Discussion

The purpose of this Discussion Forum is to give you an opportunity to synthesize and reflect on the content you have encountered on this site, to identify new questions these materials raised, and to revisit existing questions that may not have been fully answered for you.

Please write a response to the following question, and enter it in the Comment field below. Please indicate the name of the course in which you are teaching as part of your response. Also consider writing a reply to at least one colleague’s post (you might add another perspective, add another question, or contribute additional thoughts).

Teaching writing involves many variables. What questions, concerns, and/or thoughts do you have about balancing these variables in your classroom this fall?

One thought on “Discussion

  • August 7, 2017 at 1:40 pm
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    I will be teaching Honors 241 in the Fall and have previously been a GSI for two other writing-heavy classes in sociology and in philosophy. After reading the materials, I had one question and caught one example in the resources that matched up with a great activity I did last semester for building low stakes writing prompts into section.

    One thing that I have struggled with, as I’m sure many others have, is teaming up with other GSIs in a class to ensure that the grades, expectations, and levels of engagement/discussion are similar across sections. I ran into a problem last semester where I worked on paper writing more often than my co-GSI despite similar lesson plans, which led to tensions among students within the class. While open communication and developing rubrics can help to eliminate some of this tension, how might GSIs better work with each other to ensure that grading standards, and the quality of work being produced, are more similar across sections?

    One activity I found useful in teaching was to provide random writing prompts throughout the semester to check on how my students were advancing with their writing skills. The prompts were low stakes, but also ensured that students kept up with the reading in philosophy (which was often heavy). I could then track how well my students were understanding counterarguments and assumptions. After providing 15 minutes for writing, I broke students up into small groups and had them share and provide feedback or come up with stronger counterarguments during the low stakes assignments. This meant that when their paper topics were ready to be discussed in class, students had already built a culture around providing feedback and working with each other in class. One problem with this set-up is that my discussion sections were 2 hours long, providing more than enough time to take a dive into course material after a writing session. For one-hour sections, this is often more difficult to provide in class discussions, as well as a longer writing piece, but the activity can be shortened in smaller classes.

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