Friday, December 4, 2009

portfolio selection launch

We launched the portfolio request last night and completed sending out notifications this evening, so please check your email inbox to find out which of your students have been selected to participate in portfolio evaluation.

If you have students who were selected but are no longer attending class, or who fail to submit a portfolio, please let Meredith know. Also, don't hesitate to let me know if you have any other questions or needs as we proceed through this first run of selections. Just as a reminder, the portfolios should include the following documents:
  1. An informal piece of diagnostic writing (first day or between the first two class meetings)
  2. The first graded writing assignment (in 1010 the problematizing essay; in 2010 the informative/surprising essay)
  3. The final graded writing assignment (in 1010 the exploratory research project; in 2010 the formal research project)
  4. A reflective essay.
Since so many of us use multiple email addresses, I included a list of selected instructors in the version of this posting that went out over the listserv as a way of helping you cross check. Meredith has made good efforts to send notifications to multiple addresses, but it also strikes me as a reminder of the importance of checking--or, better, auto-forwarding to a preferred account--your UVU email.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

spring 10 schedule and meeting notes

I think we have the spring 2010 schedule wrangled into shape--at least enough so that Samuel will place notifications in your mailboxes by this afternoon. Please take a look at your proposed schedule, then sign and return it by Thursday Dec. 3.

As predicted in our November meeting, we will not hold a monthly meeting in December. If you have any needs that have to be addressed before the end of the term, please contact me, Grant, or Gae Lyn.

In other news, sorry I've been behind on posting notes from our November meeting. Briefly, we discussed:

1. Our upcoming portfolio evaluation launch. I believe we're still on track to begin this semester, so expect to get an email from Meredith informing you of the students whose portfolios have been selected for evaluation. I will also send out an email to the entire list at that time so that in case none of your students were selected, you won't be waiting needlessly for notification.

2. A reminder to avoid using the front office for collection of large numbers of student papers at the end of the term. Please, too, do not expect the front office to hold your papers and redistribute them to students. Consider alternatives, including inviting students to give you a stamped envelope for the return of their final work, or, holding papers for the first two weeks of the following term then destroying them.

3. Continuing to pilot new texts for 2010/2020 in spring. I have extra copies of both texts, so if you'd like to get in on the expanded pilot for spring, let me know which text you'd like to see/use by next week, and we'll expand book orders for your classes. This is a good opportunity to test one of these texts and have your voice heard as we prepare to make a program wide shift in the 2010-2011 academic year. If you're interested in From Inquiry to Academic Writing by Greene and Lidinsky, please contact Gae Lyn, who's been organizing that book's pilot this semester; if you're interested in Writing Arguments by Ramage and Bean, please contact Grant.

4. A review of policies for end of term grading and evaluation, including UW, E (F), and I grades. Please contact me if you have any questions or concerns about assigning these grades--particularly UW and I.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

November meeting this evening

Sorry for the late notice, but our monthly meeting is this evening, 5-6 pm, SC 206A. Please make every effort to attend this evening, since we'll be covering issues that will take us through the end of the semester, including:

1. Portfolio project update;
2. State of the spring schedule;
3. Expansion of 2010/2020 text piloting;
4. Discussion on semester research projects, which should be in progress in all first year composition courses at this point;
5. Discussion on end-of-term concerns, such as grading, collection and distribution of final projects, etc.;
6. Handout(s) and, if time, brief discussion of supplemental texts to develop readings in course textbooks.

See you this evening.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Hope everyone's semester is going well so far. Here's an update on where we are in both completing our responsibilities for this semester and getting ready for spring 2010.

Syllabi: about half of you have turned in syllabi to the front office. If you're in that half, thanks; if you're in the other half, please make sure you either send an electronic copy to Meredith ( or place a copy in her mailbox as soon as possible. (Blog update: we've gotten some more since I sent this post to the listserv, so let's keep up the momentum for those of you who have yet to turn in syllabi)

Spring 2010: schedule preference form for next semester is available at the engladj listserv (or email me for a copy). Please fill it out and return it either electronically or to my box by October 15. Don't hesitate to ask if you have any questions or concerns prior to returning it.

