Monday, February 14, 2005


Mondays are often busy; today is no exception. This morning, the high school literacy coaches. Today we meet at VOKE (the Worcester Vocational High School). Always good because the restaurant/hotel program has a restaurant where we eat lunch. This afternoon, class -- three hours (in a room that I've noticed has a wall clock with no hands). It's tough teaching a three hour class. In fact, I never have before this semester, but my co-teacher and I decided to teach this writing class, Writing Out Loud, as a studio course. We "teach" for a bit at the beginning of class, and then students read their work out loud. Takes a lot of time (and energy) to listen. We never hear as many aloud as we'd like to.

On Monday mornings I'm always left thinking about unresolved questions from the week before. Here's one of this morning's. Last week, I was in a meeting where someone from information technology services talked about "just-in-time information," the information you get, I assume, right when you need it. Researching it, I got as far as "just-in-time learning"and "just-in-time" teaching, which seem intriguing. But last Monday morning, when I got to my office, I found a note one of the grad writing consultants had left for me. It was a handscrawled thesis sentence, and on a yellow Post-It note stuck to it was another note. It said "Anne, thought you might enjoy this. Out on Saturday night and drunk and talking about my thesis, a friend asked what my thesis for my thesis was, and I thought, why not try writing it? A drunken burst of inspiration? I thought we might use this in the writing center meeting to talk about process."

Was that "just-in-time learning"? "Just-in-time teaching" on his friend's part? I'm still trying to think it through. Anne


At 5:55 AM, Blogger Tamara Miles said...


I like your grad student's "thesis of the thesis" encounter. Last week, when I was trying to come up with advertising for the writing studio here at OC Tech, I designed a poster that listed 7 reasons to visit the studio. One of those was, "so Ms. Miles can pretend to be a therapist and ask questions like, 'When did you first notice you were having a problem with your thesis statement?'"

At 6:31 AM, Blogger Tamara Miles said...

You've inspired me to do some reading about "just-in-time" teaching and learning. One of the strengths I try to build in my students is the ability to know where to find information when they need it --- to build a bank of scholarly resources, in other words, and to build their own internal resources (including a powerful vocabulary and a mental trail of connections between concepts they have studied across the disciplines.)

At 1:32 PM, Blogger mary wislocki said...


Your WCJ essay was so lovely and provocative. I've been thinking about it today, especially in regards to tutor burn-out. Some of my long term tutors (you knew them, I think! -- Will McComick and Alice Fasano, although she left last spring). Neither one of them would be called Pollyanish, but both of them -- and the other long term tutors -- seem to be renewed in the cube. Your essay gave me a way to understand that -- they accessed epochal time and could slip out of the pressure and anxiety that students sometimes want to put on consultants to make them work faster and "get through" more.

I also really like your model for research that you used. It's basic research, not assessment in the "we have to justify our existence" mode. Thanks! I needed a boost -- and this was what the doctor ordered.


At 7:18 AM, Blogger Nick said...

Hmmm. Does this mean you'll need to keep a hidden wet bar in the writing center?

If you discuss this in the writing center at some point, it might do to recall Joan Didion's oft anthologized, "On Keepping a Notebook" (an essay that opens with a memory of a writer at a bar, a memory recalled from a note written at the time).

Being able (and willing) to write a thought when it occurs is a good habit. What also is at the heart of the story is the role of hueristic. Your graduate student's friend asked him a writing center-type of question -- "can you give me a thesis of your thesis?" is not so much different from "can you tell me what your main argument is?".

What's the role of the well-timed question (or observation, keeping with the Didion) for a writer? How do we know which question is the one to ask?

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