Category Archives: Issue 3: Spring 2015

Perkins Next Year, WP Gratitude This Year

Recently, Boston University awarded the 2015 Perkins Service Award to people who were not Dan and Alyssa. While the awardees may rightly deserve the Perkins in their own right, sadly, they are still not Dan and Alyssa. So, the WP would like to recognize Dan and Alyssa’s distinguished service to the Writing Program, the university, and its students by counting the many ways that Dan and Alyssa have indeed dedicated themselves to Boston University. Following are excerpts from the many letters that were sent to the award committee:

“[…] we have a special appreciation for how tirelessly and effectively these two work to make our program run, and run well. Dan has been with the program since its inception in 2000 (he had worked in Department of Modern Foreign Languages, now MLCL, for five years before that); Alyssa joined us as a front desk person in 2006 and was promoted to Academic Administrator in 2010. The program has nearly doubled in size since its founding, and has had two directors; the current director, Joe Bizup, is on sabbatical leave this year. Through all this growth and change, Dan and Alyssa have been extraordinarily constant and capable. Because they work beautifully together as a team, we are nominating them as such. It is difficult to imagine more worthy candidates for the Perkins Award for Distinguished Service.”

“I have known Dan and Alyssa ever since they joined the CAS Writing Program, and I can vouch from my many experiences with both of them that they are indispensable for the smooth running of a large and complex program. They have somewhat different, complementary personalities […] but the qualities of wisdom, knowledge, hard work, patience, dedication, and eternal calm in the face of frustrated students and faculty describe them both. Dan and Alyssa have guided me through every kind of expected and unexpected problem. Without them, I would have felt overwhelmed with scheduling conflicts, confused students, reports due, missing keys. […] Daniel Ivey and Alyssa Hall deserve the highest recognition and thanks possible.”

Dan Ivey 6 May 2015
Dan Ivey, WP Program Administrator, 2015.

“Dan Ivey has been a mainstay of the Writing Program from its inception.  In his own way he has helped shape the character and quality of our program as much as any faculty member, providing a seemingly endless supply of confidence, patience, knowledge, and guidance.  Someone once said about Count Basie’s rhythm guitarist Freddie Green that you never knew he was playing and how much he added to Basie’s sound until he stopped.  We do not ever want to find out what it sounds like when Dan Ivey stops.”

“From my perspective, I suspect that even many of Dan’s faculty champions do not realize the extent to which he in turn champions their interests. No detail is too small in terms of trying to ensure that the Writing Program instructors, of all ranks, have the best possible teaching experience, whether it is reducing the time they spend walking between classes or ensuring that they have access to the technological resources they request. I believe that this is because he has a genuine appreciation of the demands made on the faculty with whom he works irrespective of the nature his own duties, and that’s not an imaginative leap that all staff can or want to make.”

“Dan and Alyssa have made my transition to Boston University a seamless one. As a new faculty member they coordinated my move across country, helped me settle into my position, and supported the projects that I have been involved in within the department since I began. From course schedules to film series to newsletters, they have been a welcoming source of knowledge with all things BU. Thanks to their attention to detail and dedication to the program, I am confident that I have everything I need at my disposal to teach my courses well. Ultimately, my endeavors have taken a great deal of coordination with and by them […]. We are quite fortunate to have such stellar individuals to keep the Writing Program running so smoothly.”

Alyssa photo
Alyssa Hall, WP Academic Administrator, 2015.

Alyssa is the managing editor of WR. She handles all of the logistics of a complicated editorial process in which up to twenty faculty editorial board members review up to five hundred submissions, a process that unrolls over five rounds of review between December and June. Our editorial processes are constantly under revision as new editors-in-chief step in and want to try new things. Alyssa is the only person who has full institutional knowledge of the journal, so editors always consult her about changes in the editorial process, which we are perhaps too keen to make and which she patiently helps us fine tune and implement. She is a member of the editorial board, so she reads and reviews dozens of essays alongside the faculty. When the board finally selects the year’s best essays at the end of June, Alyssa’s work really gets started. She manages the process of gathering prefatory material from students and their instructors, who are often very hard to reach in the summer months, the copy-editing, and the desktop publishing. The journal comes out in September, and in October we start again. Publishing the journal, which is an indispensible teaching tool and an important public reflection of the excellence of Writing Program classes, would not be possible without Alyssa’s extraordinary organization, attention to detail, and patience.”

