Posted in CBW 2012

Christine Cummings and Nicole MacLaughlin on Tutorials (W7)

Christine Cummings and Nicole MacLaughlin of the University of Notre Dame presented “The Writing and Rhetoric Tutorial: Relationship Building as Basic Writing Pedagogy.”

The course is designed as an extended bridge program focused on extending the summer bridge program. Students apply to take it (rather than being required to take it). It draws on existing supports for the student at the university but puts the support personnel and faculty in conversation with one another such as counselors, advisors, undergraduate teaching assistants, and tutors. It features tutoring and wrap around services. The tutorial focuses on meta-cognition about writing. The students are put into small groups based on something students have in common, such as their experiences as international students or as athletes. The model focuses on a network of supportive relationships to support struggling writers.

MacLaughlin ended the discussion with the question of how they can roll this out to a larger group of students. Does it need to grow?


Posted in CBW 2012

Poster Session with Ann Shivers McNair (W7)

Ann Shivers McNair of the University of Southern Mississippi presented on “From Checkpoint to Gateway: Military Personnel and Veterans in the Basic Writing Classrooms.”

Ann described teaching in a town with a heavy military community: how do we serve veterans returning to school?

A student in her stretch English 101 who was a returning veteran helped to recruit student veterans for the course because he found that her class was immensely helpful and designed with supportive strategies, but he felt isolated from the rest of the student population. He wanted to create a supportive community for future student veterans taking the course. The project focused on self-identified veterans. The student veterans worked in a workshop style class and were supported by the student veteran who had previously taken the class. What emerged was a strong, supportive community and writing that allowed the small group to explore their military experiences in writing.

The students have supported one another and an organic self-placement helped to create a successful, positive space for veterans.

Students in this group also developed a diversity presentation to help the college community think about military personnel and their experiences because many faculty and students don’t know how to interact with the student veterans.

Shivers McNair’s experience points to a growing need to develop writing programs and experiences for student veterans in our courses. She’s currently working with the VA to find ways to pay the students for their work and leadership.


Posted in Basic Writing Projects & Initiatives, CBW 2012, CCCC 2012, Resources, Uncategorized

W7 Poster Session: Academic Literacies Through the Looking Glass

Hope Parisi, Kingsborough CC/CUNY

Developing a tutorial/studio model with TRIO, a federally funded DOE program to serve disadvantaged students. Dialogue between two models of student development – one based on skills/transfer, and the other based on a more rhetorical concept of academic literacy. This program has not yet been implemented but is being constructed.



Posted in CBW 2012, CCCC 2012, History of Basic Writing, Politics of Remediation, Scholarship of Basic Writing

W.7 Gathered at the Gate: Basic Writing in Evidence

Our first speaker this morning is Bruce Horner, University of Louisville, “Re-locating Basic Writing.”

Horner reviewed a familiar-sounding situation – the struggle in which we fight for the same things over and over – reframing this in light of Alistair Pennycook’s argument that every new iteration is changed by its location in time and place.

BW’s tradition refuses to settle for fixed ideas of who can be taught, and how. Rather than using the difficulty students have as a reason to cast them aside, we use the difficulty productively, as a site of for creating new knowledge about reading and writing.

Basic writers and their teachers and programs are always located ideologically on the periphery of institutions. Basic writing can be re-located at the leading edge, instead, since it calls assumptions into question and brings on new insights about literacy.

Horner described an “archipelago model” of languages and literacies in which different languages are seen as separate and stable. Pegagogies transmit these stable languages. This model overlooks the “traffic” among languages, literacies, and their users.

The “traffic model” takes into account location practices – what happens in time and place, by users of language, through engagement. Users adapt their practices according to their experiences in traffic. Our students are participants in the traffic. They are rewriting English and literacy practices themselves, and the basic writing course is a site in which English is reworked.

Pennycook’s term is “sedimentation” – to the extent that language consists of fixed forms, it’s the result of iterations practiced by language users, participating in “fertile mimesis.” Basic writers are engaged as agents in this process.

(This is my first try at doing this – trying to capture some key points, apologies for any errors as well as lack of overall coherence.)

Posted in CBW 2012

Bruce Horner, Relocating Basic Writing (W7)

We were delighted to welcome Bruce Horner this morning for his talk on “Relocating Basic Writing,” which argued for a recommitment to basic writing as a central part of our field and our teaching.

Horner began his talk by addressing that part of our work and our “successes” are sometimes based on regaining old battles; we keep fighting to regain what we once had. The relocation of basic writing is part of an ongoing struggle to meet our responsibilities to our students, our teaching, our field, literacy, and the project of democracy.

When we talk about basic writing, we are really talking about refusing fixed designations of literacy/illiteracy, who is educable/ ineducable and what we know about learning.

Attacks on basic writing too often fall into these limiting fixed notions. Basic writing as a field instead, takes student experiences as a norm (difficulty with writing) and makes it the both question and the site intellectual work for both faculty and student.

The dominant view of basic writing & literacy is one of gate keeping and assimilation (bright or slow, literate or illiterate, college ready or developmental, etc.). Horner suggested that if we were to think of basic instead, and CLAIM it as foundational and essential to the field (the basic foundation for learning and research), this would relocate basic writing and its place in teaching and research.

An additional complication in relocating basic writing is the reductionist and fixed definition of language (here, English). These monolinguist tenants–often represented in our institutions and dominant cultural practices–of what Horner called an “archipelago model” ignore traffic between languages and literacies and ignore writer/language agency (the choice to write in a particular way for a particular audience).

