Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Entry #12

Now that my reading and writing blog has come to an end, I am taking a step back to see what I have learned from this experience.  I am using the student learning outcomes in the first page of our syllabus.  I have clearly learned about the variety of genres that readers and writers use to communicate.  As I read the chapters, trade books, and my classmate’s blog and listened to my classmates presentations, I used my blog to discuss and come to terms with the different genres I have learned about.  I defiantly learned a lot about the different genres from this course and have deepened my understanding of the genre as a whole.  I have also learned how to teach the various genres and use different genre texts effectively.  I have also used my blog to discuss the importance of purpose and audience as discussed in outcome 2.  I especially learned about this as I completed my genre pieces project.  I really had to think about my pieces and how I would covey my message to different audiences thought personal or rhetorical voice.  I used my blog as a means to reflect on my genre pieces how they were coming along, and what I needed to change.  I have learned slowly about the purpose, audience, and voice of each piece.  Learning outcome three I had to think more about.  The historical and contemporary theoretical models of reading and writing need to be mixed with new literacy theories.  I think that I express this thought my blog entries and I synthesize my learning.  I have used traditional models such as letter writing and also incorporated new literacies such as emails, in my genre presentation.  I have discussed this in my blog.  I have also discussed a variety of other traditional literature and new literacies throughout my blog posts.
Outcome number 4 discusses the relationship between the writing and reading processes.  I have discussed this in my blog entries as I discuss writer’s workshop and different genres.  Reading and writing are harder to separate than speak of in conjunction, and you can see that I link them in my blog entries.  Learning outcome number 5 is defiantly achieved as I wrote my blog entries.  I spent a lot of time thinking about thinking about writing proficiency and reading comprehension as I thought what to write.  My blog was a place that was designated for this reason.  I used this digital space to think about my learning in a metacognitive way and use reflection to grow and learn.  I have also thought about different assignments that are developmentally appropriate.  I have also learned a lot about how to incorporate digital reading and writing assignments in the classroom.  I have discussed this in blog entry 2.  This is something that I learned a lot about in this course.  Not only did I have the chance to learn about these new literacies, I had the opportunity to practice and use them.  Lastly, I have learned how to assess and evaluate students writing and reading proficiency.  This was discussed in blog entries 5 and 6.  This is something that I never felt very comfortable doing.  The readings from this course and my experiences in class have equipped me with strategies to prepare me to assess reading and writing effectively and confidently.  Looking back on my blog, it is clear that I have learned a lot from engaging in my blog writing, and this course.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Entry #11

            Before taking this class I knew the basics about the different literary genres we have discussed in this class.  However, after my readings and listening to my peers presentations I am much more knowledgeable on the subject.  At the beginning of this class I knew that I had a lot to learn about the specific features of each genre and how to teach it.  The genre that I felt the most comfortable with was letters and that is what I chose for my genre presentation.  While I knew most of the text features of this genre, like the format of personal and business letters, I learned great tips on how to effectively teach this genre to students.  I learned that using real letters as examples, and having students write letters that will really be sent, helps them to see the relevancy of letter writing and makes the experience more authentic.
            Another genre that I felt pretty comfortable with was journals.  However, after reading Tompkins and attending Dr. Jones’ presentation I was reminded of the many different formats of journals.  I was familiar with simulated journals, reading logs, dialogue journals, and personal journals prior to this presentation.  However, I now know what a double journal entry was or how to use it in the classroom.  This genre that I thought I knew a lot about, was enriched and I know a lot more about it now.
            I also learned a lot about the persuasive genre.  While most of what I learned, I already knew but had just forgotten.  Going into the presentation and readings I thought that persuasive writing was just essays.  But after the presentations I realized that it was a lot more than that.  I learned some of the ways to persuade, different parts of a persuasive essay, and features of persuasive writing such as double speak and propaganda.  I also found the graphic organizer they provided very helpful, and I could see myself using it to teach persuasive writing to students.  This was the genre that I learned the most about and feel much more comfortable with it.
            The last genre that I have learned about was the expository genre.  I knew more about this genre and have used it as a teaching tool in the past.  I knew the different text structures and features, such as table of contents, headings, and maps.  I have learned more about this genre in the past few years, as the new standards require much more use of expository texts, even with young children.
            I am so glad to have learned so much about the different genres in this class.  I feel much more able to teach each genre, and more educated on them myself.  I am eager to learn about the poetry, narrative and biographical, and descriptive genres in the next few weeks.  I am also excited to present my genre to the class!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Entry #10

