Thursday, March 27, 2008

I observed my English 230 class today during the first 10 minutes of lecture. We were discussing a play that we read, although there was not much discussion going on.

1) 3 people have computers
2) Almost no one is talking (class hasn’t started)
[class starts]
3) Many people are doing other work
4) Room warm, but everyone is wearing a coat/fleece
5) No one is sitting facing the desktop computers (lined around the room)
6) One student comes in late then leaves again
7) Lighting is very dim
8) The professor talks very loudly
9) Prof. also sits on desk w/ elbow on podium
10) Prof. talks with his hands
11) He points at the power point often, even when not talking about something on the slide
12) There’re 14 students
13) Students all raise hands to ask a question
14) 4 tables in the center of the room, very few people sit there
15) Many students look like the scene in Ferris Bueller (chewing gum, scribbling, staring blankly, leaning on hands)
16) Most students are staring at the front of the room but not at anything in particular
17) Prof. makes sarcastic jokes (about Eng majors expected to be “syntax police”)
18) No one walks down the center aisle
[I drew a map, but I don’t know how to post it on here]
19) Only 1 boy in class (2 are absent)
20) Prof. talks to the back wall

1) Why did they bring them when there's computers in this room? What are they typing? They all have Apples (teaching maj?)
2) It's early morning, but this is still awkward. Shouldn't we all know each other a little bit?
3) Typical of most students...I'm doing other work; I'm working on this. Since this is a required class for all of our majors, shouldn't we wan to pay attention?
4) It's hot people!! Northface fleece is really in fashion, but it's kinda plain.
5) It's almost like if we face the comp, then the prof. will notice we are doing other work. I'm pretty sure he can tell anyways.
6) Intriguing, wonder where he's going. Why did he come in the first place? Obligation?
7) Maybe this is because computers are easier to see in dim light...although we don't use the computers. I bet this is why everyone is sleepy and not talking.
8) Maybe he's trying to wake everyone up. It's not working though. I'm surprised he can talk this enthusiastically to a bunch of students who aren't paying attention.
9) As excited as his voice sounds, it's surprising that his posture suggests he's just as bored as we are.
10) I'm not really surprised by this because most people who talk loud seem to talk w/ their hands. However, how is he talking w/ his hands and leaning at the same time? Kind of impressive really.
11) Maybe he's just trying to catch our eyes with the motion?
12) It' not a large class, so you would think we would be a little more active. i wonder why I can't memorize 14 names, but I know everyone who lives on my floor (26 people)
13) This doesn't happen in many of my other classes, but it seems to be an unspoken rule in this one. This is especially weird because this prof. despises most traditional teaching methods and tells us so every class.
14) I'm sitting here, so I guess even though I'm in this class, I'm kind of an outsider. I wonder what it is about these tables that disturbs people. Maybe because they;re in the center?
15) Again this is surprising because it's a major class that we all chose so we should like it. Or we should at least pay attention.
16) I think they;re doing it because they know they should be looking forward but aren't intrigued enough to focus on one thing.
17) I think he wants our respect. His jokes are very sarcastic and funny. It's surprising that no one really reacts to them though, because they're the only part of the lecture that students seem to hear.
18) Again a fear of the center. If people walk down the center, they would draw attention to themselves which isn't wanted (unless a hand is raised).
19) Poor boy. I think it's intriguing that most of the guys who major in English have a very similar style to them. A lot of the ones I know (including this one) are laid back, intelligent, funny, witty, and seem to be very passionate about their major (but they don't pay attention in this class).
20) It's like he knows if he looks around the room he will see the Ferris Bueller scene.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Brooks vs. Shamoon & Burns

First of all, let me just say that I really liked the comment Brooks made concerning students who come to the WC expecting an editing session: "They know you know how to fix their paper, and that is what they have come for... don't underestimate the abilities of these students; they will fatigue you into submission" (172). Sneaky little boogers. Aside from that comment, I felt the essay was incredibly similar to North's first essay, just with less anger.

