the stages as they work toward submission of project deliverables.
As social practice, we want students to engage with the class, to share knowledge and ask questions, to be sensitive to their own learning needs while, at the same time, contributing to the larger ongoing conversations. This open atmosphere helps students learn about and learn how to choose and use a wide range of strategies that will aid in their critical learning and reflective practices. We want students to personalize their experience with the project, to develop from where they are at, currently, in their thinking and skill levels.
For us, this occurs most seamlessly in the planning stage and the reflecting stage, a time when students can articulate what they want to learn and how they will do it. This means our projects need to be purposeful, have meaning to the students so they engage with the work (even if it's purely for their own reasons), so they feel like they are accomplishing things, DOING something. But, as I will discuss shortly, their work should not be limited to just the deliverables, which soon would become merely artifacts for a course, rather than models for lifelong learning, participation on multiple levels in an active constructive process.
While we want students to look inward for their learning goals, we also expect outward participation, as well. At the early stages of any project, students are gathering resources for understanding concepts more fully and for completing the work. They are exploring and reviewing uses for different software or apps that will help them construct more effective deliverables. And they are beginning to draft materials for those deliverables.
These early stages help students explore and establish a context for the project, so they understand it well enough to begin to discuss how their work should be evaluated. At this point, we develop the evaluation criteria as a class. This includes an explicit understanding that part of their reflection should address the ways that they met the criteria relative to their own learning goals for the project.
Once the evaluation criteria is negotiated and agreed upon, drafts of the deliverables can be completed, for the first time. On this side of the project, student work goes through multiple drafts, with time set aside for peer review and teacher review before they submit their work for evaluation. The goal here is to model recursivity, to encourage trust in multiple perspectives, to allow for the time necessary to submit quality materials.
We talk about performing higher-order revisions and lower-order edits before they submit a deliverable for evaluation. And the deliverables are the only items evaluated. In all of our courses, the majority of the work is participatory, a contribution to their own learning and to the learning of their classmates. As you can imagine, the key to all of this is time. We have to be patient and provide the time for students to explore, the time to experiment, the time to fail, before they make the move to final completion. And we think the final outcomes are stellar.
While we are technically a "writing" course, we teach primarily content-based courses at this level, such as document design and electronic documents and communication. This means that while we want them to learn content primarily, we also feel like they learn the content in more depth by going through a project process, by setting class time aside to model what effective writing looks like and feels like. For our program, we seek to create a networked learning environment that encourages a more collaborative approach to learning, one that privileges informal and situated learning, and promotes ubiquitous and lifelong learning, thereby increasing learner control, learner choice, and learner independence.
MUSIC – Read me two times, Read twice today . . .
OK, we've got to this point and many of you are probably seeing all the same things that you feel make writing an extra burden and more trouble than it's really worth. So now we can finally get to the actual point of this presentation: to answer this question right here. And in concert with that question, we really must answer this one, as well, because to me, it all comes down to this.
Let me give you an example. A fairly recent post on the Writing Program Administrators Listserv claims that when a composition program tried to follow best practices, their teachers were working 70+ hours per week. Now this post does not mention if these instructors are teaching a “full load,” but a speaker at a recent Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) made a similar claim, that if a teacher of composition taught three sections, then that teacher was automatically working overtime. Why is that? More importantly, if this kind of workload comes from “best” practices, then why don't we reevaluate our "best” practices? Best practices should at least be manageable. So one of my personal hobby horses is the concept of a "normal" workload. This is particularly important to the part-time instructor and the graduate student instructor. Growing up as a working-class kid with a teamster father, I try to define working issues within the parameters of a full-time workload. Reviewing teacher workload from this perspective means establishing attainable standards for successful teaching. Defining professional behavior in terms of the time necessary to perform the expected activities not only makes explicit program expectations for teachers, but can also help administrators recognize those activities and materials necessary for teachers to work more effectively and more efficiently.
For example, at our university, teaching four courses is considered full time (I know, I know, but I'm going to keep it as simple as possible for now), so this means that if a teacher is teaching full time, then they should not have to spend more than 10 hours per week on any one section, that includes Time in class, Time in office hours, Time preparing for class, Time responding to and evaluating student writing, and Time in teacher development. To assist our writing teachers, we offer a sample 10-hour-per-week schedule (such as this one from our Business Writing program). Our teachers should be willing and able to teach effectively within the parameters of a “full-time” workload. No more. No less. While some may argue that “teaching is more than a job and less than a life,” we all need to challenge the veracity of this statement (at least the first part). Teaching, we believe, is NOT more than a job. It is a remarkably satisfying job. It is an important job. But it is, at the end of the day, a job. And we all, at the end of the day, go home to a life. All of our thinking, all of our planning, all of our administrative energy should begin with an understanding of the “time” necessary to do the job well.
So, as a preview of my (somewhat windy) concluding points, 10-hours-per-week offers us a way to reimagine faculty development and gives us permission to focus on local issues and trust in the long-term, such as when we determined that our teachers were spending far too much time on student papers without seeing any significant benefits for students. This problem was exacerbated by increasing numbers of ESL students; we had several instructors who felt it was their responsibility to copy edit every single student’s assignment and mark every single error. Who was learning in this situation? Certainly not the students based on our program assessment. So we changed our thinking, with a 10-hours-per-week approach in mind. Our goals were to reduce teacher workload, reduce administrator workload, and improve student learning. To achieve these goals, we required teachers to respond to a draft in process and then (after student revision) evaluate it as a final product. And each teacher was asked to make this process clear to students. When students submit a draft to a teacher, they know that they will be given higher-order feedback at this early stage, designed to help them improve their draft and improve their writing. As a program, we make it clear to students that our teachers are writing teachers, they are not editors. The job of the teacher is not to respond to every single error; instead, the job of the teacher is to help students understand how to improve their writing by offering guidance where necessary, along with higher-order and lower-order strategies. The students are expected to develop their skills for revision/editing and are expected to take responsibility for their learning. We reimagined our administrator responsibilities by making program expectations for teachers and students more explicit and more transparent. Since we changed our approach, teachers spend less time with student papers and student complaints dropped significantly.
