Posted in Calls to Action, CBW 2011, Mission Statement

Next Steps for CBW

Michael Hill’s presentation today challenged the Council on Basic Writing to move beyond a mission statement to focus on best practice statements, like WPA and NCTE and CCCC have. His call to action included:

Clear & Strong Best Practice Statements on issues like:

  • assessment
  • grammar instruction
  • placement procedures
  • class size
  • faculty training
  • ESL
  • programmatic support
  • textbooks
  • contingent faculty
  • acceleration
  • what it means to teach for student voice & student empowerment
  • curriculum
Posted in CBW 2011, Fun!

CBW Dines Out! Please Join Us!

Karen Uehling has organized an informal dinner tonight. Join us to meet colleagues and enjoy some Georgia cuisine.
Join us for dinner tonight!
CBW Dines Out
5:30 p.m.
Wednesday, 6 April 2011
Sweet Georgia’s Juke Joint
200 Peachtree Street
Suite #L05
Atlanta, Georgia 30303
We’ll be paying for our own dinners (sadly, CBW cannot treat the whole group).
It will be a fun time!
Posted in CBW 2011, Contingent Labor

Empowering Basic Writing Faculty: Contingent Labor

Jessica Schreyer from the University of Dubuque addressed the issue of contingent labor. Many basic writing programs rely extensively on contingent labor. How can we better reach out to our colleagues, empowering them to be a part of our writing programs? Schreyer established 4 issues that she felt needed to be addressed:

1. Meetings (when and how)

Schreyer polled the faculty to discuss the previous meeting structure. She used a doodle scheduling poll to find a common meeting time. She scheduled 2 meetings to reach out to everyone. She used a relationship-building model to create recognition and to provide input and expectations about curriculum, assessment, and textbooks. She worked to provide guidance and also to establish a clear community of respect, letting the adjuncts know that their work is very valued.

2. Connections on Campus (who, what, where & how to connect on campus)

While the University of Dubuque has a large number of resources for students, faculty do not always know what those resources are. So, Schreyer worked to help faculty make those connections.

3. Personalized Contact (making personal connections, valuing people)

She established contact via e-mails and frequent contacts. She also made appointments to visit the adjuncts when they were in their offices. She also invited them for coffee and lunch.

4. Professional Development (useful & focused)

In the past, meetings were scheduled for the convenience of the full time faculty, not the contingent faculty. She worked to find common meeting times for both full-time and part-time faculty to create a community between the full faculty. She also wanted the professional development to be more meaningful, so she worked to focus on topics relevant to first year writing. She also worked to use the adjuncts’ knowledge and experience to inform the professional development, having them lead the professional development sessions.

Posted in CBW 2011

Infrastructure & Immobility in in Basic Writing

Michael D. Hill presented “Basic Writing Among the Natives, or How to Change Survive a Program from the Inside.” He began with the compelling explanation that the campus is “locked between the University of Michigan Dearborn on one side, a freeway on another, a rive behind us, and Ford Motor Company in front of us.” This leads to physical limits in growth and development for the college.

He discussed the challenges of working for change, trying to implement WPA, portfolio assessment, new pedagogies. Hill also discussed a common thread in today’s session: how to innovate in a department. Many people at today’s workshop have raised the question of how to introduce new pedagogies.

Change is easier when there is a group you can point to position statements and a presence; innovative pedagogies are easier to introduce when you can point to a field.

Hill called for CBW to make clear & strong best practice statements on issues like: assessment, grammar instruction, placement procedures, class size, faculty training, ESL, programmatic support, textbooks, contingent faculty, acceleration, what it means to teach for student voice & student empowerment, and curriculum.

Posted in CBW 2011

Purdue University Calumet’s SI Program

Lizbeth Bryant and Miranda Morley from Purdue University Calumet presented their innovative Supplemental Instruction (SI) model in English 100. The Writing Center and the Supplemental Instructors (SIs) work together as a bridge between the instructors and the students. They are actively working on coalition building between the SIs, the Writing Tutors, the faculty and the students. They are also working to connect the training of tutors and SIs (while also differentiating between the two positions). A great new innovation is thinking about adapting SI for on-line instruction. They are currently piloting a supplemental online program to extend the program to as many students as possible.

Lizbeth Bryant focused on the importance of being strategic AND making connections.

Posted in Calls to Action, CBW 2011, CCCC, History of Basic Writing, Mission Statement, Politics of Remediation, What's New in Basic Writing

Developing Ideas for the Mission Statement

Idea #1: Mission Statement
The Council on Basic Writing is an organization that advocates for all basic writers across all institutions types and supports basic writing teacher-scholars in the professional endeavors. We pursue these ends by:

· Working to raise the visibility of basic writings’ central role to the academic and civic enterprise across our campuses, in the profession and in the public eye.
· Fostering a network that encourages the development of new research and collaborative strategies to enhance teaching excellence through BWeThe Basic Writing E-Journal and an annual meeting,
· Advocating for the best conditions for teaching and learning Basic Writing, and
· Providing support for the development and dissemination of best teaching practices that foster student access and success.

We think we need position statements and Core principals!

Core Principals (we really like the way ATTW set this up)

  • To the public
  • The Council on Basic Writing sees a literate citizenry as the foundation of social justice.
  • To academy
  • To the promote the academic traditions as of advancing and sharing knowledge.
  • The CBW values diversity and diverse learners.