October meeting: Tuesday October 13, 5-6pm, SC 206A; also an ideal time to submit your preference forms. Topically, let's pick up where we left off last month, getting some discussion about how we bring the course texts to life and make them relevant to our students. Consider ways that you supplement course texts with readings of your and/or students' choices; how you explain assignments and concepts with familiar examples and models, and so on. Consider, also, where you identify shortcomings and/or weaknesses in course texts and how you overcome them.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

reminder: first meeting this evening

Sorry I didn't get this notice on the blog at the same time I posted it to the listserv, but better late than never, right?

Don't forget our first monthly meeting of the year is this evening, 5-6, in SC 206A. We'll keep it relatively open topic, so that we can spend as much of the hour as possible addressing concerns and answering questions that have come up in the first couple weeks of class.

Hope to see you later today.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Orientation agenda

Attached is an agenda for our annual orientation on Wednesday the 19th. You'll see that we're trying something different this year, breaking up our larger group by courses taught and covering common topics but in ways that emphasize either 1010 or 2010/2020. Of course a number of you teach both first and second semester comp, so you can choose which group you'd like to work with.


8:00-8:30 Informal Meet and Greet LA 116
Coffee and snacks available

8:30-9:50 General Orientation LA 023
All part time instructors meet for general orientation.

  • welcome from department administration and staff
  • Program updates, general Q&A
  • Introduction to portfolios and embedding in current scholarship (by Gae Lyn)
  • writing lab representative

10-10:50 Breakout #1

1010 instructors LA 106
Student engagement: discussion led by Angie Carter

2010/2020 instructors LI 205
Library services orientation

11-11:50 Breakout #2

1010 instructors LI 206
Library services orientation

2010/2020 instructors LA 106
Assignment sequence review: Second-semester instructors bring syllabi from last (or previous) semester and work together to develop/fine tune course plans; to include pacing, approaches to content, opportunities for revision, matters of length, number/type of sources required, and so on. Discussion will include portfolio generation plans and strategies.

12-12:50 Breakout #3

1010 instructors LA 112
Assignment sequence review: First-semester instructors bring syllabi from last (or previous) semester and work together to develop/fine tune course plans; to include pacing, approaches to content, opportunities for revision, matters of length, number/type of sources required, and so on. Discussion will include portfolio generation plans and strategies.

2010/2020 instructors LA 106
Student engagement: discussion led by Lovisa Lyman

. . . . . . . . . .

Please note that one of our activities is an assignment sequence review (2010/2020 at 11, 1010 at 12). Please bring a copy of a recent syllabus so we can talk about how the implementation of assignment sequences has gone for you in the past couple of years, share strategies and experiences, and begin mapping out syllabi for fall.

We're almost fully staffed for fall, thanks to the willingness of some of you to take additional class sections, and especially to new instructors who are joining us this year. We'll likely be facing tremendous enrollment pressure in the first couple of week of class, and we'll have some time on Wednesday to review departmental/institutional add policies and to field any questions or concerns you have about handling waves of unenrolled students.

Sorry that some of you who are no longer teaching for us will still receive emails on the listserv for the time being, and new instructors aren't yet added. I hope to get with IT this week to work out subscription problems. Please remember that program notices are copied to this blog, so let me encourage you to subscribe at least for feeds, if not also to participate as a contributor in discussions with other instructors in the program.

See you Wednesday if not before.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Annual Orientation Wednesday August 19th

Sorry for the delay in notifying you all, but finally the upcoming term's starting to come into focus. We're getting close to completing the fall schedule--or at least getting to the point where we can offer some of you additional sections or find sections that can better fit your needs.

