Week 2

*Helloooo!

We’re not meeting this week, so you have until the end of the day on Tuesday to post your comment this time. And our reading for this week builds quite logically, I think, from our discussion last week, so you should make sure to read the comments from the blog for Week 1 before you move on to Week 2.

Let’s go. And let’s start with Peter Elbow, because I have the sense that most of his argument will seem somewhat familiar or intuitively true to you if you were taught to write at educational institutions in the U.S.

This article has become canonical for teachers of writing in this country since its publication in 1997, so it is undoubtedly somewhat descriptive of the way many of you were taught to write. And as Elbow’s way of thinking about the relation between high- and low-stakes writing is foundational for composition studies writ large, it’s taken for granted in much of the reading we’ll do about assignments and comments, so I wonder: What do you find useful here as you begin to dig deeper into your syllabus, and to comment on your students’ writing?

We’ll talk more in the weeks to come about the best ways to comment on low-stakes writing, asking: What kinds of comments prove most beneficial to your students as they proceed through the assignment sequences– and what can you glean from this week’s readings to help you use your comments well?

Writing good comments is hard, and it’s time-consuming, inevitably, but it is so important for your students. How can you use your comments to teach them how to use their low-stakes writing for maximum benefit as they move on to the higher-stakes assignments that follow from them? And how can you use your finite time for commenting to the best effect?

Elbow frames these kinds of questions without too much explicit consideration of the politics involved in them, and I’m curious to see how you see the scaffolding of your assignments illuminated (or not) by the more overtly political contexts that are foregrounded in the pieces by Lee and Canagarajah.

As I was rereading the articles, I thought a lot about the conversation we had in class last week, about the politics of teaching writing at an institution where so many students are multilingual, or, perhaps, about the politics of teaching English 110 at Queens College in an age of global capital. I wonder: How are you extending your thinking about these questions as you read the articles this week?

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14 Responses to Week 2

  1. In Peter Elbow’s “Stakes and Low Stakes in Assigning and Responding to Writing,” his statement that “writing courses only work well if students need writing to prosper in their other courses,” is certainly logical. In fact, isn’t this what the Queens College First Year Initiative is all about? Pairing English classes with Biology or other subjects? Going astray from the article’s topic, I would venture to say that English classes should be paired with other subjects but that students should all be majoring in that subject not just taking it as their requirement. This way, an English instructor would have only Biology or History or Computer Science majors and could tailor his/her syllabus to that subject. Students would then learn how to write for their Biology, History, or Computer Science course and could, perhaps, even bring in their papers to work on in English class. For students who haven’t declared a major, the English instructors could use a wider range syllabus with subject matters that could entice students to find their interests and declare their major in History, Economics, Biology, Computer Science or, dare I say it, yes, even the Humanities and the Arts…
    However, to get back to the main title topic, I agree with Elbow, low stakes writing helps not only students to understand the course materials, (and not be intimidated by high stakes writing), and their reaction gives us an understanding of how well we are reaching them. In terms of my syllabus and writing assignments, I feel they should be more tuned to what my students’ interests are instead of giving them a one essay topic for all.

  2. “The Place of World Englishes in Composition: Pluralization Continued” fit nicely with the conversation in our previous class.
    I found Suresh Canagarajah’s examples enlightening: the Somali immigrant students in Toronto who learn “hip-hop English” outside the classroom as it functions as a way to gain social group acceptance and interaction; the Bengali students in London learning Jamaican English with their friends and rejecting classroom standard British English because imposed; and the classroom-silent Chinese American Californian student who becomes a complete extrovert on the Internet with his own brand of English “with multilingual speakers of that language (who also come with diverse varieties of their English).”
    The conclusive thoughts that Canagarajah comes to is that when “engaged in purposive communication in socially valued encounters,” students become more creative, responsive, and socially adept outside the classroom. The question then becomes: how can we put this engagement back into the classroom?
    In terms of writing, I would agree with the idea that minority students should have the option to use their own varieties of English for drafts but teach them copy editing skills for their final product. Giving a choice to students would empower and stimulate them to learn and express themselves without feeling that “the dominant culture of literacy” is the only valuable one in order to succeed inside and outside of school.
    As Canagarajah states: “My fellow villagers in Sri Lanka would say, ‘“Who the hell is worrying about the rules-schools of Queen’s English, man?”’ And they would be right, but they should have the option of learning those rules, in case they might need them one day in our global village.

