2009 KSU Writing Program’s Pre-Semester Workshop

Today, KSU’s Writing Program sponsored the 2009 annual pre-semester workshop for all writing instructors. This year it was held the Monday prior to classes, as opposed to the Friday before classes, which I believe works out much better for instructors including myself who take something from the workshop and incorporate it into our syllabi.

There were two break-out sessions–one in the morning, and one in the afternoon–with a number of interesting and practical modules. I decided to sit in on Uma Krishnan’s “Multimodal Projects and Ideas” and Eric Smith’s “Using Chat Rooms and Bulletin Boards.”

Uma made the point that we should not hold our students back when they are evidently capable of doing much good work, which was evident by the array of multimodal projects strewn around the classroom. There were videos, posters, a necklace, and even a dress–all created to emphasize or elaborate on the research and writing component of each of those particular student projects in her 11011 and 21011 classes. Despite some technical difficulties in the classroom, Uma gave us a very well thought 0ut presentation, but I believe that I am only going to take multimodality so far in my own classes. This has nothing to do with Uma’s presentation, but my own concerns about multimodality in the entry-level writing classroom.

Eric’s presentation, also beset by technical difficulties and indicative of the problems inherent to using computers in the classroom with folks who are not computer savvy, was a top notch introduction to the chat and discussion board possibilities with the classroom software, Vista 8. Based on what I learned from Eric today, I will switch my classes over to Vista this Fall so that the classroom will be completely paperless from syllabi to daily assignments to portfolio projects. I believe that this shift will allow my students to do more work in the classroom with daily prompts that build up to their larger assignments, and it will allow me to more efficiently read and respond to their work (in the past I have relied on paper in my first semester teaching, and email in the my second semester teaching). Additionally, a paperless classroom will save some trees and hopefully prevent or reduce the likelihood of getting sick by handling so many students’ papers. This is nothing against my students–I don’t think you are any more ill than any other group of persons in the population, but there are many of you who come in contact with a lot of other folks and you then hand me papers in effect handled by you and potentially a lot of other folks–but I want to remain healthy throughout the semester.

One thing that I do enjoy about the annual writing workshop is that it is the one time each year when adjuncts, LSRP grad students, and literature grad students are all in the same place at the same time. As much as I unreservedly want greater solidarity among the literature graduate students at Kent State, I also feel that there should be more cooperation and interaction between the groups on both sides of the aisle–rhetoric on one side, and literature on the other. What can we do to facilitate more coming together like this, and even better, how can we work towards more professionalization through research and publication involving members of both pools of graduate students?

And, this is Brian Huot’s final year as KSU’s Writing Program coordinator. Brian helped me out a lot in the 61094 teaching college writing course, and as my mentor when I first began teaching college writing at KSU. I haven’t been at KSU long enough to see the metamorphosis of the KSU writing program under his direction, but I can certainly see that things are electric at this point when his term is ending.

Unfortunately, I didn’t win any of the door prizes, but the new utopian studies guy, Alex, won something, and Seth got a sweet daily planner. John walked away with the grand prize. Maybe I’ll have better luck next year!