Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Entry # 12

Let me start by saying I cannot believe the semester is coming to an end! It seems like just yesterday, we were starting the class and learning how to set up our blogs and now its already ending! That always seems to be the case in college courses, once I receive the syllabus the end of the semester seems to far away...but it sneaks right up on me every time!! I have learned so much during this semester that I never thought I would. As stated in the syllabus the following are the student learning outcomes we were supposed to achieve by the end of the semester. I will be responding to each of the learning outcomes below:
Student Learning Outcomes
Students will gain knowledge and competency with regards to:
1. The variety of genres that readers and writers use to communicate 

Through the presentations I was able to learn more about the variety of genres that are used to communicate. Also through my genre pieces project I was encouraged to use different genres than what I am always drawn to using. By looking at my classmates blogs I was able to learn how they express themselves through different genres of writing. 

2.The role of purpose and audience in writing and reading and the rhetorical voices used to address the desired purpose(s) and audience(s)

The voice of my writing was never something I thought about when it came to my writing, this was something that was very difficult for me to think about. I was challenged while writing my genre pieces project, changing my voice and my purpose for each of my pieces proved a lot harder than I thought it would be. I also began to realize that writing a blog and finding a voice behind it more difficult than I had originally thought it would be. I didn’t want to lose sight of who I am as a writing but  I also did not want to become too informal. 

3. The historical and contemporary theoretical models of reading and writing, including new literacy theories of reading and writing

In my other courses, we have discussed the importance of looking at the new literacies and seeing how they are effecting the education of reading and writing. I have learned about the major affect that technology has had on the literacy of our students today. Using blogs was a first hand example of how new literacies are taking over the education of today’s society. I have really learned so much through writing this blog. 

4.The relationship between the writing and reading processes

The writing and reading processes are a lot more similar than I ever realized them to be. I was unaware of their relationship before this course put this into perspective for me. By reading the chapters in Tompkins (2012) and then responding to the chapters via blog it really helped open my eyes to the processes of writing and reading. 

5. The role of metacognition in writing proficiency and reading comprehension

By using the writing and reading process while writing the blog it has helped the writing process work more proficiently for me causing me to somedays just sit and write without distractions. It has also helped me to view my reading of materials different, it has helped me read for a purpose which has helped my reading comprehension.

6. The types of reading and writing assignments that are developmentally appropriate for learners, including digital reading and writing assignments

I have learned a number of different developmentally appropriate assignments for students to use through my classmates presentations of their genres as well as through their blog posts!

7. The role of writing assessment and evaluation in determining student writing proficiency and reading comprehension.

I have learned a number of different ways to evaluate students to help them with their comprehension. I have learned that the use of rubrics are very helpful for students and they respond well to them. I have also learned that through blogs and wikis assessment could be given to the students more immediately which is helpful for older students. 

Is there anything else you learned that is not represented in the identified Learning Outcomes for this course?
I have learned that scaffolding and modeling are very important to students both young and old. By showing them how and why they are doing something the students will be more likely to be willing to try the activity the teacher wants her students to try. I know that throughout this course I was taught many different things that I had never been exposed to all dealing with technology. Without modeling I know that I would have had a much more difficult time completing some of the assignments. 

Entry # 11

At the start of the semester I was convinced I knew all there was to know about all of the genres of writing/reading. I was proven wrong! After reading Tompkins (2012) and watching all of my classmates presentation I learned a lot more information that I did not realize before. Throughout the semester I have learned a tremendous amount of information regarding all of the genres of writing / reading that I will use in my classroom. I learned so many different techniques to use with students and I learned helpful tips when it comes to teaching students specific genres. Obviously because I did the most research on my genre I learned the most about the expository genre. I never realized how important exposing young students to expository text was before doing my research on the genre.

As a child I loved to read Narrative and Biography texts, I found them much more interesting than any other genre of reading. That being said, I really have learned so much about the Narrative and Biography genre through the presentation. I never realized how much went into these genres. Meaning, I did not realize that there was themes behind each of the piece of writing, I also did not realize that there were so many types of both of these genres. The presentation given to the class on these genres was so extremely helpful for me. I really enjoyed the use of ‘life boxes’ to show us how to teach our students to write in this genre. It really opened my eyes to the different aspects that were found in these genres that I was over looking.