Also, we have a date for orientation, which will be Wednesday August 19, and will run from 8:30am-1:00pm. Attendance at this meeting is required for all part time instructors. We'll provide breakfasty snacks, talk about portfolios and other program business, and field your questions in the first session (8:30-9:50). We'll then have three breakout sessions (10-10:50, 11-11:50, and 12-12:50), details of which will follow.

Thanks to those of you who have made suggestions for orientation content and volunteered to present--to the latter group, I'll be getting in touch soon to get as many of you involved as possible.

Thanks for your patience as we've been working out the schedule over the summer. Talk to you soon.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Extra Credit Dilemma

Last Saturday after class, three of my students approached me together to ask whether there was anything they could do to receive extra credit. Their request put me into a little bit of a panic. On the one hand, I've never really allowed extra credit opportunities. I believe that it's unfair to give extra credit because it panders to underperforming students, giving them an opportunity to wheedle an unearned grade out of my class. But on the other hand, these three particular students were fairly good candidates for extra credit. They were pretty hard workers, but they happened to be at an unfortunate disadvantage in my class because they spoke English as a second language.

I've been agonizing over my ESL students all semester long. In a class of 20, one third of my students are ESL speakers. I've never had that many in a single course before. It's been a serious challenge for me, to say the least. Every time I've sat down to grade a major paper, I've been plagued with thoughts about how to treat them equitably. Is it fair to hold them to the same standards as the other students who are native English speakers? If I make them the exception and lower my standards as I grade their drafts, am I cheating the native English speakers who have worked equally hard on their papers?

To date, I've been grading them with the same standards I use with all my students. As justification, I've held the image of my freshman roommate from Hungary in my mind. She had a scholarship and a 4.0---and she worked very hard for it. She studied constantly and didn't have much of a social life. When a major paper was due, she started composing it well in advance, regularly visiting the writing lab and inviting my feedback on her papers. (If I had half her motivation and personal dedication, I probably would have done much better in subjects like Math and Science for which I have absolutely no natural talent.) I figured that if anyone could work hard and thrive academically despite some staunch language barriers, so could my ESL students. And yet, the ex-public school teacher and "good liberal" inside of me doesn't totally buy the everyone-can-pull-themselves-up-by-the-bootstraps schtick. The language barrier is a very real impediment to a student's success and cannot be totally ignored.

So, with all those conflicted thoughts bubbling in the background, today I decided to allow them to write an essay for extra credit. I rather liked the assignment I came up with and I might possibly consider using it again if any students approach me about extra credit in the future. Here's the assignment directions:

English 1010 Extra Credit Essay

The purpose of English 1010 is to teach you how to compose effective written arguments. As the Allyn and Bacon Guide to Writing (5th ed.) states:

The study of argumentation involves two components: truth seeking and persuasion. By truth-seeking, we mean a diligent, open-minded, and responsible search for the best course of action or solution to a problem, taking into account all the available information and alternative points of view. By persuasion, we mean the art of making a claim on an issue and justifying it convincingly so that the audience's initial resistance to your position is overcome and they are moved toward your position. (377)

With that in mind, your task is to compose an essay in which you try to convince me (your instructor) why I should give you extra credit for this class. In this essay, you should tell me 1) how much extra credit you would like to receive---would you like 20 points, 40 points, more?---and 2) the reasons why you should receive that amount of extra credit. If I find your argument persuasive, I will award you the extra credit points that you request in your essay. If I do not find your argument persuasive, you may possibly receive no extra points for writing this essay.

In order to write an effective essay, it helps to know a little bit about your audience and which rhetorical appeals he or she will find persuasive. You should assume that I am of the same mindset as Dr. Kurt Wiesenfeld (see the essay entitled "Making the Grade" that I gave out the third week of class). That is to say, you should assume that I feel somewhat opposed to the idea of extra credit because it potentially rewards students for unprofessional behavior and erodes our university's academic standards.

So, based on what you know about me as an instructor, should you appeal to logic (logos)? To emotion (pathos)? To your personal character (ethos)? The choice is yours. (For a helpful review of these three persuasive appeals, see

There is no minimum length for this essay, but your essay should not be any longer than 3 pages, single-spaced in Times New Roman font. Please submit it to me via email on Thursday or earlier. Please remember this essay is purely optional. You do not have to write the essay if you do not choose to.