I was a little disappointed with the other essay we read by Shamoon and Burns (although I have to say I like her name). Normally I like playing devil's advocate, so I was excited (as excited as one can be to do homework anyway) to read an essay taking the opposite stance of the norm. However, I didn't agree with much of what they said concerning directive tutoring. I do believe that directive tutoring is an affective method for some students. For example, many of the writing students they discussed in their essay are students who are already enthused about writing and plan on making it a part of their career and life for a very long time. Thus, learning by imitation motivates them to become better writers and allows them to see how to do so. However, I feel that the majority of students who use the writing center are not these same motivated writers. Many students are taking one of the last English classes that will ever be required of them, and they are not always as intrigued by writing techniques as I would hope. Therefore, correcting their paper for them may not motivate them to learn as much as it will give them satisfaction of a quick fix. In addition, many of the examples of directive tutoring that Shamoon and Burns talk about (master classes, studio, thesis advising, etc) are not peer tutored. They are sessions taught by professors and teachers, so where does that leave the WC's that hire undergraduate students? Would undergraduate students be qualified enough to change wording and edit papers? I'm not trying to destroy directive tutoring all together; I think it has its place. I feel there are students that do benefit from a tutor pointing out a mistake and showing the student how to fix it (I often do this the first few times I find that an ESL student has a repeated mistake). In general, however, I think the tutor needs to assess how the student will learn best and incorporate the necessary tutoring methods accordingly.

Monday, March 24, 2008


After reading the essays for Monday's class, I have mixed feelings. Both of the essays had their ups and downs for me, and I was left with a general feeling of ambiguity.

Concerning the first article, I thought most of the ideas North had were pretty dead on. The writing center is not designed to be a fix-it shop or a grammar hotline; however, aside from some uninformed students, I was not aware that many professors thought it was. I know that this essay was written at a different time (because my co-worker Nikki explained that to me), and perhaps that makes a difference. Either way, I found it hard to take the essay to heart because I don't view the writing center as an editing shop.

As for the second essay, I'm not sure entirely where I stand. On the one hand, I unfortunately find myself agreeing with North that many students are not going to be enthusiastic about becoming a better writer because their major does not require them to be one. For some students (more than I would like to admit), passing a required English class is just another task on their to do list, and they do not put much thought into what they learn by accomplishing that task. However, I don't think that writing centers should be limited to English students alone. I think part of the job as a tutor (and as a professor) is to show students how understanding writing can be used in their world. For example, although many students may only write one rhetorical analysis in their life, understanding the concepts at play behind the writing will help them view commercials, ads, news stories, articles, etc in a new, informed light. I know that after learning about rhetoric and seeing examples of it everywhere, I became more aware of just how many people use rhetoric to affect my perceptions of the products I buy and the stories I read. In addition to this, I feel that limiting the writing center to English majors would eliminate a great deal of clients. ESL students, for example, would not be able to visit the writing center unless their major was English, and many of them visit the center regularly. Also, I feel that many students who major in English are not really taught about the writing center or do not see visiting it as necessary (something professors should be addressing), and therefore trying to make the writing center for them may cause initial conflict proving that writing centers deserve money to remain in operation. Until English majors learn to use the writing center, numbers would probably go down. All and all, I think that making the writing center closed to the general areas of studies would be a bad idea. I do think North brings to light interesting points, however, as to whether tutors are doing their jobs as motivators.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Turning in Paper 2

When we turned in our papers today, we were asked to discuss our concerns, and I think I finally discovered my largest writing demon. I've always had a vague idea of what it was, but today I was able to put it into words somewhat. I'm going to attempt to elaborate on what I wrote in class...I stress the word attempt. This may sound a little conceded, so please read the following in the sincerest, most humble voice you can manage inside your head:

My friends know me for my sense of humor. I am usually the one making light of serious situations and organizing the "social outings" (AKA trips to the movies). I'm not necessarily laid back all of the time, but I know how to have fun. However, anyone who knows anything about my academic history knows that I am also a very dedicated student (perhaps a little overly so at times). I am a hard worker, and I probably come off as somewhat of an over achiever in many cases. In my writing, I feel like my academic side is the one that shines. Most of my writing (aside from my poetry) sounds very formal, proper, and academic, which is a creative way to say I am boring. I'm not saying that people who write academically are bad writers, but I feel like when I write for assignments, I come off as dry and maybe even snobby. If I were simply judged on the writing I turn in for class completely apart from knowing me in person, I think that I would be perceived as only the hard working, over achieving, student. I wish that the papers I wrote sounded more sincere and down to earth, and I wish that my real personality (both parts) could be seen and felt. I think because I am aware that it doesn't read that way, I am afraid of writing. I know there are people out there that have found the magical way of making even the most boring topic into a paper that grabs and holds my attention all the way through. I know I'm not one of those people, and I'll be the first to admit I hate knowing that other people are better than me. I know I can't be the best at everything (or anything lately), and I will always find someone who does what I love better. This is my demon.

