Originally, we were to read the Smagorinsky chapter that we chose for our midterm before class. However, since Dr. Benko could not be present, the schedule had been changed. We chose to pick our chapter in class today!
What Went Down Today?
The lecture…Dun Dun Dun!
Today in ENG 350 we spent the entirety of the time on the topic of the dreaded, yet exciting, midterm assignment. I put it that way because the task seemed daunting, yet fun at the same time. About half of the time spent was Dr. Benko explaining the assignment in more detail (actually I think it’s the most I’ve seen Dr. Benko lecture in a class). While going through the Midterm in more detail, Dr. Benko made reference to the “ENG 350 Midterm Tank Handout & Rubric” (which can be found under the “Assignments” tab in Blackboard), pointing out the key points of the assignment as the class followed along.
Some may say that the first half of the class was a boring lecture, but that could not be further from the truth! Upon discussion of the midterm, important references were made to tools that will aid in the completion of the assignment. For instance, Dr. Benko mentioned that information in this very blog could help us. Having a database of our daily work could come in handy indeed!
Furthermore, Dr. Benko was kind enough to provide a suggested schedule to aid us in the completion of the assignment (under the “Assignments” tab on Blackboard). Here is what it entails:
Week 6: Get midterm, draft task
Week 7: Work on outline + reflection
Week 8: Work on rubric
Week 9: Polish reflection
By no means do we have to follow this schedule, but as Dr. Benko put it, “I’m not your mom.” We are adults people! Plan it out! However, I would have to agree with Liv when she said, “If you were I’d get better grades.” Somehow I think we could all agree to that.
With the closing of the lecture, emphasis was made on generating our own ideas for the assignment, rather than googling lessons or task for inspiration. Since many of us have not had much experience with this type of assignment that was surprising. However, Rachel made the point that “you are getting practice to generate your own ideas in the future.” We need to look to ourselves for inspiration, rather than others for this assignment. There will always be time to enhance our ideas, through collaboration with others, after we develop our own skills. I doubt this will be an easy task, but I know we can do it!
Time for Individual Group Work!
Suddenly the clouds had parted and the lecture came to an end. It was time to act! We moved into groups categorized by the topics of our midterm. The topics (from Smagorinsky) were as followed:
- 4 Personal Experience Narratives (p. 56); connects to Writing Standard 3.3, narrative)
- 5 Argument (p. 79); connects to IN Writing Standard 3.1, argument)
- 8 Research (p. 139); connects to IN Writing Standard W5)
Within our groups we used huddle boards to brainstorm real world applications of the topics. Through this process each group could come together to work on ideas for their own individual assignment (Also, here is a link to the Indiana State Standards, which may be helpful with this assignment). Here is what each group came up with, as well as, some examples I found:
Personal Experience Narratives: Beth, Makayla, Liv(Here is a compilation of essays that I found that may be helpful!)
Argument: Benji, Kaleb, Brittany, Cassie (Here is a link to some argumentative papers that may be useful!)
Research: Emily, Erin, Alyssa, Kayla (Here is a link to a MLA research paper that I believe will be useful. This link has side-notes covering many aspects of a research papers!)
Through working together, each group was able to come up with ideas they could use individually. These huddle boards signify the beginning of our process on the midterm assignment. It was not an easy first step by any means, but look at those lists! I’d say we did okay.
What To Keep In Mind For Next Time
The TIB essay’s written feedback for our peer groups is due before class in the Google docs folder. Instructions for that can be found in the Google Docs folder.
Furthermore, we are to read Elbow’s “Options for responding to student writing,” and Straub’s “The concept of control in teacher response” for next time (located under the “Readings” tab on Blackboard). It is recommended by Dr. Benko to read these articles before providing feedback on the TIB essays, so I would do that first.
I hope you all have an amazing weekend, and I will see you on Tuesday!
– Kaleb Andrew Weiler
Hey friends, it’s Christian this time, and I’m going to recount what we did in class on Tuesday, February 16.
But first, housekeeping:
In case you missed it, the Twitter Reflections were due by class time. If you accidentally emailed Dr. Benko your reflection—that’s OK, but take the time to upload it in Box now.
We talked briefly about revising our TIBs. Continue to work on these, and incorporate revisions based on feedback you have so far. The next step will be creating podcasts, which we’ll work on next week. Dr. Benko reminded us that, though we’re about to start our midterms (more on this in a minute), we’ll soon be done juggling these TIBs.
Finally, in preparation for today’s discussion (and pop quiz), we needed to read Chapters 1 and 2 of Crafting Digital Writing, by Troy Hicks (one of those other books we bought for this class) and “No Longer a Luxury: Digital Literacy Can’t Wait” by Hicks and Turner (available on BB).