For this entry I read thought a few of my peers blogs to find something to “Bless, Address, or Press.”  I found an entry in Gretchen G’s Blog that I wanted to bless, address, and press.  Her entry #9 was very interesting and I wanted to start with her opening statements. She said:

“When I was doing research on the expository genre for my genre presentation next week, I found myself questioning if I did enough instruction concerning expository reading and writing in my own classroom. Did my students even know what the word expository meant? Did they know what type of books would be considered expository? Have they ever read an expository text? Have they ever written an expository piece before?”

I wanted to stop and both bless and address this statement.  I love how she took the time to reflect on her own teaching as she prepared for her genre presentation.  It shows that she is really learning and applying the content in this class to her teaching, which is the ultimate goal.  I then wanted to address that the new common core places a much bigger emphasis on the use of expository text in all grade levels.  I have witnessed thought-out my career as an educator that many more expository texts are being used in the classroom now, as apposed to when I first started working in classrooms at the beginning of my undergraduate career. 

Gretchen continued on to reflect on the answers she found to those questions and how she used this genre in her classroom.  I wanted to point out that she said that some students knew what the expository or non-fiction genre was, but did not know the name.  I think that this is a very great observation, as many first graders do not know the word “expository”.  This is a great teaching moment when they can learn a new word for this genre.  I also liked how she went further than discussing the differences between fiction and non-fiction and also discussed the various text features of the genre and their purposes.  This really shows that she holds her students to high standards and values the expository genre in the classroom.

Lastly, I loved her activity of what they learned and what they wondered.  I would like to press her to then use those post its, to have the students create their own expository piece.  They can use their learning as the backbone for the piece and do research to find the answers to their wonderings.  They can then use the information to create their very own expository piece.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Entry #9

For my entry this week I wanted to discuss the group presentation on the persuasive genre.  Prior to reading this chapter and watching this presentation I thought to myself, “this never gets used in schools.”  I could only remember writing one essay in elementary school that was deemed and labeled as “persuasive.”  However as I continued to read the chapter and participated in the wonderful presentation put on by my classmates, I realized that the persuasive genre is not so absolute.  The examples shared in class really reminded me of how present persuasive writing really is.  I thought about how my cover letters and job applications are glorified persuasive writing.  This is something that I am very familiar with, and have spent a lot of time engaging in this genre of writing.  I also thought about how many text messages and emails that I send are persuasive in nature.  I also continued to make connections to the fact that debates and petitions are also persuasive.  After my conception of the persuasive genre was widened I realized that my graduate portfolio that I am creating could be considered persuasive.  I have continuously persuaded the reader that I have achieved the different aspects of Danielson’s framework in my domain statements.  I also continued to think about how one of my genre pieces is persuasive, as I encourage people to come and vacation in Thousand Island Park.  I am really glad that I have broken though my skewed view of the persuasive genre as I widened and deepened my understanding.  I now know that a persuasive essay is just one component to this genre and there is so much more.

