Friday, October 27, 2006

ideas get away

wow, I am down to posting once every two weeks--not much of a model blogger, am I?

It's not that I haven't wanted to blog--I have just been a bit wiped out. Very groggy in the evening; I wonder if the lack of sunlight has something to do with my grogginess? Better get outside this weekend, even though I am trying to write three papers right now.

My memoir unit in 110 went smoothly. Students seemed to enjoy the "talk around" almost as much as last year's students. A nice low-key day that also has lots of learning potential. Students get to hear each other's topics, I get to try and stress the argument, I get to give them 30 seconds of feedback, and sometimes their peers give them great feedback. I didn't use the talk around with the commentary last year, but I think I will this year. The peer review day wasn't well-executed, but we listened to one student read--he was getting really positive feedback from his peers--and we looked at one student's paper on the projector. We were able to give him some decent feedback.

There is always too much to do and say in TA strategies, so we rushed through a discussion of Anne Wysocki's chapter in WNM. I don't know how much others got out of it beyond what we discussed, but reading her critique of McLuhan, then her implicit agreement with McLuhan, helped me see that whether McLuhan or a technological determinist or not doesn't matter very much. However we use or draw on him, we, in 2006, can do our best to NOT use the logic of technological determinism. Wysocki does a nice job of pointing out that we strive to support our students' (and our own) agency when we write the new media, but we also need to acknowledge the ways in which the technologies structure (or limit, or massage) our uses of them. Some version of this discussion will need to make its way into McLuhan for Compositionists.

Back to students. I asked them to bring in storyboards for their PPT videos. Last year it was like pulling teeth to get the storyboards, but this year, I made it worth 25 points and I asked them to bring the hard copy to the conference. They all brought something except one student, and she ended up doing a nice job on the spot, in my office. It was fun to see her work. I also had a student do some really good revising as we conferenced today--I guess the last two days of conferencing have been very good!

Friday, October 13, 2006

thinking about portfolios

Reading rhetorical analyses, seeing lots of potential, but worrying that many students won't revise. Also worrying generally about the "blow-off" factor--ignore one assignment, only three need to go into the portfolio, etc.

That got me thinking: maybe I should have each "pencil draft" be worth 50 points (which would add up to 200 points total) and then have the portfolio be worth 500 points--the revised papers plus letter. That would encourage stronger drafts (perhaps), but not destroy someone's grade if he / she did poorly on a draft. It would also result in lower grades overall (likely), but would also perhaps discourage me (and others) from giving really honest feedback (would I give out 30/50 if it wasn't erasable?).

Quick thought I didn't want to lose--back to grading.

Monday, October 09, 2006

You know you are writing a paper when . . .

it's 12:58 am and you are typing in your blog. That means a) you can't sleep because your brain is on fire, and b) you don't really want to write, because you'd rather be sleeping, so you blog instead.

Doc and I are messing with the classical trivium and trying to apply it to new media. I was actually dozing when I got hit by the so what, but I am not sure I caught it in my haze. I was working on this earlier in the evening, and it does seem like a number of people have identified various educational tensions, but they always identify those tensions in twos: rhetoric and philosophy (fish), orators and philosophers (kimball), rhetoric and poetics (Berlin), but the trivium suggests 3 ways of dicing and slicing research, teaching, and curriculums: grammar (now literature, linguistics, even history), rhetoric (still pretty much rhetoric), and dialectics (philosophy).

McLuhan often ends up blending rhetoric and grammar, and he more or less suggested in his diss that grammar (the collecting, sorting, categorizing, and interpreting of texts, including the book of nature) is necessary to support both rhetoric (eloquent wisdom) and dialectic (the pursuit of truth). Maybe what struck me as I was trying to fall asleep was that grammar (in the classical senses) has indeed been under attack in two ways that we need to articulate in this article:

1. the dialecticians pick away at the limitation of grammatical categories and labels, and
2. the rhetoricians of the 20th century teach their subject (our subject, my subject) as if we don't need all that wisdom, all those texts. We teach writing without Literature, and we teach "new media" without giving ourselves (in some cases) and our students a grounding / history / sense of the scope of new media.

We rhetoricians need the grammarians, and, despite what McLuhan thinks, we need the dialecticians. Or we need to be able to play all three in our classrooms and in our curriculums.

On a metanote, writing in a blog, ten minutes a day (as metaphor, not literal), is liberating. I have been grinding and hacking away at that essay when I can over the weekend, but the writing is slow and difficult when done within the essay as a whole. I came to the nice open space of the blog, and the dialogue box was mine to fill-up. This essay started with a blog note, developed through other notes, and will undoubtedly need get stretched out via blogging along the way.

Monday, October 02, 2006

More collections of thoughts

Not blogging enough to keep entries to a single topic, so here go a few more note(card)s:

1. Michael Ferris, MA student at Oregon State, dropped by Ten A Day and seemed interested in the teaching blogs collected at my bloglines account. I'm still a little freaked out when people stumble across my blog, because I don't have many identifiers on it, and I am not part of anybody's A, B, or C list, but it was nice that Michael found the site. I have enjoyed reading his blog as much as any other blog on my blogroll.

2. I noticed that Paula had a weekend away from teaching and school in general, and the same was true for me--sort of. Gave me a chance to do some scholarship: the relevance of the classical trivium for new media. I wrote about that on the blog way back in August, but haven't had a chance to do anything with it since then. Writing is good, writing is therapeutic, writing is my job--if only I could do it for 10 minutes a day.

3. The TAs are working on literacy narratives / memoirs. They seem a little bit nervous about the assignment (asking me what I am looking for, how long (just kidding), and stuff like that), but I am really excited to see where their memoirs go. I have seen some drafts and talked to a few people: great material.