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Category Archive for 'conference'

I’m off to the International First-Year Experience Conference to discuss Faculty Buy-In: Engaging and Retaining Faculty Instructors:

Attracting hesitant faculty, especially tenured, senior faculty, to the first year seminar classroom is not always an easy task. This roundtable will focus on ways to engage and retain faculty instructors and develop their willing and enthusiastic participation, while strengthening the important Faculty/Student Affairs/ Writing Tutorial connection. The discussion will encourage other institutions to share best practices, discuss challenges, and brainstorm new ideas for faculty engagement.

Here are my handouts for the session:

  • History and Background of Middlebury’s FYS program
  • Peer Writing Tutor Info and “Harvest Cycle” of Faculty Development
  • Here are my presentation notes:

    Key Piece of Advice:

    Tell your story often and in many venues. And listen, really listen, to what your faculty have to stay.


    * administrative support/ faculty voted in FYS over 20 years ago. Specifics and history of the program on the Middlebury handout.
    * Since 2004, FYS director also director of CTLR (supports both faculty and students in learning and teaching), so CTLR supports students with writing, math, and study skills professionals and with peer mentors, tutors. CTLR also supports faculty with faculty development opportunities, such as workshops and consultations.

    Three Components for Successful Faculty Buy-in

    1. flexibility/opportunity–What do faculty get out of this experience?
    * flexibility–choice of topic–opportunity to teach something different, of special interest, or topical
    * opportunity to making it manageable–team support (peer writing mentor, librarian/ed tech) enables faculty to experiment and risks
    * flexibility–choosing a team–whole, part, choosing its members, no team
    * opportunity to bonding with students and to understand what the next crop of students is like
    * opportunity to lure students into your area of study
    * opportunities for tenured and junior faculty to experiment with different pedagogies and tools
    * creating the students they want to see in their other courses

    2. information–How are faculty getting information about your program and help when they need it?
    * e-mails & online info, face to face group meeting in spring
    * faculty development opportunities–Pedagogy series in June, in January, and throughout the year
    * Writing Retreat in August
    * follow up meeting in fall
    * ability to consult with members of the writing program throughout the year
    * website info about advising and teaching writing

    3. follow-up–How do you know if your faculty and students are engaged? If your program is successful?
    * midterm survey peer writing tutors
    * check ins by librarians
    * end of the semester evaluation
    * five-year longitudinal study of the class of 2010 (Teagle Grant)
    * Ward Prize


    * not without challenges
    * not without changes
    * not without shifting monetary support
    * You can’t take anything for granted: not money, not support. You have to keep telling your story, listening for problems, urging your faculty members to tell their stories to each other.

    Here are links to previous First-Year Experience Conference Middlebury presentations:

My summer was marked by several events. First, I spent three weeks working with a faculty group looking at examples of student writing from the class of 2010. To do so, we worked collaboratively to create a rubric to assess college-level writing. The rubric-making process was as enlightening as the information we gleaned from the assessments.  The faculty members came from various disciplines–literature, film, math, foreign language, and political science.  Ironically, my assessments were closest to those of the math professor!  Second, we presented some of our findings at the 22nd International Conference on The First-Year Experience in Montréal (July 23, 2009).

Jane Austen's house in Chawton

Jane Austen's house in Chawton

In June I took a longed-for trip to England with my younger daughter to visit Jane Austen sites.  I hope to write more about this trip later. (In a few weeks, I will be on leave and will be immersed in all Austen all-the-time), but here are a very few of the over 3,000 pics I took on my trip.

This fall, I’ve spent most of my professional time tutoring writing, an experience I have thoroughly enjoyed. I have some thoughts about the process of turning good high school writers into good college writers that I hope to write about once the semester is over. Another thing that has filled my time is Middlebury’s  Web Redo project. With two other colleagues, I’ve been working on the four sites for our offices (Center for Teaching, Learning, and Research; Office of Learning Resources; Writing Program, and First-Year Seminar Program).  I’m not linking here because the old sites will disappear, and the new ones aren’t ready yet.  I’m saving my opinion of Drupal until the process is complete.  I’m guessing when the process is finally  complete, all the work and frustrations will have been well worth the effort.  Stay tuned.

The National Resource Center 21st International Conference on

The First Year Experience

Dublin Ireland

June 23-26, 2008


FYS as a Locus for Faculty Development: Creating Mini Learning Communities



The following is part of the Middlebury College panel: “Keeping the Fires Burning:
Ongoing Innovation in a Nineteen-Year-Old Program presented at the “First-Year Programs and Liberal Arts: Best Practices and New Thinking” June 2007 at St. Lawrence University.

In order to help faculty achieve their First-Year Seminar goals, Middlebury offers each instructor a support team composed of two professional staff members and two student peers. Instructors may choose the whole team, parts of the team, or no team if they wish.