Some of the genres I never really remember being exposed to, or never really stood out to me, Persuasion genre being one of them. I learned a lot more information about the persuasion genre through the genre presentation. I only knew the minimal amount of information regarding this genre of writing. But I learned there is much more to persuasive writing than I thought. I liked that the presenters shared their personal experiences with the genre and how they used it in their every day life. I never thought about how much I could use the genre. After reading Tompkins (2012) I realized there was many types of persuasive writing that I could teach my students how to use and encourage them to use. 

Thinking about all of the different genres I have learned about this semester I feel a lot more confident in most of the genres! These presentations have really helped me understand each of the genres better. That being said, if any of the genres still intimidate me, I would say that it would still be the expository genre. Not because I don’t know how to teach it well or make it fun. But, because I still think that because I was not exposed to it as much at a young age I am still not as comfortable with the genre. I am feeling more comfortable than at the beginning of the semester! I just think it is a work in process! 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Blog # 10: Bless, Address, or Press

Each week I find myself reading and checking out my classmates’ blogs, I love the feedback and responses to my blog I have received and I hope that my fellow classmates also find my responses to be helpful. I have especially learned so much from my classmates’ free writes. I noticed that many of them have been writing about their genre presentations and discussing how they feel about their genre they are responsible to teach the class about. These posts have been especially helpful to me to see where my classmates’ views on certain aspects of teaching come into play. The other free writes that my classmate’s are writing about include all different aspects of teaching. 
Katie M’s blog post # 7: Choice with Reading and Writing, really stood out to me when I first read it. She writes about how important choice is in her classroom, she even uses an example of how choice in her classroom affects how she teaches. Katie M states:
       “...But by giving him a book he picked, I am sure Peter will get more out of it than he would have with The Hunger Games...This idea of choice with reading ties into choice with writing. After taking this class I am more aware of proving my students with choice when it comes to writing. Students will have a more meaningful interaction with their writing if they have ownership of it.”

This quote encompasses the main idea of Katie’s post. She believes that if a student is given a choice in reading and writing they will be able to find connections between the text or will be able to interact more meaningfully with their writing.I completely agree with this.
I know from my own experiences I write better when I have a personal connection with what I am writing about. The same goes for reading, when I am reading for enjoyment often times I am much more connected to the book than when I am reading for a class. I found the same thing happening when working with my second graders. Although some of my students did not like free writing, others really enjoyed being able to write about whatever they wanted to. My other students who struggled with choice were my struggling writers, I found that with them it was important to give them a prompt to help them organize their thoughts better than having them come up with their own prompts. 
When it came to reading, all of my students loved to pick out their own books that they could related to. So, for my class, choice when it came to reading was much more exciting! I do believe that once students get a little older they enjoy free writing more. Meaning, once they begin to develop as writers they will begin to write for enjoyment much like Katie’s students. 
I really enjoy reading my classmates blogs, especially when they are about older students and how they respond to reading and writing. It gives me hope that the joy of writing and reading can improve with age! 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Blog # 9: Raising Some Questions

