Monday, May 3, 2010

Final Blog Posting for EDUC 548

"Thinking deeply about what we are doing leads us to ask better questions, break out of fruitless routines, make unexpected connections and experiment with fresh ideas." - Ron Brandt

A) What one strategy, article, concept, understanding or activity will you take away with you from this experience and apply to your current or ideal pedagogy?

B) Write at least three burning questions you still have in regards to writing instruction that you'd like to further explore at some point in the future as an educator.


  1. A) For me, the major thing I will take away with this course is the idea of having a mentor text. It sounds silly, but I had never thought about using a piece of writing to have students emulate before. I feel like this is a great way for English language learners to be exposed to writing in a way that is both engaging and also gives them a chance to share about themselves. This can give students a variety of written sources to both see as well as try their own hand at which makes it more meaningful to them.

    2. 1. Are there any recommended resources (articles, books) for teaching writing in the content areas? Specifically social studies?

    2. What is the best way to informally assess our students' writing at the beginning of the year? Is a simple writing sample enough? If not, what can be done to help give us a complete idea of who are students are as writers?

    3. How do we convince our students that their writing should be taken seriously if we choose not to formally grade it? What can we do to intrinsically motivate our students when for the longest time they have been motivated by the extrinsic motivation of grades?

  2. 1. For me, the mentor text is the first that I will take away and apply into my ideal pedagogy. In my country, writing is not concerned as important as other English skills, such as reading and listening. Normally, most students in my country are not good at writing. In the first of our classes, I thought mentor text was very hard for me because I never tried to write by using other texts as my writing models. But now, I think mentor text will be a good method for students to start to write or become better writers.

    1) Should we let students know I do not grade their writing? If they know, they might not view writing seriously.

    2) If I decide to pay more attentions on their ideas, what about their writing errors? As teachers, should we do mini grammar lessons for every error?

    3) I will use mentor texts in my future writing class, what can I do if my students are still struggling with using the mentor texts as writing models?

  3. A) What one strategy, article, concept, understanding or activity will you take away with you from this experience and apply to your current or ideal pedagogy?
    In my opinion, the major thing I will take away with me from this course is the way to asses students. I have learned how can I assist students according to their improvement not comparing to their classmates. Also, I will take with me the Golden Line strategy, because this strategy will not just reflects in students improvement, but also it would provide students with the way to look to a bright side of every writing piece.
    Finally, I will take away with me the tools that compounding of skills and abilities, which I have learned from this class, along with future academic settings.

    B) Write at least three burning questions you still have in regards to writing instruction that you'd like to further explore at some point in the future as an educator.

    1) When I have to step back and change my teaching methods? Especially if it works with some students while it is not with the others?

    2) How can I lower the effective filter? Especially with a student who has a low self confidence?

    3) Did the encouragement always work?? Some students are relaying on their level of improving and they do not want to try more, because they think they are the best ??

  4. 1.) The most important strategy I will take from this is the concept of a mentor text as others have stated. I had never heard of this strategy, but it makes perfect sense. After learning about it, I don't see how a teacher could use bad examples of writing and ask struggling students to try and figure out what is wrong with it. It isn't very logical. I think that I was able to learn so much about my own personal struggles by writing poems because of the mentor text project. I have realized that the main goal is to get students to write. By utilizing a mentor text, and allowing students to craft it to be their own, so many powerful words will flow from their innnermost thoughts.

    a.) When revising drafts of student writing, how much time should be given before a final work is turned in? How many drafts should a student be given?

    b.) If one student does not feeling comfortable ever sharing any piece of writing with the class, how do you still build a sense of community?

    c.) When should I provide opportunities for students to ask questions, during lessons or at designated times? What works best to keep the sense of community flowing?

  5. A) Like everyone else, the one concept that I will take away with me from this experience is the idea of using a mentor text in the classroom. I’m surprised that I wasn’t taught this concept before because I think it is the best way for students to emulate professional writers in a realistic way. When they realize that their writing can be just as good as those who write for a living, they will become more passionate about it and put more effort into it. Another strategy that I will use in my ideal pedagogy is the use of error sheets in response to student writing. I think that this strategy is very helpful for struggling writers because it doesn’t discourage them by placing marks all over the mistakes in their writing. It also puts students in charge of self-correcting and self-editing their work.

    1. How often should I conference with students while they work on a piece of writing?
    2. What are some techniques for getting students to elaborate in their writing?
    3. Since I plan on working in a university setting, I will most likely be placed in an academic writing classroom. How can I make this type of writing more fun and more accessible to my students?