Two components of the team, a research librarian and peer writing tutor, are well-known support components of many first-year programs. In addition, Middlebury has added two other members to our team, an Educational Technologist and an ACE or Academic Consultant for Excellence. All team members are attached directly to a specific FYS, and I’ll briefly give you an overview of the contributions of these four team members.

Click here to read more

If you attended my session at the CCCC in NYC this March, you might like to see more about the assignments for my course. Discussions and papers will not be open to you, but you can check out my syllabus and assignments.
Here is the Movable Type Blog I used to communicate extra information to my class.
I, also, used a class management site, SEGUE, which is Middlebury’s home-grown course management tool. It’s actually quite a robust program, and allowed me to stream in a del.icio.us feed as an RSS feature. I love this feature, and I’ve used it for other classes, too.

To protect their privacy, I do not have links to digital stories done by Writing to Heal class, but here are links to digital stories done by some of my other classes.

I blogged about my Writing to Heal class last year when a high school class visited Middlebury. You might be surprised at what happened.

I’ve included some sources that helped me prepare my course:

Anderson, Charles M. and Marian M. MacCurdy (ed). Writing and Healing. Illinois: NCTE,     2000.
Ballenger, Bruce. Beyond Note Cards. New Hampshire: Boynton/Cook, 1999.
Center for Digital Storytelling
DeSalvo, Louise. Writing as a Way of Healing. Beacon Press,     2000.
Pennebaker, James. Opening Up. New York: Guilford Press, 1990.
Rico, Gabriele. Pain and Possibility. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1991.

Click here to read more

Our CCCC Presentation:
Healing and Transgression: Exploding Identity Genres

Session: B.25 on Mar 22, 2007 from 12:15 PM to 1:30 PM Cluster: 109) Creative Writing
Type: Concurrent Session (3 or more presenters) Interest Emphasis: race/ethnicity
Level Emphasis: 4-year

“Writing to Heal,” “Voices Along the Way,” “ The Art of the Personal,” and “Writing Across Differences”—these writing courses at x College challenge students to explore issues of identity by confronting loss, nationality, sexuality, class, gender, spirituality and ethnicity. In this presentation, three faculty members from Middlebury College discuss hybrid writing assignments from courses that combine creative and critical writing with the use of digital media. Discussing and writing about complex issues of identity and loss have transformed the lives of students taking these courses. Teaching these issues has involved personal and professional changes in the lives of the faculty members as well.

Hybrid genres that combine critical with creative writing provide students with theoretical knowledge and background from which to better explore their lives and identities in a thoughtful, informed manner. Digital media projects from weblogs to digital stories that combine words, music, photography and video encourage students to explore issues of their own identity through media often more in tune with 21st century students than conventional linear forms of writing. The music and visual images students choose in these projects often evoke deeper, tighter writing than students have produced before. A combination of formal and informal writing in public and private writing spaces allows students the opportunity to write for self, for others, or for a private few.

The different kinds of disclosure and identity writing in these courses explode the typical boundaries of assignments and genres when memoirs transform into short stories and research papers and projects use theoretical, creative and personal sources as evidence. In the process that unfolds in these classes, students and faculty learn to control and define their own narratives and explore who they have been, who they are becoming, and who they might yet be. Writing and media assignments that encourage students to understand their own identities better can lead students to understand and imagine better the identity of others. These assignments and courses have transformed personal pain into healing and forgiveness and have transformed self-disclosure into both self-acceptance and political mobilization.

Click here to read more

NITLE-sponsored Social Software Users’ Group at the College of Wooster (Ohio) January 2006.

Among many great conversations that took place at SSUG, one stands out for me. It concerned the different ways faculty and librarians look at copyright issues–especially for multi media projects. Faculty tend to look at what’s best for my class, my students; whereas, librarians tend to look at what’s better for the institution. Emotions rose–even in this very genial group–around this issue, but we all left more respectful of the issues our colleagues face, so thanks again, Barbara, for dragging me along!


Originally uploaded by mebertolini.

Picture postcards of fall in Vermont may show turning leaves of all one color, but most trees change gradually, with green, yellow, red, orange and fallen leaves–all from the same tree.

My students write at least three drafts of every formal paper, and I emphasize a different concept for each draft: organization, argument, and macro issues in the earliest drafts, style, grammar and micro issues in the later drafts. I place my point of intervention in draft two, after students have conferred with each other and the tutor. Theoretically, they have moved beyond organization when I meet with them, but that is not always the case. In my meeting on their papers, we could be discussing anything about their work from the finer points of style to addressing the topic.

As I circled the class on Friday, as the class workshopped Paper #3, I saw that they had become familiar with the language of talking about writing. Student who had struggled with organization on their draft twos a few weeks ago now made insightful suggestions to their peers about their organization. The combination of workshops, conferences and revisions manages to hit a number of different learning styles as students do and read and speak and listen and write on their own and their peers

backchannel projection

Originally uploaded by mebertolini.