In addition to discussing this week’s genre presentation, I wanted to discuss the work I have done with my partner for our genre presentation.  We both took time to read our chapter and look for examples of our genre this week.  We came together during writer’s workshop today to plan our attack.  This collaboration really helped to make our presentation better.  I found that we both had ideas that were just all right, but after discussing them and talking them over with each other we came up with ideas that were great.  The combination of our ideas, really helped to make our presentation come full circle and be the best it can be.  I know many times people resent working with partners on group projects.  The argument is that it is hard to find time to collaborate, and that one person pulls all the weight.  However the benefits of two minds working on one thing is extraordinary.  My partner and I planed the format of our presentation and split up the work.  I think that collaboration will be easy, as this class showed us many ways to use technology to share documents and collaborate on them.  I look forward to continuing to collaborate with my partner and continue to prepare for our presentation.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Entry #8

For this weeks entry I spent time reading some of my peer’s blog entries.  One that struck home for me was Entry #7 from The Literally Literacy Blog.  In this entry she speaks about what she learned as she researched and read more about the genre of poetry.  This struck me, as poetry is a genre that I feel uneasy with.  As a kid I thought of it as “easy,” as it can sometimes be shorter than a narrative essay.  But now that I am a more knowledgeable writer, I feel that poetry is not “easy” any more, and I often struggle writing poetry more than writing longer texts.  This is probably due to less experience with this genre.  This blog entry offered many suggestions that will help me feel more confident as a teacher of poetry, as I work on becoming a more confident poet myself.

Ashley was sure to explain early on in her entry that poetry does not need to rhyme.  As a kid, I always thought this.  I liked how she suggested that teachers stress that the message of the poem is more important than the rhyming.  She also suggests that teachers share a wide variety of poems with students to show them that there is much more to poetry than rhyming.  I also liked her suggesting starting with a simple formula poem to help ease the students into the genre and help build up their confidence as poets.  This suggestion made me think of the exercise we did in this class the very first day.  The formula poem of “If I were in charge of the world” would be a great starter activity for a poetry unit.  This activity would be fun for students, engage them, is about something that is meaningful to them, and will show them that they in fact are poets!

I also really like the examples she provided to incorporate poetry into other subjects.  I think this would be a great way to reach the different learning styles of your students, and would be a great option when the teacher gives different choices for an assessment.  Lastly, her suggestions for grading poetry were great.  She suggests using a portfolio and letting students select their best work for assessment.  I also suggest using a rubric at times, and focusing on the meaning of the work and the effort the child put into it.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Entry #7

This class has made me think more and more about how I interact with the writing process.  I have found that I think more critically of each step and come across many of the problems that are mentioned in the book.  I have also used some of the techniques in the book to overcome the challanges that I face and to persuvere in my writing.  As I begin to complete my genre pieces project, I find myself doubting my wriitng ablities.  Now that I am reflecting on this feeling of self doubt I am shocked.  I feel very confident writing research papers and other various papers that are required for my masters portfolio.  I came to think about it more, and I can not remember the last time that I wrote a piece that was not informative or reflective.  In addition, I can not remember the last time that I have written a piece that was not about education in some way.

After I came to this realization, I realized that I was just out of touch with other genres.  I also realized that I need to practice my skills writing about topics other than education.  I used this opportunity to read widely, in regards to different genres, different topics, and pieces regarding my topic: thousand island park.  Once I because a more diverse reader, I began to feel better about the writing process and started to generate ideas.  The activity we did in class with the index cards, helped me decide what I wanted each of my pieces to focus on.  After I found my focus I started to write.  This is where I encountered another problem.  When I faced this problem, I turned to both my writing partners and my teacher for advice.  I felt that my piece would be confusing and incomprehensible to others beside me.  My wonderful teacher reminded me of the crucial step of identifying your audience.  At this point, I stopped my writing and took a step back.  I identified the different purposes and audience for each piece.  After this step, I decided that my inital piece was not going to serve my topic well, and put it aside.  I started again and this time, with a much more complete idea of how I wanted my first piece to be.  I have now realized the importance of brainstoroming and pre-writing in the writing process.   I will remember these skills as I continue to work on my assignment.