  3. Eunjeong Lee’s “Korean is Forbidden” essay examines the negative effect of when students (in her particular case study, a Korean woman named Haram) are required to follow monolingual orientations. Lee’s case study is a bit problematic in that Haram had already taught elementary school for years and been a university lecturer in Korea. It certainly seems that an educator would evidently put up resistance when imposed an English-only rule for the purpose of becoming proficient in English. A different case with a younger student would have probably resulted in very different findings.
    The real problem here is that the English teacher’s rule was narrow-minded creating a jail-like atmosphere with students as inmates and teacher as prison guard. The fact that the rule proved to be completely counterintuitive to the course’s main learning goal “linguistic creativity in the form of writing a short story,” should have been proof enough to the teacher to see the failure of such a regulation. Fortunately for Haram, the fact that she was also an educator gave her the impetus to find ways around this by quitting the course, setting up study groups, and learning from internet sources. The main issue I see here, is that the teacher, by implementing English as the rule of writing and speech didn’t realize that he would also be erasing Haram’s identity, and in way, even debasing her Korean culture. This instructor needed to be a lot more sensitive, or at least much more aware of multiculturalism in his classroom.

  4. Elaine Housseas says:

    I was very interested in Canagarajah’s article, intrigued by his discussion of code meshing and its application in academic writing and the classroom. In his model, the classroom becomes a space that combats marginalization and exclusion and academic writing becomes “hybrid texts” where the entrance of new codes bring new knowledge and opportunities for both monolingual and multilingual scholars and their audience (611). That’s why, I couldn’t help but be struck by this moment in the essay: “I don’t want my text written in Sri Lankan English ruled nonacademic or treated as addressing only Sri Lankan scholars. I don’t want my use of Sri Lankan English to make my text a different genre of communication for a different audience. Such a response will result in reducing the relevance and significance of my text. I want to still engage in the game of academic writing as it is played in the mainstream” (599). This is a vulnerable moment, Cangarajah sharing and acknowledging his fear that by taking this approach to writing his scholarship may be judged in some way as less academic. I felt that I had to respond to this divulgence. In an argument that promotes the inclusion or meshing of languages and dialects, why not the academic and nonacademic audience? Rather than view this form of writing as being less academic, I see it as having the potential of being more accessible and appealing to an expanded “different” audience.
    I found Elbow’s article particularly useful this week. My students’ first drafts of their first essays are due on Wednesday. I’ve been wondering how to best comment on them to give guidance and not discouragement. For their other low stakes writing (freewrites and blog posts), I’ve been using what Elbow calls the support, no criticism response. However, I feel I can’t avoid responding critically to their drafts. I’ve never considered using the nonverbal responses because their highly visual and overlooked them due to my visual impairment. I’m wondering if a combination of both verbal and nonverbal approaches may be the most effective. I was also curious about the zero response option for low stakes writing he discusses where, “students can appreciate and benefit…freedom of private writing” (9). Thus far, I’ve responded to all my students’ low stakes writing. I never thought they might prefer a free space to express their thoughts without my feedback. I was concerned they would feel they’ve been given pointless or time consuming assignments. Through my comments, I express to them how these assignments will help them in their upcoming writing. I would really appreciate your feedback on this subject. Should I just respond to their blog posts and allow their freewrites to be free from comment?

  5. Tyler Plosia says:

    I spent part of my weekend grading and looking over the first informal written assignment given to my students, so naturally the “Responding to Writing” section of Peter Elbow’s “High Stakes and Low Stakes in Assigning and Responding to Writing” was of particular interest to me. I had heard before that “researchers have trouble finding good evidence that our comments on student writing actually help students learn more or write better,” so while this note was not necessarily surprising, it was not necessarily encouraging, either (especially after writing about a paragraph’s worth of response to each student’s paper).

    In the subsequent section, Elbow outlines a variety of different potential written response types to student writing. I somewhat automatically utilized a number of these response types in my attempt to mimic the most useful or memorable responses my professors have written about my own writing. I underlined – always in an attempt to highlight students’ strengths – in almost every paper. But even as I did so, I thought back to my undergraduate years and about how these kind of notes on my own papers sometimes felt as if they were done perfunctorily. In conjunction with the underlining and circling, I included many simple, small notes on individual sentences (“strong point,” “intriguing perspective,” etc.); but again, I wondered about how many of my students will simply glaze over these notes.