Alyssa [is] “the consummate professional. Whether dealing with students, faculty, or administrators, she stays calm and helpful no matter the situation. Dealing with the sheer volume of work and communication necessary to successfully administer and report out on hundreds and hundreds of writing placement tests at a harried and stressful time of the last orientation session is nothing short of amazing. She is invaluable.”

“Together, Dan and Alyssa manage the enormous, complex jigsaw puzzle of the Writing Program: 100 instructors, over 350 sections a year, thousands of students. They have to balance the scheduling exigencies of our Program’s diverse teachers (full-time lecturers, graduate students, and adjuncts who are often teaching at multiple universities) with the logistics of University classroom assignments (Writing Program faculty are at the bottom of the assignment totem pole). Certainly, scheduling and classroom assignments are the purview of every program’s and department’s administrators, but the sheer size of the Writing Program makes this an especially daunting task.”

“We have all become better teachers and co- workers in recent years, but none of our success would be possible without Dan and Alyssa.”

“[…] we are keenly aware of the danger of overwriting, of exuberant clichés, but we hope you’ll forgive us going on with such enthusiasm and at such length about Dan Ivey and Alyssa Hall, two wonderful administrators and colleagues who richly deserve the Perkins Award.”

These are only excerpts from the letters sent to the Perkins award committee this year. We hope that next year Dan and Alyssa will be officially recognized; for now, all of us in the Writing Program would like to give a heartfelt thank you to our fearless duo!


Outstanding Teaching Fellow: Heather Barrett

2015 Outstanding Teaching Fellow, Heather Barrett

Heather Barrett, Writing Program instructor and PhD candidate in the English department, was recently recognized as the 2015 Outstanding Teaching Fellow in the Writing Program. The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences gives an award to one teaching fellow in each department or program at the end of every academic year. The WP caught up with Heather during the very busy grading week for an interview.

Congratulations on the Outstanding Teaching Award, Heather! 

Thank you. It was a total shock, but a really nice surprise at such a busy time in the semester.

It must be a challenge to teach a WR course, and tutor in the Writing Center, while trying to finish up your dissertation. How have you balanced teaching and research so far?

Maintaining a balance is definitely a challenge. Some weeks I’m much better at it than others. I try to set aside at least a bit of time each day to do my own reading and writing. Even if it’s just forty-five minutes or an hour, the work I can get done in those small intervals does add up. On a similar note, I once had a professor advise me to leave something undone when I stop doing work for the day; that way I will automatically have somewhere to start the next day. At first I thought this approach seemed counterproductive, but it actually works more often than not.

I also try to give myself breaks from staring my computer screen, which is something I do a lot between reading students’ papers and doing my own writing. I take breaks by knitting socks and watching reruns of Gilmore Girls or Castle with my partner Resi. When you’re a teacher, there’s always one more paper you can read; when you’re a doctoral student, there’s always one more sentence you can write. I’ve learned (well, I’m learning) to be a little more realistic in my expectations of the amount of work I can get done each day.

Could you talk a bit about your Gothic Tales course and how you find it particularly conducive to teaching English language learners?

I think that Gothic tales work particularly well in a writing seminar for English language learners because fear is a universal emotion. We all experience it sometimes, but the things that trigger it vary widely. In addition, some fears are very personal, while others are shaped by the cultures in which we live. Gothic tales help us to understand how fear works and why people cope with it in both productive and destructive ways.

