Due to the popularity of our combined ePortfolio Cohort/WriteBites event last semester, this year, the Office of University Writing will begin hosting “WriteBites Chats.” The Chats will be held monthly, and will focus on discussion – what can we learn from each other; what strategies can we borrow from other programs and courses; what assumptions are we making about teaching writing or asking students to create ePortfolios that need to be re-examined, and what practices for teaching writing, reflection, visual literacy, etc. need to be reconsidered and revised? Sessions are listed below and cover a range topics designed to appeal to all faculty, including ePortfolio Cohort members and those with a particular interest in ePortfolios.
When Does it Happen?
Fall: Tuesdays from 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. | Spring: Wednesdays from 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
What topics are there?
If you’re going to scaffold learning, but don’t have time to waste re-teaching things your students already know, you need a quick way to determine what skills and knowledge they’re bringing to the table. If your students have an ePortfolio, then you may have a clearer window on your students’ knowledge base, but even if they don’t, there are ways to get a sense of what skills your students have. Join us for an informal conversation about strategies that can help you get a read on your students’ abilities at the beginning of the term so you can adjust your teaching schedule to maximize their learning and minimize the time you spend re-teaching.
We all want students to think more deeply, and reflective writing activities can help. But, asking students to reflect does not generate deep thinking or synthesis unless teachers prompt such work and provide feedback that pushes students towards higher order thinking skills. And, once students have done deep reflection, there’s an additional challenge when they move their work into an ePortfolio or other project in which they need to cut the length of their writing without sacrificing the evidence of their deep thinking. This discussion will focus on integrating reflection into courses, prompting the kinds of thinking we expect, and then responding to what students produce as efficiently and effectively as possible.
Experienced writers recognize that they don’t write in exactly the same way or use exactly the same language as they communicate to different readers. Asking students to shift from one audience or purpose to another not only strengthens their writing by giving them range, but it can also deepen their understanding of content. ePortfolios are one example of a project often intended for an external audience, but in many cases, students have little experience writing for anyone other than an instructor. Let’s share ideas for crafting assignments that ask students to communicate to different audiences and prompt revisions that shift audience, genres, or purpose, while fostering the learning goals of our courses and helping students prepare for the writing they will do after they graduate.
“I don’t have time to read and grade an assignment twice” is a common enough complaint. Yet, there’s strong evidence that when students are asked to revise, they learn the material better and develop more writing ability. In fact, one of the reasons ePortfolios are such a powerful learning opportunity is that students work on them over an extended time frame and naturally revise prior work for this new purpose. So, what strategies can we use to integrate revision opportunities into assignments without just increasing the work load on faculty? Come ready to share your own experiences with revision as both a writer and a teacher.
As you finish those final exams and record grades, it’s a perfect time to take a step back to think about your students collectively — what they learned, what they didn’t really master — and then consider how you could revise the course for the next time you teach it. In this discussion, we’ll focus on strategies for recognizing learning across a class rather than focusing on individual gains and consider how to use what one class of students does to revise the course to better achieve our goals for student learning.
Faculty often worry that their classes are too full to add writing assignments. But what if you could teach content, skills, and habits, while simultaneously helping students improve their writing ability? In this discussion, we will focus on how to use writing-to-learn strategies, including ways to use elements of ePortfolios to help students learn more content and develop deeper understanding.
Many students who are good at math-based assignments believe that they don’t need to be good writers. Scientists, engineers, accountants, financial advisors, and other “numbers people” know better. Likewise, too many students who are reasonably competent with words struggle when they have to understand numerical data or integrate numbers into their prose. Let’s talk about ways we’ve integrated textual and numerical information, the kinds of assignments we give, and the kinds of instruction and feedback students need to be successful in presenting, analyzing, and thinking with and about numbers, no matter what their major.
ePortfolios make the demands for visual thinking abundantly clear. There’s also research that suggests that we all benefit by thinking, planning, and organizing via visual thinking rather than limiting ourselves to linear structures like outlines or alphabetical presentations of ideas. Unfortunately, we don’t all know how to talk about or teach students to be effective with visual elements or use visual thinking to help students learn. In this discussion we’ll share ideas for visual instruction and assignments that invite visual thinking.
Though many teachers here at Auburn are creating great alternatives to boring assignments, we all too often fail to be creative in representing this work in performance reviews or for tenure and promotion. Let’s revisit alternatives to boring assignments for students, spend some time sharing strategies for helping our colleagues understand our investment in teaching, and think creatively about our own writing projects for the summer. How can we add value across all these domains as we find alternatives to the boring?
If you have ideas of topics you would like featured at future discussions, please contact us.
Where Does it Happen?
ePortfolio Studio — 2056 RBD Library (look for the green wall on the south side of the Learning Commons)
How to Register
*Registration is free, but it is required. Please click here to register for WriteBites Chats.
*Space is limited, so register early! Once registration is confirmed, please be on the lookout for an email from us regarding lunch orders. If you do not receive an email confirmation within one business day, please contact us.