Collaborative Learning Workshop

“When students write for teachers, they are writing ‘uphill’ in the authority dimension: instead of having the normal language-using experience of trying to communicate ‘across’ to others in order to tell them what’s on their mind, they are having the experience of trying to communicate ‘up’ to someone whose only reason for reading is to judge the acceptability of what they wrote and how they wrote it.”—Peter Elbow


One of the tenets of this course—as well as an idea that has permeated modern rhetoric—is that rhetoric is a framework for understanding and participating in the social construction of ideas. Therefore, we make choices. Which ideas do we believe and go with and which do we ignore? In other words, rhetoric is present in every communicative act. Everything's an argument. As a discourse community we will decide which ideas have value.

Kenneth Bruffee explains in “Collaborative Learning and the Conversation of Mankind” that learning isn’t done in isolation by individuals, but instead should be worked out within community. This is where knowledge is made and maintained.

We’re in this together. So, your task is to work it out. You will read each other’s essays as collaborators.

In order to give our collaborative time some guidance and to help with getting these essays as close to perfect as possible, we will reference Peter Elbow and Patricia Belanoff’s “Sharing and Responding.”

We are using Google Docs in this course, so don’t be shy about using the technology to help you. The chat, comments, and suggesting features will be useful.  

To be done During the Writing Process

Step 1--Sharing: No Response

Step 2--Pointing & Center of Gravity

Step 3--Summary and Sayback

Step 4—The Almost Said

Step 5 —Reply

Step 6 —Voice

Step 7 —Movies of the Mind

Step 8 —Reply

Step 9 —Descriptive Outline


To be done near the end of the writing process

Step 10 —Criterion Referenced