Is there a type of genre writing a teacher should focus on? 
I have thought about this question for most of the semester now, and I cannot help but wonder if some genres should be seen as more important. Each presentation given about the genres has been very informative and has given me so many different ideas for how to teach the genres. That being said, the presentation have not been able to bring closure to my question. Thinking back to when I was in elementary school I cannot help but remember reading expository texts and narrative texts the most. Mainly because the expository texts were the ones we would be tested on and the narrative texts were fun to read and were most often found in our literature books. Maybe the answer to my question lays within the grade being taught. Perhaps a teacher should start with narrative texts and should talk about all the fiction types of texts and then work into the expository texts and the other non fiction types of texts there are. This might be able to create a balance between how to teach the genres and how to show each of their importance. I think it is all about working in stages with students, working from a starting point and waiting until that is understood before moving on. 
Is it necessary to master the genres? 
I believe that a student should not need to master all the genres of writing and reading, however they will need to have some familiarity with each of the genres discussed in school.  Having said that, how can a teacher ensure each student has some baseline knowledge on each of the genres. This idea could be fulfilled easily by exposure. If the teacher continues to expose students to all the different genres of writing and reading they will become more familiar with them. I feel it is important to have pieces from each genre represented in the classroom library. When the students are exposed to each of the genres they might be able to remember certain things about each of them and they might be more comfortable using each of the different genres. 
Should teachers be able to pick and choose what they teach?
Thinking about this question from the stance of teaching genres, I wonder if teacher pick and choose which genres they teach. I know that I am able to teach certain genres better than others and because of that I might be guilty of picking and choosing how I teach my students. I wonder if this is something I can change  in my future teaching experiences. How can I do this? Perhaps it all lays in education of each of the genres and familiarizing myself with fun and exciting ways to teach her of them. I am glad I have had the opportunity to learn how to teach each genre in this course!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Blog # 8: Bless, Address, or Press

Throughout the semester I have found myself checking out my classmates’ blogs, I have had the opportunity to learn about what they are thinking in response to some of the prompts and I am able to see what they are thinking when it is a free write. That being said, I found myself drawn to one specific blog post, it was Rianna’s first entry, where she discussed her experiences working with teaching writing in classrooms. One quote stood out to me, “...I have found that no matter the age or ability level that the biggest factor is making the students feel comfortable [sharing] ideas and asking for help.This idea never really struck me as one of the most important facts behind teaching writing, that is, until I really started to think about it. I know that growing up I was a very timid student who never would voluntarily raise my hand to share an idea or to ask for help. I just would sit there and hope to god that I would somehow figure it out. Luckily for me, I somehow made it! Unfortunately, I cannot help but think about the many students who are probably not as lucky. I even think about my students at Jamison, many of them would never ask for help if they needed it, instead, they would make up answers and not even try to get any of the work correct. Many of my students were just trying to coast through the year. That was a very common theme for Jamison students I had been told. Moving students on just seemed like the easy way out for much of the confusion that happened in this failing school. 
I cannot help but wonder, how can you make students feel comfortable enough to share their ideas or to ask questions? Especially being a student who falls victim to this scenario that seems to happen every day in every classroom. I can honestly say that the same students participate in even my college courses whereas the timid students still are not sharing their ideas on topics for the fear of being judged or even being wrong. I know that is my reason for still not being the first to share in a classroom setting. I know that because I am one of these types of students that I can somehow be able to make my students feel comfortable enough to share...but how? 
This has been an idea I have been struggling with. Instead of always having to share ideas aloud, I will have my students write their ideas on post-it notes anonymously and hand them in for the teacher to share aloud. I believe if the fear of speaking aloud and being judge is taken away, students would be more willing to write their true thoughts down. This type of activity was given in a college course I took, I know that I personally wrote my true feelings on the topic without fearing I could be wrong. Rianna’s quote is going to continue to keep me thinking about different ways I could improve the comfort in my future classroom. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Entry # 7: Expository Genre