    It was in the short paragraphs (Elbow’s “Critical response, diagnosis, advice (highest stakes)”) I wrote on each paper where I tried to offer my most individualized and, I hoped, helpful responses. I always offered a blend of encouragement and criticism, generally couched in a broader suggestion of how students should approach future writing as the semester goes on. I wondered, when writing these, how the grades students received may impact their consideration of my response. Would the students given the highest grades not read my responses and simply feel comforted that the writing the have done is sufficient and should be replicated throughout the semester? Would students with less-than-perfect grades take any positive criticism with a grain of salt? And finally – and somewhat specifically – I wondered how my responses to these papers (short, informal student response papers to poetry assigned by me) will, if at all, encourage or discourage in regards to upcoming assignments (most immediately, the poetry they will be personally crafting and workshopping in class).

  6. Jacqueline says:

    While some of Elbow’s suggestions seem common sense (perhaps because his approach is representative of the style of feedback that I received in university settings), it was very helpful to see his methods laid out on the page. The cover letter (which Gloria mentioned in class), insights about levels of criticism/low stakes assignments, the student notes to the professor after they’ve received feedback on high-stakes assignments, and the straight versus squiggly lines are just a few examples of tools and frameworks that I will be keeping in mind.

    As much as I am in agreement with Elbow that less criticism may actually prove more helpful, I’m left to wonder when it’s helpful to get nit-picky. A part of me wishes my professors from undergrad had come down harder on many aspects of my writing. Maybe that frustration is with the revision process and the dialogue that could have extended past the final draft but didn’t. This is something to consider as I give feedback on high stakes assignments and give students the opportunity to discuss that feedback with me and their peers.

    Lee’s research highlights the concept of language ideologies within the classroom. While it may seem obvious that with languages and language variations other than what Canagarajah calls Metropolitan Englishes come diverse cultural ideas and experiences, it may not be as immediately apparent that they also often bring differing conceptions of language itself and language learning. I hope we can discuss this more in class.

    Elaine remarked on something else I hope we can further explore together: considering nonacademic writing as another possible code. Most students in our classes are very new to academic reading and writing, so to what extent could it be possible or beneficial to teach all our students, whether multilingual or self-identified monolingual students, to code mesh, considering code-meshing as an opportunity for students to “strive for competence in a repertoire of codes and discourses” (592) even in high stakes assignments?

    I’m working on developing a lesson that includes translation as a way to understand voice, register, and code meshing on a deeper and more personal level and in order to acknowledge multilingualism and translingual practices as a resource for students not a weakness. I might not be ready to try it out this semester, but I’m interested in figuring out ways to bring translation (back) into the classroom. This seems like a potential way to take ideas about translingualism and code meshing from theory to practice…

  7. Farrah Goff says:

    Before diving into my own feelings regarding the readings for this week, I would like to backtrack and share an anecdote that related to the ideas of translingual teaching from last week. For an assignment I had the students pick out difficult words from the reading and write down their definition. When I asked the students what their techniques were for looking up these words, I had one student share with me that he actually first translates the original word into Greek, his native language, to see if he knows the word in Greek, before he goes to the dictionary. I have several multi-lingual students and asked if anyone else has a similar approach and many people said yes. I found this extremely exciting and complimented them on what a useful and smart way to approach the situation that is.
     