Most students who sign up for the class expect that we’re going to talk about vampires and zombies – and we do, but that’s just the starting point. We begin by reading British and Chinese ghost stories. Then we read a collection of Japanese short stories about ordinary humans with dark desires. Finally, we read a series of more realistic stories with Gothic elements. For example, we read a story about two brothers escaping from North Korea who are haunted by the ghost of their little sister. We also read a story set during the Rwandan genocide where the narrator starts to believe that she lives in a haunted house. These stories are beautifully written but also pretty brutal to read, so I make sure that we set ground rules for class discussions that create a safe environment. I also have students write reflections on the stories before we discuss them. That way, they have time to work through their own thoughts before they share them with their classmates.

At the end of the semester, I have students select a text, film, TV show, song, or piece of artwork with Gothic elements and present it to the class. This assignment encourages them to transfer their knowledge outside of the classroom. It also helps them to practice their public speaking skills, which can be a terrifying experience for English language learners. But because they get to pick their topic, they usually get really invested in the assignment and wind up doing a great job. It’s an appropriate way to end a course about experiencing and coping with fear, since it gives students a chance to overcome their own fears about speaking in English.

What have been the highlights of working as a tutor in the Writing Center?

This might sound a little corny, but I love being a tutor because it gives me a chance to learn so much. I get to eavesdrop on a whole bunch of WR courses throughout the semester. I’ve read papers on everything from the politics of forced sterilization and the experiences of children growing up in brothels to the culture of yoga pants and the business of video games. I genuinely love having conversations with students about their papers and asking questions that push them to reconsider or refine their ideas.

I also love it when I’ve been working with a student who keeps making a certain kind of error – she keeps forgetting the “s” at the end of third-person singular verbs, for example – and as we’re going along and reading her paper, she suddenly finds one of those errors and corrects it on her own without my help. It’s so rewarding when you get to see students have these “aha!” moments. They might seem small, but if you can make a student feel good about an accomplishment like this in a tutoring session, it can really boost their confidence.

Do you have any advice for instructors of Writing? For instance, what have been some of your tried-and-true approaches to teaching?

Being a tutor helps me tremendously as a teacher because it has taught me to prioritize. When we tutor, we only have forty-five minutes with a student. We can get a lot done in that time, but not everything. At the beginning of each session, I set an agenda so the student and I have a clear set of goals. Similarly, when I give my students paper assignments, I give them a list of specific skills I expect them to work on. When I give them feedback on their writing, I try to focus on how well they’ve demonstrated those skills. I think that students learn best when you set manageable goals for them and gradually build on what they have learned. Learning takes time, after all, so you have to be patient and acknowledge small successes.

Some of my best pedagogical training has also come from one of my summer jobs: I work as a National Park Service ranger and give tours of historic sites. When you give a tour, you never know what beliefs or values your visitors bring with them. You have to adapt to different learning styles and acknowledge multiple viewpoints even as you try to convey your own message. When I teach in the classroom, I try to remember that my students have knowledge and experiences that I know nothing about. I certainly have ideas that I want my students to take away from my course, but I do my best to listen to and learn from them as well.

Writing Program colleagues, please join us in congratulating Heather Barrett on a well-deserved recognition of the excellent work she does as part of the Boston University teaching faculty.

Happy Retirement, Steve Scheuerman!

A note from WP Acting Director, Chris Walsh:

I wanted to send a special good wish and deep thank you to Steve Scheuerman, who’s retiring from Boston University after 27 years. Since 1988, Steve has taught a broad range of writing courses—on physics, the nature of consciousness,  Shakespeare, the limits of science, to name a few. Sometimes he’s taught courses that combined these subjects, and he also team-taught with faculty in physics and biology. Many students say he was  “the best professor … I ever had”; one prescient one even noted that Steve was “probably the best I ever will have.” In all his classes Steve earned the respect and gratitude of his students for his helpfulness, for being so knowledgeable and down to earth, for being so warm and modest—all qualities those of us who knew him as a colleague are grateful for as well. A poet, a  great teacher, and a humble man: Steve probably would rather we didn’t say even this short word about him, but he has served Boston University well and made literally—literally!—thousands of students into better readers and writers. Thank you Steve.

