Thursday 24 July 2014

Summer Tutoring

As a full time student nine months out of the year, the summer months always provide a bit of a quandary as far as how to best spend my time and how to make some money. I've done nannying in the past and this summer I got to spend two mornings a week with a friend's one year old son, which I really enjoyed. I wanted to branch out this summer, though, and perhaps begin to grow a private tutoring business. Craigslist came in handy and I was able to secure three students to do private tutoring sessions with. One man I met with only one time as he was wanting some specific guidance on workplace tone and diction, but the other two students I met with weekly from one to four hours.

This experience was unique for me because unlike a composition classroom in which you spend maybe one hour meeting individually with a student over a fifteen week period, I was able to sit down with these students every single week and speak to them directly about their growth in English and composition, as well as quickly and specifically identify areas where they needed further instruction and practice. The ages, backgrounds, and needs of the two students were very different, but I felt confident that by my final sessions with them they had both grown and achieved higher levels of success in their reading, writing, and comprehension of English.

What struck me most through all of the sessions I conducted this summer was the way that genre studies is so applicable in almost any writing or reading scenario. Genre studies and activity theory are the basic pedagogical ideas that the Illinois State Writing Program is based on. When I first started at ISU I was so confused by the idea of genre studies, and a colleague and I sat down with our WPA to simply say, what is this theory and how do we teach it? Although I was totally unaware of this type of pedagogy, or that ISU taught it, when I enrolled, I am forever grateful that I not only grasped the ideas, but have learned how to effectively teach them. Joyce Walker is the WPA at ISU and her article "Just CHATing" briefly explains genre studies and CHAT. This article is a great gateway to understanding, and helping students understand, the complexity of writing situations both within and outside of the classroom.

Although I didn't get as far on some publication work as I would have liked, I still feel that this summer was well spent. I was able to make some money, begin to work with students in private tutoring, and see the foundation of my learning and understanding grow deeper. The two students that I worked with consistently this summer had this to say about their growth in the sessions:

"Learning about and practicing grammar and writing responses has aided me the most."

"Learning about audience was most helpful to me because each genre of writing can use many audiences, depending on the topic and format."

Thursday 17 July 2014

Assessment Institute Success!

The assessment institute went well today! We started out the day with sessions on statistics and rhetorically based writing assessment from Diane Kelly-Riley and Bob Broad, then moved into our breakout sessions. I ran my first two sessions on race, culture, and identity in writing assessment, and we had really good discussions. The first session group emphasized the importance of recognizing language variation in the classroom, and we discussed the ways that we could help students recognize the value in that difference as well. In the second group we discussed more specific assessment strategies for looking at race and culture in writing assessment.

Laurenn and I ran the third breakout session on our Initial Genre Assessment. I really enjoyed this discussion. Many of the participants had really good questions about student reactions as well as how we implemented the assessment in our course. They also offered some really great suggestions for us to consider for the future of our assessment and publications.

The afternoon session was spent in smaller work groups. There were some really great some discussions in these sessions as well as the participants shared their various assessment and program needs and views. The following list encapsulates some of the discussion items and questions raised in this session:

* Learning objectives versus rubrics
* What do we want our writers to be able to do?
* The program profile must ask: what do we value?
* In workshops we must demonstrate how assignments meet outcomes
* What's best to assess?
* Assessment needs to be part of the curriculum

I enjoyed the opportunity to be an associate institute leader at the CWPA. It challenged my thinking and perceptions on many assessment issues.

Wednesday 16 July 2014

Preparing for the CWPA Assessment Institute

I am excited to be writing my first blog post on my new site! After a summer of researching and a lot of reading (although, quite a bit of it was for fun!), I am preparing for my first conference in what I would consider the 2014-2015 school year.

This week/weekend Illinois State University is hosting the CWPA in Normal, IL. I am privileged to be working as an Assessment Institute Associate Leader for tomorrow's session. We will be discussing writing and program assessment with a group of WPAs and others who attend. I am going to be leading a couple breakout sessions on the value of seeing race, culture, and identity in writing assessment, as well as co-leading a breakout session with Laurenn Jarema on the Initial Genre Assessment that we coauthored in the spring of 2013 (link under "Projects").

I think that this institute will be a great way to begin this new school year as a way to connect with like-minded thinkers and researchers, as well as a jump on Laurenn and I preparing our IGA work for submission for publication.

Off to write some breakout session handouts~


Find more information about the CWPA HERE.