Professor Jessica Yood
Eng 783: Teaching Practicum
Lehman College, CUNY, Fall 2011, Tuesdays, 2:00pm-4:40pm

Dear Colleagues,

Welcome to teaching college writing, the teaching practicum, and to Lehman College. I hope the end of the summer has prepared you for the “starting over” feeling that always happens with a new semester; I’m slowly coming to that fall reality. I hope this letter helps us both get acquainted to what will follow in the next fourteen weeks.

I’ve been teaching college writing for fifteen years and researching and writing in the fields of composition, rhetoric, literary and cultural studies since 1995, when I began my doctoral work. Since 2000, I’ve been a faculty member in the English department here, teaching writing and literature in the undergraduate and graduate programs and coordinating the Writing Across the Curriculum program. This semester I am teaching a class at the Graduate Center, on research methods in English studies. But this is my first time doing the teaching practicum, and it’s an honor. I see this course as an opportunity for you to try out ideas and strategies in the classroom and among your peers, and to have the benefit of feedback from me and from your colleagues. 

There are two central theoretical positions that drive my sense of teaching—engagement and connection. Here we’ll be exploring how to connect to students, how to link students’ lives to the writing life and to the life of writing, and, ultimately how to engage students in ideas and issues that will contribute to their success as readers and writers, in college and beyond. Towards that end, we will work with our schedules to be sure to observe at least two teachers, two times, and to consider these examples within the context of your own emerging pedagogy, that of your colleagues’, and those of the theorists we will read.

The readings chosen are well-known books and articles that support teachers in the practical matters of effective writing pedagogy. There are two required texts, one representing the major conflicts and dominant positions that the field of composition has put forward, the other is a very hands-on guidebook for teaching writing (and for teaching with writing, if you end up not in a writing classroom).   

I’ve also included a “recommended reading” list, which expands on disciplinary debates in composition and on approaches and strategies. Please know that the dominant feature of this course will be experimenting with best practices in the teaching of writing (and exploring their theoretical roots). But as we observe each other teaching, trade assignments, workshop student papers, and read about pedagogy, I encourage you to make connections between what you are teaching and where your scholarly self is going. Should any aspect of composition and rhetoric interest you (or should the connections between these fields and others disciplines, like cultural studies or literary studies for example) interest you, please feel free to use the class to explore this intellectual direction. Whenever we are curious as scholar-teachers, I think our students benefit. So while this angle of the course may not have the immediately apparent “practical” benefit, I think it will fuel good teaching. 

I look forward to getting to know you and working together,
Prof. Jessica Yood

Official Course Goals and Outcomes
Students will be exposed to the major pedagogical theories and practices available in the field of teaching writing and have ample hands-on experience with assignment generation, responding to student writing, in-class student activities, and managing the demands and rewards of a diverse student body. By the course’s end, students will have been exposed to a variety of methods of teaching writing and will reflect on and get constructed feedback on their own teaching. Finally, students will create an academic essay about a theory and practice of teaching writing. This essay may become a publishable piece of scholarship, and students will be guided to how to write for publication in the field of composition and rhetoric.

Because we meet only once a week, and because we will conduct the class as a workshop, I ask that if you are going to be out please email beforehand and check blackboard for updates. Failure to attend most of the classes (maximum three excused absences) will result in a grade lowering. For this class, the blackboard site is located as a Lehman College course (though this is also, officially at Graduate Center course). Please login with your Lehman College email. 

The major piece of writing will be a semester-long teaching journal that you will revise into an essay, due the last week of class.  The journal will be a 

  • record—ethnographic account—of your teaching (what happens in the classroom, reflections on preparing for class, student work observations);
  • observations of two other teachers (reflections on two other teachers’ syllabi and assignments and observation of two of his or her classes);
  • analysis of the “materials” of your course (your assignments, student writing, and a close-study of at least two students’ work).

