Day 2 — Twitter, Territories, and Beliefs, Oh My!

Hello, all! I see you Tweeting already, and it just warms my heart. Keep up the good work!

Here’s a summary of what we did in preparation for and on Thursday (08/25/16):

-In preparation for class, we read chapter 1 of Smagorinsky as well as NCTE Beliefs about Teaching Writing (now referred to as “Professional Knowledge for the Teaching of Writing”).
-We started class with reminders about Twitter and a breakdown of how to use Twitter (using formative assessment to determine everyone’s comfort levels with Twitter). If Twitter isn’t your preferred social media and you can’t remember what we went over, here’s a a recap video about some of its features:

-After our Twitter recap, we dove into writing about our writing territories (taken from Nancie Atwell’s book In the Middle). Our writing territories were divided into three: topics we’d like to write about, genres we’d like to try, and audiences we’d like to write for. Dr. Benko showed us her own lists, and we got to work on our own, afterwards discussing that this activity is absolutely something we can do with our future students. These kinds of lists give students ownership over and choice in their writing. We can let them be the experts in this way, but it’s also important to remember that even we got stuck writing these lists – our students will too, and we can tell them this and give them strategies for how to keep writing (e.g., some of us reread what we had written, some of us went back to old ideas, etc.).
-We then broke up into groups to go over our readings for the day. Each group was to summarize two scenarios from Smag., identify which tensions were present in each scenario (e.g., freedom vs. control, etc.), and identify which of the NCTE beliefs were present in each scenario. The notes from this group work can be found on the Google Doc! If you didn’t understand a particular scenario, see how another group summarized it on the document.
-In our groups, it was pretty clear to all of us that some of these scenarios seemed more preferable than others – beginning with a writing activity sounds way more exciting than studying the sentence, right? What Smag. and the other authors are not telling us about these scenarios, though, is that these are just mini-cases; the teachers described don’t only teach in this way, and neither will we in our own classrooms!
-The last idea from class that we discussed was a question that was brought up – when showing our own writing to students, what do we do if a kid says that they can’t write like that? The answer? Show our first drafts. Show our crappy work! Let our kids see what we can write in a specific amount of time (Emily mentioned doing this with Dr. Jones and the Indiana Writers Center). Let’s write with our students and be honest about our own ability levels, because let’s face it – words are hard, even for us as educators.

Thinking ahead:

Our five (5) weekly tweets start this week, so don’t forget to tweet as you’re reading/tweet in-class comments/etc. Use #BSU350 or it will be much more difficult to find them!
-Think about the beliefs, scenarios, and tensions we talked about – how do we find balance between these, how can we work towards these?
-Readings you’ll need to have done for Tuesday are Dean’s “Study of Models,” Marchetti and O’Dell’s “Writing with Mentors,” and these three TIB essays (1, 2, 3).
-Dr. Benko didn’t mention this at the end of class, but Thursday’s lesson plan asks for us to continue to free write about our beliefs (the exact prompts can be found on the LP). Last fall, this writing was helpful for me both to get me working as a writer and to get me used to self-reflection, which will be key for this course.
Dr. Benko also hinted that we might have a quiz on Tuesday, so make sure you’ve done the readings!

-Rachel

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