(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.