I'm interested to see how my students respond to this assignment. I figure if they really are able to persuade me to give them extra credit (especially when I'm so resistant to it), they will have met the objectives of my course and they will have earned the extra points fair and square.

If anything interesting comes as a result of this assignment, I'll let you know. :)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

New MLA Rules... (Sigh)

A few weeks ago the UVU Writing Center sent a little note to me (via one of my students) alerting me that there have been some changes to the MLA documentation system and that I had been instructing my students incorrectly. I'm using the 6th edition of the MLA Handbook (which I bought last summer) but it's apparently already obsolete. (To be read in a snooty voice: "You're using the 6th edition? Oh, that was just sooooo 2008.")

The Writing Center gave me a print-out of a link from the Owl at Purdue regarding the MLA Update for 2009. I'll let you read it for yourselves, but the basic gist is that there will be no more underlining (italics only, please), there will be no more full URLs, continuous pagination no longer matters, all publications must indicate what publication medium is used (e.g. print, web or DVD), and there are new guidelines for indicating missing information.

I can't help but roll my eyes a little at this. I understand the need to revise the style guide for increased clarity (especially in the ever-changing digital age), but it's frustrating to try and stay on top of all the little updates in order to remain consistent in my grading. Since we are all at the mercy of the Modern Language Association's whims, I wanted to find out if anyone has any good suggestions for making sure that you always stay up to date with the latest changes in MLA or other documentation systems. I would personally prefer not to have to buy a new style guide every year, but if that's what it takes--so be it. Any suggestions?

As a side note, this is probably a better question for John, but why do we ask students to buy a writer's handbook (such as the one that comes with the Allyn and Bacon Guide to Writing) as opposed to requiring them to get the original handbooks, such as the ones published by MLA? It would seem to me that the MLA Handbook would be more authoritative. But I do see how it would be nice to have an all-in-one handbook, I suppose.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

tentative fall schedules ready & other news

The first draft of the fall schedule is ready, and tentative assignments are now in your mailboxes. Please review your schedule and sign it to indicate your approval (ideal), or let me know if you would like to be considered for particular adjustments (not so ideal). Once we get a sense of everyone's needs, we'll take another crack at the schedule, taking into account individual preferences and department availability.

Grant, Gae Lyn, and I are still reviewing textbooks to better support our 2010/2020 assignments and outcomes. We'll keep you notified of opportunities to pilot a short list of texts in anticipation of making a program wide shift in fall 2010. In other program news, we'll be working more on assessment plans, which will center around end of term portfolios, which were recommended in earlier iterations of our assignment sequences but will now be required. We'll have more details for you in the coming weeks, but we'll be guided by the handout that was distributed at the April meetings.

We've gotten some good suggestions for our annual orientation meeting in August. We'll get a draft of activities and topics to be covered in the coming weeks, so if you have any suggestions, don't hesitate to reply. Don't forget that the default reply is "reply all" so ensure that you've selected "reply to sender" when you want to write only to the person who sent the email (i.e. me, in this case).

I will be updating this email list in the next few weeks to reflect changes in our instructor group. If you no longer wish to teach for us let me know and I'll remove your name.

Write back with questions and/or suggestions. Talk to you later.

Monday, June 1, 2009

How to Teach a Child to Argue

I stumbled upon a great article that I'm considering sharing with my students. It's called How to Teach a Child to Argue. It was nominated for a 2007 National Magazine Award. I hope you enjoy it!

spring evaluations/fall schedule update

You can see your student evaluations from Spring 09 by following the (overly complicated) instructions below:

1. Open UV link
2. click Faculty/advisor services
3. click Select term (S 09)
4. click Faculty detail schedule
5. click Course Evaluation report

Grant, Gae Lyn, and I will take a second crack at the fall 09 class offerings later this week, so we should be able to offer you a tentative schedule shortly. Keep your eyes on your campus mailbox.

