Thursday, April 26, 2007

Basic Writing and Second Language Writers

think that this class has taught us that it is very difficult to define a basic writer. Shaughnessy attempted to do this, and Horner reflected back on her definition, but I think we can all come away with a definition that fits our own needs.

While writing my research thesis I tried to differentiate between creative, advanced, experienced and academic writers, and found that the definition can either overlap, be close to another or mean nothing of what I thought they meant. I think the same problem holds true if we try to define basic writers. In "Basic Wrting and Second Language Wrtiers: Toward and Inclusive Definition," Matsuda (2003) writes about a quote by Slager (1956) and the problems faced with how definitions can pigeonhole students. Keep in mind that htis happened years ago. "To many teachers and administrators at institutions where ESL programs or courses were already available, “an obvious solution” was “to put the immigrant and the foreign student in the same class, since their test scores prove to be comparable” (Slager 25). Aren't we glad those days are gone? I do think we are better for disregarding this practice.

As this class comes to an end, I think that we will find that the definition of the basic writer doesn't actually mean that much to us. We will be more concerned that the students considered basic writers are in our classrooms, and instead of labeling them, or searching for labels, we will be wondering what strategy works best to help them.

I hope all of us have learned something, or many things, that we can take into our respective classrooms. I wish everyone all the luck in the world.

Works Cited

Matsuda, P. (2003).Basic writing and second language writers: toward and inclusive
definition. Journal of Basic Writing. 22, 67-89.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Issues of Attitude and Access

I was reading through a fellow classmates blog, and commented that I thought Pavia made a valid point when Pavia states, "students were at a disadvantage when compared to their classmates who were more experienced in using computers" (6). However, as I thought about it more in order to write this post, I began to wonder just how many students are "computer disadvantaged?"
I think it would be fair to say that basic writing students who are computer disadvantaged are few and far between. Particularly, if these students are incoming freshmen straight out of high school--I have a hard time imagining that they are not computer literate to a certain degree. However, if you take a non-traditional student (let's say a displaced mother of 3 who hasn't seen the inside of a classroom since the 70s and the last computer screen was monochromatic and required coding before any output could be rendered) then I can totally agree with Pavia's statement.
I think the important message in her article is that "I explore the writers’ differing attitudes towards computers, writing, and writing with computers" (Pavia, 8). So this tells me that she might collect some sort of information about her students--particularly attitutes about computer usage before she allows them to run free-for-all into a computer writing lab where some of them might freeze at the sight of MS Word.
As I stated in my fellow classmates post, I think there is a medium between lab and classroom that we can meet, and should probably follow some of Pavia's experience when thinking about using the lab as the sole tool for our student's writing.
Works Cited

Pavia, Catherine Matthews. "Issues of Attitude and Access: A Case Study of Basic Writers in a Computer Classroom." Journal of Basic Writing 23.2 (2004): 4-22.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Emergence of a (Reluctant) Reader

For this post, I chose to write over the reading assignment posted on Techsophist. net titled: Remixing Basic Writing: Digital Media Production & the Basic Writing Curriculum . One of the comments that stood out to me by the author was "I place a lot of value on process when I evaluate student performance in my basic writing course, maybe even moreso than in my first-year course. Because of the relatively small class size and the amount of face-time I get with each student on a daily basis, I have the opportunity to obtain a lot of information from them through reflective writing or conversations about the different rationales or strategies they consider as they create and revise their pieces" (McCorkle). As basic writing instructors, wouldn't it be a perfect world if we could concentrate on process as much as the author is allowed to do without the burden of placing so much emphasis on content and corrections? I think this can only happen in classrooms were the student to teacher ratio is very low. In the majority of college classes, I would find this approach to process focus to be to individually focused to be beneficial for the whole class. As an instructor of English Composition at a small Junior College, I know from experience that if you try to help one student, even if it's after class, with their writing process--basically serving as a proofreader and editor, then once students learn that you are doing this for one, then they expect it for all, and that's just not realistic.

Works Cited

McCorkle, Ben. "The Emergence of a (Reluctant) Reader." Remixing Basic Writing: Digital Media Production & the Basic Writing Curriculum Spring2007 April 11, 2007 .