Friday, 7-22-11, AP Conference
Between Mary's being the upcoming chief reader and her colleague, Jackie Rackham, being the chief table reader for the synthesis essay question this year (the "locavore" topic), I felt like I was receiving information about as close to the source as I could get. She went through each of the three essays questions for 2011, which my thirty Juniors responded to in May, and gave a specific, detailed de-briefing of what worked well and poorly. For example, she stated categorically that for the Thomas Paine prompt, asking how true the current United States is, compared to his predictions, that novels did not work, and that almost all of the successful responses used non-fiction and current events, an issue we had hotly debated in Kelly's seminar on Thursday. Jackie qualified this with "I wouldn't say never use novels, but not for this prompt."
I was a little nervous for Kerry, because she was in her late 20's and clearly apprehensive about her audience. However, after she began, she spoke confidently about her experiences of incorporating audio into the English classroom, as well as making simple movies. She also provided a useful two-page handout, and took us through the steps for how her kids cultivated writing skills, but also other skills for the 21st century. Theoretically this was an "English" presentation, but many of her observations and recommendations for software, etc., could apply to any subject. This is one of the several workshops (Mike Stultz at 9:00 a.m. on Sat. being the other one) which might have considerable application to much of the faculty, not just my department.
After Liz recovered from a little of her jet lag in the morning, we walked around Union Square, and ate at a lovely outdoor cafe called Fresh Market, outside of Neiman Marcus department store on Stockton and Geary Streets. We walked around, with Liz posing with her favorite doorman at the Marriott on our return.
This workshop was about the only negative, or less positive experience. The presenter was well-qualified and had obviously prepared for the session. But he had far too few handouts (the last one disappeared just as I was reaching for it), and had a complex, abstract theory about writing involving a "Cartesian Coordinate System" of translating thesis statements and essays into an "X, Y" format. I felt a little like I had stumbled into a math workshop (no offense, Allison, Dave, et al.), and without the 8 page handout, could only type notes desperately in the hopes of figuring it out later. Oh, yes, he also put too much information on each slide of his PowerPoint, and then clicked through them too fast, making me really crazy. Too much ivory tower, and not enough experience in relating to his audience and pacing or adapting his presentation.
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