May the FOD be with you!

I’ve been reading letters written to me by my English 090 (developmental writing) students. They are their “Readiness Letters” in which they reflect on their learning this term and make a case for whether they are ready for the next level (English 095). Yesterday one depressed me because the student pointed out how she had “learned comma splices this term.” Not the first time I’d seen such a statement in a student paper, but it’s still depressing. Clearly, she’d learned the term, but hadn’t yet got a handle on what they are or how to avoid them.

This morning, though, I read one which included this paragraph (below). Yay. A shot in the arm.

I think you also had an impact on my learning. You made the class fun and it made me want to be there to learn. Some teachers are kind of serious and you were not. I know you were serious about us learning, but you made some jokes about what we learning that I found it more comfortable to participate. I especially like your saying “May the FOD be with you!” It helped me remember that in my essays I need to be focused on my thesis, organize my essay correctly, and have good examples and details in my development stage. I have noticed that when you make up little sayings like that, it makes it easier to remember things. More teachers should teach how you do.

FOD, by the way, stands for Focus, Organization, and Development.


resource for helping students with dyslexia in Portland

A great resource for helping students with dyslexia: The Blosser Center in Portland.

Just saw someone from there (sorry, didn’t catch her name) on a TV interview. She said that 60% of people in prisons (I assume, in the U.S.) have some kind of reading difficulty. Wow.

She mentioned that dyslexic children will often write a capital B in the middle or end of a word, e.g., “ClimB,” because, while they can’t remember which is the lower-case “d” and “b,” they can remember what the capital B looks like. That’s something I haven’t noticed — yet — among college students, but I may have just missed some. She also said that students who often write the wrong word (homophones, homonymns) — “plane” instead of “plain,” for example — could be dyslexic. Hadn’t thought of that. I think I had just figured that was something that all of us slip into if we’re not paying attention. So, hmmm… something to watch for.

And sounds like there’s a serious shortage of tutors in Oregon who are trained in the Orton-Gillingham approach.

Gen 1.5 writers

I don’t know how many Hispanic Gen 1.5 students I’ll be working with at OSU, but I don’t want to lose track of some of the articles I’ve found/used over the last couple years.

Barr, Linda. “Culture: Expectations and Differences, Generation 1.5 Students” in “Tutoring the ESL Student” an online workshop by ATP (Association of Tutoring Professionals). Fall 2005.

Barr emphasizes that developmental English classes (reading and writing classes) often don’t help Gen 1.5 students very well. Of course, that’s because those classes are aimed more at native speakers. Where developmental reading classes, she points out, may focus on teaching the student to find main and supporting points, “Generation 1.5 students may need help with idiomatic speech and coolocation.” And “writing classes also miss the boat” because they usually aim at native speakers and don’t teach things like common rhetorical forms, vocabulary, and grammar.

Harklau, Linda, Kay M. Losey, and Meryl Siegal, eds. Generation 1.5 Meets College Composition: Issues in the Teaching of Writing to U.S.-Educated Learners of ESL. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erblaum Associates, 1999.

Harklau, Linda. “Generation 1.5 Students and College Writing” (digest of Generation 1.5 Meets College Composition)

Mendez Newman, Beatrice. “Centering in the Borderlands: Lessons from Hispanic Student Writers.” Writing Center Journal 23.2 (2003): 45-64. [The WCJ website shows the sub-title as “The Writing Center at Hispanic-Serving Institutions”]

Roberge, Mark. “California’s Generation 1.5 Immigrants: What Experiences, Characteristics and Needs Do They Bring to our English Classes” CATESOL Journal 14.1 (2002): 101-129. [The whole issue is focused on Generation 1.5.]

Russikoff, Karen. “Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation 1.5” Rev. of Generation 1.5 Meets College Composition: Issues in the Teaching of Writing to U.S.-Educated Learners of ESL, ed. by Linda Harklau, Kay M. Losey, and Meryl Siegal. Language Magazine Sept. 2001 [?].

Russikoff points out that “The term “Generation 1.5” was coined by researchers Rumbaut and Ima in 1988 to describe students who emigrated to the U.S. and who have received at least some of their education here.”

Singhal, Meena. “Academic Writing and Generation 1.5: Generational Goals and Instructional Issues in the College Composition Classroom” The Reading Matrix 4.3 (2004).

Thonus, Terese. “Serving Generation 1.5 Learners in the University Writing Center — Appropriately trained writing tutors help address the distinct learning needs of students often overlooked requiring ESL support.” TESOL Journal 12.1 (2003): 17-24.

PLUS there’s the section on Gen 1.5 I wrote for our “YVCC Writing Consultant Handbook.”

