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:

Posted in Basic Writing e-Journal, Digital Literacy, Tech, What's New in Basic Writing

Check Out the Beautifully Redesigned BWe!

BWe has moved! And, there’s a brand new double issue of BWe, Multimodal Composing: Opportunities and Challenges in Basic Writing Contexts, now available. Kudos to BWe editor Barbara Gleason for such fantastic work! You’ll enjoy the fascinating articles in this issue.

Also, you’ll love the new site design. CBW executive board member, the amazing  Lynn Reid (who also served as associate editor on this issue) has redesigned the website for BWe and it is gorgeous!

Barbara also asked us to post thanks to CCNY staff member Beth Schneiderman who worked with Lynn to upload the web site onto the City College of New York server this past Spring 2013 semester. Additional thanks to Wynne Ferdinand for help  with editing and creating PDFs for the special issue.

Check it out!

Posted in CCCC 2013, Digital Literacy, Relationship to First Year Comp, Social Media, Tech, What's New in Basic Writing

K.02: Revising the WPA Outcomes Statement for a Multimodal, Digitally Composed World

Although this session is not explicitly about basic writing, I think it’s important to add to the conversation. As we think about basic writing, its many forms, and its many different curricular definitions & iterations across the country, the WPA Outcomes for First Year Writing have become a national touchstone for what first year comp “should” do. Campuses often rely on this as a way to shape local conversations and the outcomes provide an important baseline for national conversations about writing curriculum.

There is no correlation for basic writing. In fact, as many of us regularly discuss at CCCC and CBW, there is not even a common definition of basic writing other than “not ready for college level writing.”

As the WPA takes  next step in thinking about the impact of technology on multimodal composition, it seems like this is a crucial consideration for the basic writing community.

Should we work communally to try to develop an outcomes statement, in collaboration with other groups, like TYCA? If so, what role would technology play in this statement?

Notes from this session are offered in the spirit of thinking about a future basic writing outcomes statement.

Chair: Beth Brunk-Chavez, University of Texas at El Paso

Respondent: Kathleen Blake Yancey, Florida State University
Speaker: Joe Bizup, Boston University
Speaker: Darsie Bowden, DePaul University
Speaker: Dylan Dryer, University of Maine
Speaker: Susanmarie Harrington, University of Vermont

The panel began with Susanmarie Harrington offering a history of the WPA Outcomes statement and its origin in 1996 with a post to WPA-L that resulted in more than 120 suggestions to an individual writing program director about a local outcomes statement. This kicked off a lengthy process in developing a statement that would be useful to campuses. The outcomes statement was made by hundreds of people to be used. The collective work created a policy document that was used to create change. It provided a scaffold for local programs that used the statement and adapted it to get local work done. It provided a frame for what writers do, what works for students, and what works for faculty and programs.

Darsie Bowden, chair of the task force, provided an overview of the task force’s work.

Task force members include: Darsie Bowden, Susanmarie Harrington, Kathleen Blake Yancey, Beth Brunk-Chavez, Lisa Mahle-Grisez, Doug Downs, Doug Hesse, Joe Bizup, Dylan Dryer, Bump Halbritter, and J. Elizabeth Clark.

Bowden next presented the results of a survey: 195 respondents from a four-year college, 21 respondents from two-year colleges, 3 from high schools, and 7 others.

61% of the respondents were very familiar with the WPA Outcomes Statement and an additional 27% were somewhat familiar.

The response to “What does ‘digital literacies’ mean” was very varied. 65% of respondents preferred that any revisions including digital literacy be added to the current WPA statement.

Bowden shared a rich set of written comments provided by respondents including suggestions for additional items (like basic writing and translingualism!) to be added to the WPA Outcomes Statement.

Dylan Dryer gave an overview of what the WPA statement does today and made a case for revising the current statement. He explored the differences between composing and writing. He argued that the WPA statement describes the common knowledge, skills, and attitudes sought by first year composition programs in U.S. post-secondary institutions. Today, that should include digital literacies.

Joe Bizup provided 3 concerns about revising the statement: teaching digital literacies are not central to teaching writing (a central concern), we lack a definition of digital literacies (a definitional concern), digital literacies are best addressed after first year composition (a not yet concern). Bizup enumerated and complicated each of these concerns as a way of thinking about how to deepen the work of the committee and the revision.

The session then moved to small group discussion and critique of the statement and the proposed revisions as a way to garner additional input from the CCCC community.

In the small group report out, people raised the following concerns/issues:

  • Issues of access: where will students do this work? What does it mean to bring technology into first year writing but not into the classroom (if you don’t have a computer lab/iPad program/etc.) ?
  • How can this document speak to people who teach in a program where there is only 1 required comp course? (versus 2)
  • What is the definition of digital literacy?
  • What is the difference between this and the “Composing in Electronic Environments” document?
  • Could this be more of a framework that part of the outcomes?
  • Modality, digital, on-line: what are we talking about? Are they the same? What are the boundaries of composition as a field? What do we acknowledge is not ours as a field? For example, what about audio included in a composition? Who here is an expert in speech and audio production?
  • The introduction to the original statement says that the WPA Outcomes Statement is NOT a required set of outcomes. They were meant to be adapted.
  • Could this document embody the multiple purposes and audiences more fluidly? What would happen if this document embodied multi-modal composition?
  • How can we make this document embody recursive practice?
  • The original document talks about “habits of mind” and “skills” that students should have. Why? Why do we want them to have this? The answer to this question leads us to why digital literacies are important in our curriculum.
  • If we’re going to teach them to be good critical consumers and good writers in the spaces they (students) inhabit, then we need to move into digital spaces.
  • Are our students writing and reading in digital spaces? Are we preparing our students for the workforce? We need to make sure that we have empirical numbers. Isn’t some of this happening off-line?
  • Digital technologies can already be included in many of the current outcomes as a form of writing. We don’t need to specifically address digital technologies.

