December 22, 2010

PCCC Winter Break

Passaic County Community College will be on winter break from December 23 until January 2.

Offices will reopen on Monday, January 3rd.

Registration for the 15 week semester is on January 13 – 15 and 18.
Registration for the 12 week semester will be held February 7 & 8.

Classes will begin on Wednesday, January 19.

December 15, 2010

Silk City Accepting Submissions

Cover photo by Mark Hillringhouse
PCCC’S student literary journal, Silk City, is now accepting online submissions.

Students, faculty and staff may submit poetry, short fiction, creative non-fiction, and black and white photography.

Send all work as an email attachment to

Include your full name in the email. All work must be properly formatted.

Questions and inquiries may be addressed to the advisors Professor Mark Hillringhouse and Professor Mark Tambone.

December 13, 2010

Responding to Student Writing

Elizabeth Nesius gave a presentation on responding to student writing to PCCC faculty across curricula on Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2010, from 4:30-5:30 in the Library Classroom in the Learning Resource Center.

The presentation was designed for non-writing faculty, although it is hoped that writing faculty would be able to get some benefit from it as well. The presentation gave tips on responding to students' writing in a quick and efficient fashion while maximizing the usefulness of that feedback for students. Tips included effective use of rubrics and comments, and sample responses.

Faculty from a variety of disciplines attended, and feedback was generally positive. The presentation will be offered again in Spring 2011 and can be viewed here. In Spring 2010 this presentation will be part of a 2-part workshop series: Creating Effective Writing Assignments and Responding to Student Writing.

December 10, 2010

Writing Contest Winners

Announcing PCCC’s First Annual Writing Contest winners!

Writing is alive and well at PCCC. We had 78 total entries in the 4 categories. There were many outstanding entries, and students were enthusiastic about the contest.

Special thanks to the dedicated judges who generously donated their time (right at finals!) to choosing our winners:

Mark Hillringhouse
Elizabeth Nesius
Ken Ronkowitz
Academic Essays
Martha Brozyna
Alexandra Della Fera
Randy Jenkins
Short Fiction
Kelly Bender
Mark Hillringhouse
Latoya Reid

Creative Nonfiction
Emily Eklund 
Mark Hillringhouse 
Maggie Holland

Thanks also to the very generous individuals who donated prizes:
Martha Brozyna
Greg Fallon
Sally A. Handley and Sally Handley Inc. 
Mark Hillringhouse
Anita Kumar
Elizabeth Nesius
Jim Thoubboron

And now, without further ado, the winners of the Writing Contest are….

1st Place: Jennifer Torres, “Almost There”
2nd Place: Javier San Juan, “Ideal”
3rd Place: Leonel Quintanilla, “Fatherless infant with earsplitting cry”

Honorable Mention:
Patrick Fortunato, “Audio Blind”
Mark J. Holmes, “Happy Anniversary”
Maryam Ishak, “Snow Falls on All”
Jose F Serrano, “Don Jose”
Linda Swanson, “In fields of green, I cry”

Academic Essays

1st Place: Guillermo Aguilar, “An Oligopoly on Wall Street”
2nd Place: Cynthia Retuerto, “The Humane Society”
          Tied with Kevin Fetish, "Differences in Democracy/The Song Remains the Same"
3rd Place: Kristopher Perovic “Science and Skepticism”

Honorable Mention:
Jason De La Cruz, “Othello and A Midsummer Night's Dream”
Kevin Fetish, “Ethical Monotheism Among Ancient Peoples”
Kathy Lopez, “Is Google Making Us Smarter or Stupider?”

1st Place: Brionne Ramsingh, “Prequel to Iliad” and “Sequel to Iliad”
2nd Place: Cynthia Andreux, “The Boy Who Wanted to Be Tall”
3rd Place: Thomas Feliciano, “Familiar Enemy”
          Tied with Genessa Terrizzi, “Death Walker”

Honorable Mention:
Kevin Byrd, Untitled
Kimberly Gomez, “Don't Go”

Creative Nonfiction
1st Place: Jaine Radel, Untitled
2nd Place: David Hernandez, “Diversity in American Life”
3rd Place: Megan Portorreal, “My FiancĂ©’s 23rd Birthday”

Honorable Mention:
Jason De La Cruz, Untitled and “My name is Jason De La Cruz”
Carolyn Guevara, Untitled

Thank you to everyone for your support in making the contest a success! We will be publishing the winning entries in a writing contest magazine and holding a reading of winning entries in spring. We hope to see you there!

December 9, 2010

Grammar for the Texting Generation

Texas schools looking for a way to improve grammar and performance in writing by the current texting and Twitter generation of students will be turning to a new high-tech "Writing Coach."

The State Board of Education recently approved a plan to offer Pearson's Texas Writing Coach as a tool for school districts.

It provides print and digital instructional materials which teachers can customize for students - English language learners; advanced; struggling and trying to catch up in class; on-level or have other unique needs.

The interactive, writing and grammar program is aimed at middle and high school students. It gives students personalized help through a digital writing "coach" component that gives immediate feedback to individual students, right down to the paragraph level of essays.