While the presentations happen in front, the back channel discussion projects on the left at the Social Software in the Academy Workshop at the Annenberg Center

Since I’ve returned from the SSAW, I’ve been turning over in my mind the experience of backchanneling. A few things stand out. First, when I was presenting myself, I was very much aware that most people were looking down at their laptops rather than up at me, and I called attention to that fact by commenting that I would stand up rather than sit down during my presentation. Second, when I knew there was a backchannel with a sidebar discussion going on, I had to be on it–or at least on the main one. There were others, too, but I tried not to be greedy. Being on the backchannel was fun and informative. Links, questions, comments–all flew by in fast forward speed. Was this so different from the paper and pencil backchannel I often have when a colleague sits next to me at a lecture, and we write commnets to each other in a notebook? Maybe, this is more honest, I wondered, because the speaker can see these notes later.

Mote asked a similar question right after the Conference:

Backchannel was good, and backchannel was fun, but was I the better or worse for having participated in it?

Looking back, though, I remember more about the presentations I heard the first morning before I was on the backchannel. Maybe I was born too late to be part of the ADD generation, but I definitely suffered from “continuous partial attention” during several of the later presentations. The important question is–is that at bad thing? At home, I frequently watch a movie or the news with a magazine or a laptop open. How do we know what is worth giving our full attention to if our full attention is never there? Eventually, will we lose the ability to pay full and complete attention to anything?

Years ago, when I taught junior high school, I had a trick to get my hormone-driven 7th and 8th graders focused. Everything in their bodies and lives pulled them away from writing and books, and I had to fight for their attention with every trick I had. At the beginning of class, I’d form an “A” with the index finger of my left hand and the index and third finger of my right hand, and I’d hold that “A” high above my head. “Give me your Undivided Attention!” I bellowed at first. Later, I shortened it to “Undivided A,” and, finally, I only had to form the “A” with my fingers to settle my class and begin to teach. Here’s my dilemma now: I don’t always want to give my undivided attention, but I sure still want to get it.

Nils Peterson poses some interesting comments about our SSAW 05 presentation: Blogging at Middlebury College. He wonders how we managed threaded discussions with perhaps 30 students. First, Barbara and I were both lucky not to have more than 16-18 students in our writing classes. Second, in my last class I combined MT and Segue (Middlebury‘s course managment system), and I used Segue for our discussion space. segue.jpg Segue discussions can be viewed as threaded or flat, and I don’t think students had trouble following the discussion. Segue, also, makes it easy for the faculty member to track student participation in the discussion.segue2.jpg

Pandora’s Blog

Originally uploaded by lhl.

Our student-faculty panel at the SSAW05 Conference at the University of Southern California Annenberg Center for Communication in L.A. Session II: Exploring the Use of Weblogs in the Classroom I Panel: Pandora�s Blog? What Happens When College Students Take to Social Software in the Classroom

Mai 2005 B 076

Originally uploaded by sebpaquet.

Sebpaquet’s picture (Mai 2005 B 076) of our panel–>

Barbara Ganley, Middlebury College
Eugene Lee, Middlebury College
Mary Ellen Bertolini, Middlebury College
Piya Kashyap, Middlebury College
Before we arriving at our hotel, Barbara drove us out to the Getty Museum, and we lingered around in the beautiful gardens before heading inside to see the Irises. We made a brief stop at the Pier in Santa Monica where I put my feet in the Pacific for the first time.

Questions to my class

In preparing for the SSAW Conference, I posed these questions to my class:
Dear Class,
I hope you have been having a good year since we parted ways last May. I still have your Portfolios if you would like to stop by my office in the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Research to pick them up (New Lib225E).


“Think twice, write once,” I was taught 50 years ago when the execution of writing meant inkwells, and a blotted line equaled slovenliness. Now immersed in the writing process, we encourage our students to create draft after draft, to write one, twice, a hundred times, if needed, in order to create clarity, organization, and a logical, compelling argument.

“Rethink, revise, re-see,” is our mantra now, and it is a good one, but sometimes, our students revise themselves out of a voice, and if they have no new thoughts or no new opinions from outside of themselves, their rethinking resembles an overcooked stew. Peter Merholz praises the immediacy of blogs and their importance in open up the thinking process beyond the self:

I still believe that the power of weblogs is their ability to immediately put form to thought–that I can get an idea in my head, however poorly baked it might be, and in seconds share it with the world. And immediately get feedback, refinement, stories, etc., spurred by my little idea. Never before was this possible.
Peter Merholz
Our Blogs, Ourselves. Posted on 01/25/2002.

I’ve been thinking of the value of the immediacy of blogs in encouraging thinking in regard to this online discussion my class had last year.

Click here to read more

Conference Schedule is up

I’m very grateful not to be presenting at dawn: SSAW Program. From the bios and pics, it looks as if our panel, has the oldest (bg and me) and the youngest (Eugene and Piya) paricipants.

blogging the unsaid

WP202S04 : April 13
I’ll be working with this journal entry for the conference in May.

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