Talk to you soon.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Out with the old/in with the new listserv

Although Mark Crane warned me about this possibility last week, somehow the engladj list got deleted. Since I can't reactivate it, I've simply started another list: and updated each of your email addresses following your fall 2009 schedule preferences.
Sorry about any inconvenience this change may cause. You should have all received subscription notices today.

Don't forget that if you're ever unsure about receiving messages, they're copied here on the UV Writing blog. This may turn out to be our most stable site, but I'll also stick with the listserv.

Thanks for your work, and I'll see you soon.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Meetings/Adjunct Social

Our monthly meetings will be held Tuesday and Wednesday next week (the 7th and 8th), at 5pm in the usual place.

Following program business announcements and addressing questions and concerns from the group, we'll return to portfolios for the bulk of our time. I'll outline the purpose of adding a portfolio component to the assignment sequence for program assessment purposes, a basic plan for compiling documents, and some ways to use portfolios in your own classes. Gae Lyn will present some of the recent scholarship on assessment and how portfolios fit into larger assessment questions. We should have ample time for questions and discussion to follow.

And, here's an invitation from the faculty center with attachments to two upcoming events:

Deans and Chairs,
The Faculty Center is holding their 3rd Annual Adjunct Social on April 10,
from 6:00-8:00 p.m. We would like to ask you to encourage your adjuncts to
attend, and we also would like to personally invite you and a guest to this
event. Registration is open until Monday, April 6, at the following url:

In addition, we would like to request you encourage your faculty to attend
and you to attend the First Annual Scholarship of Teaching and Engagement
Conference on April 13-14. I am attaching an agenda detailing the sessions
that will be presented on these days.
Registration is open until Monday, April 6 at the following url:
Thank you for your support,

See you next week.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

March meetings coming up

Our March meetings are coming up next week, 3 and 4 March, and we'll be in the usual SC 206 g/h location.

We'd like to use the March meetings to start the process of thinking about how to incorporate portfolios into our first year comp courses. Doug alerted us to this likelihood last year, and it seems time to follow up on it for a couple of reasons, but mainly because portfolios will give us the means to assess our writing courses more effectively than in some past attempts. Since we'd like to involve our instructors as much as possible in the planning stages, please consider sharing your experiences with portfolios at our meetings next week. Think, for instance, about:

1. How many assignments you ask students to include: how many (or which particular papers) are required, and which are open to student choice?
2. How heavily do (or perhaps should) portfolios weigh in final course grades?
3. How do you incorporate students' reflective writing (i.e. self-assessment) into the portfolio?
4. How much weight do you give to revision?

Certainly too, share both positive and negative experiences you've had with portfolios, so that we can not only consider the directions we should pursue, but also anticipate challenges that may arise from particular approaches.

I'll bring some hard copies to the meeting, but in case you'd like to get ahead of it, or if the electronic version works best, I'm attaching the schedule preference form for fall 2009 on the listserv. The deadline to turn them in is 13 March.

A few people have asked about summer classes, so let me update everyone now. I hope to see a summer schedule by the end of the week. If you're interested in summer classes, please drop me an email by Monday.

See you soon.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

February Meeting Followup

Thanks for attending our February meetings last week, and thanks Gae Lyn for heading the Wednesday session.

Just to catch everyone up and give everyone access to documentation, here's a link to the university policies on awarding UW grades and accommodating military leave. Gae Lyn followed up on questions about the last drop date (after which we should avoid giving any UW grades), which is February 19, later than I believed.

There was also some discussion about administrative drops. The department typically does not use the administrative drop option, but we're working on ways to get the institution to allow wait listing when students attempt to sign up for full sections, which we hope will--if used as we imagine--allow for more flexibility in the first few weeks of the term.