Now that I have worked out the kinks of my starting phases, I predict that I will be much more successful.  I will remember as I continue to draft my first piece that I will need to edit and revise my piece.  I will utilize my writing partners to help me with grammatical errors, as well as for ideas to improve my piece and send my message more effectively.  I will remember that the writing process is flexible and to use it as a guide.  I will also use the reading from the class as a resource and will apply what I have learned about teaching writing to my own writing process.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Entry #6

The reading I did this week focused on assessing and responding to writing.  I was very glad to read about this topic, because assessing student writing is not one of my strong suits.  In my experiences student teaching, I have graded various writing assignments.  It is a process that I feel uneasy with, because unlike a test it is never right or wrong.  However there are some strategies that I have used to help me grade student papers.  I have utilized rubrics and found that they are very helpful when grading writing.  I want to make it clear though, that if you are going to grade writing with a rubric, you must give a copy to the student when you introduce their writing assignment.  It will help the students to see what is expected, and the meet those expectations.  I have also used the technique of holistic scoring in the past.  I found both to be helpful and help to make sure that my assessment is fair and valid.

Tompkins (2012) offers many more strategies in Chapter 4 of Teaching Writing: Balancing Process and Product.  Tompkins stresses that "the most effective assessment combines process and product measures to evaluate students' growth as writers and the quality of their compositions" (p.89).  I will remember her advice and use both process and product of writing assessments in my classroom.  Some of the strategies that I found helpful and will try out in the future were anecdotal notes, checklists, assessment conferences, and primary trait scoring.

I found Sommers (1982) article on responding to student writing both shocking and very true.  I thought of all the times I have received feedback on my papers, and most of the time I received the vary ambiguous comments they spoke about in the article.  This happened mainly in elementary and high school.  Now that I am in college, I have had experiences on both ends of the spectrum.  I have experienced times when my professors have given me specific and helpful feedback, and other times when I have received just a number on the top of the page.  I also thought of the times that I provided feedback on students papers and was ashamed to realize that I am one of the teachers who have used "comments [that] are not text-specific and could be interchanged, rubber-stamped, from text to text"(152).  Now that I have read this article, realized my faults, and learned strategies on how to effectively assess student writing I can go forward and improve my teaching.


Tompkins, G.E. (2012). Teaching writing: Balancing process and product (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill.

Sommers, N. (1982). Responding to student writing. College Composition and Communication, 33(2), 148-156.

Entry #5

Dear Dr. Jones,

I am writing you this letter to share with you my feelings on how this class is going so far.  First I will start off by saying that I am a bit overwhelmed!  My responsibilities in my student teaching placement have increased a lot in the past weeks and my capstone portfolio is pressing on my mind at all times.  In conjunction with the assignments for this class, I barely have time to breathe!  However, I keep reminding my self that in 3 weeks I will be finished student teaching and will have much more time to devote to my school work.

This class has made me more aware of the connections between reading and writing.  I notice it all the time in my student teaching placement during writers workshop, ELA, and my intervention groups.  I have noticed that it is very seldom that reading or writing used in solitude.  Barbra Eckhoff (1983) discusses this connection by noting the direct relationship between success in writing and reading scores (p. 607).  She also claims that "the findings of this study clearly showed that the writing of the children studied contained features of their reading texts" (p. 615).  This shows that students use what they learn in their reading and apply it to their writing.  I have seen this in classrooms before and am starting to really look for it.

The writing I do for this class, as well as my other classes, allows me a time to really reflect on my learning and come to terms with it.  I would say that I think when I write 95% of the time.  During this time I really think hard about the topic or assignment.  It always suprises me that I do not fully understand something until I am trying to write about it.  Prior to the writing experience I feel confident, however I see the limitations to my knowledge once I am put on the spot and try to write about it.  This is not a bad thing, however.  This little set back lets me know what I need to look into and learn more about.  This shows how writing really helps me as a learner.  There are some writing pieces that I chose to think harder about than others.  This means that I read and reread these pieces over and over again.  I edit them and think about my message, my voice, word choice, and audience.  These are really long and important pieces that many people will read and will have a large impact on my life.  Other pieces that are not as weighted, I chose to think less about them.  I still think about them as I am writing them, but only reread them once or twice to check for my effectiveness.  One thing that I would change about the way I read and write would be to ignore the misspellings and typos until the end.  I get very distracted by the red squiggly lines on the page and often loose my train of though as I go to correct a previous part of my piece.