    Moving forward, for the readings this week I (like both Alain and Elaine) particularly was struck by the Canagarajah piece, “The Place of World English in Composition: Pluralization Continued” and the points that she makes in regards to the evolution of World Englishes (WE) and Metropolitan English (ME). The presentation of the statistics was especially effective in establishing her initial point regarding the prominence of the former, so much so that it could render the latter useless. As the author moves on, it is her point in regards to where and when to use WE or ME I found incredibly interesting. Initially it is asserted that WE does have its time and its place, in terms of “literary texts”, “discoursal features”, “informal classroom interactions”, “speaking”, and “home”; whereas ME should be used for “serious texts”, “grammar”, and “formal productions”. Well this may seem to be good and fair, the author then points out that under the lens of “Students Right To Their Own Language” (SRTOL) students shouldn’t have their own languages relegated to simply informal parts of assignments. I do posit, however, that there is a merit in the ability to move easily between WE and ME. Instead of treating the requirement of ME for more formal productions and assignments as a method of invalidation, perhaps it should be viewed at as the opportunity to learn how to best use ME to one’s benefit. The author earlier states that “as industrial, business, and marketing agencies across the world communicate with each other, they are compelled to conduct transactions in different varieties of English” offering that different varieties of WE are becoming the common language spoken between all peoples interacting, especially those working towards an economic transaction. Having the ability to use WE allows for this communication, but having fluency and familiarity in the formality and precision of ME would allow for those engaging in these business type interactions in the future to avoid any issues that could arise due to a possible miscommunication that does not seem all that unlikely if say and Indian English speaker was attempting to purchase a certain amount of product from a Sri Lankan English speaker.
     
    I really liked what Elaine was saying here about her difficulties when it comes to her responses to her students writing. In regards to students desiring a space for their own writing to exist free of criticism or commentary, I actually had a few students express to me that they really like that I respond to their free writes, even if it was just to write a quick little message about my opinion on what they had submitted. They told me it made them feel as if I took their writing seriously and that they were not just being assigned busy work.

  8. I’ve heard it said that every person should, at one time or another in their life, have had to work as a food server or in some similar aspect of the service industry. I’ve heard that through this experience one becomes more sympathetic to the services these people provide and understand better the details of their work. If this is true, then I very much believe that writing instructors might be enriched by some time spent in university writing centers. There are an extraordinary number of reasons why working in a university writing center can positively benefit an eventual writing professor, but I believe the active application of some of Peter Elbow’s arguments in “High Stakes and Low Stakes in Assigning and Responding to Writing” is a decent enough reason.

    At the core of Elbow’s arguments is a push for regimented, structured draft work, the kind of scaffolded work espoused by regular writing center visits, but there is something else of benefit and similar between the two: a design allowing for and using value hierarchies. In Elbow’s case, his argument that the instructor should create a layered combination of “low” stakes assignments leading to an eventual “high” stakes assignment, while transparently distinguishing between the two, seems to be a concerted effort to both better instruct writing students as well as assuage certain hesitations, insecurities, and fears. And this is perhaps one of the best reasons to use this scaffolded, “high/low” stakes approach, this idea of comfort and transparency.

    This idea of comfort during criticism might be more easily found in the “neutral and noncritical observations” found in “descriptive or observational response,” an aspect and one of the reasons writing center visits should be encouraged by faculty and can be beneficial to a student’s writing. This type of instruction, a more personal, peer driven version of the classroom, can be seen as “low” stakes form of criticism, the type that isn’t as anxiety-inducing as the actual comments, or as Elbow would probably say, “high” stakes critical response and diagnosis.

    Most importantly, from Elbows work, I think it is important to realize the benefits of placing a hierarchy on work, both in value and effort. Besides providing clear expectations for the students and thus more comfortable, this approach is applicable in other aspects of writing evaluation, something else expounded upon in writing center theory: a hierarchical order of concerns in writing. I believe this establishment, allowing students to understand that syntax and grammar just isn’t as valued as, say, thesis, will similarly allow students to grow and become more able writers with less anxiety.

  9. Woo Ree Heor says:

    Both Canagarajah and Lee comment on the experience of “nonstandard” English speakers or English learners, and find the classroom to be the space that can either embrace or reject multilingualism. While Canagarajah refuses to let his Sri Lankan English deemed vernacular and thus nonacademic, stressing his will to “engage in the game of academic writing as it is played in the mainstream,” Lee traces the translingual practices of a Korean immigrant student and the discouragement she faced in a monolingual classroom setting. The problematic nature of strictly “English-only” policy described in Lee’s piece aside, I think many of us will have to deal with various degrees of English-centric classrooms setting in our teaching careers. On the readings for the first week, I noted that although teaching students appropriate academic tones is important, I feel that I’m still telling them to write “proper” English, diminishing what might not be considered “proper” in the process; in a sense I think that concern is still relevant regarding this week’s readings. There are different ways that we can approach this issue, and I feel that figuring out effective strategies to address multilingualism and/or multiculturalism in a writing course is tricky, yet important; for example, encouraging students to incorporate phrases from their first language in rough drafts might be useful.
    Elaine’s comment on responding to student writing is interesting to me, because what she describes is the exact reverse of my situation. I have been practicing what Elbow calls “zero response” in terms of low-stake assignments in my class. I require my students to post their writing exercises as comments on the posts I make on our course website, which count towards class participation. In the previous three classes, while I read through their responses, their comments were not exactly graded – people who posted comment just received participation points. I hope that this will give my students the sense of “freedom” in not being responded by a teacher, but there were times that I felt that I’m not picking up and addressing the interesting ideas students bring to our class because I’m “not responding.” I agree with Farrah that our students appreciate being taken seriously, even if it’s just small comments from us. While I want the “free” writing space of our website’s comments section to be there for my students, I’m trying to work out different ways to provide positive response or encouragements, possibly during in-class writing or revision sessions.