Welcome to the Spring 2015 Issue

Dear WP fellows,

Yes, it’s true–the snow has, in fact, melted, and we are back to seeing the blooms of the New England spring. The WP Newsletter crew brings a new issue to you all in the hopes that you will enjoy some easy reading while grading those papers. Summer is around the corner, friends.

We’re happy to report that Joe ends his sabbatical soon, and will be returning, effective July 1st, as director of the WP. As acting director, Chris has steered a steady ship this year and deserves a round of drinks on us–thank you, Chris, and happy summer, y’all!

The WP Newsletter Crew

Somy, Rebecca, Sarah C. and Anna

CAS Award: Sarah Madsen Hardy

Madsen-Hardy Award 2015

Congratulations to our very own Sarah Madsen Hardy who has won the College of Arts & Sciences Award for Distinction in First-Year Undergraduate Education! This award honors, as Senior Associate Dean Susan Jackson put it, “extraordinary dedication and effectiveness in the classroom and beyond, with special emphasis on distinctive contributions to the intellectual quality of our curricular foundations and our students’ touchstone experiences.” We can all attest to the numerous ways that Sarah has indeed influenced not only the students of Boston University, but her colleagues and the Boston University community. Very well-deserved!

Previous WP winners of the CAS Award for Distinction in First-Year Undergraduate Education (Way to go, BU Writing Program!) :

Maria Gapotchenko and David Shawn
Maria Gapotchenko and David Shawn, 2014
Tony Wallace & Bill Marx, 2013
Tony Wallace & Bill Marx, 2013
James Pasto, 2012
James Pasto, 2012

Faculty Publications and Presentations

ESL Gothic
Still Image from Heather Barrett’s Presentation, 2015

Heather Barrett, Amy Bennett-Zendzian, and Holly Schaaf organized a panel titled “Lost and Found in Translation: The Challenges and Benefits of Content-Based ELL Writing Courses” at the University of Connecticut’s 10th Annual Conference on the Teaching of Writing, held on March 27 in Storrs, Connecticut. Each of them presented a paper on their experiences teaching WR 100 ESL sections on Gothic literature, fairy tales, and unique and universal languages, respectively.

Massacre revised coverJay Atkinson will publish his Massacre on the Merrimack: Hannah Duston’s Captivity and Revenge in Colonial America In September 2015. Following is the announcement from the publisher’s page: In March, 1697, Abenaki warriors in service to the French raided the English village of Haverhill, MA. The Abenaki killed 27 settlers, and took 13 captives, including 39-year-old Hannah Duston and her week-old daughter, Martha. During the attack, one of the warriors murdered the infant by dashing her head against a tree. Two weeks later, Duston and her companions, a 51-year-old woman and a 12-year-old boy, moved among the sleeping Abenaki with tomahawks and knives, killing two men, two women, and six children. After scalping their victims, Duston and the others escaped down the Merrimack River in a stolen canoe. In Jay Atkinson‘s eighth narrative book, he explores whether Hannah Duston was the prototypical feminist avenger, or the harbinger of the Native American genocide.

Seth Blumenthal’s article, “Children of the ‘Silent Majority’: Richard Nixon’s Young Voters for the President, 1972” is published in this spring’s Journal of Policy History.

Deb Breen recently gave a talk at an event at BU International History Institute: a symposium to mark the centenary of the Ҫannakale ǀ Gallipoli campaign in WWI. The symposium was called The Road to Peace out of War where she was one of three speakers (Turkish, New Zealand, and Australian). Her talk was called “Mutable Memory: An Australian Perspective on the Changing Commemoration of Anzac Day.” She also had an article published recently: “Imperial Mobility: The Colonial Worlds of Sir Anthony and Lady Jeanie Musgrave” in American Review of Canadian Studies 45: 1 (2015), 93-112.


