Barbara Bird, “Meaning-Making Concepts”

discovered this via Amy Ann Latawiec in her MCEA/MiWCA 2016 critique of how we use seminal and traditional texts in training new teachers.

Bird, Barbara. Meaning-Making Concepts: Basic Writer’s Access to Verbal Culture

To remember:

  • Engagement in verbal culture, though, requires more than interpretive reading and deep-level writing: this engagement also requires our affective responses …Some affective responses, though, are negative, and a common dysfunctional affective response that prevents the positive affective involvements (and one that many basic writers have) is writing anxiety (4).
  • [Mike] Rose explains what causes much of the blocking and what concepts nonblockers embrace in order to move out of this negative affective response and move into positive affective influences on our writing (4).
  • Our students need to read the concepts of motivation. For example, after reading the Sommers and Saltz article, “Novice as Expert,” my students’ intrinsic motivation rises because they get the concept from the article that to move forward, they need to embrace their location as “beginners,” but also that even beginners can “give” to the conversation (5).
  • Probably the most powerful affective concept for my students is emotion’s influence on writing. Laurie Micciche contends that “emotion is always bound up with knowledge, what is thought rather than exclusively felt” because “emotion is part of what makes ideas adhere, generating investments and attachments that get recognized as positions and/or perspectives” (6). Emotion is central to meaning making because it is central to thinking and even, as Micciche explains, creates the glue that “adheres” ideas to motivations, an adherence that is essential for strong writing processes. My students’ views of writing have truly been transformed after reading about this important role of emotion in Susan McLeod’s “Some Thoughts about Feelings.” After reading McLeod’s article, for the first time in their writing lives, my students feel emotionally connected to their own texts: they own their words instead of merely transcribing them. After engaging with these three concepts of meaning making, my students feel authorized to begin conversing with the world of ideas. The mysterious and presumed codes that guard entry into the world of ideas are demystified and made explicit (5).
  • Effective writing requires a writer to exercise authority while reading, writing and engaging in textual conversations. Few basic writers feel invited to participate in verbal culture or empowered to change ideas that affect their lives. Freire explains this relationship between participation and power: “In the culture of silence the masses are ‘mute,’ that is, they are prohibited from creatively taking part in the transformations of their society . . .[and are] alienated from the power responsible for their silence” (163) (5).

To consume:

  • Berthoff, Ann E. The Making of Meaning: Metaphors, Models, and Maxims for Writing Teachers. Upper Montclair, NJ: Boynton/Cook, 1981. Print.
  • Bartholomae, David. “Teaching Basic Writing: An Alternative to Basic Skills.” Dialogue on Writing: Rethinking ESL, Basic Writing, and First-Year Composition. Ed. Geraldine Deluca, Len Fox, Mark-Ameen Johnson, and Myra Kogen, Mahwah, NJ: LEA, 2002. Print.
  • Bazerman, Charles. “A Relationship Between Reading & Writing: The Conversational Model.” College English 41.6 (1980): 656-661. Print.
  • Bizzell, Patricia. “Literacy in Culture and Cognition.” A Sourcebook for Basic Writing Teachers. Ed. Theresa Enos. New York: Random, 1987. 125-137. Print.
  • Bruffee, Kenneth. “Social Construction, Language, and the Authority of Knowledge: A Bibliographical Essay.” College English 48.8 (1986): 773-790. Print.
  • Emig, Janet. “Writing as a Mode of Learning.” College Composition and Communication 28. 2 (1977): 122-128. Print.
  • McLeod, Susan. “Some Thoughts about Feelings: The Affective Domain and the Writing Process.” College Composition & Communication 38.4 (1987): 426-435. Print.
  • Micciche, Laura R. Doing Emotion: Rhetoric, Writing, Teaching. Portsmouth: Boynton/ Cook, 2007. Print.
  • Reither, James. “Writing & Knowing.” College English 47.6 (1985): 620-628. Print.
  • Ribble, Marcia. “Redefining Basic Writing: An Image Shift from Error to Rhyzome.” BWe: Basic Writing e-Journal 3.1 (2001). Web. February 20, 2010.
  • Sommers, Nancy and Laura Saltz. “Novice.” College Composition and Communication 43.1 (1992): 23-31. Print.

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