  10. The syllabus for my class was designed with the guidance of (the great) Christopher Williams, and I am also using his sequence for classwork and assignments. The homework exercises are designed as low-stakes writing assignments that they can use in their Essay assignments, and they are proving Elbow correct in that their understanding of the text is apparent. As for responding to the homework exercises, my syllabus (Thank you, Chris) states: “I will read all your homework exercises but will not provide written feedback on every exercise; most times, you will only receive a point for participation.” And I do read every single post. I’ve given very general feedback to the class, that I’m excited about where they are going with their writing, that they have a great start for their analysis that they’ll be including in the first essay, along with a few verbal comments to students.

    My concern with “zero response (lowest stakes)” writing is that because I’m not responding, students seem to be under the impression that I’m not actually reading their homework, which seems to contradict Elbow’s assertion that “Most students come to appreciate the chance to write with the knowledge that they will be heard but will not have to deal with my response.” In reading what Elaine and Farah say about responding to their students, I’m now reconsidering that while we may be comfortable with the idea of free space to write, first-year students may not yet be used to the idea and may want our feedback in the form of Elbow’s proposed “minimal, nonverbal, noncritical response.” They may feel like they’re not being heard or that there is no purpose to the homework, regardless of my reminders about it. I guess the good news is that in zero draft of their first Essay assignment, due next week, I’m asking them to use the text from their homework, so they may see that there is a point to the work they’re doing. However, I’ll be thinking about “minimal, nonverbal, noncritical response” as a better alternative as the semester progresses.

    Finally, on “The Place of World Englishes in Composition: Pluralization Continued,” the zero draft encourages students to free-write in their own language: “If you have a non-English first language, incorporate words and phrases from your first language as much as you want.” I’m interested in discussing further the concept of code-meshing in academic texts, where A. Suresh Canagarajah states “My proposal demands more, not less, from minority students. They have to not only master the dominant varieties of English, but also know how to bring in their preferred varieties in rhetorically strategic ways. They have to not only master the dominant varieties of English, but also know how to bring in their preferred varieties in rhetorically strategic ways.” Most of our students seem comfortable navigating various language spaces. I would like to see/find more examples of code-meshing in approachable academic texts that I can share with students.

  11. Caleb Fridell says:

    Peter Elbow’s description of low-stakes writing assignments helping students “find their own language for the issues of the course” makes it all seem much simpler than I’ve found it. He writes, “students don’t know a field until they can write and talk about what is in the textbook and the lectures in their own lingo, in their informal home or personal language,” when “they aren’t worrying so much about the grade or whether they are writing exactly what the teacher was looking for” (7). I’ve found, though, reading the few informal writing assignments I’ve collected, that the problem of teaching students to write for themselves is not so easily solved; is not, as Elbow suggests, the natural result of any student writing relieved of formal expectation. Trying for the first time to teach writing, I’ve learned already how difficult it is to convince students that they should *mean* what they write, in any context. The problem is, as Elbow mentions in passing, “most people learn and use writing primarily in school, where it is virtually always evaluated, usually with a grade” (6). So much of schooling involves inculcating a kind of dishonesty in writing done by rote to fit some exemplary template. It’s impossible to follow the instructions and instructions given to you and escape school not having spent your time being so insincere in writing that it takes real imagination to guess what being sincere would involve. Elbow says, “We get a better sense of how their minds work. . . We get better glimpses of them as people” (7-8). Rather, all I’ve gotten (a couple worthy exceptions aside), even in the quickly written informal assignments, are paragraphs larded with the SAT transition words of that “terrible and tangled prose” high schools are made to teach, which say precisely nothing. Elbow’s article, I think, shares something of an attitude with the authors of the article promoting the “translingual approach” from last week. Both articles imply that removing our own expectations, our own habits as instructors will allow the students’ natural voices to emerge: they will write in their own “clear, lively voice” as long as we stay out of the way, as it were, or as long as we clear away the institutional repressions that cloud the typical classroom. But (pardon my being such an Althusserian!) it really seems to me that those ‘natural voices’ speak the language of the ideological state apparatus that is U.S. education in the same listless voice that recites a Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag every morning. I think it takes a much more active effort to help students toward anything like their own language. I find it terribly daunting!