When I was first assigned the Expository Genre for my genre presentation, I found myself feeling unreasonably worried. I remember thinking back to elementary school when I struggled with expository text. I couldn’t help but feel the same frustration when I was teaching expository text for the first time in one of my placements. I remember noticing most of the students also struggling with the idea of expository text and how there was a lack of excitement surrounding the idea of this genre of text. I couldn’t help but blame myself, for the lack of excitement in the classroom when it came to discussing expository text. I knew I let my own personal bias affect my teaching on the topic. I knew I had to work on this aspect of my teaching.
That being said, my job as a hopeful teacher is to take away the frustration that certain lessons bring to students and to bring excitement back into the lessons of even the most boring topics (as you can see my excitement for expository genre is still growing). I needed to kick my habit of showing my feelings about certain topics. I knew that by researching the expository text I was going to be forced to think about this genre and was going to be forced to think about how to properly teach the genre in a more exciting manner. 
I finally began to face the most dreaded genre to me. I had to really think about how to make it exciting. Gretchen and I worked hard on finding certain articles that helped support our cause of making expository texts fun. One of the most important aspects of teaching this genre is to start exposing students to expository text at a young age. By exposing them to an expository text it causes them to think about topics in a different manner. Young children are always asking questions, because of that, exposing them to expository texts will only allow children learn about more topics that they were once unfamiliar with. I feel that as a child I was not exposed to expository text as much as I could have been. I only remember reading and hearing fiction books. I cannot help but wonder if I was exposed to expository text throughout my childhood would my feelings on the genre be different. 
After completing our research on the genre, I realized that it was not as scary of a genre that I imagined it to be. I let my fear from childhood affect a large portion of my exposure to the genre. Now that I finally have a new and unbiased opinion on this genre, I feel that my ability to teach and enjoy this genre will improve. I hope to one day be able to change a student’s opinion on a genre of reading or writing and to help them appreciate each genre they will be working with. I hope to help eliminate the frustration that may come along with some of the genres and help open their minds to learning about what each genre has to offer. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Blog # 6: revisiting post # 4

After revisiting entry # 4 written about assessment. I found that I left many unanswered questions and many undeveloped thoughts about ideas that I posed. In this blog post I am going to be taking a deeper look at two of the ideas I discussed in my previous blog post.  
Disclaimer: all of my responses are given with early childhood students in mind (K-2)
Is there a time when a teacher should not correct a student?
When a student is working in their journal or creating a draft of some sort i feel that a student should not be corrected. i feel that if a student is not being graded on their correctness of the work, the teacher should not correct them. this might encourage students to try and push themselves to work harder or try something different without the fear of being wrong or getting a low grade. 
I recall many times when my students were working in their journals and they would just stare off into space because they did not know how to properly spell a word...the fear of being wrong is something that I feel students struggle with day in and day out. The idea of just trying their best or sounding out the word or even using their inventive spelling scared my students. They feared being wrong would lead to failure. 
This is another reason why students need to be pushed to try new things. Students trying new things would push them to reach outside their comfort zone. When a student knows they will not be graded or corrected on their journal or note taking maybe they will be encourage to finally reach outside their zone of comfort. 
The next problem that rises after that would be when do you start correcting students? 
I feel that if an assignment is given the student should knowingly be working their best on it. That being said, I feel that a student should have the opportunity to have many different drafts of their writing. Their reading should not be graded based on the correctness until the end. The students could be graded on their steps taken throughout the assignment or the students could be graded on their ability to stay on track. However, having the students being graded on correctness should not be done until the final product. 
Depending on the grade of the students, I feel that even during a test if a student spells a word wrong, they should not be punished unless of course it is a spelling test. I want my students to feel comfortable to reach for the stars and to reach for success. I want them to be comfortable to try anything and to reach out of their comfort zones without the fear of being wrong or worse failure. 
What about using assessment over technology? 
Using assessment over technology is a completely new idea to me as a hopeful teacher, However, I feel that this type of assessment could done correctly. I feel that the use of rubrics might be the best way to go about assessing over technology. Rubrics give the students guidelines to follow when completing an assignment. A rubric also gives the student an idea of what the teacher is looking for. This would help the students organize their work. That being said, I cannot think of any other assessment tools that would work for an assignment over technology. This is an idea I hope to learn more about during the semester. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Blog # 5

October 2, 2012
Dear Dr. Jones,

Reflecting back on how this class is going thus far in the semester, a few words come to mind: educational, helpful, and enjoyment! I have really enjoyed this class thus far. I really did not know what to expect coming into the my first semester as a grad student as well as one of my first electives. The course caught my attention from the name, I am not a great writing and at times I have difficulty reading. The fact that the course said Improving Reading through Writing incorporated both of the skills I wanted to improve on, it seemed to be a course that would not only help me as a student but also as a future teacher.