The final “high stakes” assignment will ask that you select one piece of that journal to turn into a short essay (conference length—6-8 pages). Please gear it for an audience of other writing teacher-scholars and connect your observations and reflections to ideas and controversies discussed in our readings (and to readings not from the course that inspire or provoke you as a teacher). We will share version so of this final paper in class, and should you like to write it for a conference/peer-reviewed journal, I will advise you how to do that.

There will be several assignments that will come before this one, to scaffold this high-stakes project. First, students will check in frequently to the Blackboard site and will participate in Discussion Board questions. Secondly, each student will be ready to workshop one assignment from their class and will bring in two pieces of writing to share, so we can work together to find effective ways of responding to student work. You should choose two pieces of student writing from two different student-writers, so we get some variety. Please make enough copies of the student writing and the assignment for the whole group (and take off the name of the student).

Texts (available on any online bookstore)
John Bean, Engaging Ideas (Jossey-Bass, 1996).
Victor Villaneuva, editor, Cross-Talk in Comp Theory: A Reader (3rd ed, NCTE, 2011).

Duane Roen, editor (et al), Strategies for Teaching First-Year Composition, NCTE, 2002.
Anne Wysocki, editor (et al), Writing New Media: Theories and Applications for Expanding the Teaching of Composition (Utah State UP, 2004).

Participation (observations, journal upkeep, class readings): 50%
Final Essay: 50%

Working Course Schedule (first month only)
30 Introduction: What is Introductory Writing?
--handouts provided    
--review of Blackboard
--set-up observation schedule    

6 Expectations
Due this week:
Syllabus posting on blackboard (by Friday, September 2nd) and annotation of two or three syllabus and the Introduction to Don’t Call it That: The Composition Practicum (NCTE, 2005) Editor, Sidney Dobrin (you can find this online—we will just read the Introduction)

13 Engagement
Due this week: 
Review of Don’t Call it That,
Fulwiler, “Why we Teach Writing in the First Place” and Bloom, “Good Enough Writing” (handouts)

20 Engagement and Expectations
Due this week: Elbow, “Writing for Teachers” and Elbow, “High Stakes and Low Stakes” (handouts);  selected chapters from Bean. Visit your first classroom and write up the observation of that experience. Make sure the second observation of that same teacher happens over the next two-three weeks, no later).
Workshop 1 (Professor)

27 Engagement and Conflict
Due this week: In Villaneuva, “Introduction” and Murray, Berlin

4 No class today—Lehman College on a Friday schedule

11 Participation
Due this week: Begin assignment sharing (two students will present on an activity they do in class or an assignment they’ve given to their students). Students should plan on setting up the context for the assignment/activity (what purpose it serves, what comes before and after, etc) and should plan on having us actually do some of that activity or assignment right there in our seminar. Each student will have 40 minutes. Workshop 1 (first student)
And in Villaneuva, Bartholomae and Elbow and Bartholomae debates (handout) 

Due this week: Fulwiler, “Provocative Revision” (handout)
Workshop 2 and 3

Due this week: In Villaneuva, Matsuda, Zamel (handout)
Workshop 4

Due this week: In Villaneuva, Rose, Lu
Workshop 5
Check-in on teacher observations

Due this week: sample of your own writing to workshop (writing should come from our the class journal) and sample of digital writing you admire (bring laptops today)

Workshop 6
Midterm evaluations

22 No class today—Lehman on a Thursday schedule

Bring in your own writing for workshopping

13 Last day of class—final projects due

Important College Information:
Accommodating Disabilities
Lehman College is committed to providing access to all programs and curricula to all students. Students with disabilities who may need classroom accommodations are encouraged to register with the Office of Student Disability Services. For more information, please contact the Office of Student Disability Services, Shuster Hall, Room 238, phone number, 718-960-8441.

The Academic Center for Excellence (ACE) and the Science Learning Center (SLC) Lehman College has two tutoring centers on campus. The ACE provides appointment based and drop-in tutoring in the humanities, social sciences, and writing, as well as general writing skills and test preparation workshops for the CPE. The SCL provides drop-in tutoring for natural and computer science courses. To obtain more information about the ACE and the SLC, please visit their website at, or please call the ACE at 718-960-8175, and the SLC at 718-960-7707.