The session ended with Kathleen Blake Yancey, offering a response to the session, the task force’s work, and the small group discussion.

1. Yancey argues that the document needs some kind of updating.

2. The current WPA Outcomes Statement was meant to be a boundary document (setting out definitions and constructs). We do not want to lose that utility.

3. The 6 areas we need to examine are:

  • Representativeness (the other areas that have been identified like reading & translingualism) & consensus about the national landscape of first year writing
  • The idea of cross talk between this document and other documents (should that be an implicit or explicit part of the process?)
  • The construct of writing: what is the difference between writing and composing?
  • The distinction between digital literacy and visual rhetoric is odd: they are not synonyms; what about digital rhetoric? Visual literacy? Now we have 4 terms, not 2.
  • Can outcomes sponsor conversations? Yes.  (see Pamela Moss’ work) Can outcomes support students? These are both useful and important components of a flexible articulation of writing.
  • There are other issues that need to be addressed such as how students who are enrolled and supported in first year writing programs are successful in college.

4. The WPA Outcomes Statement is a living document. It will be revised.





Session Materials:

Posted in CCCC 2013, Scholarship of Basic Writing, Social Media, Tech, What's New in Basic Writing

On “We are Borg: Composing Processes and Identities”

The session “We are Borg: Composing Processes and Identities” dealt with using multimodal composing to break students out of “genre knowledge” that might not be serving them in composition classrooms. The first talk was by Angela Laflen. Her talk was entitled “Charting the New World between Whiteboards and Slides: Composing Online with Prezi.” She demonstrated the ways that Prezi can be used to help students become more aware of the performative aspects of composition as they explore their online identities.

In her talk entitled “Negotiating Metacognition in a Digital Landscape: Multimodal Reflection in the 21st Century Classroom, “Anna Knutson demonstrated the ways that students use video in her classes to make more meaningful reflections about their compositions. The results, and the sample student reflections she shared, seemed really insightful.

Finally, Sara Hillin detailed two assignments that she uses in her writing course: the technoliteracy memoir and the text-to-webtext literacy project. Hillin described the ways that she used Donna Haraway’s “Cyborg Manfesto” and Katherine Hayles (I think) to frame the assignments. In the text-to-webtext assignment, students repurpose traditional essays into online texts in really interesting ways. In the technoliteracy memoir, students use “infinite canvas style” programs like Prezi to create literacy narratives.

The big take away from this session was that I now have some ideas for how I to integrate some of these assignments into my own writing classroom (or change some of my existing assignments). I’m also motivated to help students think more about identity as a crucial aspect of composing online and everywhere else. ~ Sheri Rysdam, UVU

Posted in Basic Writing Projects & Initiatives, CCCC 2013, Politics of Remediation, Professional Developmwnt, Publishing, Resources, Scholarship of Basic Writing, Social Media, Tech, What's New in Basic Writing, Who is Basic Writing?

Join Us In A Conversation About Basic Writing

Hi, everyone!

You are invited to join us in a conversation about Basic Writing! We’d love to hear your thoughts, ideas, experiences, and pedagogical approaches in teaching Basic Writing!

We hope you will join us to share resources, best practices, and to engage as a national community helping members respond to local issues.

This discussion follows up on last year’s roundtable at CCCC. As we did last year, we invite you to join both the asynchronous and synchronous conversations.

Join the conversation online: February 12, 2013 to March 13, 2013. Online conversations will be held on the Council on Basic Writing Facebook Page (

Then, join us in person to continue the conversation at CCCC 2013: Session A.17, Thursday 3/14 10:30 AM – 11:45 a.m. There will also be an online option to join this session if you are not attending CCCC 2013.


Facilitated by Elaine Jolayemi, Ivy Tech and & Leigh Jonaitis, Bergen Community College

Facilitated by Ilene Rubenstein, College of the Desert

Facilitated by J. Elizabeth Clark, LaGuardia Community College–CUNY

Co-Facilitated by Debra Berry, College of Southern Nevada & Marisa Klages, LaGuardia Community College–CUNY

Facilitated by Carla Maroudas, Mt. San Jacinto Community College

Facilitated by Amy Edwards Patterson, Moraine Park Technical College

Hope to see you online or in person!

There’s Nothing Basic About Basic Writing!

Posted in CBW-L, Tech


In the flurry of collecting digital signatures for the Sense of the House motion at CCCC this week, the CBW-L crashed. We apologize to those of you attempting to reach us via the listserv. The listserv has been restored. We are working to increase it’s capacity for daily messages.

Should you need to reach the CBW if the list crashes in the future, please send a message to lclark [at] lagcc [dot] cuny [dot] edu.