Monthly Archives: January 2014

CFP for MLA 2015 in Vancouver, British Columbia

The Executive Committee of the Discussion Group on the Two Year College will be posting two Calls for Papers for the 2015 MLA Convention.  Below is the first one; the second, on Digital Pedagogy, will be posted in the next few weeks.

Session type: Discussion Group
Organization: The Two Year College Discussion   Group
Title of session: Writing in Context: Content Based   First Year Composition
Submission requirements: 300 word abstracts
Deadline for submissions: 14 March 2014
Description: While composition is often a standalone   course, some colleges offer it as discipline-specific writing, either as a   linked course or integrated into a learning community. Brief presentations   that explore successes and challenges as well as the impact on student   success.

MLA14: “21st Century Pedagogies”: Abstracts and Presenter biographies

Session #213, sponsored by the Discussion Group on the Two Year College, will be held on Friday, Jan. 10th, at 8:30am in the Michigan-Michigan State room of the Chicago Marriott.

Below are abstracts and presenter bios: Presentations will be brief enough to allow the full 15 minute question and answer period.

                                             “Not on Wikipedia: Making the Local Visible”

Laurel Harris is Assistant Professor of English at Queensborough Community College of the City University of New York. She recently co-edited the 2013 collection Communal Modernisms: Teaching Twentieth-Century Literature and Culture in the Twenty-First Century Classroom.

In this paper on “21st-century pedagogies,” I consider a collaborative project in my English 101 classroom that uses the dustiest of literacies—navigating physical archives—to engage first-year writing students in the construction of local history.  The process of archival research positions students as interpreters of resources that have received little contemporary attention. In this reconstruction of the research paper, a genre generally relegated to the first-year writing program, students begin not only with gaps in their own knowledge, but also with gaps in campus and community knowledge, conduct background research, move into the archives, and, finally, reflect on their experience and make connections with the past. The students’ reconstruction of events and repositioning of archival material correlates with contemporary theories of active learning. This project also suggests a new role for the research paper in the first-year writing sequence. It thus raises questions of the modes and venues for curating and interpreting archival primary sources and of the relationship between web-based and archival literacies.


“Survival Spanish Online:  Designing a Community-College Course that Bridges Culture and Authentic Connections”

Cecilia Kennedy is an Associate Professor of English and Spanish at Clark State Community College.  She has designed a number of online and hybrid courses in English Literature and Composition, Regional Studies of Latin America, Survival Spanish, and Spanish I, II, III, and IV.  She has Chaired the Clark State Humanities Colloquium for four years now.  In August of 2000, she received her PhD from The Ohio State University in the area of Sixteenth Century Golden Age Theater from Spain.  She has published articles in her area, but also has an interest in community-based language learning.  She recently co-authored the textbook:  Sitios:  A Community-Inspired Approach to Spanish, which incorporates activities and lessons organized around the places where students will meet and interact with Spanish speakers in their communities.

“Survival Spanish,” as a course title, might suggest a “fast-food” approach to “conquering” a language: learning just enough to get by.  Furthermore, putting it online might appear to compromise that creative, spontaneous, and human element inherent in language.  Spanish, after all, is spoken by many people who value deep, enduring relationships.  In this view, language is savored, not devoured.  The challenge in designing a “Survival Spanish” course online that still makes room for the human touch, rests in aligning language goals with community-based activities that take the students off line, even if only for a brief time.   I plan then, to discuss how I designed these initial projects that empowered students to:

  • Identify a community partner
  • Initiate written exchanges online
  • Speak in person about family, courses, interests, and hobbies

In order to implement these activities, I consulted various best practices that recommend aligning course goals with community activities, allowing for reflection, and assessing student work.  Preliminary results from my two sections of online Survival Spanish (fall 2012) indicate that students developed a “willingness to take risks,” (Sally Berman, 2006) empathy for others, and newer, deeper connections with extended family members and co-workers.


“Sound Essays: a Cure for the Common Core”

Kate O’Donoghue is a PhD candidate in English at the CUNY Graduate Center, specializing in 19th century American fiction and Composition and Rhetoric. She has been teaching at CUNY since 2005 and has also worked as a writing fellow to help faculty across disciplines integrate writing goals into their curricula. She is currently an adjunct at Queens College and a graduate fellow at Baruch’s Center for Teaching and Learning. Her interests in educational technology and multimedia stem from her experiences in the classroom and have been further informed through seminars, workshops, and research. She has designed and taught curricula for hybrid courses using WordPress, Wikispaces, Blackboard, and various social media outlets. 

Critical thinking derives from failure, risk, and creativity–notoriously difficult skills to assess. The increased emphasis on testing, standardization, citation, and secondary sources recommended by the Common Core standards may create greater facility with evidence at the expense of creativity and engagement. I strive to retain an emphasis on sources and citation without sacrificing creativity in my college-level writing courses by assigning argument-based expository compositions that reward abstract thinking, risk-taking, and creativity. One such assignment is a sound essay, created from user-friendly, open-source software and existing web-based sounds. The stated objective is to exemplify tension between sources. Initially, students write 500-word proposals on the course wiki. Then, we spend two weeks in the computer lab working collaboratively to compose the sound essays. Students upload their finished projects to the wiki, accompanied by 1,000 word essays that explain their process, justify their sources, and defend their theses. Finally, each student presents the sound essay to the class. The assignment encourages critical and abstract thought that students then apply to their own reading and writing. Also importantly, the inevitable conflicts between practicality, creative vision, availability of sources, and technical competency guarantee a certain amount of easily-recognizable failure–which, with instructor guidance, transitions to a broader realization that such setbacks are necessary for learning. Moreover, students begin to recognize sources as critical components of the argument, which expands the possibilities of evidence and emphasizes the importance of citation and bibliographies. By the end of the lesson, students morph from prolific consumers to confident users of technology.


“Leveling Up: Gamifying the Literature Classroom.”

Jessica Lewis-Turner is a PhD candidate at Temple University.  During her time there, she has been the instructor of record for classes in the English, American Studies, and Women’s Studies departments, as well as in the First-Year Writing Program.

“Gamifying” education has recently become the subject of intense debate.  Much of the writing on the subject, however, either treats gamification abstractly, or discusses practical applications only in the context of K-12 classrooms.  In this paper, I explore ways in which some aspects of gamification can be brought into the study of literature.  I argue that video game techniques of questing, repetition, and even low-stakes failure are of particular use in introductory and interdisciplinary courses, where students are unfamiliar with literary analysis.  To model this practice, I describe my efforts to gamify my “Introduction to Literature” course, a non-major, general education course in the English department.  I found that by breaking down the work of critical analysis into short, concrete tasks, and by allowing students to fail without significant consequence, my students were able to view the course not as an insurmountable challenge but as part of a journey.