(Today’s blog post comes from Christina Bethel, PhD candidate and graduate teaching assistant in the department of English. Christina teaches primarily first-year writing courses; in her research, she investigates identity and the impact of identity performance on student writing practices.)
by Christina Bethel
In Fall 2011, the Tar River Writing Project, in conjunction with the ECU English and Education departments, hosted the first National Day on Writing celebration at ECU, attended by around 200 local public school students and teachers. The event was such a success that we decided to expand the celebration. The Tar River Writing Project’s mission for this event is to engage local K-College students and teachers, as well as community members, in fun and enriching writing experiences. This year, the TRWP joined the University Writing Program, Joyner Library, and the Department of English in sponsoring the 2012 National Day on Writing @ ECU.
At the K-12 level, we brought over 500 students to campus on October 19, 2012. During the half-day field trip, students participated in three writing activities. For elementary and middle school students, we offered two new activities: a scene writing workshop, led by Hector Garza (Theatre & Dance), and a Halloween-themed writing workshop, facilitated by English department faculty Randall Martoccia and Jenn Sisk. We also offered our two most popular activities from last year: a digital writing studio (led by Stephanie West-Puckett and Rob Puckett) and a graffiti wall (led by former ECU art instructor Cynthia Gibb). In our exit survey, students wrote that they enjoyed rapping about their favorite foods, expressing themselves through words and art, sharing their writing aloud with others, and getting to hear what great writers their peers and classmates are!
(Today’s blog post comes from Hector Garza, Assistant Professor of Theatre History and Literature. In 2011-12, Hector served as the Vice Chair of the Writing Across the Curriculum Committee during its first year back as a standing Faculty Senate committee; this year, Hector has taken on the role of chair of that committee. If you have questions about the curriculum process for WI courses, you can contact Hector Garza at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
It is an honor and a privilege to serve as chair of the Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) committee. This is my second year as a member of the WAC committee, and I served as vice chair last year. The committee’s primary focus this year is to support the initiatives of the Quality Enhancement Project (QEP). We are in the process of evaluating and revising the proposal for obtaining WI designation so that it reflects the goals outlined by the QEP’s “Write Where You Belong” initiative. We are using the resources and momentum of the QEP to better articulate the importance of writing in the process of learning.
My association with the writing program date back to my first year at ECU. I was fortunate enough to be nominated by my colleague, Patch Clark, to participate in the WAC Academy. During the academy, I was able to develop my skills as a teacher of writing. Perhaps the most important lesson I learned in the academy was if we are to truly engage our students in understanding writing as a process, we must all model writing as a process. Too often our colleagues expect that we, as professors of WI courses, are to teach our students how to be effective writers. I believe that we ALL have to examine our roles as teachers of writing. We have to teach students how to be professionals, which means teaching them how to write like professionals. Effective writing is distinct depending on the discipline: effective writing for an English class is not going to look the same as effective writing in a journalism class, a theatre class, a math class. Each discipline defines the tenets of effective writing. You, in your discipline, are responsible for inculcating your students into your discourse community.
My connection to the writing program has afforded me the opportunity to share techniques from my class with colleagues. I have had the opportunity to create, in collaboration with Kerri Bright Flinchbaugh, and teach Writing to Learn (WTL) workshops. The workshops are opportunities to collaborate with colleagues in defining and sharing best practices. I encourage you to come out to all the University Writing Program’s offerings.
(Today’s blog post comes from Stephanie West-Puckett, teaching instructor in the department of English and Associate Director of the Tar River Writing Project. Stephanie teaches first-year and advanced writing courses; in her research, she investigates digital literacies and the impact of digital cultures on student writing practices. Currently, she serves as the project coordinator for TRWP’s Project Connect at J. H. Rose high school in Greenville.)
by Stephanie West-Puckett
In Spring 2011, Dr. Ashley Egan from Biology designed a new course that would increase students’ awareness of the natural world and wilderness while challenging them to formulate a public environmental ethic. Drawing from her experience as a field botany instructor and from a deep knowledge of biodiversity and systematics, she was confident teaching the natural science content but felt the course would be strengthened by partnering with a faculty member who specialized in writing studies and the teaching of writing. I was thrilled to jump on board, and together, we co-designed and co-taught Wilderness Writing as an Honors College seminar that brought interdisciplinary knowledges to bear on problems of environmental ethics. Through a combination of scientific and cultural readings and discussion, intensive immersion in wilderness settings, and writing about nature for a variety of audiences, purposes, and media, students developed arguments about the definitions, values, and purposes of “wilderness”, and published ethical manifestos to communicate those understandings to a broad public.
ECU students write from the mountains to the ocean!
(Today’s blog post comes to us from Dr. Will Banks, Director of the University Writing Program and Director of the Tar River Writing Project, a local site of the National Writing Project. Dr. Banks is associate professor of Rhetoric and Writing Studies in the English department at ECU; his research focuses rhetoric, pedagogy, writing program administration, and sexuality. He current book projects, Queer Literacies explores the ways in which gay men and lesbians articulate literacies of queer(ed) identities.)
When university faculty talk to me about their concerns for student writing, I hear a good deal of critique of public schools, students, and their teachers, and all the things they’re not doing right. But I don’t hear that many people talking about anything they are doing to help or address this presumed lack or problem.
Except, of course, those folks who are part of the Tar River Writing Project, which again this past summer sponsored six writing camps for elementary, middle, and high school students, as well as two workshops for K-college teachers: the first workshop, “Developing High School Writing Centers“, provided a space for Jennifer Smyth, an experienced high school teacher and developer of a thriving writing center at her school, and Kerri Flinchbaugh, an experienced teacher and assistant director of the UWP at ECU, to help other teachers tap into the rich resources of their strongest writers in order to provide them with leadership opportunities through serving as writing consultants to other students.
The second, and the focus of today’s blog, “Digital Is … Re/Composing: Developing 21st Century Literacies Across the Common Core“, brought together a diverse group of teachers from K-12 public and private schools, as well as community colleges and ECU, to explore the complex and sophisticated digital literacies that today’s school-aged students bring to classrooms.
(This week’s blog comes from Dr. Todd Finley, Associate Professor of English Education, at ECU. Dr. Finley specializes in the intersections between technology and literacy and maintains a weekly blog on Edutopia related to issues of writing pedagogy. In this post, Dr. Finley informs the university community of a project that connects the College of Education and Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences with high school teachers in our community, one goal of which is improving writing and writing instruction.)
by Dr. Todd Finley
Supported by a large grant from the U.S. Department of Education, the Teacher Quality Partnership (TQP) is a collaboration between ECU’s College of Education and the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, as well as Pitt and Greene County Schools—all joined to enrich prospective teachers’ experiences and demonstrably improve the academic achievement of their public school students. These objectives are being accomplished by focusing on improving teaching and learning in four content areas: language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies.
Dr. Betty Beacham, TQP primary investigator, explains, “Faculty from secondary education and educational foundations programs were identified to become members of the TQP secondary design team. The team began exploring ways to merge the previous TQP curriculum and clinical practice reform in elementary, middle grades, and special education with the secondary curriculum reform driven by the Common Core.