  12. Kate Bryant says:

    My questions last week were about the intersection of thinking and practice– specifically how my own reading/thinking/planning can prepare me to recognize students’ literacy practices and develop concrete strategies of my own for engaging with them. Reading Elbow, I appreciate the specificity and practicality of his suggestions. I actually haven’t yet commented on student writing, in writing, though I’ve been trying different things in class to engage with the thinking I’ve asked them to do outside of class e.g. I’ve been collating their answers to bring back into the next class, reading some of them aloud and making clear that I’ve read them. And I give them regular opportunities to write in class, with the promise that I will tell them in advance if it’s something I’m going to have them turn in to me, which is something I feel strongly about. I’m interested in Elaine’s and Farrah’s experiences though, and wonder if I should create more opportunities for minimal and/or supportive response to the informal writing they’re doing. I’ll also be getting their first informal drafts next week, and though it’s technically a low-stakes assignment for them, it will be the first opportunity for me to make more high-stakes, observational comments. My experience so far is that just framing something as low stakes writing doesn’t necessarily get us to that “livelier, clearer, and more natural” prose that Elbow seems to elicit, as Caleb also points out. It’s clearly going to be an ongoing process of discovery to figure out what kinds of low stakes assignments feel most useful.
    In addition to expanding on the conversation we began last week on the inherent politics of teaching writing, the pieces by A. Suresh Canagarajah and Eunjeong Lee begin to address some of the specific questions I had about what kinds of “meaning-making” practices multilingual students might use. Canagarajah provides a few examples, though I found Lee’s in-depth case study to be more effective, in part, I think, because she includes the voice and writing of the student, Haram. It seems useful to think about these questions but also always limited when they’re not about the specific practices of my students, which I am only beginning to learn. It all feels like trying to have a conversation about something I can barely see the shape of.
    More tangibly, I see ways that the guidelines for the scaffolded assignments encourage the code-meshing Canagarajah describes, (e.g. encouraging students to write expansively, without worrying about error, including words from their other languages) He says: “Valuing the varieties that matter to students can lessen the inhibitions against dominant codes, reduce the exclusive status of those codes, and enable students to accommodate them in their repertoire of Englishes.” (592) In addition to learning to recognize the “varieties that matter to students” and potentially assuaging associated anxieties, I hope that I’m able to be clear about what kinds of meaning-making are valuable to me.

  13. Weiheng Sun says:

    For Peter Elbow’s essay, I find most useful how he phrases his comments. I like that he lists many vivid comments as examples throughout the essay. There are thousands of ways to frame a comment. As a teacher, we are easily to spot on weakness or mistakes in students’ essay and we tend to tell students what are to be improved. But the way we tell them makes a huge difference. Students are human beings like us, and they have emotions and are not machines based on pure logic. Since the goal is to encourage them to learn something new, we need to pay attention to the reaction of the students to our critical comments. We need to bear in mind these self-reflecting questions listed by Elbow, “Is this comment worth it? How much response do I need? How much criticism will be useful? What is the likelihood of my effort doing good or harm?” (10). Sometimes we need to stand from a student’s point of view, imagine ourselves as a student reading the comment. Will I accept the comment or not? Or will I be emotionally defensive to the comment? If so, we better reword our comment and make it more acceptable.

