Day 3 – Mentor Texts

Hey squad. Here is the recap about 1/19/2016.

Before this class, we read Deborah Dean’s “What Works in Writing Instruction” and listened to three This I Believe podcasts. At start of class, we did some brief discussion about Twitter.

Is your Twitter profile professional? Look at your  profile picture and bio. We liked when bios linked to portfolios. If a school found this, they would be able to see your artifacts and beliefs. I also thought you could  link to a LinkedIN account or to a project you are part of. We also thought bios that identified us as learners, teachers, and students were good. If students found this, they could see who you are as a person.

Are you tweeting? Reminder that we need to be tweeting throughout the week and tweeting under #bsu350. Check out blackboard for ideas of what to tweet. Some ideas are quotes from the readings, big ideas or takeaways, general topics you want to discuss. questions, connections to class or readings, replies to each other, and ideas for applying these ideas to a future classroom.

Next up was looking at the blog and reviewing/discussing last class. We saw that our boards highlighted important tensions. Some scenarios seemed like extremes while others were more reasonable/ you could see yourself teaching like that. It made us think:

  • How can be balance structure with freedom?
  • How do we let tensions guide/modify/or influence our instruction?
  • When do we assess tensions? along the way? before planning?

We want students to learn specific skills that are all important to writing, but we also know from Dean that structure can stifle students. The takeaway is that these tensions are a continuum. We need to move along and vary tensions. The more we teach, the more we will be able to understand tensions in our teaching or planning.  If you can recognize these tensions, you can adjust and choose, but if you ignore tensions or don’t look for tensions, your teaching will leave room for problems. Control doesn’t come from strict obedience to structure. Both sides of the tensions can be helpful.

How does this connect to Dean and Mentor texts? I think the tension between structure and freedom comes into play when using models. Does it limit students if we show that something that is a good or perfect example of a finished product? Or does it help them to see ways they can write?

We tweeted some ‘one-sentence’ summaries of Dean’s text. These tweets led us to discuss how we model product and process.

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We saw that models can be a good balance between structure and freedom.

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We learned that it is important to use multiple models to make sure students don’t see only one right way to write. It also helps students explore writing. We want students to write individual and unique pieces, not write the same essay.

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We connected it to reading and the community. The NCTE beliefs described how critical it is to connect these. It creates purposeful activities and builds applicable skills.

Now that we know some stuff about models, let’s check out some models! We listed to some This I Believe podcasts before class. Why? These essays are a model for your assignment. When reading, we looked for “What makes these essays a This I Believe essay? What makes a This I Believe statement?  Why do people write a This I Believe essays? What is strong about them? They are all This I Believe, but how are they different?”

Here are our answers to those questions. Next time we will look at pinpointing this as a genre, craft, and model.

By looking at these models, we saw how choice matters. Each group picked different essays. It shows that we connected to different things. This might shape how we write our own This I Believe.

Looking ahead, I encourage looking for possible mentor texts. When do you see yourself modeling a writing process? Did you explain something to a friend? Did your teacher share a model? What types of things can be mentor texts? Can comic strips, email, or tweets be mentor texts?  Look for these things and ask yourself, “How could I use this text to highlight something important about writing?”
For connections, I tried to find some real-life examples of modeling writing in a secondary classroom. I found an example from the NWP title “Working With Beginning Writers” that was interesting.

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