A new collection which I helped edit has just been published by the University of Michigan Press. Supporting Graduate Writers: Research, Curriculum, Program Design (Simpson, Caplan, Cox, & Phillis, 2016) is the first edited volume to discuss options in designing writing support for graduate students writing in English both as their first or additional language. You can find it on the Press’s website, amazon.com, and all fine booksellers. The blurb is below the break. Thanks and congratulations to editors Steve Simpson, Michelle Cox, and Talinn Phillips as well as the amazing cast of contributors. It was a fascinating project to work on.
(Answer: when it’s a relative clause!)
One of my colleagues and I just had one of those “tell me I’m not going crazy” conversations about noun clauses. Intrigued? Mildly curious? Continue reading “When is a noun clause not a noun clause?”
My article from earlier this year in Modern English Teacher on integrated skills in EAP, which starts with a rather strained metaphor about learning to ride a bike, is now available online. Don’t be surprised to find a little bit of genre pedagogy sprinkled in, too, of course.
TESOL’s annual convention returns to Baltimore in April for its 50th birthday party (TESOL’s, not Baltimore’s). I’ll be greeting and speaking:
Wednesday April 6, 5:00-5:45pm, room 328: Beyond the EAP Border into Graduate Studies: Cross-Institutional Curricular Models (Jin Kim and Nigel Caplan)
Thursday April 7, 10-11am: Meet the authors coffee hour: Chris Feak and I will be on hand to drink coffee and talk about our textbooks and graduate student education in general. At the University of Michigan Press booth in the exhibit hall.
Friday April 8, 1:00-2:45pm: Getting on the Same Page — transitions from IEP to First-Year Composition (panel).
Friday April 8, 3:00-4:45pm, room 343: Discovering and Teaching the Grammar of Academic Writing (Sandra Zappa-Hollman, Nigel Caplan, Ryan Miller, Thomas Mitchell)
Hope to see you there!
“Our concern is not to banish the evils of incoherence, nor to promote writing as the free expression of the author’s voice. We have seen over and over that the explicit and thorough teaching of genres is the best way to level the playing field and give marginalized learners of all ages access to the high-stakes ways of knowing, reading, and writing that will open doors in their academic, professional, and social lives.”
I just discovered this fantastic recording of a lecture by Mary Schleppegrell of the University of Michigan in which she introduces the use of Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) and argues convincingly for the incorporation of SFL metalanguage in order to give ELLs access to grade-level disciplinary texts. I’m going to use this as part of a blended course for Delaware K-12 teachers as they start to read Luciana de Oliveira and Mary Schleppegrell’s Focus on Grammar and Meaning.
I’ve started a page of grammar books for ESL/writing teachers as an antidote to answering student questions with “It just is …”. Please feel free to suggest good books and links I’ve missed.
I’ve spent much of the winter break typing up students’ papers for my dissertation research. The task was descriptive writing — first describing the student’s house, apartment, homestay, or dorm room, and then (after the intervention) writing a featured home article about a house for sale as if for a local newspaper. I know I shouldn’t be surprised, but I was still struck by the number of students who tried to shoe-horn one or both tasks into a pseudo five-paragraph essay, and this despite the fact that neither prompt mentions essays or even paragraphs! In fact, the featured house article is taught as a genre with a regular structure that has little to do the so-called English theme. Some of the results are awkwardly amusing: Everyone has a house, even animals. I’m going to describe my house. Or: this house has two floors. First of all, the first floor. You can imagine the rest.
For anyone still harboring a sentimental attachment to the “ahrehtorical” (to quote Christine Ortmeier-Hooper) and ageneric (as I keep misquoting Christine Ortmeier-Hooper!) teaching of a universal form of bland, banal writing, here are some recent articles fighting the good fight for teacher genre-aware, context-specific writing skills:
- “I cannot prepare students to write their (history, philosophy, poli sci, etc.) papers” by John Warner in InsiderHigherEd
- “Finding a voice for argument in ELT” by Elizabeth O’Dowd in TESOL Connections
- “Let’s bury the five-paragraph essay” by on Talk With Teachers
- “Kill the 5-Paragraph Essay” by John Warner (again) –spot a theme here?
Plus a few of my previous thoughts on the subject:
- Who’s teaching my students to write rhetorical questions?
- From generic writing to genre-based writing
- (Yet) Another anti-5-paragraph-essay rant
Update: Well, this is getting interesting. Over on the TESOL blog, Rob Sheppard has written a spirited defense of the 5-paragraph essay in which he usefully critiques Brian Sztabnik’s rather over-enthusiastic piece. But we couldn’t let that stand, so Luciana de Oliveira and I have written a rebuttal, “Why We Still Won’t Teach the Five-Paragraph Essay.” Let the games commence!
Tamara Jones has written a lovely two-part description of my recent workshop on genre-based pedagogy and Inside Writing at Howard Community College. Her writing is so vivid, I almost feel I was there. OK, I actually was there, but if you weren’t, you might enjoy reading about how she was converted to genre-based writing and the teaching/learning cycle. Thanks for the kind shout-out, Tamara!
Find out more at JALT 2015 this weekend in Shizuoka!