The other words I used to describe this class were helpful and educational. I am learning different techniques that are helping me as a student improve my reading. During one of our first classes we discussed using a found poem to help with comprehension of our text. This was a completely new take on a found poem for me, I had only used it with lyrics from a song never with a book. It opened my eyes to topics in the book that I seemed to have over looked, those little details that slip through the cracks when I read began popping out to me and giving me a better understanding of what I was reading. All the different techniques and skills being taught to me are really helping my writing and reading improve as a student. When we received our genre pieces project, I was not sure what to expect, however, I have learned so many different ways to work with the topic that I never expected to use. Through all the group/partner work we do in class I find myself learning with an open mind and accepting others ideas and welcoming change into my thoughts. 

I have never been much of a writing or a reading, after beginning this class I find myself writing more often, I found my passion for poetry again! I had never thought it would come back. Although recently I have been writing more, I don’t truly allow myself to think as much as  I could. My writing recently has been a therapeutic way of dealing with things. I don't believe there is really any reason why I am not choosing to engage in thinking much when I am writing. If I work on engaging my mind more in writing I feel it will improve the overall feel of my work. I feel it will add a more meaningful voice, I will get myself to dig deeper and push myself to use a more engaging voice. 

Many different activities that we have worked on in class have influenced the way I will teach in my future classroom. I really enjoyed learning about the different journal entries, and how to get students to think deeper in their writing. I also really like the card strategy activity, it really allowed me to see my thoughts from a different perspective and it allowed me to think deeper as to why I thought the way I did. Being exposed to writing a blog is also something that is new to me. It has allowed me to use technology more and think about using it in my future classroom. I like that I can view my classmates blogs and I can see how they feel about certain topics they choose to write about. Overall I feel this class has given me so much and I look forward to continued learning in this course throughout the semester! 


Monday, October 1, 2012

Blog # 4: Types of Assessment

When I think of assessment tools, formal assessments such as test are naturally the first to come to mind, however there are many more tools used for assessing young students. During my student teaching experience I was able to work with many of the different types and I was able to see which types of assessment worked best with certain types of students. Before learning about different assessment types I was filled with questions... what type of assessment should I use with my second graders? Should I focus more on informal or formal assessments? When do you start to correct your students? Is there ever a time when a teacher should not correct a student? What about using assessments over technology? So many questions filled my head about the topic. I was a tad overwhelmed to say the least.  Some of these questions seemed to have disappeared once I began teaching and they were not thought about again until reading Gail E. Tomkins’ Teaching Writing: Balancing Process and Product. In Chapter 4 of this book it discusses the many different ways to assess writing. 

I always conferenced with my students, it was one of the beginning, middle and ends points of our writing process. After reading Tomkins’ book I realized he describes many more types of conferences. According to Tomkins (2012) there was not just one type of conferencing to use with students. Tomkins talks about eight different types:  on the spot conferences, prewriting conferences, drafting conferences, revising conferences, editing conferences, instructional conferences, assessment conferences, and portfolio conferences. Each of these conferences have something special about them. Below are differences between each of them:
On the spot conferences are described as brief visits with the students to monitor different aspects of the writing process
Prewriting conferences are meeting between the teacher and student when planning a topic occurs.
Drafting conferences are for the students to address any trouble areas they find during the writing process
Revising conferences are for small groups to meet with an audience to get feedback on their writing 
Editing conferences are for students to work with teaching on any errors they might have such as spelling, punctuation or any other errors
Instructional conferences are for small group of students to work with they teacher on a topic they are struggling with
Assessment conferences this is for the students to meet about their growth as writers, this also is for students to set new goals for writing
Portfolio conferences is for students to meet with the teachers to look and pieces of writing found in their portfolio and discuss it with the teacher.  (p.84-85)

After reading about each of the types of conferences I was determined to incorporate more conferencing my future classroom. I feel that one on one time with a student is extremely helpful, the student feels more comfortable to share their writing and to try different types of writing when they do not feel threatened by a whole class sharing time. 

