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John S. Knight Institute for Writing in the Disciplines
101 McGraw Hall • Cornell University • Ithaca, NY 14853 • 607-255-2280

Support for TAs

Writing 7100: Teaching Writing

Writing 7100 prepares new instructors of Cornell’s First-Year Writing Seminars to teach courses that both introduce students to particular fields of study and help them develop the sophisticated writing skills they will need throughout their undergraduate careers.  Seminar discussions and readings on pedagogical theories and practices provide an overview of the teaching of writing within a disciplinary context.  Participants develop written assignments designed to be used in their own First-Year Writing Seminars. Writing 7100 resources are available online.

Writing 7101: A Seminar on Writing and Teaching

Graduate teaching assistants appointed to Writing in the Majors courses enroll in Writing 7101, our seminar on writing and teaching in the disciplines. This course provides an interdisciplinary forum for the discussion of specific issues that arise in Writing in the Majors courses. It also explores more general dimensions of writing and teaching that are rarely objects of instruction in graduate programs or topics of organized discussion within departments. Writing 7101 begins by eliciting from the participants detailed concerns about writing and teaching, as a basis for further discussion. Later sessions pursue the following topics, among others:
  • Strategies for responding to and evaluating student writing, both in drafts and in final versions
  • Methods for generating lively, inclusive discussions
  • Assignment design
  • The writing process and the writing methods used by undergraduates, graduate students, and professional writers
  • Analysis of professional writing across the disciplines, with attention to continuities and discontinuities
  • Troubleshooting specific problems in the classroom

Writing 7101 is a one-credit course, offered S/U only. The seminar begins in the second week of fall term and continues for six weeks. Classes meet on Monday evenings from 7:00 to 9:15. For the first hour the entire class is engaged in general discussions. After a break for conversation and refreshments, we meet in two smaller groups to discuss more specific issues and course materials. Because the majority of the graduate students enrolled in the seminar are teaching in fall term courses, their teaching experiences and course materials are central to our discussions.

Archive of Teaching Materials

The Archive of Teaching Materials (ATM) is an archive of Assignments and Classroom exercises used in First Year Seminars and other Writing classes at Cornell.

Internship

Each summer about 30 graduate students participate in an apprenticeship program offered in conjunction with Writing 7100. In this program graduate students intern with faculty mentors who are teaching six-week session First-Year Writing Seminars; interns attend all classes, and receive practice in such matters as holding conferences, commenting on essays, and conducting discussions. Interns receive a summer-support stipend.

Course Leaders

During the academic year, faculty members from departments offering First-Year Writing Seminars act as course leaders for all graduate students who are teaching seminars. Course leaders continue the support and training begun in Writing 7100 by holding regular staff meetings, visiting classes, reviewing papers comments, and so on. Course leaders and graduate students receive a full description of the program at the beginning of each semester.

Peer Collaboration Program

The Knight Institute supports TAs who would like to participate in collaborative activities such as team-teaching, team-grading, team-conferences, or team-observation. TAs submit their proposals directly to their course leader, who in turn submits them to the Knight Institute for consideration. The stipend is $125 per TA.

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The Essay Response Consultation Program

Writing Seminar instructors sometimes find it helpful to consult with tutors at the Walk-In Service about responding to students' work, because these tutors have a great deal of experience in looking at student essays and instructors' comments. In the Essay Response Consultation program the tutor reads a set of papers on which the instructor has commented, and then meets with the instructor for a one-to-one consultation about questions and insights regarding response to student work. Less formal, unscheduled consultation is also possible, when a brief, informal meeting while in the midst of responding to a set of papers could clear up temporary confusion and restore a balanced perspective. Interested instructors should call the Writing Workshop at 5-6349 or contact Tracy Hamler Carrick at tch33@cornell.edu.