Fordham University            The Jesuit University of New York
 


Plenary

 
Plenary for EP-1
 
Remember: in the real word of teaching, writing and speaking and critical thinking will always be integrated. Start with your goals are for writing and speaking and work from there...

What we all know...

Here are some key variables to weigh up:

Writing
- The sequencing of exercises and the balance between low and high stakes writing.
- How you respond - comments, addressing the class, office hours, working with groups, mini-workshops.
- High-order vs. lower-order - thesis before punctuation.

Speaking
- Formal and informal speaking exercises.
- Vary length, group size & scope.
- Indvidual presentations versus pairs versus groups.
- Professor-guided or student-led?
- Find extra-curricular opportunities for speaking.

Critical thinking
- Discussions during a topic and debates at the end?
- The adroit use of juxtapositions to highlight connections and conflicts.
- Encouraging better questions <- at the heart ofcritical thinking.

What we mustn't forget...

Keep trying new things!  Be innovative. Don't stop tinkering!

Anne Fernald's students top 3 writing exercises:
- Write a paragraph incorporating a quotation <- they loved that!
- Post ideas on Blackboard & get peer feedback <- they got on with this themselves.
- Extended in-class writing (20 minutes, uncollected) <- they go home and write this up.

Make your expectations clear in the rubric. Read them out in class!
Is editing part of grading? You're not an editor, you don't have to fix anything. Pick out a paragraph and show them what's wrong. Comment to encourage revision, to show engagement in the process.

Hang on in there for the long haul. Writing, speaking, and critical thinking are hard to assess if students don't do a genre of performance twice (2 tests; 2 papers; 2 oral reports) so be sure to view any one assignment in the context of the whole. You will often know when it's not them because it doesn't sound like them. Remember some of the best papers and best presentations will break your rules!

Your expectations...

SEMINAR EXERCISE: Faculty suggestions:
- Spend the first 3 minutes asking them to summarize the last class.
- Peer review is the key: get them to look at one another's work.
- Challenge students to come up with the questions.
- Have them collaborate in coming up with better questions.
- Engage their interest by relating the reading to contemporary issues.
- Pull quotes out for juxtaposition.
- Use an online forum for student comments.

SEMINAR EXERCISE: Faculty reflections:
- Speaking is the bigger problem. We know writing is the essay. We know writing and speaking lead to critical thinking. But what does speaking lead to on the way to critical thinking?
- Suggestions for assignments to help us work up the relationship between writing, speaking and critical thinking: reaction papers, online forums, writing to mimic a style, group work, reading papers aloud in class.
- Rubrics: consider the delicate relationship between the formal text and informal reinforcement, the value of exemplars, the complexity of feedback, and the delicate balance between criticism and encouragement.
- The Long Haul: emphasize in the first class that this is a seminar and so for first years it will be a special challenge.
What are our main goals?
For writing - emphasize the process and the importance of the draft.
For speaking - emphasize the importance of practice.
For critical thinking - emphasize the importance of discussion to cover all the angles and the use of authority to give arguments substance.

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