Tag Archives: disciplines

SuperComposition Person and Ed.

A few colleagues and I have begun creating cartoon characters to support and brand our composition program (they were adjuncts, now full-time employees–and two more coming on board soon).  We started with SuperComposition Person (SCP) and ninja sidekick editor, Ed.–no name, just Ed. which is short for editor.  Not sure Ed. ever speaks, but I really like him–takes down comma errors with grace, precision, and lighting speed.  SCP speaks–in fact, SCP is a writing professor by day, hero of composition all other times.

It all began when we decided we needed some unusual thing to do in a training–so we asked teachers to name a super power they’d like to have in the writing classroom. That was a fun discussion. The next day, a colleague and I cooked up the guts of SCP and Ed.; the week after, another colleague who happened to be an artist, created this first iteration (second image below). During a portfolio reading, we kicked it up a notch and got enthusiastic approval from colleagues in biology and history.

Eventually we added in a few more characters as time and talent allowed, pulling from resources as diverse as small children and parents related to this blogster, students, more teachers, friends, faculty, staff, local artists, high school students.

For our big celebration, AUM Writes!, on Oct. 20 this year, The National Day on Writing, we created buttons with some of the characters and got the help of our senior graphic artist on campus to create a t-shirt that we ran out of in record time.  Next year, we hope to have much more art work completed and put a Pantheon of Composition Heroes on a t-shirt to celebrate who we are and what we write (first image below).

Meanwhile back at the ranch, I’m working on a short film to introduce more characters to our community–I might be able to get that handled in the next week or so. We want more artists involved because we can’t do all the drawing; we want more writers working on the back stories of heroes and villains already created; we want visionaries who will help us turn this into a graphic novel. So we need to talk about it and ask for involvement.

But until all that happens, I plunge forward in the very best super hero-like fashion I can to work on projects I believe are important. I have been inspired by this work with colleagues and students and family and friends to not let go of it, to not let it rest too long… Writing here makes me accountable for commitment, I think. If I say it here, can it get out of doing it? Nope.

AND I have also begun giving writing advice to anyone I think needs it, swooping in during meetings and trainings when colleagues from across the disciplines display frustration over why students can’t write: “TA-DA…’tis I, your writing colleague come to save the day.”  Normally, I don’t like to talk in public much in this way, but lately, no problem.  I’m all about broadcasting open educational resources and how one can employ such to teach and help students learn. At the very least, I explain with much patience and sincere love, you should visit Writing Spaces to see what’s there that might help you and your students talk about writing together as you sort through their experience, your expectations, desired outcomes, and as you both craft a writing experience that could end up doing several things: 1) help you assess student learning; 2) help students learn more about writing; 3) give students more experience writing with expert guidance. There it is. Use it.

I felt very heroic yesterday when I was able to tell sociology, political science, and theater professors: “Here, check this out. It’s for you and your students. It already belongs to you.”

Ninja, right? Sure felt like it.

AUM Writes! 2nd Annual National Day of Writing Celebration

AUM knows how to celebrate writing.

Isn’t this spectacular?  “Fighting writing crime… one sentence at a time” was a collaborative effort between myself and a colleague–the kind of seamless joy that happens when one of you says ___ and the next one says ____, and it becomes something that delights everyone and makes work not work at all.

Composition Cartoon Heroes

SuperComposition Person & Ed.

When we first saw this art, of course it was a pencil sketch, but it was very exciting for all of us–then our artist did THIS.  We’d done something tangible, visual, creative, and fun. To protect the guilty/innocent, I refrain from mentioning names here in this blog, besides my own, but there were many, many people who worked on this project because no one could do this (or writing program administration) alone (and have a day job–we all teach full-time and do everything else on top of that).  When I manage to write this into article form for some academic journal, so I can keep doing what I do, then I’ll list the minors, adults, and seniors who made this possible.

For now, and I’m okay with this, I’m brainstorming what’s possible in this live space, hoping the writing here that feels both private and public will help me articulate how WPAs should be envisioning writing programs as the best entrepreneurial enterprises, publicizing their work across K-12, sponsoring workshops on writing in the community, branding their programs; we need successful, and I mean wildly successful, models to look at and draw from, because we are creating products that matter more than any other: students who can think and can be productive citizens of the world.  And if we need cartoon characters to inspire and/or capture them and keep them enthralled, or even in thrall, then that’s my 5-year mission.

Second star to the right and straight on ’til morning.

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Filed under Cartoons and Composing

Why I’m mad for free

I’m gushing over Writing Spaces, and I don’t care who knows it.  I can love a book about writing damn it.  Well, it’s a book that could be a book but doesn’t have to be a book…and this might be the most fabulous part about Writing Spaces.

At my university, we’re using Writing Spaces texts to help teach writing… in classes where writing is the subject.  Success so far.  Teachers of writing classes from FYC to basic writing to junior-level writing courses are reporting that students like what they are reading and are finding the chapters helpful in many ways.  Teachers are looking forward to the second volume coming out in December.

We have shared the WS link with our WAC/WID colleagues who are just this year undergoing training for incorporating writing into content classes across the curriculum/disciplines.  We feel that multiple essays from Vol. 1 will prove to be indispensable to our colleagues and their students.  I’m really excited to think about mathematics instruction using these essays–in our basic writing program overhaul this spring, I want to use some of these essays in conjunction with experiments in linking basic math and basic writing instruction.  These essays will also help us teach our basic writers to be teachers of basic writing to each other and younger children via video tutorials.  We hope to connect with local and international elementary-aged students through our online writing/learning portal.  The reading component will be based on long-time successful partnerships between college students and elementary students (like those of Write to Succeed’s Writing Partners program I and some grad school friends started in the late 1990s).

We are also using WS, Vol. 1 in a dual-enrollment course so high school students are reading texts intended for the college student writer.  Next semester–no publishing house text, only a handbook and WS, Vol. 1 and 2.  Students like reading about writing and reading essays written for college students.

This spring we’ll also use selected chapters to support a new series of informational/teaching sessions on college writing for our community: students and parents come to campus for AUM Writing Night.  They are escorted to different rooms: students read, think, and write with writing teachers.  Parents brainstorm how they can be effective supporters for their children who will be learning how to be college writers with more writing teachers.  Everyone gets something to write about; everyone gets a little refreshment; everyone gets to “take” home an open educational resource “textbook” they can study to truly get ready for the coming college writing years.  Based on the initial feedback from the dual classes, we suspect this will be a fantastic series.

Next summer, I’ll be using WS, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 to teach an NSF grant-supported Bridge Course (along with a handbook).  I can easily ask my students to read some chapters before actually entering the program.  I think it’s going to be spectacular.  One task: determine which pieces they will take with them to college to use, why, and name that collection of their own design.

Do you honestly think I wouldn’t use WS Vol. 1 and 2 in my grad writing across the curriculum class next summer?  I have to do it.  And my students will love it because they will take their learning and these essays from my classroom to their classrooms where they’ll teach: science, math, education, health, geology, social studies, psychology, and whatever.

Our illustrious Learning Center writing tutors are beginning to use Writing Spaces for prescriptions. Being able to recommend a reading to students to help in their research phase, or invention phase, is a powerful tool for consultation.  Happy, Happy LC.

I used to dream of a project like this.  And here it is.  Some dreams do come true.

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Filed under Open Everything, Open All the Time