Monday, September 23, 2013

I just flew in from Laredo, and boy...

Highlights from the past week or so (craziness)...

Last Monday through Wednesday I attended the 10th annual fall meeting of the Carolinas Writing Program Administrators at Wildacres. It was my 7th (!) such meeting. I'm getting old. We hosted Doug Hesse, fantastic scholar and teacher of writing and all-around good guy. He led us in a morning of low-stakes reflective writing activities challenging us to rediscover the personal in our professional writing. It was refreshing and calming and enough for a few of us (including me) to give up our afternoon speaking slots to free up more time for writing and reflecting.

Who wants to hear me natter on about the effect of LaTeX use on math students' writing rhythms, anyway?

I was then back home (well, in Asheville, anyway) for about 48 hours before leaving town again, but not before helping to host the Honors Program's first world café, an event attended by 66 of our 80 first-year Honors students. Students had conversations about questions we'd designed to elicit thoughtful responses ("What events have shaped your life? Your parents' lives? What events will shape your children's lives?" "What defines community?"). After considering these questions the students were asked to generate questions of their own for other groups to answer...and then we asked them to do it again, leaving each others' company after the final round of student-generated questions were asked.

Late the next morning I left for Texas. I spent a day and a half in Laredo running a workshop on writing in the STEM disciplines at Texas A&M International University (TAMIU). I'd done a similar workshop at TAMIU almost exactly a year before though last year's group was a bunch of middle-school and high-school math educators and this year I worked mostly with TAMIU faculty, with a few Laredo Community College folks thrown in for good measure. I have to say that I'm thoroughly impressed: both workshops were among the most engaged and engaging I've ever led. This last group in particular was stellar, 24 people clearly dedicated to learning more about authentic disciplinary writing. I was particularly excited to speak with Quinaria, a writing instructor who serves the university as one of their first-year experience (FYE) coordinators. Their FYE courses are tied to introductory-level disciplinary courses (like Calc I and General Chemistry), each of which is housed in a designated first-year learning community. There are some course-to-course articulation issues, but it seems like they're dedicated to making their system work. It can't be any crazier than out 179 system.

Back at home for a couple of weeks now. Two weeks from this past Saturday I head up the mountain to Boone for the NC Honors Association conference where my colleague Samuel joins me in speaking about our 179/479 crossover. Samuel and I each have a student presenting, too. I'm excited to see how well my student's talk goes over; Fawn will be speaking about her final project from Oulipo back in the spring, for which she crafted randomly-generated dictionary entries in an effort to satirize the most lofty lexicon ever written. After that it's back to Laredo for a few days, and then to Wilmington for this year's NC English Teachers Association conference...

...always more in store!

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