To learn more about Texas Writing Coach, go to

December 6, 2010

Technology and Writing

Writing Intensive students and faculty have access to some technology hat was purchased as part of the Initiative.

For example, we require that WI students use tutoring in their class. That can be face-to-face in our Writing Center, but it can also be using the eTutoring service that we have available at PCCC.

We also require WI students to use an ePortfolio for these course sections.

All WI course have a LibGuide with online resources for that course. Most of these web sites are collaborative efforts with faculty, librarians and Initiative team members contributing and editing the site.

We have also contributed money to the College's purchase of the Echo360 video classroom capture software and hardware. This allows faculty to not only capture classroom activities (lectures, presentations etc.) but also create brief videos on their own time to use in class.

In addition, we encourage WI instructors to also use the Blackboard learning management system, our online Library resources and subscription streaming media services which are available to all classes.

Overall, what is most encouraging in our use of technology is that we see a "ripple effect" of use outside the Initiative and the WI courses sections.

The Writing Initiative has played a very important role in making the case for portfolios as a means of campus-wide assessment, and using portfolios is slowly taking root in the campus culture.

Faculty outside the Writing Initiative – including those in areas such as Early Childhood Education, English, and the College Experience - have successfully piloted or will pilot eFolio in their courses.

As a result of these efforts, the Vice-President of Academic Affairs has outlined a five-year, three-phase plan to adopt portfolios for assessment in several academic programs. In the meantime, the Writing Initiative team is implementing strategies to increase use of electronic portfolios, including hiring a faculty mentor for portfolios, and discussing best practices at the Faculty Institutes.

LibGuides is certainly the most popular of the resources we have introduced as part of the Initiative. Having started as a resource for Writing Intensive courses, PCCC now has 216 LibGuides in various disciplines and different uses. Only 30 of those are actually part of the Initiative itself. So far this year, the Guides have had 58,530 hits on the home page and 186, 726 views on the Guide pages.

The Virtual Teaching and Learning Center

The Virtual Teaching and Learning Center is the collective online home page for all the Writing Initiative's online resources.

Our Initiative faculty fellows can download resources and also post their course syllabi, class and resource materials for use by other faculty members and students.

The site offers web resources on:
  • The Writing Initiative
  • The Writing Center
  • Portfolio Use at PCCC and help using our ePortfolio software
  • eTutoring resources
  • Information on current faculty professional development opportunities
Though the website is focused on faculty professional development, students will also find useful resources.

For example, there are links to
  • LibGuides for all Writing Intensive courses. These guides contain many things that will be helpful to students in any section of that course. 
  • Other non-WI course guides
  • Student Workshops available in the Writing center for all students at PCCC
  • Student help sites - including library guides on topics like creating bibliographies and citations, information on the College Writing Exam, Disability Support Services, help using ePortfolios and eTutoring, the PCCC Writing Center, a guide to Online Learning at PCCC and the Online Success Center.
Go to as your starting place for all things teaching and learning at Passaic County Community College.

December 3, 2010

Workshop Today: Studying for Essay Exams

WORKSHOP: Studying for Essay Exams -- Friday, Dec. 3, at 4:00

Preparing for an essay exam requires both essay writing skillls and study skills, and so it is often a stressful task for students.

This workshop will address:
  1. how to prepare before the exam - determining the main themes of the semester, organizing notes, etc. 
  2. the different types of essay questions instructors typically use and how to answer them
  3. how to organize the essay
  4. We will also look at sample student essays and critique what was done well and where they need improvement

Get ready for December's final exams!

December 2, 2010

Changing Engagement in Large Lectures

NJEDge.Net is offering a free webinar featuring Perry Samson, from the University of Michigan on "Changing Engagement in Large Lectures."

Professor Samson has ideas for making the sage-on-the-stage lecture hall more engaging and is developing software called Lecturetools at the university.

Lecturetools is a web-based alternative to clickers (student response systems) that has been shown to dramatically increase student engagement, even in large lecture classes. This presentation walks through how to set up a course and a lecture and then invites participants to play along as virtual students.

The University of Michigan will make Lecturetools available to other schools.

Dr. Perry Samson, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, created Web-based software, LectureTools which lets students use their computers during classes to pose anonymous questions, mark up lecture slides, and answer questions posed by the instructor in real time.

Perry was interviewed in the Wall Street Journal in June 2010 on his Lecture Tools.

Perry Samson, Ph.D., a meteorologist and professor at the University of Michigan, teaches a lecture class in Extreme Weather. He explains how tornados form and why climate change may result in more intense hurricanes. Now he’s shaking up education with a robust interactive response system called LectureTools, which makes use of the laptops his students carry into his lecture hall.

During class, students can view Professor Samson’s PowerPoint slides on their laptops and take notes directly on the slides. Using a chat window, the students can anonymously ask the teacher’s aide questions during the lecture. Professor Samson can see the questions, too, providing him with valuable insight into the student’s comprehension of his lecture without disrupting the flow of the class. Students can also rate their understanding of the slides, giving him more immediate feedback.

We will be broadcasting the webinar in A111 of the Writing Center December 8th, Wednesday from 11:15 to 12:30 if you would like to attend.

You may also register online and view it from your desktop.