What I’m Working On
Right now I am swirling in the mess of memories from the work I did just before beginning my PhD here at UofL. That swirl would be hard enough to make sense of, but on top of that, I am trying to turn it into an article with a very uncertain audience. Let me explain.
So, I used to work at the University of Southampton in England, and my job was to start-up and run a writing center. This was a pretty exciting and complicated project, because the presence of other writing support for students was very different, and very minimal, compared to U.S. context. It was very confusing, too, because the project was a really strong success, and yet it ultimately didn’t move past its initial funding. So, all the layers of experience with running such a project, like any new project, offered SO MUCH LEARNING that it’s really hard to distill that into a piece of writing. On top of that, this is possibly a really niche type of story, although to me it feels really relevant to everything…
So, I’ve been working in this Writing for Publication course towards an understanding of potential audiences outside of my field of Composition. I try to listen for connections to other conversations in this interdisciplinary setting. Also, I am trying to find a way to let this article reflect the very-much-in-process understanding I have of certain aspects of the story. I want to tell the story of this writing center project and give a glimpse of what I’ve learned as a result, but I need to keep searching for the ways to connect that for a particular field/audience. I feel, still, like I am in charge of a project heading into uncharted waters. If that’s not a feeling that can connect with readers in academia, then I don’t know what else will.
Joe Franklin is a first year PhD student in Composition and Rhetoric. He rides bikes and reads books, but mostly he prefers to listen to music.
What I’m Working On
My best writing has always happened in the margins of what I’m reading. Little scrawled notes explaining the highlights and arrows that mark up the once pristine page. I feel that I am at my best when I am having these amazing conversations with authors who can’t hear me at all. I am making connections, finding inspiration, and co-constructing insights that get me excited about that paper of my own. And then I turn on my computer, and I’m paralyzed by the blank screen. I tell myself that this is my process.
So, right now I’m immersed in Geneva Smitherman, Carol Lee, Valerie Kinloch, Shirley Brice Heath, Terry Meier, and others, exploring the relationships between African American English, identity development, and teaching and learning in the classroom and beyond. But what I’m working on is essentially what I am always working on as a writer: turning the marginalia into fully realized ideas on a page of my own. Because while the desperate desire to read every word will likely never let me go, I know that this is the time to start trying to earn a spot up on the shoulders of the giants whose words and ideas I so admire.
Leah Halliday is a first year doctoral student in Curriculum and Instruction. She teaches English and English Education at Kentucky State University, and her research interests include the interactions involved in literacy and identity development.
What I’m Working On
“What you are working on?” is a question I always feel like I need to answer in updates every few minutes, like a Twitter storm, for the sake of accuracy.
“Explaining how due dates on Google Classroom coincide with dates in the real world. #freshmen #latework”
“Researching for a friend. If you place ENOUGH journal articles on your head, will the relevant quotes seep into your head through osmosis? #itsnotforafriend #Ihavenotimeforfriends”
In truth what I am working on is much the same as it has been for years: balancing waging a war for progressivist practices as a full-time public high school English teacher while completing PhD work in curriculum and instruction, so I can be better equipped for battle and better able to train others for the fight.
My current mission finds me completing an article for journal submission as part of EDAP 691 “Writing for Professional Publication”. This article concerns the essential progressivist element of valuing students’ language and interests as a means of creating a shared classroom discourse space. There exists a rift in my classes between old literacies and new digital literacies. These pose significant challenges for many of my students. Recognizing this, I began to ask the question: could changing my students’ mode of response from an analytic essay to a multimodal composition (i.e. “book trailer”) mirror the prevalent modes they use to interact with information in their daily lives and provide an effective bridge from traditional books to my students’ native digital worlds? The article will relate my experience using my students’ multimodal texts to as a means to generate new connections within texts and intensify their meaning-making.
The Children’s Lit of It All
I’m a PhD student from the Early Childhood and Elementary Education department and one thing we all agree on over there is the value of high quality children’s literature. I myself am of the belief that children’s literature is a field that deserves a lot more study and a lot more respect as a field. I fancy myself a developing children’s lit scholar and I’m working with this amazing body of literature in a brand new way.
I’m currently exploring the way different language varieties – specifically, African American English – are represented in books for young readers and listeners. One thing I definitely excel at in this work is lingering in beautiful, artfully crafted picture books. This is a skill that takes a bit of practice, and one that I really work to impress upon the students in my undergraduate children’s lit course. Typically students are nothing short of amazed when they are invited to linger in books that are literally portable works of art.
Discovering scholarship about a topic you love is the moment when all of the late night study sessions and stressful days seem really worth it. Figuring out a way to contribute to that body of scholarship is seriously next level. When you figure out what you want to say, raise your voice – enthusiasm is catching…and inspiring. Introducing kids to the joys of reading is one of the main reasons I love this work – and introducing fellow students to my passion is a lovely kind of joy.
Christie Angleton is a second year PhD student in the department of Early Childhood and Elementary Education. She teaches undergraduate children’s literature, as well as serving as an Early Childhood research assistant. In addition to children’s literature, her research interests include gender, teacher education, and early literacy.