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Umbrella or Bridge: Discourse communities as the centerpiece of FYC

This presentation reviewed conversations and results from a curriculum-revision task force charged with re-imagining how discourse communities can feature in our first-year writing courses. The task force positioned discourse communities as the centerpiece of the class, but with multiple small assignments, rather than a single high-stakes writing task.

I show how discourse communities can be presented in manageable segments to help students acquire a social view of writing. Presented material includes sample assignment sheets, an explanation of our assessment strategy, and critical reflection from a teacher who piloted this approach.

I presented this talk at the Classroom Matters: Pedagogy in Practice and Philosophy conference at the University of Florida, February 2013.

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Umbrella or Bridge: Discourse communities as the centerpiece of FYC

  1. 1. Umbrella or BridgeDiscourse communities as the centerpiece of FYC Chris Friend / @chris_friend / University of Central Florida
  2. 2. Umbrella or BridgeDiscourse communities as the centerpiece of FYC Chris Friend / @chris_friend / University of Central Florida
  3. 3. The Scenario
  4. 4. ✤ Flexibility of writing process ✤ Strategies for responding to rhetorical situations ✤ Skills for reading complex textsThe ✤ Understanding how conventions, lexia, &Curriculum genres are situated w/in discourse communities
  5. 5. High-School Precedent✤ Transactional✤ Unknown audience✤ Goal: Test-passing✤ Artificial & high-stakes
  6. 6. The Assignments✤ Process Analysis✤ Rhetorical Analysis✤ Discourse Community Ethnography
  7. 7. The Problem
  8. 8. Duplication
  9. 9. “The staff at therestaurant where I work is a discourse community.” ×25 per class. Every semester.
  10. 10. Missing Expectations
  11. 11. Students identified adiscourse community butdid nothing with that info. We wanted analysis/ extension/conclusions.
  12. 12. The Task Force
  13. 13. Our Mission
  14. 14. We were tasked withfinding a new approach to DCs that could helpstudents apply, not juststate, their knowledge.
  15. 15. The Dirty Work
  16. 16. We decided to create asequence of assignmentsand evaluation rubrics— helpful, but overkill. And hard.
  17. 17. The Solution
  18. 18. Course Sequence Major Units Major Units Writing Process Rhetorical Analysis Definitions CharacteristicsDiscourse Community DC Ethnography Authority Genres Writing Process Rhetorical Analysis
  19. 19. Course Timing Major Units weeks 1–4 Writing Process weeks 5–6 Definitions7 weeks? week 7 Characteristics Are you DC nuts? weeks 8–9 Authority weeks 10–11 Genres weeks 12–15 Rhetorical Analysis
  20. 20. The PhilosophiesUmbrella and Bridge
  21. 21. We see DCs as bridgingother units together and as umbrellas, containing several concepts within.
  22. 22. Assessment
  23. 23. Definitions Evaluates term’s function to✤ Purpose: Understand A show knowledge construction specialized language & its use in academic Illustrates how specialized B definition enhances meaning conversations✤ Supporting text: None Explains differences in C definitions from book; students look up specialized definitions D States that definitions differ
  24. 24. Characteristics Evaluates how characteristics A form group identity✤ Purpose: Understand what a DC is & how it Illustrates hierarchy of B characteristics w/in the group functions✤ Supporting text: “The Explains (w/ examples) how C group meets characteristics Concept of Discourse Community” by Swales D States that group is a DC
  25. 25. Authority✤ Purpose: Understand how & Evaluates how authors’ use of why authors adjust writing for A authority is appropriate for each different audiences audience✤ Supporting texts: Illustrates how citation & ✤ “Learning to Serve” by B authority work as negotiation Mirabelli ✤ “Reading & Writing Without Explains (w/ examples) styles of Authority” by Penrose & C citation, quoting, and Geisler establishing authority ✤ “Identity, Authority, & States difference in authority Learning to Write in New D between articles Workplaces” by Wardle
  26. 26. Genre✤ Purpose: Identify the Evaluates how DC uses genre in A “furtherance of its aims” origins, use, affordances, & constraints Illustrates intertextuality w/in B genre samples✤ Supporting texts: ✤ “Generalizing about Genre” by Devitt C Explains scene of genre’s use ✤ “Intertextuality & the States genre is used in specific DC” by Porter D scenario
  27. 27. Assessment Goals✤ Clarity✤ Flexibility✤ Simplicity✤ Focus
  28. 28. The Application
  29. 29. Confidence
  30. 30. Students comfortablyand competently usedthe vocabulary of DCs.
  31. 31. Repetition/Redundancy
  32. 32. Repetition/Redundancy Major Units✤ Repetition: Writing Process Characteristics include lexis and genre Definitions Characteristics✤ Redundancy: DC Authority requires Authority rhetorical analysis Genres Rhetorical Analysis
  33. 33. Audience
  34. 34. Students wrote to anartificial audience—me.Still needs to be fixed.
  35. 35. Thank you. Chris FriendTwitter: @chris_friendEmail:
  36. 36. Gratitude: Visual Credits✤ Color scheme (You are beautiful) ✤ Stormtroopers by JD Hancock by Sanguine on colourlovers on Flickr✤ Umbrella and bridge title images ✤ Luke Alike courtesy Microsoft ✤ Maybe He Won’t Notice✤ Old schoolhouse by ✤ Stupid Garbage Compactor… WarzauWynn on Flickr ✤ Guard inspection by Defence✤ Bullseye from Rob Ellis on Flickr Images (UK Ministry of Defence)✤ Rocket failure by jurvetson on on Flickr Flickr ✤ Teacher’s apple by Forty Two on✤ Thumbs-up by wynner3 on Flickr Flickr