Dora Goss had an essay come out in Faerie Magazine 30 (Spring 2015), titled “Into the Dark Forest: The Fairy Tale Heroine’s Journey.” It was directly inspired by the class Dora has been teaching on fairy tales. The article is about an underlying pattern she identified in a number of different fairy tales that she calls the “Fairy Tale Heroine’s Journey.” In February, Dora was an invited panelist at the 7th Annual Yale Women in Leadership Conference, in New Haven, Connecticut.  She spoke on a panel called “Switching Your Career: When Life Calls for a U-Turn” about leaving the practice of law to go back to graduate school, get a degree in English literature, and become a writer and teacher.

Somy Kim published the book chapter, “Mapping Dystopia in Ebrahim Golestan’s Mud Brick and Mirror” in A Persian Mosaic: Essays on Persian Language, Literature, and Film. Her translation of Shahriyar Mandanipur’s “The Blind Deer” was published with the Association for the Study of Persian Literature.

Tom Oller is Vice Chair of the Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society, or AHA, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to educate the public about Alexander Hamilton’s legacy and his contributions to the founding of this country. The AHA holds events in New York, New Jersey, and other locations twice a year: on the anniversaries of his birthday, on January 11, 1757, and of his death, on July 12, 1804. You can find more info about the AHA and its activities on these websites.

Anna Panszczyk’s article, “The Power of the Vulnerable Body: From Sappho to Erin Belieu” was published in Women’s Studies: An Inter-disciplinary Journal earlier this year.

At the recent TESOL Conference in Toronto Sarah Hanselman, Kim Shuckra-Gomez, and Maria Zlateva presented a session “Context in Genre: Helping L2 Students Access Course Content.” Based on their experiences in both ESL and mixed courses, particularly from the recently developed Mediated Integration (MI) cluster, they provided both theoretical and practical suggestions for identifying and providing context for ESL students in both ESL and mainstream classes.


Joelle Renstrom has a collection of essays that is due to be published by Pelekinesis in August 2015. Closing the Book: Travels in Life, Loss, and Literature explores the intersection of literature and life in personal essays about traveling, teaching, reading, writing, living, and dying. Each essay’s narrative arc is formed and informed by the act of reading literature that makes a reader feel like the book she’s reading was somehow written specifically for her to read in that exact moment. Joelle teaches in the Writing Program focusing on space, artificial intelligence, and science fiction. Joelle’s award-winning blog Could This Happen? explores the relationship between science and science fiction. Her work has appeared in SlateGuernicaThe Toast, and others.

Jason Tandon is happy to announce (belatedly) that he and his wife Whitney welcomed Harper Elisabeth Tandon to the world on February 23rd. Baby girl, mom, and little brother Charlie are all doing very well! (And in the middle of this post, Dad had to change a diaper!). In addition, poems from Jason’s new manuscript have been accepted this year by several journals, including Poetry EastSpoon River Poetry ReviewPatterson Literary ReviewSalamanderSouth Carolina Review, Ruminate Magazine, FolioGargoyle, and Modern Haiku.

Tony Wallace’s short story “Miniature Lives of the Saints” will be published in the Spring 2015 edition of The Missouri Review.  This past spring he served on the CAS Lecturer Promotion Committee. On Thursday, May 7 he will be reading from The Old Priest at Davio’s in Lynnfield, MA. Chris Walsh and Michelle Hoover will also be reading from recent work. This is a ticketed event organized by Kim Shuckra-Gomez and will begin at 7pm.  For complete information and to reserve tickets, please contact Ann Glyn at

ESL Pronunciation Tutoring

Tianlong Jia (CAS '16) goes over his paper with Professor Thomas Oller on Tuesday, February 25, 2014. Photo by Jackie Ricciardi for Boston University
Tianlong Jia (CAS ’16) goes over his paper with Professor Thomas Oller on Tuesday, February 25, 2014. Photo by Jackie Ricciardi for Boston University

Refer students for intensive pronunciation tutoring! If you’ve got ESL students you struggle to understand, or international students who are extremely quiet and very reticent about speaking, refer them to the WP ESL Pronunciation Tutoring.