    In addition, sometimes I worry about not giving enough response to students’ assignments of low stakes. Elbow talked about the benefits of zero and minimal response to encourage students to learn, “When we assign a piece of writing and don’t comment on it, we are not not-teaching: we are actively setting up powerful conditions for learning by getting students to do something they wouldn’t do without the force of our teaching” (11). I think we need to use such strategy for lowest stake and lower stake assignment. I like the idea of “continuum between high and low stakes responding,” and there are different benefits for students.

    As for the idea of translingualism. In a class of students of different linguistic background and ideologies, as instructors we need to pay more attention to individuals and adjust ourselves best to their needs. For example, in Lee’s essay, the “English-only” policy is intended to encourage students to speak more English in a class of American short-stories, while the instructor defeats his/her own purpose by not considering the individual needs. But I sense that Haram has a too strong voice of how she should learn English and what she should do. Instructors have their own design and thoughts of the course and students needs to be more sympathy with them as long as students and instructors agree with the goal of the course. Sometimes it is hard to accept a new learning approach or method if students do not trust the instructor enough and give it a try. More communication and negotiation are needed here.

  14. Saba says:

    What struck me most, as the chief point of interconnectedness between these three articles was the mention of “resistance” in Canagarajah’s piece about contact zone literacies:”Contact zone literacies resist from the inside without outsiders understanding the full import; they appropriate the codes of the power for the purposes of subaltern, and they demystify the power, secrecy, and monopoly of the dominant codes.” (601) This resistance, present in “multivocal literacies” is the exact same beating heart that withstands monolingualism and the dominance of ME in classrooms. Canagarajah’s in his extremely articulate piece regards multilingualism from several different aspects while laying out their numerous and versatile interplay against institutional power dynamics. As an example:” Needless to say, the message conveyed to students in even such presumably progressive positions is that local Englishes should only have a restricted place in one’s repertoire.“ while proposing the “code meshing” model in response to Elbow’s “element of time”: The urgency stated in Canagarajah’s article necessitates a more immediate acknowledgement while the “purity of instructional codes” dictate otherwise.

    Another chief reason, stated in approaching multilingualism in Canagarajah’s article is its essential application for enriching English as a global means of communication: “To be functional postmodern global citizens, even the students from the dominant community (Anlgo-American communities), now need to be proficient negotiating a repertoire of World Englishes.” (591). In lieu of regarding other languages as a perpetual threat to English language, why not turning the table? Inclusion of other languages in addition to their innumerable and vast possibilities brings humility and tolerance, not only to English as a language, but to English as a welcoming culture that can be enriched with all these voices.

    This, on a practical level, brings me to Elbow’s implementation of low-stakes writingss, which is one of the most approachable tools to have students’ idiosyncratic voices heard and acknowledged in a classroom setting. This is not only instrumental to students as they embark to reflect on their own language (and their own selves if I may say so), but also grants the educator the opportunity to clearly see, where they are all standing in the matrix that is the classroom: “collect lots of low-stakes writing so that students know that you know their style and voice.”

    Teaching English in my native country, where rigid rules of “English-only policy” rein the classroom, has turned grammar into a pivotal point of discussion between my mom and I (She is also an English teacher). In her opinion, teaching grammar best works when taught in students’ native language, since English grammar presents a very different set of linguistic rules in compared to that of students’ (Farsi in our case). Therefore in her opinion grammar has to be very consciously adopted by the student and while you can best utter a system in their native language, why shy away from that? While I, on the other hand, always opted for the rigid rules that the institutions imposed on classrooms, insofar as I also asked for a monetary penalty for those who speak Farsi in classroom towards a gathering at the end of the semester . But as EujeongLee mentions in her article: “Haram’s understanding of the complex and resourceful ways that English could be learned influenced her trajectory of learning English, because such approaches were not welcomed or encouraged in her courses.” (198) This made me reflect on my hideous deeds in the past.

    On another note, I would also like to mention that Elbow’s suggestion of coverletter seems instrumental to me in teaching 210, as it opens up the discussion regarding the process of writing and tat seems essential to be shared and discussed.

    In regards to revision, since as Elbow mentioned many of my students’ first round of revision has been focused on “small corrections in wording, spelling, and grammar.” I am trying out a different approach: Tomorrow my students will bring scissors and glue or tape, and I will have them cut a poem in to pieces and recreate a new one in class. This is an attempt to encourage them applying bolder structural moves in regards to their revisions and actually see it.

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