I think that this class has really prepared me to set up and implement a writers workshop in my classroom.  I have thought about what aspects of writers workshop are important to me and how I would like my writers workshop to to look, sound, and feel.  This class has also prepared me to use many digital resources, and taught me the benefits of using these resources.  I will admit that prior to this class I did not think much about incorporating computers and technology into writers workshop, but now I know that they can add a whole new dimension to the process.  Lastly, I have learned how and why to incorporate various genres into teaching.

I feel pretty good about this course.  I have not thought much about my genre pieces project, but I hope to have lots of time to devote to it when my student teaching placement is complete.  I will also continue to work with my writers group on this assignment and hopefully will have something in the works soon.  The only thing that I could ask for, would be to see a example of complete genre pieces project.

Lindsey Vay

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Entry #4

On Monday I went to Mrs. Dolgas's third grade classroom with my cooperating teacher to support some of her students for ELA.  To my surprise and delight, Mrs. Dolgas began to introduce to her class their new writers workshop program.  I was so excited to see what format she had chosen and how she would introduce it to her students.  I immediately started to think about the readings that I had done for this class and the assignment of how we would structure our own writers workshop.  I found many of her techniques aligned with the strategies suggested in our readings.

Mrs. Dolgas started by calling the students over to the rug, she then pulled out her own writers journal and told them that they were going to start a writers workshop.  She explained that this was going to be time for the students to explore topics and free write.  That there would be structured assignments and free choice.  This goes right along with the readings as she plans on allowing time for both structured and unstructured responses.  This will allow for her students to pursue their interests and develop their creativity, while at the same time target specific skills.

Then Mrs. Dolgas jumped right into a targeted mini lesson on generating ideas.  She chose one strategy for generating ideas, explained it to the class and then shared an example from her personal notebook.  This mini lesson gave the students a starting point for their writers workshop.  They had a strategy posted on the board and the teacher had modeled it's use.  This also goes along with the format of a readers workshop that is mentioned in the articles we read for this class.  After the mini lesson the students were given 15 minutes to write using the strategy.  They had to write about a specific memory they had with someone that was important to them.  This is a perfect mix of structure needed for students to get used to writers workshop, while still allowing for student choice of topic.

Mrs. Dolgas shared the piece that she had written using the strategy with the class.  She wrote about the time she found out that her grandma had passed away.  She made a note to tell the class that they could write about anything they wanted and it did not need to be a sad story.  However, more than half the class wrote tragic stories that day.  This goes to show how influential the teachers stories are in shaping her students writing. 

The next day the teacher taught another strategy on zooming into a specific memory and really painting a picture.  This target corresponded with their reading target for the day, which was to make mental images.  This shows how Mrs. Dolgas was using the reading and writing process to supplement and support the other.  This goes along with all of our class readings, and shows that she can use both reading and writing to teach the same skill.  Mrs. Dolgas really focused on having students add "juicy details" in their writing and used their reading lesson as an example of good use details.  This helped show the importance of painting a picture with your words so that the reader can paint a picture in their minds.

Lastly, during center time Mrs. Dolgas let each student decorate their notebooks with pictures and color.  This helps the students create a bond with their notebook and really take ownership of it.   It also helped foster excitement for writers workshop.  I am excited to see how Mrs. Dolgas develops her writers workshop program and what the students create!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Entry #3

For this blog entry I decided to go back and complete my entry number 1.

I have had many experiences teaching writing in my student teaching experiences, field placements, and substitute teaching experiences.  There are different aspects of teaching writing that I feel very comfortable with, and others that I do not.  As a young professional it is important to remember what core principles you value and incorporate them in your classroom.