Instead, Horner suggests a traffic model: who shows up at a particular intersection at a particular time changes the exchange based on who is there– the people, the time, and the traffic all changes. As a model, Horner’s traffic model speaks to the complexity of writing and basic writing because it more accurately represents the practices and experiences of teaching and learning of basic writing:

Fluid, intermingling practices that demand sustained critical inquiry.

English and literacy are not simplistic matters; basic writers contribute to the lexicon of a changing and changed language; “Every instance of the use of language is a potential modification of that language at the same time as it reproduces it.” (Anthony Giddens)

In summary (Horner’s language), basic writing:

“Rejects simplistic notions of English, language, and literacy;

Always insists on searching out the different in what might appear to be the same and familiar;

Committed to students not as peripheral but leading edge;

Positioned to learn, and rethink, along with students, what it can, does, and might mean to write.”

A great talk!




Posted in CBW 2012, CCCC 2012

Meet the CCCC Bloggers!

As you know, we’ll be live blogging CCCC this year. Check the CBW Blog for updates on sessions related to basic writing.

Here are our great CBW bloggers!

Karin Evans is Associate Professor of English at College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. Coming from a background in “adult ed” publishing in the 1980s (GED Writing Skills!), she has always been engaged in helping student writers cross into the messy worlds of writing academic, public, and personal prose. Karin eagerly sought to understand basic writers starting with her first introduction to the field of Composition & Rhetoric. This interest led to many seminar papers and finally a dissertation at Purdue. Her career track was jagged and uncertain until she found herself accepting her current job at COD, a community college, in 2003 and realized she was finally home where she belonged. Karin has a fledgling blog of her own at

Marisa A. Klages has her PhD in English with an emphasis on medieval rhetoric and literature. Useful, right? She teaches basic writing, freshman composition, and British Literature classes at LaGuardia Community College in NYC where she is the Director of Outcomes Assessment. Marisa is also the Project Director for the Global Skills for College Completion Project which provides professional development to developmental educators.

Jeannie Waller

I hate talking about myself as if I am not really here, so I am doing first person.

I know I look startled, but the guy taking my picture was trying too hard to make me laugh.
I’m Jeannie Waller, and I am finishing my PhD in English with an emphasis in rhetoric/composition/literacy/and language at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. I am the director of the Walton College Writing Center at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville and enjoy teaching business students, staff, and faculty strategies for improving their communication skills.

J. Elizabeth Clark

Hi folks! I’m your regular CBW blogger (she who brought you live blogging last year!) and current co-chair of CBW. I’ve been a passionate advocate for basic writing and its place in higher education since graduate school where I cut my teeth on teaching in intensive basic writing learning communities. Today, I am privileged to teach at LaGuardia Community College, CUNY where I am a professor of English. I teach basic writing, composition, creative writing, and the liberal arts capstone course. I write and research about the role of technology, social media, and digital rhetoric in higher education, particularly as it is shaping composition curriculums, pedagogy, and assessment. I have worked extensively with LaGuardia’s award winning ePortfolio program since 2002 and use ePortfolio as a signature pedagogy in my courses. I’m looking forward to blogging CCCC and extending the conversation about basic writing!

Posted in CBW 2012, CCCC, CCCC 2012, What's New in Basic Writing

CCCC for Everyone, Even If You’re Not Attending!

There’s something for everyone this week, whether you’re coming to CCCC or not! We’re working hard to make CCCC a great experience for those who are attending and for those who want to follow along on-line. Here are the plans:

Not Traveling to CCCC?

We’re excited to announce that Karin Evans, Marisa Klages, J. Elizabeth Clark, Jeannie Irene Waller and Beth Wheeler will be blogging basic writing sessions at CCCC. Later today, we’ll “introduce the bloggers” here at the CBW blog. Follow along all during CCCC on the CBW Facebook Page and right here on the CBW blog.

Want more than blogging? No problem! On Saturday, 24 March 2012, we’ll have a special LIVE EVENT to continue our discussions about the state of Basic Writing:

Continue hanging out with us LIVE at CCCCs. The roundtable “There’s Nothing Basic about Basic Writing” will be on Saturday, March 24, 2012, from 12:30-1:45pm (CDT). If you are at CCCCs, please join us in the Renaissance Hotel, Landmark Ballroom, Salon 2, Lobby Level. If you are not making it to CCCCs this year, join us online here:
We will be using Adobe Connect. Test your computer to make sure you can join us by going here:

Coming to CCCC in person? Here’s a quick guide to Basic Writing events at CCCC and places to connect with other basic writing faculty:

Wednesday, 21 March 2012: Join us all day for the Council on Basic Writing pre-conference workshop (W7) featuring Bruce Horner, Mike Rose, Peter Adams and many others!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012from 5:00-6:30 p.m.: Join us for a Wine, Cheese, and Technologies Reception sponsored by Pearson and CBW in Room 223 at the Conference Center.

Thursday, 22 March 2012: Join us for the Basic Writing Special Interest Group (SIG) TSIG.13 from 6:30 PM to 7:30 PM.

We’ve also gathered a listing of panels on Basic Writing at CCCC this year. See the day-by-day schedule here:

And, be sure to attend the featured BASIC WRITING SESSION (!!!!) with Mike Rose, Peter Adams, and Lynn Troyka on THURSDAY, 3/22 at 1:45-3:00 p.m.

See you on-line or in St. Louis!

Posted in CBW 2012

Reminder: iPad Contest for Basic Writing Teachers!

REMINDER! Friday, 3/2 is the deadline for the iPad Contest! What you need to do:

1. Fill out this form about how you are using technology in your class (below).
2. Be present to win at CCCC at the Pearson/CBW Reception on Wednesday, 21 March 2012.
3. Here’s the entry form! They want to hear how YOU are using technology in your classrooms!