Well I think that's all I have for now. Hope everyone is hanging in there for these last 6 weeks.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Spring Break Recap

Well break is officially over, but on the upside I think we only have 7 weeks left. I worked on my paper 2 for this class over ended up turning into a little website because I got tired of looking at Word. I think I may have made this assignment a little harder than it was intended to be, but I got through it (19 pages of text and web design later). I'm not sure how peer evaluation is going to go, but I guess I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.

In other English/break news, I discovered this weekend that my major (English, writing and rhetoric) does not qualify me to do what I thought it did (work at Sylvan Center/perhaps teach ESL??). As luck would have it, turns out I need a teaching license and therefore teaching degree...didn't see that coming. I'm not sure what I'm going to do about this as of right now (aside from kick myself). I was hoping that majoring in Writing and Rhetoric along with my experience tutoring at the Writing Center and Learning Center would be enough to get my foot in the door until I could get my Masters in teaching. Wrong. Anyways, lazy/awful as this may be, I'm not sure I even want my Masters anymore... I'm sort of getting burnt out on school. I feel like I'm putting in a lot of effort when I really don't have a clear idea of what I'm even working for, and I sometimes think I'm just wasting my time trying to figure it out. How is it that everyone already knows what they want to do with their life?

I swear I had a much less depressing break than it sounds (maybe not much less...I was in an Ohio blizzard for a while). I just wish this semester would be over and somehow magically things would figure themselves out.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

I'm done...I mean finished

Well the big midterm is over, and while I'm not sure how I did, I will say that I think I've learned more grammar studying for this midterm than I learned in all four years of high school combined. I don't know if I regurgitated it correctly, but I actually think for once I internalized some of the rules rather than simply memorizing them for the test. Regardless (not to be confused with irregardless... which is apparently not a real word) of the grade I get, I am semi-proud of myself. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for my Physics test, but that's a whole new can of worms.

On a separate note, studying for this test and my linguistics test made me fight myself all over again about my faith in the necessity of a standard. On the one hand, I think that annoying as they are, grammar rules and syntax are somewhat needed so that no matter what dialect we may speak, we will all be able to understand laws, read news articles, and write academically. However, after studying AAVE (African American Vernacular English) and discussing the topic of "can't even speak english" in my classes, I'm torn on whose standards we should use or if we need one at all. Another thing that I can not help but question is the idea of language in the classroom. Should teachers start accepting dialects and unique grammar usage as part of students' culture and generation, or should they fight it in order to help the student gain credibility with the majority? Should schools hire teachers with heavy accents even if students complain that they are having trouble understanding and therefore feel they aren't learning as much? Questions like this get me every time because I believe that everyone should have an equal playing field, but sometimes I can't figure out how to make that possible. I enjoy the fact that we don't all speak the same language (and those that do don't all speak it the same way), and I hate the idea of conformity; however i keep wondering if in some ways it is necessary.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Midterms make me sad

I wasn't exactly sure what to blog about for this week, so I thought I would simply say my thoughts concerning English in general for the moment. First of all, I am a little worried about the midterm. Grammar and I do not get along very well when it comes to explaining the rules. I can generally use most of them; I simply don't know when or why I do what I do. I guess that sort of thing will be good to know as a tutor however, so I'll try to learn it as best I can. In other English news, I read a novella this weekend for my Eng 230 class called, "The Dead" (are novellas underlined or quotationed a word... this midterm will clearly not go well). Talk about a depressing story. It's about this poor guy who comes to realize that he never had a love with his wife the way he thought he did... not exactly the romance I hoped it would be. I think I have to go watch a chick flick now. I'll try to find a grammatically intelligent one and kill two birds with one stone :)