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!