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