I believe that there needs to be time for students to write for enjoyment, in addition to more structured assignments.  The balance of these approaches requires the teacher to remember that free writing is just as crucial as the assigned writing assignments.  Free writing allows students to explore their creativity, pursue their interests, and develop their love for writing. Teachers need to make time in their busy schedules every once and a while for students to engage in free writing.  Too often, students begin to resent and avoid writing because their love for writing has been extinguished.  Choice and free writing will help to reignite the flame.  However, this does not mean that all writing should be free choice.  Certain assignments can and should be more structured.  This helps bring students out of their comfort zone and meet the objectives of a particular assignment.  It also helps students get to know different kinds of writing styles and gives the students an opportunity to practice them.  It also gives students a clear starting point, as some students struggle finding the motivation and ideas when it comes to free writing.

I also believe that conferencing with students is especially beneficial for both teachers and students.  It gives the teacher a glimpse of the strengths and weaknesses in their students writing and then will help them design lessons and provide interventions to target those gaps.  It also helps students stay on track learn how to successfully use the writing process.  It validates their efforts and shows that the teacher really cares about their writing and wants to help them improve.  Conferences can be done as a whole group, small group, individually, or student run.  Each format has merit and can be used in different situations.  Teachers can use both formal and informal conferences with students and is a good tool for assessing the students work and showcasing progress.  Student run conferences are a great way to make sure that students are reflecting on the writing process.  They will have to tell the teacher where they are, what they did well, what they need to do, and how they plan on getting there.

I believe that sharing student work is extremely important.  It helps students gain a sense of pride in their work.  It shows them that their writing is important and that it is not just for themselves or their teacher.  Towle (2000) claims that it "promotes excitement for literacy and defines the class as a community of writers" (p.40)  Sharing ones writing can help students gain confidence in their work.  But, sharing is not only about sharing your own work, it is also about listening to the ideas of your classmates.  It is a wonderful learning experience and can encourage students to take risks and try new things.

The readings from this class have helped to consider and reflect on what is really important when it comes to writing workshops.  They helped me to shape my core principals and my concepts of writing workshop.  One of the major ideas that has been recently put on my radar has been the idea of a digital writers workshop.  This is not something I have seen in practice or have even heard about before.  This new idea drove me to think of my ability to teach students to use the technology necessary to implement a digital writers workshop.  While I feel very confident in my abilities to navigate and create most technologies such as Microsoft, Google, wikis, blogs, and websites I am not sure how I would be at explaining the process to children.  I fear that I would lack the ability to effectively explain these resources to children in a way that they can understand and remember.  I also fear the instances when technology fails.  Everyone has an experience when the internet can not be reached, the computer crashes, or some unknown problem arises.  I believe that I can overcome my fears by having a very detailed plan of instruction and a back up plan.  If I write out the steps to navigate or create a blog and give them to students they will have it in front of them to consult even if they can not understand my directions.  Lastly, having a backup plan for the instances when the technology fails is a must!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Entry #2

Troy Hicks claims that "Digital writing changes a number of dynamics in the writing process, and there are implications for three of those dynamics that seem to be more pronounced: the students we teach, the subject matter of writing, and the spaces in which writing occurs" (2009, p. 125).  These three elements vary based on which district, school, classroom, and student you are working with.  I am currently completing my practicum in Discovery Charter School in Irondequoit, NY.  This charter school serves K-3 students, with a preference for students who qualify for free or reduced lunch.  The population is mainly African American.  I have only been in my placement for a few short days, but the first step to designing a successful digital writing workshop would be to get to know my students.

The students at this school are young, and their exposure to and experiences with technology is varied.  While some have computer, smart phones, iPads, and such at home, others do not.  It is important to do a screening of the class to see what forms of technology they are familiar with and others that need to be explicitly taught to them.  Hicks (2009) provides questions such as how your students view digital writing, the ways they think digital writing enhanced school writing, and how often they access the internet or computers.  These questions will help you learn the unique needs of your class and will give you a starting point.  Hicks also provides steps to take with your students in regards to digital literacy.  Some suggestions include, creating a blog or a wiki for the class and working with a small group of students to create a project with digital writing tools (p. 129-130).

