Posted in Accelerated Learning, Accessibility, CBW2019, CCCC2019, Deficit Models, Politics of Remediation, Teaching

Interrogating and Challenging Deficit Models in Basic Writing

J. Elizabeth Clark and Darin Jensen led an interactive session on thinking about affective pedagogy & challenging deficit models.

You can see the whole presentation, including small group notes & group sharing notes here:

Posted in Accessibility, CBW2019, CCCC2019, Teaching

Leveling Up, Accessing Writing

Brenda Brueggemann, University of Connecticut

Our afternoon keynote began with Brenda Brueggemann telling us a little bit about this history of disability studies at CCCC. She shared that CCCC’s history has moved from offering no sessions to the 2019 conference features 30 sessions with over 105 speakers focused on disability studies.

She began by asking us to think about the word “level” and the concept of leveling as it often applies to education. Brenda said that often, she’s asked how to work with students at “different levels.”

What Does Level Mean?

She asked the participants to think about:

  1. What images, metaphors, associations, objects, phrases come to mind?
  2. How is this word/concept used? And where?
  3. How does this apply to your classroom and the various “levels” your student-writers occupy in the work of that classroom?

Small Group Work in interpreting levels ( participants were invited to interpret the word “level.”)

We noticed that some groups focused on words, some groups focused on images, some groups worked together, some groups worked individually. We also noticed that stairs were a repeating metaphor, but the stairs always go UP.

It was also clear that everyone was struggling with the idea of levels: both positive and negative connotations with levels.

Next, we focused on the students and “the student frame of mind.”

  1. WHY? Are your students working at certain/different levels?

Participant responses: family backgrounds, ESL, working full-time, underprepared high schools, inaccessibility, what technology is doing to student brains, learning differences, different learning styles, differences in student district interpretation of standards, co-curricular and extra curricular activities, anxiety, trauma, depression/anxiety, connection to the teacher

2. WHAT are the factors that produce those “levels”?

Participant responses: money, geography, structural racism, religion, trauma, traumatic events–both physical and mental, lack of appropriate role models, spouses, social unwillingness to invest, lack of universal health care, state standards aren’t aligned with college expectations, lack of childcare and elder care

Strategies for Universal Design for Learning

Brenda next introduced us to Universal Design for Learning (for a great introductory video, see the CAST Website: )

UDL focuses on: representation, engagement, action & expression (see Brenda’s slides for a full definition of each)

Next, we were asked about the kinds of things that happen in a writing classroom. We brainstormed this list: Peer review, journalism, brainstorming, outlining, group work research, class discussion, drafting, editing, revising, critical reading, identifying evidence, visual work, movement in and out of individual and groups.

Tables were asked to think about designing an activity that incorporates UDL and shared strategies and assignments.

You can see the whole presentation here, where Brenda has generously shared her slides:

Posted in Accessibility, CBW Exec Board, CBW2019, CCCC, CCCC2019, Teaching, Tech

Lean On Me: Self-Accommodation and Teaching with Disabilities

The amazing Sara Webb-Sunderhaus generously made her entire keynote presentation, “Lean on Me: Self-Accommodation and Teaching with Disabilities” available on Scribd (link below).

I hope you’ll read her full talk. This is an amazing story and journey. Sara’s brave story touches on: mindful teaching, abundant self-care, questions about identity, changing identity, the role and load of writing program administrators, disclosing impairments to students, feminism, the whole self, vulnerability, and a call to think about how to structure work in ways that allow you to do your best work–whatever that means at a given time in your life.

A few quotes from Sara’s talk that really spoke to me:

“I vividly remember thinking that one moment had changed my life in ways I did not yet understand…”

“Over the past year and a half, I have struggled to come to terms with a changing identity, sense of self, and expectations.
Today I’d like to talk with you about what this process has been
like. Specifically, I will discuss the impact of my disability on my teaching, the types of resources I have needed and continue to need, and how I have learned to practice self-accommodation as I continue to come to terms with the ways my life has changed over the past 18 months.”

“If I had been an adjunct, with no health insurance, there is no doubt I would have had to declare bankruptcy. But I was not an adjunct—I was a tenured associate professor, with a great deal of sick time, supportive colleagues, and a caring chair. All of these factors were critical resources as I adjusted to my new reality.”

“What I have had to learn this academic year — and what I am still in the process of learning — is how to implement low-spoon theories of writing program administration and teaching and make use of the resources available to me. I refer here to Christine Miserandino’s spoon theory, which uses spoons as metaphors for energy.”

“Self-accommodation is an intensely important and woefully overlooked academic practice, especially for women,” adding that “it is directly at odds with America’s culture of ruthless self-reliance and ‘toughing it out,’ with women’s perceptions of self-worth being tied to usefulness, with expectations of female availability, and with our own (often founded) fears of appearing ‘weak’ or less capable than male colleagues” (173).”

“It forced me to become comfortable with accepting help and relying on others when appropriate, and it made me explore why I had such a fear of being a burden to others. I have learned — and am still learning — that it is okay to ask for help when I need it. That does not mean that I am over-reliant on others or not doing my job. I do not have to constantly prove to myself that I am strong or independent, because I know that I am all of those things; accepting a dear colleague’s help does not lessen me in any way.”

“I’ve now reached a place where it feels like a responsibility, not a burden, to disclose my disability to students. I want all students to know that people who at first glance may appear “able bodied” may not be. I want students— both those with disabilities and those without — to know that being born with or acquiring a disability may change someone’s life, but it doesn’t necessarily have to change their goals and ambitions.”

“I will never be able to work in the same ways I did before, because I live in crip time now. That is okay — more than okay — to admit. I still sometimes feel embarrassed to have these conversations with students, but without exception they have been kind and generous. I hope that sharing my vulnerabilities with them has led to a classroom environment in which they feel can be vulnerable, and I know I feel closer to this particular group of students than I ever have by this point in a semester. My students have helped me reach a point of self-acceptance, and I am grateful to them for that.”

During the Q&A Session, participants shared experiences, strategies, and questions such as:

–it’s difficult to file for accommodations; many people don’t file for accommodation



–invitation to join the CCCC Standing Group for Disability Studies

Please read the full text of Sara’s talk here: