This is your EMWP Summer Institute Book Group blog. You are asked to post at least once a week before and during the Institute. Your group leader will post additional assignments and topics. Check back often. If you have any questions or concerns contact your leader, Bill - ypsilantibill@gmail.com .

Please create new posts rather than just comments since the comments don't readily appear.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


I chose a passage near the bottom of page 347. FYI, I'm nowhere close to halfway done, and I'm also not reading the book in order.

Elbow is talking about features of speech that are creeping into language, and he's focused now on second person. In speech, we always have an audience, so using "you" is acceptable. But many English/composition teachers shun the use of "you" in academic writing. 

"Students are in a bind: they must learn the tricky and unnatural skill of writing to an audience while not syntactically addressing anyone at all...Yet much school writing goes only to the teacher - whose only job is to judge - so this seldom feels to students like communicating with an actual human...students tend to write as though to no audience." (emphasis is original to the text)

I picked this section because I've been talking with my colleagues a lot about tone and audience in student writing. In fact, we've planned an interdisciplinary "Tone Day" for November 5th (just before the election). We've planned to work on identifying an audience, connecting with the audience through common ground, and making particular word choices to achieve a desired tone. But Elbow reminds me here that working on tone and talking about audience may not be enough.

What if, in the end, I'm still the only person who reads the students' writing? The audience is still inauthentic. 

So I'm wondering how I can realistically create an audience of readers for my students in the fall. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I responded to Aylen's quote and I will jump ahead with this quote, Elbows states, "But those of us who have looked without prejudice at freewriting and other kinds of unplanned speaking onto the page have noticed something interesting and valuable: a distinctive energy and voice that gives readers a heightened sense of contact with the consciousness of the writer" ( 311). I love reading my students freewrites!

Quote from Janet Bean (Response to Prompt #2)

From Janet Bean's freewriting example that Elbow uses on pages 156 and 157: "...we need to free writing (like those posters, FREE MANDELA, FREE THE WHALES) -- free writing from the racist and classist practices of educational institutions."

This is the type of thinking that simultaneously makes me think "yes! yes! That is exactly what we must do!" and "...but that isn't possible in a school setting, where we as teachers are a part of educational institutions with those racist and classist practices built in." It is something that I often struggle with - the idea of using literacy as a tool for liberation and anti-oppression work (like the writings of Paulo Freire, which in theory I completely agree with) - up against the actual practice of teaching in higher education, where students come precisely because they want to be a part of the system. A friend once told me, for instance, that as a community college instructor requiring students to write papers in formal written English, rather than writing their papers in African-American Vernacular English, I was causing great damage to my students, oppressing them every time they set foot in my classroom by enforcing formal written English in essays. We debated back and forth about this until I finally pointed out  that he should be having this conversation with one of the single mothers in my classes, who were working multiple jobs in fast food and were coming back to school in order to move out of fast food and into something more meaningful to themselves and with better pay and benefits (in other words, to move out of the oppressive conditions of their current living.) I asked him what he thought they'd choose: stay working in fast food in order to avoid being oppressed by having to translate their spoken language into formal written English, or get out of economic oppression of their current circumstances by learning the language of their oppressors.)  

...All of this is to say that this quote brings up a lot of thoughts for me, I guess!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Prompt #2

Choose a quote that inspired or irritated or bewildered you, share it, and explain what it means to you.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Found Sentences

I realize that there isn't a post to respond to, however I felt compared to share. With my Advanced Placement Language kiddies,we often have a "found" sentence discussion where students bring to class a sentence or short passage from a larger text we are reading and share. The sharing circulates around the context and personal significance of the sentence. I "found" a sentence I must share. "Speech is one of the most powerful cues by which humans most quickly and decisively decide who they approve of and who they don't." (Elbow 46) The application of such a theory could be endless. However, I often use it to justify why high school students should be required to take a speech class before graduating. Our words do not have a rewind or delete button when spoken. What is said is a permanent record of someones mind. Therefore, we must learn to carefully use them. Elbow references this idea at length early in the text. I love when I find unintended research to support my philosophy. Sorry, just had to share!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Yes, I love it when Google does this in the middle of a project. Some students panic and others just take it in stride.
I enjoy reading Elbow. I agree with his belief in free writing or journal writing that is not graded or assessed. I also loved the Leunig comic at the beginning of the book.
So, I copied and pasted my comment into a "New Post."

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Prompt #1 - Why did you choose this book to read this summer?