So what does that mean for you? First let me dispel a few more myths. These are key and connect to everything else that I'm going to tell you. First, reading two drafts does not double your work (and, no, it doesn't triple your work, either). You don't have to mark everything (or read everything, for that matter). And being "writing-intensive" does not have to mean separate assignments. In fact, I would argue that it absolutely should NOT include separate and unrelated assignments. Taking to heart that these are myths is the first step to bringing writing into your classroom more effectively and more efficiently. For I truly believe that all faculty have both the knowledge and the obligation to help students learn the writing skills necessary to participate in the myriad disciplinary discourses they will encounter. To begin, let's take to heart what Mick has to say.
Time really is on your side if you start early. You have to determine your time commitments and plan accordingly. You can assign writing in all kinds of fun and interesting ways, and still meet your teaching goals within the time you've allotted. And the two most important tips is to plan for the entire semester within the confines of your regular routine, your regular workload.
One way to think of this is by scaffolding the workload in your class. If you see writing as a tool for learning and a tool for determining what students know, then you can ask them to do a good bit of informal writing to develop material for a final project. From a process perspective, you can spend the first eight weeks of the semester in the invention/planning stage of the final project, designing a range of write-to-learn exercises that guide them through a discovery of the best topics for writing in a particular disciplinary genre. This means that you can review their work, their thinking, but without the need to put a grade on every piece of writing. You can certainly hold students accountable for the informal writing you ask of them, but you can use check/minus grades that help emphasize the importance of doing thinking-on-paper. In this sense, “ungraded” writing activities can be very constructive and help you reach the goals that you have for the class, without overwhelming you with paper.
Once they have some text, some ideas about what they want to say or do, then, to me, it's imperative that you take at least one class period to review a variety of samples of the genre, both effective and ineffective. This way you can have honest conversations about what you expect from their work and how their work will be evaluated.
Which brings me to my next point, creating rubrics, or evaluation criteria. They really can work on a variety of levels to establish expectations, but can also save you time by providing a language for discussing what you expect out of them, a means for self-evaluation in their completing the work, and a structure for peer review comments and activities inside and outside of the classroom.
For example, here's an evaluation sheet that I use in my Advanced Composition course. Students have to create a series of blog posts, and this lays out exactly what I expect from them, from an understanding of audience, to the resources they should use, the structure of the post, stylistic and design considerations, and whether they revised and edited their work based on the feedback they've received. Finally, reading two times really is about responding AND evaluating. 10 minutes per paper. No more. No less.
It's important to remember that responding is to work in progress. And, most importantly, this should be to a draft that's been revised after the students have received peer review comments. This at least forces them to think about it a bit more, to do a bit more before you look at it formally for the first time. And you can emphasize this to the students. Reading it in process forces you to understand that it shouldn't be perfect (think of your own early drafts), so it gives you permission to read past the surface errors and focus on content issues, like accuracy, organization, argument structure, claims, and support. This also gives you permission to focus on the 2-3 most important issues.
You can't fix everything, so don't try to copy edit, and you will once again focus on modeling the process and not creating a perfect product because too often the teachers do too much work to get that product to a "perfect" state.
And then you evaluate. This is the final draft. No more chances. Make it clear that students have had at least two opportunities to get feedback from their peers and from you, so this should be an example of their best work. You've discussed the criteria in class, you've looked at samples, so this should just be a final evaluation. Use an evaluation sheet to provide a brief commentary on the work based on the criteria and could (maybe should) offer suggestions for improving their writing skills in the future.
To summarize, some strategies for grading writing efficiently includes having frank conversations with students about the evaluation criteria, using a variety of samples that show good and bad features, requiring a first draft that gets peer response and then is revised before you see it formally, responding and evaluating their work. And most importantly, limiting the amount of time that you respond and evaluate. You can set your own limits, but we like 10 minutes. We do faculty development workshops where we practice with egg timers. 10 minutes. Another benefit of this strategy is that it gives every student the same attention. And this is important. In my experience, too many teachers short change the good writers because they have to spend so much time on the poor writers. 10 minutes really does work because it really does get you to focus on the most important features.
All of the strategies that I've described, I believe, can truly allow you to frame future conversations around writing and improve working conditions by creating manageable expectations for students and faculty.
Framing conversations around writing in the classroom does not mean dictating activities or prescriptive approaches to teaching. Instead, the conversations are about faculty development, which means that teachers have discussions about expectations, about standards, about definitions for successful writing, and articulating the kinds of support structures necessary for their long-term success. More importantly, faculty development interrogates and defines working conditions in the context of the kinds of writing that you want to do. Faculty development is more than making writing in the classroom better. Faculty development is about making our LIVES better.
I'll conclude by calling for continued conversations, brown bags, and workshops for bringing writing into your classrooms more effectively and more efficiently, all of which I'm sure that Julia can provide. Or if you're really willing to drink the Kool Aid, you could always bring me back for some hands-on work. Always willing to come join in on the fun!
Thanks for having me.
Slide 72 - Fade Out