As we consider assessment plans for the coming academic year, it's likely that we'll follow up on Doug's suggestion last year of incorporating some kind of portfolio system into the existing assignment sequences. I'll link here to Basic Comp's portfolio guidelines so you can get an idea of what they've been doing, but we'll try to spend some time in our upcoming monthly meetings proposing some approaches and getting your feedback before we proceed with any new requirements.

Finally, I hope we'll be able to distribute schedule preference forms for fall 2009 soon. Since we're a few weeks out from our March meeting, you'll probably get the forms first via email, but we'll have hard copies available as well once we get a sense of the fall schedule.

See you in the halls.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Incorporating New Media in the Classroom

In my now 4+ years as a writing teacher and through my own experiences as a student, I've come to realize that one of the most valuable ways to improve as a writer is to get a great deal of feedback. (And recent neurological and educational research would seem to corroborate that.) Unfortunately, with class sizes as large as they are due to budget constraints, there is a limit to how much one-on-one feedback and personalized mentorship I'm able to provide to each of my students. (There is only so much that one person can do, after all!)

Not that I'm advocating this for any of you, but I tend to go a little above and beyond the call of duty and meet with each student via the phone for at least 20 minutes to discuss their rough drafts for every major paper. This is a tremendous sacrifice of my personal time and energy, but I keep doing it since my students say it's often the #1 most helpful thing about my class. Plus, I tend to find a big improvement in most of my student's writing as a result of these conferences. While part of me is always concerned that I may not be able to sustain this level of commitment in the future, another part of me wishes there was some way I could give them more feedback and guidance even earlier in the writing process.

That's why I'm starting to see some of the appeals of using new media (e.g. Web 2.0 applications) in the college writing classroom. I've been enjoying a blog and podcast called Academic Evolution recently. It was launched by Gideon Burton, a former mentor of mine and a professor of English at Brigham Young University. Academic Evolution is devoted to exploring the ways new media is changing (or should change) the way academic discourse is carried out---in both the college classroom and in scholarly research.

Episode 3 of the podcast was about Blogging in College Writing Instruction. I recommend downloading it and listening to it yourself, but for those of you who don't have the time (it's about 35 minutes long), I'll summarize it here. The episode is basically a discussion between Burton and Kathy Cowley, a graduate writing instructor who is trying an experiment using blogging as an integral part of her instruction this semester. In the podcast, Cowley argues that real-world writing involves a 3-way rhetorical interaction between the writer, the content, and the audience. The problem is that the classroom is an artificial rhetorical context because it lacks a real audience. Students spend 30+ hours on a writing assignment that is only read by their professor (and maybe a disgruntled peer or two). But it doesn't have to be that way. Using a term coined by Rosa Eberly, she argues that classrooms can become a "proto-public" space by fostering greater collaboration between peers.

Cowley is trying to foster greater peer collaboration through blogging. She requires her students to write three weekly blog entries on their class blog (one before each session of class). The entries must be at least a paragraph long and need to be semi-polished prose. The students also need to post 10 comments on posts written by their fellow students by the end of the week. Cowley posts weekly blog prompts and blog assignment directions for the students on a separate blog. For example, Cowley frequently requires students to post portions of the papers they are working on so that they can get feedback from their peers. Cowley reports that many students have revised their arguments and ideas based on the initial responses from their fellow students. She feels the experiment has been successful so far.

I can see how Cowley's blogging idea could have some good applications for assignments such as the Summary/Strong Response paper in 1010 and the Analysis/Synthesis paper in 2010. Since those assignments involve having students respond to a common text, I see value in having students exchange and debate the ideas in these texts in a more proto-public forum such as a blog. I try to get students to engage in these kinds of discussions during my class, but these good discussions often get cut off when class time ends. Plus, I think an online forum could entice some of my more shy or introverted students to participate in discussions a little more.

As a side note, I also recommend checking out Episode 2 of the podcast, The Facebook Experiment. In this episode, Burton discusses his own experiment using a Facebook group to foster better class discussions about literature. Burton's use of Facebook is another possibly good use of new media in the classroom that is in a similar vein as Cowley's. If you have a Facebook account, you can check out his class's Facebook group: BYU English 251 Sect 4 (Winter 2009).