In fall of 2015, we had 14 tutors working in small groups with students—the same group of students and tutor for six weeks throughout the semester. We began with 48 students attending and ended with 36 having attended all or nearly all of the sessions. Rather than being an “accent reduction” course, the sessions attempted to help students work on the fundamentals of English rhythm, stress, and intonation, which are considered to be key for increasing their intelligibility.

Tutorials take place at the CAS Writing Center or in another room in the Center for Student Services (100 Bay State Road).

If you are interested, please fill out this form or contact:
Christina Michaud
ESL Coordinator

Faculty Reading: May 7th at 7pm

Upcoming faculty reading in Lynnfield, MA: Celebrate the end of the grading week by eating some great Italian food and listening to your very talented WP colleagues read from their works. Organized by Kim Shuckra-Gomez, Bill Marx will be MCing this panel of authors, which includes Chris Walsh, Tony Wallace, and Michelle Hoover.

Information/directions to Davios in Lynnfield

author night 2015

Past Reading: From March 14, 2015

Bozek Reading 3-14-15
Jessica Bozek reads from The Tales, while her daughter holds Jessica’s first book, The Bodyfeel Lexicon.
Bennett Reading 3-14-15
Carrie Bennett reads from her newest creative project called “Expedition Notes.”
Carrie’s “Expedition Notes” appeared at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Conference 2015.

WRX News

Final Student Performances in WRX150 Poetry Now and WRX150 Writing the Play, Fall 2014

By Sarah Madsen Hardy

When Joe introduced WRX in 2013, he said that one of the initiative’s goals was to make our program more interesting. The exciting line-up of new WRX courses for next year suggests that this plan has been working.

In 2015-16, Holly Schaaf and Christina Michaud will be collaborating on a WRX 100 course that features “more decision, and less revision” exploring alternatives to one of our program’s most standard practices. Holly is also working with Anna Panszczyk on a WR 150 assignment sequence that asks students to explore several disciplinary approaches as part of a semester-long inquiry. Jason Prentice is developing a WRX 150 that incorporates digital writing, and Tony Wallace, Bill Marx, and James Pasto are piloting an assignment sequence that uses response papers and Williams’ Style at the beginning of WR 150. Melanie Smith and Seth Blumenthal are designing a WR 150 course that incorporates service learning and research related to the upcoming presidential campaign. And, last but not least, Kim Shuckra-Gomez and Maria Zlateva will join forces to offer a pair of Mediated Integration sections of Theater Now at the 150-level next spring 2016. Clearly our faculty has a lot of ideas about reinventing WR 150.

The WRX Initiative’s first set of experimental classes has also completed its two-year pilot period and is ready for prime time. Nineteen Writing Program instructors so far have worked together on WRX courses, and more instructors will adapt these new approaches to their own subjects and styles next year.

Last fall three pairs of WR 100 instructors taught Mediated Integration courses, Food for ThoughtFound in Translation, and The Melting Pot, where standard and ESL sections shared a topic and met periodically. Mediated Integration will carry on in Fall 15 with the addition of what is sure to be a dynamic Kevin and Brandy Barents collaboration. This spring, seven instructors taught an alternative WR 150 assignment sequence focusing on genre awareness and culminating in an essay for a public intellectual audience in courses ranging from The American Road to Visual Cultures of the Middle East. The Genre and Audience cluster is happy that James Pasto, Aaron Hiltner, and Melissa Wessels have signed on to join them next year. Creative Composition and Fairy Tale courses will continue to develop new models for incorporating creative writing into the composition classroom among their other contributions. And in Spring 16 Katherine Stebbins McCaffrey will join Deb Breen in a WR 150 course designed around collaborative research projects that focus on the BU community.

You can click on any of the names or course topics above for contact information, so please talk to your colleagues if you are interested in trying any of these approaches.