“Get ready, we’re going to start working our faces off”—reassuring words from Dr. Benko concerning the midterm
We took over half of our class time to review the assignment and discuss Dr. Benko’s expectations. The assignment is split into four parts, listed in depth as follows:
1. Create a standards based writing task:
This task will be inspired by the tasks presented in the Smagorinsky chapter we are each assigned (see Who’s Reading What). We should look at Smagorinsky’s tasks for inspiration, but ultimately, we are creating our own writing task. This assignment should be (1) geared towards 6-12 grader, (2) very clearly relate to specific standards, (3) be inspired by your Smagorinsky chapter, and (4) meet the four criteria of good task design (purpose, audience, rigorous intellectual work, and opportunities for ownership).
2. Draft a Rubric:
Dr. Benko wants us to craft our own rubric from scratch in this assignment; in other words we can’t use Rubistar or other rubric generators. When crafting our rubrics she suggests asking ourselves these questions: What does it mean to meet my expectations? What are my expectations? What does a good rubric do? What are the five points of this assignment that I value most—these are the categories that should be included.
3. An outline of activity:
This is not a full on lesson plan. Dr. Benko wants us to think about how we would scaffold this writing task and create an outline to map that process. Questions we should ask ourselves when thinking about activities that could accompany our writing task include: What is the task that I’m doing? What activities do the students need to do to be prepared for this task? What mentor text could accompany this task? How can I incorporate technology? What kind of grammatical lessons can be incorporated in this lesson? This should include enough detail so that Dr. Benko understands our intentions, but is not a detailed unit plan. It should definitely include the utilization of a mentor text and technology.
4. A short paper
This short paper is actually longer than what you’re thinking, Dr. Benko says, but we can talk about length later. The point is that this paper connects our task with all of the readings we’ve done so far, so “quote like crazy”. Also, the blog is going to become more helpful as we reflect on what we’ve already talked about and tie it into this short paper.
Things to remember when crafting this task:
Begin with the end in mind. What do I want students to do at the end of this task? Is it a paper, project, etc.? (Remember, it doesn’t have to be a traditional academic paper.) What do I want them to learn? By starting at the end, we are designing this topic with our goal in mind.
Dr. Benko recommended gearing this assignment toward middle school students because we can’t make the same assumptions about their prior knowledge, like we can about high school students. Word of warning: do not gear this toward 12th grade AP students. Dr. Benko isn’t sugar coating the reality; those aren’t going to be our students for a looooong time.
Most important: this is a writing task. Students are producing something written. Oral presentations and group work can be part scaffolding and included in the outline, but the final assessment should be individual and written.
The final is a going to be a revision of this midterm. Dr. Benko promises that this will be helpful in our construction of lessons in the future.
“Don’t be discouraged” Emilie says, “I really loved this task!”
Emilie created an assignment around building evidence for a crime in her Clue-based assignment, which is a great example of not being tied to creating that traditional argumentative assignment.
Who’s Reading What:
Chapter 4 (personal narrative) Hailey, Christian, Cammie, Cate
Chapter 5 (argumentation) Katie, Jacob, Ryan, Hannah
Chapter 8 (research) Troi, Jill, Maverick, Seth
To Do List:
- Read your chapter for next time (see Who’s Reading What)
- Set up a thirty minute one-on-one with Emilie before Spring Break (3/7-11!!) here; this should be set up after you have made a decision about your midterm writing task and have an idea about your outline.
- Entire draft due for peer review on 3/15
- Final draft due the Thursday after spring break, 3/17.
Finally, Hicks and Turner
With not too much time left in class, we turned to our readings for the day. Ultimately, we determined that only two of us were confident about how to define craft, so Dr. Benko split us into groups to create a definition. We looked at “The 7 Lessons Every Writer Must Learn” and tables 2.1 and 2.2 in Creating Digital Writing. My group talked about how the Huff Post article’s definition of craft was centered on narrative writing. From this, Jill R. articulated that craft consists of the little things that go into making writing unique, be it narrative, argumentative, or research-based. With no time for a combined group discussion, Dr. Benko asked us to tweet our definitions of craft:
One Final Note:
We talked briefly about Cathy Day’s Middletown project as a researched story; I found her blog and the Middletown project. It’s a really interesting crossover genre of narrative fiction and research-based composition, and worth looking into for some creative inspiration. Additionally, I was talking to one of my teacher-coworkers at the high school about this unit plan, and she told me that she likes to use Teachers Pay Teachers when she has to create a unit on material she’s never taught. While we can’t use this for our midterm assignment, it looks like a really valuable resource for our future classrooms; the material is reasonably priced (think $3-$15 for reproducible pdfs), it supports actual teachers, and if you come up with something phenomenal, you can sell it, too.
Don’t forget to work on your TIB revisions and read your Smagorinsky chapter. See you Thursday!