  6. A)I think the biggest strategy I will take away from this class, as so many have said already, is the mentor text. I know we model for students and that’s always a big thing for them, but it makes so much sense to use a mentor text as a way to inspire more creative writing. Why hadn’t I thought about it before? I know that I always need examples before I start writing in a new way, and if I don’t have them readily available then I go online to look. This strategy is beneficial for both native English speakers and ELLs because being asked to write spur of the moment is no easy task no matter how familiar you are with the language.

    1. How do you do effective mini lessons on particular areas of need without losing the writing process as a whole? (Meaning I have students who really need extra practice with capitals and periods, and while I don’t want to overdo it, I want them to get the extra help. Problem is that when they go to write and there’s been a specific focus, it’s as if all the other points of writing fall out of their heads.)

    2. As much as I love the idea behind mentor texts, the problem I foresee is time. At the second grade level, students are still learning the writing process and the district requires them to write a certain way. Between everything else that has to be accomplished during the day, how can I effectively engage my students with mentor texts, but in a very minimal way?

    3. What are some effective strategies for teaching/learning the writing process (for all kinds or writing) at the elementary level?

  7. A. Like others, the top strategy I will take away from this class is the concept of having a mentor text. I had been exposed to the concept of “reading like a writer” in an undergraduate English class; however, I had never thought of applying it to teaching writing to elementary students. Another part of the mentor text concept that I really like is exposing students to good pieces of writing rather than to sentences that are so grammatically incorrect that it is hard to tell where to start the corrections. I feel the mentor text approach could be applied in so many ways, its versatility could lend it to any age level or writing level.

    B. 1. What is the magic number for how many times a students should revise one piece of writing? I know in one of the readers an author mentioned that at some point, the students can’t make that piece any better and may make it worse. Is there a number of revisions/edits that is best?

    2. How do you pair students up for editing each others’ work? Do you put friends together because they are comfortable with each other? Or mix the groups frequently?

    3. What do you do with students who say they have “nothing to write about” even if they are given a prompt?

  8. A) There are many valuable writing strategies that I am taking way from our writing course together, but if I had to select just one it would be the idea of working with a peer on the "lift a line" revision and expansion strategy. I believe that is an effective technique for both receiving feedback and responding to each other's craft and editing. the strategy encourages students to read each other's papers more closely and to really focus in on particualr elements tat they enjoy about their peers' writing styles and choice of words.

    B) Three burning questions that I still have about writing are:
    1) How can I encourage students to provide more meaningful feedback to each other's writing during the writing process and their various drafts? When students have been conditioned to believe that the teacher is the expert who has the final say, how can I influence them to become even more open and trusting to their peers' suggestions than to the teacher's?
    2) Just how open-ended should writing prompts and assignments be and how can I judge when less structure is more?
    3) What are some additional creative strategies and approaches for integrating expressive and personal ideas into students' academic writing?

  9. 1. I would say using mentor texts is the most important thing I took away. As I said in my final reflection, it is such a simple idea but I'm so surprised that I've never seen them used before. They're such a powerful tool because students have the creative freedom to write with their own voice, yet have a well-written text as a guide. They are thus more engaged with the text and their own writing, and they learn that they can base future writing off of good writing that they encounter. The texts are grounded in reality, students are exposed to a variety of styles, and they can see that they too can create something worth reading and publishing.

    2. 3 Burning Questions:

    a. What are some ways to help students create more complex sentences and writing in general?

    b. What are some specific tools and strategies for peer editing?

    c. What is the right balance between self-correction and teacher correction?

  10. The one thing I will and already have taken away from this course is using a mentor text to improve student writing. As a learner, I know that I learn best by example, and modeling a memorable text is a perfect example. Breaking it apart, students will remember not only the sentence, but also it's structure and why it was effective. I have already begun to use mentor texts in my classroom, and the students seem to be responding positively.

    3 Burning Questions:
    1. I still feel as though mentor texts are not necessarily enough to teach deeper grammar. Am I mistaken? Should I pair them with the text or focus solely on mentor texts?

    2. How can I incorporate creative writing into learning how to write organized and well-researched essays?

    3. How can I grade essays without focusing too much on grammar, and how can I motivate students to proofread their own work?

  11. A. Like the majority of our group, I will take the technique of using a mentor text and apply it to my current writing curriculum. I think that this is an engaging and effective way to teaching specific writing concepts. It immediately gives the students an example of what you want them to learn and eventually write themselves. I have already tried using a mentor text with a basic inquiry chart with my students and it went pretty well for the first time. I am excited to continue and expand this routine to teacher writing and language patterns.
    B. 1. How do I find that balance between correcting student mistakes without being too harsh or too easy on their writing?
    2. What are some ways that I can make summary/main idea writing more exciting for my students?
    3. How can I bring my extremely shy students out of their shell to share and celebrate their writing (whether it be in small or whole group settings)?