The Latest in Mediated Integration

WRX MI Fall 2014 Chris and Kim
“[This is] a picture from the last day of the WRX mediated integration “Found in Translation” that Kim S-G and I taught together.  When Kim raised the curtain of her room, her WR100 ESL students saw my non-ESL-ers on the other side of the window holding signs that said things like “Thanks for a great semester,” “You complete us,” “Translate this,” and “Happy Holidays!”; there were also signs in Chinese and Greek, and something glyphic too. The photo doesn’t really capture the loveliness of the moment, and anyway you had to be there.” –Chris
Mediated Integration Reflection Fall 14

By Kim Shuckra-Gomez

I started this project in response to our growing international population and the emergence of the mixed classroom. My personal goal was to find a fresh pedagogical approach to the mixed classroom and ways to create a more level playing field for the L2 learner. My questions were and still are: How can L2 students be better served in terms of their interactions with L1 peers?  How can the L2 student help the L1 student discover the nuances of the English language that seem transparent and therefore go unnoticed by native speakers? What strategies can help Non ESL faculty serve both populations in the classroom?

Jason Prentice and I taught the first mediated integration course titled Toxic Boston. The course proved successful and after the first year of Toxic Boston, the cluster has now grown into three topics and six sections. Through my own experience teaching MI, as well as coordinating the cluster this past fall, I can honestly attest that the Mediated Integration Cluster truly offers the potential in finding creative approaches to the distinct challenges of cultivating the academic writing skills of the L1 and L2 students in the mixed classroom.

Goals of MI for both the L1 and L2 students:

  • Overcome social, linguistic, cultural isolation
  • Find a fresh pedagogical approach to the mixed classroom and ways to create a more level playing field for the L2 learner
  • Offer a creative approach to the distinct challenges of cultivating the academic writing skills of the L1 and L2 students in the mixed classroom.
  • Provide Non ESL faculty with ESL experience
  • Provide ESL faculty with NES experience
  • Develop practical in class solutions to the mixed writing class
  • Foster a multicultural perspective
  • Create opportunities for meaningful interactions with theme-based discussions
  • Promote cultural understanding and create global moments
  • Enhance what L1 and L2 students have to offer one another through meaningful interactions
  • Transfer of linguistic and rhetorical skills.

Cluster Description:

An ESL instructor and a NES instructor share a theme and a syllabus. Each pair agrees on two or three group projects and to mix the classes at least once every other week. The topic and type of projects are entirely up to each group, therefore allowing for several possible solutions and ideas to emerge from the collaboration. We meet at least once over the summer and twice a month during the semester to discuss strategy and problem solving and develop practical in class solutions to the mixed writing class. At the end of the semester our findings are documented into a group report that will share best practices, class strategies, and challenges of the mixed classroom.

The Level Playing Field

In order to make both populations understand what they have to offer the other, a level playing field needs to be developed, so both populations can work together and escape the “language barrier.” To create a level playing field, each pairing of NES and ESL classes will create groups of L1 and L2 learners. Ideally the groups should consist of half ESL students and half NES of students. The cluster will search for ways to develop an environment within the mixed classroom that will enhance what L1 and L2 students have to offer one another through meaningful interactions and transfer of linguistic and rhetorical skills. The tasks include peer editing between NES and ESL students, presentations that exploit the resources of the mixed population, and discussion initiatives that promote meaningful interactions.

Classroom Culture

Classroom culture can create misunderstanding and potential obstacles to the interaction of the L1 and L2 learner.  The key to reinforcing the achievement of mediated integration takes some effort in figuring out what the obstacles are and the best way to remove them.  The mediated integration cluster works at providing opportunities for both populations to understand each other better through discussions on classroom culture and cultural approaches to writing arguments. These conversations can demonstrate to both ESL and NES students what the other has to offer within the classroom setting, an understanding vital for the success of any mixed classroom.

Food For Thought_Mediated Integration_Fall 2014 (Instructors: Jason Prentice & Somy Kim)
Students from Mediated Integration course “Food For Thought” Fall 2014 (Instructors: Jason Prentice & Somy Kim)

Continue reading The Latest in Mediated Integration