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· Wherein Some Administrative Rubber Meets the Pedagogical Road ·

Revision musings have just prompted from me a new thought. Why not make my stylistic revisions even more eye-appealing? For in my recent Mind's Ear post, I used the formal trick of paired columns to suggest my aim. I thought: "Why not go directly to the power of the screen to make it more colorful — maybe giving readers implied 'earfuls' of heard representations?"

So here's a draft of a memo I edited some time back, one marking the score in a classic game between school administrators and college teachers. It happily suggested itself to me just now. You'll see its point in the end, but note first my play among dark words (text originals), blue (strike outs), and red (scores), all playing themselves out fully, but still subtly, in my text. Naturally, styled instruction is my aim.

A Brief Curriculum Committee Report, 2001

Summary: Throughout April, May, and June, five members of the English faculty participated in a series of meetings devoted to discussion of teaching and learning in English 101. Topics covered included student preparation, pedagogical and technological changes, evaluation standards, desired outcomes, the ideal vs. the real, and the expected role of writing skills in our students' lives. The consistent focus throughout all sessions, regardless of topic, Regardless of topics, throughout our meetings the consistent focus was the relationship between college English our own courses and those in K-12 English, or between the desired student learning outcomes in composition and the desired proficiencies articulated in the Washington State Essential Academic Learning Requirements (EALRs). Unfortunately, although time constraints prohibited us from realizing the fullest intents of our original project our implementing all goals fullywhich involved collaboration including collaborating with the English teachers in the local K-12 schools our K-12 colleagues — we were still able to accomplish the primary goal of refining the project's primary goal: refining the our common English syllabus in terms of required essential outcomes and assessments. Further Indeed, all participants came away in possession of with new strategies and fresh perspectives that will should be useful to us in the future.

Evaluation: Ultimately, the English faculty who participated in this project are satisfied that although our teaching styles are distinct differ and our approaches varied, vary — student learning experiences in our various sections of English classrooms are similar in many meaningful important ways. We surely agree upon the importance of several outcomes essential to students' success in 101, including the following:

  • thoughtful use of appropriate information in essays
  • reasonableness/plausibility of the connection between claims and support
  • unity within the essay and the paragraph
  • coherence and sequential development of ideas
  • clarity of expression
  • mature usage use of the Standard English language
  • stylistic precision, economy, and freshness
  • and use regular employment of reflective revision strategies

Our secondary finding as a result of this project is Unfortunately, we are today forced to conclude that the criteria listed for the tenth-grade writing EALRs are unrealistic in both ambition and specificity — mainly by being too pedagogically idealistic. Indeed, all participants we all agree that we would be much surprised to find high-school students or recent high-school even graduates who met or surpassed these criteria. In fact, we now agree that in our more than 75 years of collective teaching experience we had never have rarely encountered a student who, upon graduating with an AA degree, could consistently score passing marks based on the criteria set for all tenth-graders.

Recommendation: Together, we will continue to help students improve their skills and knowledge in composition , modifying and enhancing our methods along the way by modifying syllabi and improving methods. Along the way, we will continue to consult each other one another in order to maintain in keeping a degree of needed professional uniformity in our class offerings. In fact, we will continue to be mindful that some of our students will go on to become K-12 English teachers, and we will approach our classes accordingly. But we will not put too much stock in the particulars of the Washington State Writing EALRs.

Just imagine what I can still hear in these dialectical alternatives to what our committee in fact discussed. Unfortunately, that old dialogue — as you might now guess — is almost wholly unprintable.

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An admirable lesson! In addition to demonstating the social nature of composition, this page also lets students see how even English teachers struggle with diction and phrasing. Thanks for releasing your work for classroom use.

Posted by Loretta Markle on May 25, 2005 01:13 PM


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