I could use these suggestions as I work in my practicum placement as I pull out students for intervention services.  The charter school has two computers in most classrooms and a few laptops that can be used.  There are also a a smart board in most rooms.  I would use the suggestions above to work with these students on different skills and strategies.  There are numerous resources on the web that would be beneficial in addition to the ones mentioned in the book.  It is important to remember that the students are young and may not be fluent in navigating the web.  One way I could use digital literacy would be to create a personal blog for each student and use it as a place to post their work, list their activities and chart their progress.  I could do the first post my self, and then assist the student in the future until they were their own blog master.  This blog would be a good way for parents to stay informed of their child's work as well as a great resource to pull up when discusing a studnet with another teacher or the building principal.

In regards to subject and what we teach about digital writing it is important to remember that digital writing changes based on its purpose and context.  The definition of writing as putting words on paper or screen is not longer sufficient.  We need to consider what it really means to be a writer.  Hicks (2009) suggests that you ask your self and your students what counts as writing, what you enjoy about digital texts, and what is common about good writing in both print and digital forms.  It is also important to consider what the writing process looks like in regards to digital writing.  Hicks also suggests that we create and show our students a variety of different digital writing tools using a variety of different genres and reflect on why they are useful (p. 131-132).

My students are relatively young and still learning and developing their writing process.  I suggest that they should be taught both writing in print and digital modes.  This way they will be familiar and comfortable with both modes as they continue their schooling.  It will also help them distinguish which forms would be most appropriate for different tasks and assignments and be more willing to take risks.

Digital writing should be taught explicitly by a teacher and also thought virtual spaces.  The structure of both spaces needs to match up and be appropriate in regards to the goals we are working towards and students we are working with.  Some important aspects of the classroom set up include the height of the computer screens, when to use laptops versus desktop computers, and ease of motion in the room.  In regards to the virtual spaces you need to decide what tool is best for the task, what the usernames and passwords will be, and how do you encourage students to share and respond to each other’s work.

I believe that Discovery is in a pretty good spot with resources to start a digital writing workshop.  There are two desktop computers in the classroom and a cart of laptops that can be used as well.  The smart board is also a great tool, especially when it comes to teaching lessons, modeling, and large group activities.  I believe that a computer lab would be the next step to take to really make the digital workshop a success.  This will allow for the students to gather in a central location and each student will be able to have their own computer.  There will need to be a lot of explicit instruction and modeling to teach the concept of the digital writing workshop form the start.  The students will have to learn what to do and what not to do during this time.  I am sure that with time and commitment the digital writers workshop will be a success!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Entry #1

I have had many experiences teaching writing in my student teaching experiences, field placements, and substitute teaching experiences.  There are different aspects of teaching writing that I feel very comfortable with, and other that I do not.  As a young professional it is important to remember what core principles you value and incorporate them in your classroom.

I believe that there needs to be time for students to write for enjoyment, in addition to more structured assignments.  The balance of these approaches requires the teacher to remember that free writing is crucial and time must be allowed for students to explore their own creativity.  Other assignments can be more structured, and this helps bring students out of their comfort zone and meet the objectives of that particular assignment.  Free writing should be used to help foster the lover for writing in students and remind them that there are many uses for writing.  Too often, students begin to resent and avoid writing because their love for writing has been extinguished.  Choice and free writing will help to reignite the flame.

I also believe that conferencing wtih studnets is especially benificial for both teahcers and studnets.  It gives the teacher a glimpse of the strengths and weaknesses in their students writing and then will help them design lessons and provide interventions to target those gaps.  It also helps studnets stay on track learn how to successfully use the writing process.  It also validates their efforts and shows that the teacher really cares about their writing and will help them improve.  Conferences can be done as a whole group, small group, individually, or student run.  Each format has merit and can be used in different situations.