I feel it is important for a student to learn different self monitoring techniques, checklists being one of them. I have also used a checklist with my students, the checklist I provide for my student is much like the checklist found in Tomkins’ book in figure 4.3 (p. 88). I feel that it helps the students to slow down and to think about all the writing skills they sometimes over look, does the student have a period at the end of each sentence? What about a capital letter at the beginning of each? These are the skills the student knows how to do however often times are over looked because the student is rushing to get all of their thoughts down on the page. This checklist can also be used as a form of assessment for during writing. This will help the student to monitor themselves to ensure they are using their best quality of writing. 

The type of assessment that I used most in my classroom would be rubrics, I feel that a rubric can be used for really any grade, starting with first grade moving through college. In my case I used a rubric for my second graders. We used the common core standards for my school in Cleveland, because of that I followed a strict scope and sequence provided to me by the school district. This told me what needed to be taught and by what time of the year it needed to be done. This would help me organized my rubric. All of standards that were being assessed were put on the rubric, to get a score of five the student would need mastery of the skill being taught. By having the standards written down on the rubric it helped not only me to see if I reached my goal of teaching the skill to the students but also gave the parents some knowledge on what was being expected of their children on a certain assignment.  It really helped to see if all the objectives were met for a given subject.      

Tomkins, G. E. (2012). Teaching Writing: Balancing Process and Product. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, INC.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Entry # 3 Journaling & 6 +1 writing traits

Thinking back on my experience teaching in the inner city of Cleveland, I think about the difficulties I experienced teaching journal writing. In the beginning of the year, this was a very difficult thing for my second grader to do.  I wanted my students to write for ten minutes each morning using a prompt, such as: what did you do this weekend? what things make you happy? What makes you sad? All different prompts that i believed the students could answer without a problem. However the moment I told the students to begin writing it was a sense of fear that came over them. They instantly had no idea what to write and were completely stumped. It was as if I was asking them to write on a topic they had never heard of before. They could not grasp the idea of writing for any amount of time. This was something that needed to change throughout the year. I had to come up with different ideas to encourage the students to actually write during journal time. 

I started by encouraging the students to talk with their neighbors about what they wanted to write about before they began writing, this in a sense worked as the students pre-write/they conferenced with their friends and came up with a number of ideas to write about. Next big challenge was to get them to put their thoughts on paper. I had to explain that during journal time the spelling of tough words were not important, I wanted them to just use their inventive spelling and write all they could about the prompt given. 

It was around this time when I began attending different writing workshops. The 6 + 1 writing traits were in my option the answer to my problems! The workshop went through each of the traits and gave me different books to use to help the students understand each trait and to help me as a teacher teach the students each trait. The first trait is Ideas: having the student choose an interesting topic, this was something I needed to encourage my students to start doing, having them come up with their own topics to write about that interested them. Next was organization: explaining to the students there is a structure to writing, my students understood this concept, however did not understand how to get the finished product. Next, is Voice: having the students writing sound like them, I tried to make the students understand they had to have a stance in their writing they had to care about the topic, and once they cared about their writing, their writing improved. Next, word choice: encouraging the use of rich language, my students made a word wall filled with ‘fancy words’ this encouraged the students to not use the same boring adjectives they always used in their writing. Next, Sentence Fluency: making the sentence flow more smoothly. This helped the students listen to their writing and use transitions in their writing that they use in their speaking. Next, Conventions: the rules of writing, this was an idea that the students worked on the entire year to improve their grammar and their sentence structure. Finally, Presentation: how the writing looks on the page, the students were working towards a final product, whether it be a book, or a typed paper they were always working towards a goal. 

One of the main ideas I completely loved about the 6 + 1 writing traits was they were not to be taught one at a time, they were to be taught throughout the year, a teacher could start with conventions and then work on ideas, and come back to conventions, there was not right way to teach the traits to the students. This really intrigued me, I couldn’t believe there was no right way to teach these traits, I could come up with my own way of teaching them. After attending of all of workshops I collected a plethora of helpful lesson plans and books that would aid in my teaching of each of the writing traits. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Entry # 2

As Hicks mentions there are three main elements of the writing framework: your students, the subject of writing, and the spaces in which we write. In my opinion all of these elements play an important role in the framework of writing. Thinking back on my time at Jamison, in Cleveland, Ohio, I remember how I decided to incorporate all of these elements in my classroom. I cannot help but wonder now if things were done differently if they would have ran more smoothly. 