Idea #2: CBW Mission Statement and Core Principles:

The Council on Basic Writings’ (CBW) core values promote public and institutional basic writing policies and scholarship that advocate for and support students, faculty, and programs, in  connecting and enhancing their collective developing voices within a linguistically diverse world.

  1. Should have a role in building a culture of scholarship around basic writing
  2. Public voice of Basic Writing Scholarship:
  3. Support faculty and students in competence in using English for academic disciplinary, professional and social power for a linguistically diverse world.
  4. Work to influence public policy supportive of goals.
  5. Provide Professional development for faculty teaching Basic Writing
  6. Provide assistance in preparation of graduate students for teaching Basic Writing
  7. Support, promote, and provide community for instructors and graduate students of Basic Writing
  8. Advocate for public institutional Basic Writing Programs nationally
  9. Disseminate effective basic writing pedagogies.

Idea #3: CBW advocates and promotes the professionalizaton of basic writing studies, to provide access to diverse adult learners (or educational opportunities for an engaged citizens), embracing our knowledge and expertise in multiple literacies at multiple sites for all adult learners. To afford diverse adult learners access to academic, professional/technical, and other language communities.

Idea #4: Because we believe that all students are learners capable of constructing and expressing ideas that are both valuable and worthy of expression, the CBW supports student success, valuable academic partnerships with a variety of stakeholders, innovative practices in teaching/leaving and improved working conditions for Basic Writing teachers.

**this is a preamble to a larger statement**

Idea #5: CBW is dedicated to teaching, research, and administrative work that promotes social justice and supports students for whom continued support is necessary as they transition to new, more demanding rhetorical contexts. CBW’s core principles include:

  • collaboration between 2 and 4 year colleges
  • communication and cooperation between various campus support services
  • sophisticated pedagogy that integrates reading and writing across diverse learning styles
  • accessibile high quality education
  • scholarship that integrates theory and reflective practice

Discussion Points:

Are all learners capable of “constructing and expressing ideas that are both valuable and worthy of expression” or is it that we want to ensure that all students have ACCESS?

What happens when you put labels on people? What happens when you institutionalize those labels? What happens when we pigeon-hole students? Limit them?

On ACCESS: The Chronicle of Higher Education is regularly reporting on students who are closed out of classes that are full (courses close in April for a Fall semester).

We cannot assume that developmental studies are going to survive.

Our mission is wider than basic writing courses (writing centers, adult returning courses, community literacy, etc.)

We have to defend egalitarianism (again). Basic writing is on its way out. We need to go back to our basic values.

These statements assume that we’re okay. They do not assume we’re at risk.

We’re at risk.

We need to have a strong emphasis on advocacy: access, social justice. Advocacy must be one of our roles.

Gate keeping and standards seem to dictate our roles (legacy of the double function–Mary Soliday)–how do we push back.

The key is public.

The evisceration of the pubic sector is at work here: the privatization of what used to be public (K-12 and higher education); our students are expendable in this society.

In the 1960s, it was “cool” to have a basic writing program. It’s not “cool” anymore. The four year schools didn’t put up as much of a fight as they should have when basic skills were pushed to two year schools.

We also need to recognize that there has been a lot of research that indicates that what we’ve been doing for the last 20-30 years has not been as effective as we have hoped it could be. This is a complicated issue; it can work against us.

National push on completion rates: the more developmental students we can send to adult basic education, we don’t have to count in our completion rates.

Students need access to support services. Access doesn’t mean anything if students do not graduate.

Also, what happens with outsourcing of basic courses (including composition I).

We need to educate our colleagues.

The corporate move gets great support from the home schooling folks. Home schooling people have great suspicion of public education (and a negative perspective on public education). This limits the diverse mix of classrooms. Privatization of education in the homes leads to looking down on people who can’t privately educate their children.

The pecking order in departments: literature/creative writing, composition, basic writing.

Expendable students: we have more students who need the kind of support we can offer in basic writing.

We need to have an articulated sense of who we are; we need to clean house. How are we NOT LISTED IN THE CHAIRS’ ADDRESS? What does this say about the perception of basic writing within our own field?



Posted in CBW 2011

Mission Statement Ideas for the Council on Basic Writing

Here are hot ideas coming out of our discussions on a mission statement.

  • Because we believe that all students are learners  capable of constructing and expressing ideas that are both valuable and worthy of expression in academic, personal, civic, and professional contexts we think we should sponsor meetings, promote scholarship, with a wide range of stakeholders.
  • ACCESS and professionalization of our field are key issues (including GED and Adult Developmental Ed)
  • We must work to raise the visibility of basic writing’s central role to the academic and civic enterprise.
  • We must disseminate effective basic writing pedagogies.

More coming later!


Posted in CBW 2011, History of Basic Writing, Journal of Basic Writing

JBW’s New Site! Archives Live Now!

Today at CBW, Rebecca Mlynarczyk and Hope Parisi, co-editors of the Journal of Basic Writing (JBW) unveiled a new web location at the WAC CLEARINGHOUSE featuring open access archives to past issues of JBW. This work will be on-going. Right now, you can access some of the original issues with Mina P. Shaughnessy’s founding work.

Visit the site here: