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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Entry 7: Poetry Writing

Over the past few weeks I have been working on my “Teaching the Genre” presentation.  I first began my research by reading chapter 7 on “Poetry Writing” in Tompkins (2012), and was amazed at the variety of poems students can create; it is a way for them to use their imagination and make “…vivid word pictures, powerful images, and touching emotional expressions” (Tompkins, 2012).  As an educator, I struggle with teaching poetry because I am never certain of the best way to implement instruction.  However after reading this chapter and discussing with my group, I have developed a deeper understanding of how to incorporate poetry into the classroom.

I believe the best way to begin poetry writing is to show students a variety of examples; for instance, it was extremely helpful when Dr. Jones illustrated her poem, “If I Were In Charge Of the World”, before we wrote our own.  They provide students with clarity and assist the teacher in providing clear expectations of the writing piece.  I find it very beneficial to know that you can implement poetry writing in writing workshop in order to allow students to focus on a particular type of poetry.  There are so many forms, and I think it is easiest to introduce them one at a time.  In addition, writing workshop lets students draft, revise, edit, and assess their own progress on their poetry pieces.

It is important to me, as an educator, to not discourage my students from writing poetry because I am not comfortable with it.  Tompkins (2012) believes that “…everyone can learn to write poems successfully” (p. 177). As a result, I need to step outside of my comfort zone and work as a team with my students to develop poetry writing in the classroom.  Tompkins provides an array of formulated poems, which aid in structuring students’ poetic writing.  This is helpful to me as a teacher, to break down the process of writing poetry and take it one step at a time.  Dr. Jones even showed us we can begin with a graphic organizer in order to organize and jot down our ideas before writing.

There are many helpful digital tools teachers can use to assist their students in generating poetry.  In my future classroom, I look forward to using “instant poetry forms”, where students can choose from more than 60 kinds of poetry and add words into a blank format.   This will be extremely helpful for students who enjoy using a computer over writing on paper.  I am learning more and more as I continue my research, and I am excited to share my findings with my peers.  My goal for this project is to show them how to incorporate poetry writing into their own classrooms and help them feel confident in teaching it.

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

Monday, October 22, 2012

Entry 6: Assessing Writing

“What is the best way to assess my students’ writing?”…This is a question I have struggled to answer since I began teaching.  It is hard to decide on the appropriate assessment when there are so many to choose from.  My goal as a teacher is to always be fair and support my students as growing learners.  Therefore, I believe it is important to utilize a variety of writing assessments in order to “…improve the reliability, validity, and fairness of classroom assessment” (Tompkins, 2012).  What is fitting for one writing piece may not be fitting for another, which is why I have difficulty choosing which type of assessment to use.  However after reading chapter 4 in Tompkins, I have developed a better understanding of how to appropriately assess my students’ writing.

As a student myself, I also struggle with writing, and it is important to me to not turn or scare my students away from it.  Currently, I am working towards finding a balance between correcting students’ errors and letting them write freely.  I have come to the conclusion that it depends on the piece of writing as to whether I should mark it up or let it be.  I no longer grade their journals based on writing conventions, but rather on the development of their ideas; however, I do correct their published writing pieces as a way to guide them in their writing.  As a teacher I strongly believe that you have to make mistakes in order to learn and grow.  I continuously stress this idea to my students in order to make them feel comfortable to take risks in their writing.

Tompkins (2012) discusses the importance of having students create a portfolio of their writing pieces.  I think they are a beneficial tool for teachers because they clearly document each student’s progress.  Portfolios also allow students to reflect on their growth as writers and compare where they are now to where they started, which I believe is a very rewarding experience.  I agree with Tompkins, that “reflection is part of the writing process itself…” (p. 100).  You cannot expect your students to become successful writers if they do not take the time to reflect on the mistakes they have made and learn what they need to work on.  Therefore, it is essential to provide multiple opportunities to conference with your students and discuss their writing pieces.

There are many assessment tools that I am taking away from this chapter and hope to utilize in my future classroom.  First and foremost, I will informally monitor my students’ writing progress, by observing them and keeping anecdotal records, as a way to guide my instruction and provide effective teaching.  Secondly, I will differentiate my forms of assessment in order to give my students clear expectations and support them in their writing.   Lastly, I will make time to conference with them in order to get to know them as individuals and guide them in their writing.  I strongly believe every person is a writer inside, and it is my aim to bring that out in all of my students.  

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

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Entry 5: Letter to Dr. Jones

Dear Dr. Jones,

            I am really enjoying this class and learning more than I could ever imagine!  This is my first semester of graduate school, and I feel I have acquired countless activities and strategies to utilize in my own classroom (and we’re only halfway through the semester!).  I chose this course, “Reading Improvement through Written Expression” because I wanted to step outside my comfort zone.  I take pleasure in reading, but I struggle when it comes to writing.  My goal this semester is to improve my writing and become a better writer, and I think this class continuously supports me along the way.

            One of the major themes this semester is examining the connection between reading and writing.  They are recursive processes that influence and build upon one another; the more you read the more proficient writer you become and vice versa.  Reading and writing require an individual to use their cognitive awareness to construct meaning.  Through our class readings and discussions, I have concluded that we continually develop as readers and writers.  There is always room for improvement and learning.  As an educator I believe we need to allow for as much time as we can for reading and writing in the classroom, in order to support our students as growing literacy learners.  Overall, both reading and writing allow one to reconsider, imagine, discover, and learn!

This course has provided me with numerous opportunities to fully transact and engage in the writing process.  Reflecting on my previous experiences, I noticed I mainly wrote freely and did not think when I was writing.  However, now I have become a more “active” writer; this means I organize my ideas beforehand, collaborate with my peers, synthesize information, then write and refine.  As a result my work reflects my growth as a writer, and I am proud to share it with my professors and peers.  It is important for me to set aside a specific time frame to work; I work best in a quiet atmosphere because it allows me to fully engage while reading or writing.   This is essential in order to do well and develop as both a student and a teacher.

I have learned and acquired various instructional strategies and activities that I look forward to implementing in my future classroom.  They will benefit not only me as a teacher, but my students’ literacy skills (both in reading and writing) as well.  Introducing students to journal writing is a great way for them to develop their own voice and engage in what they are reading.  There is an array of journal entries and texts I can utilize in the classroom in order to improve my students’ reading fluency and comprehension.  I have also enjoyed learning about technology through the use of blogs, wikis, word processors, etc.  It is important to me, as a literacy teacher, to expose my students to different writing outlets and meet their interest and needs as a learner.  My goal is to take risks inside the classroom and step outside of my comfort zone because it is my professional responsibility to be the best educator I can be.

I feel you are doing excellent with supporting me as a learner, and I look forward to what is to come!


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Entry 4: Counterpart Strategies

This course, “Reading Improvement through Written Expression”, has given me the opportunity to learn about the essential connections between the reading and writing processes.  Even though we are half way through the semester, I have been exposed to countless number of strategies I can implement in my future classroom to support my students.  One of the most interesting readings thus far discusses reading and writing as parallel processes that build upon one another.  Stephen Kucer and Lynn Rhodes wrote the article, called “Counterpart Strategies: Fine Tuning Language with Language”, which represents this idea of reading and writing as parallel processes and provides meaningful activities to assist students in becoming better readers and writers.

  According to Kucer and Rhodes (1986), both reading and writing focus a student’s attention “…on discrete language elements.”  I believe the word “elements” in this quote refers to phonological and phonemic awareness and extends to students making meaning from text.  It is imperative for teachers to break down the reading process at an early age and then teach whole language as the students grow older.  As learners, it is more beneficial for us to learn from part to whole; similarly, the writing process is taught in the same way.  First students learn their letters and sounds and then acquire the ability to write words, sentences and paragraphs.  The more literacy events a student encounters the more proficient he/she will become as a reader and writer.  Therefore, “…each becomes a counterpart to the other” (Kucer, Rhodes, 1986).

I truly enjoyed being introduced to the “Card Strategy Lesson” and “Puzzle Strategy Lesson” because they clearly depict to students how reading influences writing and vice versa; each of these activities supports students in their literacy development.  As an educator, I would like to utilize these strategies in my own classroom.  The card strategy assists students with focusing “…on chunks of meaning” (Kucer, Rhodes, 1986), whereas the puzzle strategy assist students in creating meaning from text.  They are helpful tools teachers can make use of before a writing/reading assignment.  Each strategy allows students to brainstorm topics, organize their ideas, and collaborate with others.  I believe it is important for teachers to allow students to work with their peers in order for them to gain more than one perspective and learn from one another.

Dr. Jones gave us the opportunity to experience utilizing the card strategy in class.  As a result, I gained a deeper understanding of how the activity is actually carried out; I was able to generate many ideas for my genre project and collaborate with my peers on how to organize them efficiently.  In the end it has made the writing process more comfortable and less stressful.  I can clearly understand and recognize the connections between reading and writing.

Kucer, S., Rhodes, L.  (1986).  Counterpart Strategies: Fine tuning language with language.  The Reading Teacher, 186-193.