Hopefully you'll find some of these ideas helpful and provocative!

Friday, January 30, 2009

February Meetings Coming Up

Our February meetings will be held next week, Tuesday and Wednesday in SC 206 G/H, 5:00-6:30.

I'm happy to announce that we'll be joined this month by Forrest Williams, Chair, and at least one other faculty member from the Basic Composition Program. They'll have a presentation on recent developments in their program that in many positive ways reflect our own, and then lead a discussion and answer whatever questions you may have about the ways they're preparing students for our courses, the relationship between 089/099 and 1010/2010, and so on.

We should also have some time to discuss other questions and matters of concern regarding your classes, including folllowing up on last month's topics as necessary.

Please feel free to email me ( if you'd like any issues added to our agenda or have any questions you'd like us to address as a group. Otherwise, see you next week.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

downloading/starting micrograde

Steps for downloading Micrograde

Login to UV Link (use Windows Explorer rather than Mozilla)
· Open the help tab
· Open “Employee” file in Download Manager window
· Choose your platform (Mac/PC)
· Open Micrograde file and click on “Micrograde Setup exe
· Run installer

Setting up courses is pretty intuitive, and the micrograde program will walk you through each step:
· Name your course and term
· Select grading methods (points or percentages)
· Set grade standards (either confirm the default grade breakdown or adjust as you wish)
· Fill in grade categories and weights.
· Add student names to populate your class roster. Blackboard/Web CT users can import class roster into Micrograde, but in my experience, it simply doesn’t take long to type in student names.

Don’t hesitate to stop by or email if you have any questions about using the program.

Of course you need not use Micrograde, but you have to maintain a detailed record of grades --rather than final grades alone--over the term that you can give to Meredith after finals.

See you later--next month at the latest.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Welcome Back--January Meetings Next Week

Welcome back to campus. Hope your first classes--today, tomorrow, Saturday--go well.
I wanted to remind you that our first meetings of the term will be held next Tuesday and Wednesday, the 13th and 14th, from 5-6:30 in SC 206 g/h. As a reminder, and for the new instructors who are joining us this semester, you need only attend one meeting a month, since the content of each is roughly the same.

This month we'll be joined for the first part of the meetings by Professor Mark Crane, who will be talking about online technologies that facilitate communication between instructors and students, and between students themselves. I hope that--particularly since office space and predictable times are difficult to come by--emerging technologies will help mitigate the lack of physical space.

Also, we'll talk about maintaining grade books electronically. We'll be asking you to turn in a detailed grade book (rather than simply a final grade report as in the past), so part of the meeting will include an introduction to the Micrograde software--which is free and which I find pretty user-friendly--and to writing Excel spreadsheets--which Grant will talk about, particularly for Mac users. Certainly, we invite you to briefly describe your own book-keeping strategies, including keeping paper grade books, at next week's meetings as well. Any approach is fine, as long as you're able to provide Meredith an electronic or paper document with a detailed report of your grades.

Finally, I know a number of you were hoping to get additional classes, especially since there remains significant enrollment pressure this semester. Unfortunately, budget cuts have prevented us from adding more sections, so your schedules are most likely to remain as they are. We hope to return to being able to offer everyone the number of sections they'd like in the fall. On that note, because of the additional enrollment pressure, we're likely to face unusual pressure from students and administrators to over-enroll our writing classes in the first weeks of spring. Regardless of that increased pressure, we strongly encourage you to keep your classes at the enrollment cap (23 in regular classrooms, 20 in computer classrooms), using, if you'd like, the department's add policy as leverage. Copies of the add policy are in your mailboxes.

I think that's about it for now. Write me if you need anything in the first week of class--otherwise, see you next week. In case you reply to the email listserv, don't forget that when you reply to a listserv message, the default reply is to the entire list--so make sure you select "reply to sender" if you want your message to come only to me.

See you soon.