I thoroughly enjoyed Ray Salazar’s blog post featured in today’s NCTE In-Box, “If you teach or write 5-paragraph essays … stop it!” on the Chicago Now blog. Ray is a public school teacher in the great city of Chicago, and he knows his stuff!
It’s bad writing. It’s always been bad writing.
I couldn’t agree more.
If you’re in the great city of Philadelphia for TESOL 2012, please join me for two presentations on teaching graduate writing:
- Making Grammar Choices in Advanced Academic Writing (introducing my new textbook, Grammar Choices for Graduate and Professional Writers from the University of Michigan Press). Thursday, 4pm, room 118B.
- Preparing for Excellence: Strategies for Teaching Graduate Writing with Chris Feak, Grace Canseco, and Jennifer Greer. Friday, 10am, Marriot Independence Ballroom I.
Handouts, PowerPoints, and bibliographies available here.
UPDATED 3/25/12: Steve Simpson, Anne Zanzucchi, Christine Feak, and I closed down the Conference on College Composition and Communication (literally, we were the last session!) with our panel, Preparing and Supporting Graduate Student Writers across the Curriculum. In our session, we talked about a dissertation boot camp, joint construction in the language classroom, the use of peer review with native and non-native speakers, and the benefits of genre-based pedagogy as we considered how our universities can help all graduate students turn from novice writers into proficient writers and may even expert writers.
Our handouts and PowerPoints are available here.
Comments, responses, and questions are welcomed! You can reply to this post, and I’ll be sure to share your feedback with the other speakers. You can also send me a private message.
I spoke today at Penn-TESOL-East’s fall conference on the beautiful campus of Penn State-Abington. My presentation was titled “Discovering Writing with the Teaching-Learning Cycle” and it followed on from my earlier campaigns “beyond the five-paragraph essay.”
>> Here are my materials: PowerPoint slides and handout
I was running against the clock, so I wasn’t able to do justice to this powerful technique for teaching writing. Continue reading “The Teaching-Learning Cycle”
I just got back from the Penn-TESOL-East 2010 Fall conference on the beautiful campus of Penn State-Abington, where I presented the latest version of my anti-5-paragraph-essay crusade: “Real Writers Don’t Do It in Five Paragraphs: Content-First Approaches to Academic Writing.” That’s what happens if you don’t give a word limit for presentation titles!
You can view and download my PowerPoint slides and handouts from this page. (Yes, those would be the PowerPoint slides I couldn’t show because my laptop died.) If you were there, I hope you enjoyed this demonstration of the dangers of using technology in conference presentations. Where are my OHP pens …?
Feel free to leave a comment about the session or the materials!
We are now settling in to our new home in Wilmington, Delaware, and they sent us a free copy of the News Journal last week to encourage us to subscribe. One of the cartoons — Tina’s Groove — was surprisingly relevant.
[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=dictionary&iid=1643938″ src=”3/2/3/7/Miami_Schools_Teach_b363.jpg?adImageId=12975402&imageId=1643938″ width=”234″ height=”156″ /] A mother is saying to her daughter: “If you want to get a more comprehensive meaning of the word ‘plagiarism,’ look it up in this dictionary … and then look it up in this dictionary published two years later … almost word for word!”
This raises some interesting questions, which I can’t fully answer:
- Do lexicographers (dictionary writers/editors) ever get accused of plagiarism?
- How close can a definition be to one in another dictionary before it’s considered plagiarism?
- Are there examples of the phenomenon that Tina describes? — that is, identical (word for word) definitions in competing dictionaries?
- In other academic disciplines, can you be accused of plagiarizing the definition of a common term, or does this fall under the category of common knowledge? (A graduate student in Nursing at UNC once told me that there aren’t many ways to define osteoarthritis!)
I address some of these questions in my online videos on paraphrasing and plagiarism, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on these problems!
Yesterday, I was excited to receive my copies of the new TESOL publication, Effective Second Language Writing (in the Classroom Practices series), which opens with my chapter: “Beyond the Five-Paragraph Essay: A Content-First Approach.”
In my essay — which is far longer than five paragraphs! — I set out the arguments against teaching (only) the five-paragraph essay/theme form, which I have been making for several years along with my former colleagues Andy McCullough and Ruelaine Stokes at Michigan State’s English Language Center. I then describe the sustained content-based writing course Andy and I developed at MSU for the advanced level of the IEP. (Another article we all wrote together appears in this month’s Second Language Writing Interest Section newsletter.)
The volume was edited with remarkable thoroughness and patience by Susan Kasten, and includes a total of 18 chapters on different aspects of second-language writing from around the world. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of it. Come to think of it, it’s so long since I wrote my chapter, I should probably re-read that, too, and see what I said. (This project was launched at TESOL 3 years ago!)
I’m glad that I saved the current issue of one of my alumni magazines, The Penn Gazette*, from the recycling bin long enough to read Denise Scott Brown’s essay “From Words to Buildings: What good is language to an architect?”
[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=chicago+bean&iid=3364983″ src=”d/2/9/7/Snow_Blankets_The_b291.jpg?adImageId=11079764&imageId=3364983″ width=”234″ height=”141″ /] (* I am an alum of Penn’s Graduate School of Education, but they keep sending me the magazine anyway, presumably in the faint hope that I might eventually make enough money to give some of it to the school …)
Scott Brown argues that language plays a critical role in the visual arts:
The client’s brief—a verbal statement—and the building’s social and visual context come first. They may provide merely a schedule of accommodations and relationships, or add qualitative instructions on character, performance, and context. Either way, they raise the problem of creating the physical from the verbal.
I find this especially interesting because this is basically the opposite of most research writing, in which the words come after the research and are an attempt to reconstruct the study for the reader. In architecture, writing appears to be primary: it is the source of the architect’s work, not the report of it.
This again points to the importance of knowing how writing functions in particular professions before trying to teach it to future professionals.