Gen 1.0 — immigrated as an adult
Gen 1.5 — immigrated as a adolescent
Gen 2.0 — child of immigrants, born in U.S. (or other English-speaking country), so a native speaker
… which makes me something like a Gen 8.0 or Gen 9.0. Except Native Americans, we’re all Gen-somethings.

incoherent subordination?????

This summer I’ve been working with a Gen 1.5 student whose struggles with English are different from most of the other Gen 1.5ers I’ve worked with. I myself am struggling with how to describe her struggles.

It’s not so much that she uses faulty predication as incoherent predication or may be incoherent subordination.??

Almost every time she used “because,” the sentence was incoherent.

She started learning English when she was about 20 (I think she’s in her forties now). She doesn’t do the aural mistakes very much — she doesn’t leave off the “ed” of the past participle, doesn’t write “this” when she means “these.” And I love that she tries to do more complicated sentences (using subordination, that kind of thing). But they usually don’t work. And I had trouble trying to help her, trying to give her some exercises to do, to give her some lessons (which is what she wanted). All I could do was explain on a case by case basis what was not clear and how she should fix it.

She did one year of college in Mexico, and that one year may help explain why she wants to write complex sentences.

But she presented me with a more complex mystery, a more difficult time digging down to figure out exactly what her language-brain was doing and how to help her retrain it.

Too bad I got to work with her only this summer a few times.

Cna yuo raed tihs?

My mom forwarded this to me today. Interesting.  Makes me wonder if one of the reasons dyslexia can be such a problem for readers is because their brains scramble the letters so that the first and last letters are no longer in their original places.  When their brains scramble only the inner-letters, maybe that’s when dyslexia’s not such a problem?  Also, I would think that more than 55% of people could read this, but maybe that’s Cambridge University’s stats.  Anyway, here ’tis.

Only great minds can read this ?

This is weird, but interesting!

fi yuo cna raed tihs, yuo hvae a sgtrane mnid too

Cna yuo raed tihs? Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 can.

i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt! if you can raed tihs forwrad it

plagiarism (on not rushing to judgment)

Just had one of those consultations which remind me how careful you have to be about assuming a student has plagiarized.  This English 70 student (at YVCC, English 70 and 75 are the two developmental writing courses below English 101 Freshman composition) wrote a two-page summary of A&E’s version of Pride and Prejudice which sounded just like one of those summaries you’d read on a top-notch movie website.  Good vocabulary, good sentence variety.  Concise prose, consistent tense.  I really thought I had a plagiarized paper in front of me. 

As we talked, though, I became convinced that she did in fact write every sentence herself.  She’d actually written it in high school, in a journalism class, when they’d spent a lot of time on summaries (maybe even on summarizing movies).   She remembered how long she’d worked on it back then.  She talked about her many drafts (in a way that didn’t at all sound contrived).  And it was obvious that she’s crazy about this movie, so it shouldn’t be surprising that she would do her best work when writing about it.

Reminds me of Gail a couple weeks ago.  She came in upset (to the point of threatening to give up school) because her instructor had told her that she must’ve plagiarized a chunk of her paper.  He even gave her the URL of the website she was allegedly plagiarizing.

It took me only a few minutes to realize that it was unintentional plagiarism, if anything.  First, somehow she’d gotten it in her head that APA doesn’t want direct quotes (strange, I know), and so she directly quoted without quotation marks.  Second, she just wasn’t familiar with how to cite in general.   There was a website that had quoted the same website that Gail had quoted.  But, in the end, that fact didn’t have anything to do with Gail or the question of plagiarism.  It was just one site cutting and pasting from another. 

So I made comments on her paper in a way to show her instructor that it was her ignorance of documentation methods not plagiarism which was the problem.  And her instructor finally did, I think, semi-apologize.  But she definitely won’t be taking another class from him.

So gotta be careful.  

“Older students fill most of the seats in CTC pre-college courses”

Isn’t this the best way to gather data!  I was posting some V-Day signs on the doors of Anthon 102 for Dodie today and found a couple of hand-outs left behind in the room.

“More than 75 percent of the students taking pre-college courses have been out of high school for 4 or more years.”  Older students = 48,442.  Recent HS graduates (within 3 years) = 14,160.

Most high school graduates head to college: 70-75% (in 2005) enter a higher ed institution within 2 years of graduating.  Enroll into Community and Technical Colleges = 37%.  Enroll out of state = 8%.  Enroll in WA Baccalaureate institutions = 21%.

“But nearly half coming to the CTC system are not prepared in math.”  Students taking pre-college math = 47%.  Students taking pre-college writing = 19%.  Students taking pre-college reading = 10%.

Source: State Board for Community & Technical Colleges, Research Report 06-5, December 2006.