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.