Starting with my students, I had a very unique group of second grade students, some of which were reading at a 2.5 reading level at the beginning of the school year, and others were still unable to write the alphabet down. Trying to teach a group of students with such diverse learning abilities was a huge challenge. I had to begin with finding a starting point for all of my students. I worked with each individually to find out where the students strengths and weaknesses appeared. I found that the students who were reading at a higher level were able to get their thoughts down on paper easier than my students who were still struggling with letter name/sounds. My struggling students were, however, able to use their imagination for writing story a lot better than my students who were trying to be ‘perfect’ in a sense. My stronger students were getting caught up in the spelling of words and the sentence structures, whereas my struggling students were able to dictate to me their ideas they were trying to write down. 

One major struggle I had was finding a topic to have my students write about that would interest all of them. I started the year by having each student write in their journals about simple topics, what did you do this weekend? Write about your family. Write about yourself.... I wanted to first get the students to begin to write. Next I wanted to get the students to think more about writing. I would have the students pretend they were the principal of the school, what are some of the things they would change? This always had the students excited to think about if they were someone else. Eventually I had the students thinking about what if your breakfast could talk, what do you think it would say to you? - This encouraged my students to use their imagination which was an extremely difficult thing for them to do. They had difficulty seeing past the real life writing assignments. By the end of the year, my students were encouraged to write their own stories in which they would work on daily. These story topics were selected by them and approved by me, and gave the students the freedom to explore their imaginations. 

The space in which I had the students write evolved over the school year, I entered a classroom where the students were bounded to their seats. They were to do everything there, This was no way I wanted to run a classroom. However, I could not change this overnight, it was going to be a process for both the students and myself. I started by having the students separate their desks during journal time, so they had their own personal space to work. Overtime I began to assign special writing spots around the classroom (the carpet, the writing table, or the floor), by the end of the year my students had the choice to sit in the rocking chair, choose one of our new writing carpets to sit on or stay in their seats. Giving the students choice, helped them stay in control of their environment. I like a classroom set up that has space for centers, and space for whole group activities. By bringing in new ‘writing carpets’, the students could move everywhere in the room to work on their writing. 

The Digital Writing Workshop is a new idea to me, this is something that I wish I had more of an education on before my experience at Jamison. I feel that it could be very successful at some schools, however with the low amount of funding given to Jamison, it might be hard to incorporate. I would have liked to at least given my students an opportunity to learn about how a digital writing workshop works however with only 3 working computers in my classroom it would have been an opportunity that only happened every once and awhile. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Entry # 1

For me, the question 'what feels comfortable' when it comes to teaching writing is a concept that has grown throughout the year. Entering an inner city 2nd grade classroom in a failing school in Cleveland, Ohio I was forced to reach outside my comfort zone and find new and exciting ways to teach writing to students who were told they were going to fail. This was at first a very uncomfortable setting to be teaching in. Within the first few weeks of teaching, I incorporated journal time each and every morning. At first these entries were to see what foundations the students have and how I was going to successfully push each individual student to succeed. This proved to be a more difficult concept than expected. Some students were able to write in complete sentences whereas others did not know the alphabet. 

I attended a number of 6 + 1 writing trait workshops and learned a number of different traits that I could use in the classroom. By attended these workshops I was forced to think outside of the box and to ultimately find a new way of teaching writing that was unfamiliar to me. I started by incorporating word choice into lessons, and incorporating different types of writing, and introduced writing folders. In these folders the students were responsible to pick three pieces of writing they are proud of. Over the course of the semester, I worked with the students on all of the stages of writing from the pre-read, to editing, to peer editing. These students were working with these pieces of writing for weeks at a time. I wanted to emphasize the importance of writing and how it is a long process. After trying this idea of writing folders with my students, I became more comfortable with teaching writing. I understand it is a process and not all students move at the same speed and that is okay. ... TO BE CONTINUED