Day 3 — M&Ms (Mentor Texts and Memeories)

Before diving in to what we did on Tuesday, here is the link to the Google Doc that I emailed out! You’ll need to sign up here for your first blog post (and I’ll post this again in the thinking ahead section); a big thank you to whoever pointed out that the 11th is fall break — this has been fixed in the document!

Here’s a summary of what we did in preparation for and on Tuesday (8/30):

-In preparation for class, we read Dean’s “Study of Models,” Marchetti and O’Dell’s “Writing with Mentors,” and three This I Believe essays (1, 2, 3). The first two texts were our first looks at the modeling and mentor texts in the classroom, and the TIB essays will serve as models for our own writing!
-We kicked off class by talking about the blog — the very same blog you’re reading! Dr. Benko went over the rubric (available on BB) and I went over my process when it came to writing the first few blog posts. I mentioned that I stressed a bit over writing the first blog post so that it could be a good model for you all, but denied you all the opportunity to see my crappy first draft. If you want to see that first draft, though, click here and try comparing it to the version on the blog! What differences can you see, and how does each seem to line up with the rubric?
-We also looked very briefly at the memes and reflection letters left to us by last semester’s 350 class, so if you want to read them all and see what advice they’ve left you, here they all are!
-We each then found a golden line from either the Dean reading or Marchetti/O’Dell reading, and posted them in this Google Doc, explaining why these lines were important in the context of the arguments. Following this, we broke up into pairs/groups of three to discuss our golden lines. I floated during this, and I overheard comments about how the vignettes show us instead of tell us about the effects of mentor texts (at multiple different points of the writing process), about how we need to be explicit about what’s working in mentor texts (showing and telling our students these things; e.g, “‘I think you should read this because…’ and not just ‘Go read this.'”), and about how, as teachers, we’re not the only ones teaching — our students also learn from the authors they’re reading.
-We also discussed the choice we can provide in the classroom — in Marchetti’s vignette, the students had choices in what they were writing, how they were writing it  (e.g, podcasts vs. print book reviews), and in the mentor texts themselves (the students weren’t pigeonholed in what they were reading); while Marchetti read more like field work, many of us pointed out that Marchetti was missing the how and practical application that Dean had.

Screen Shot 2016-08-31 at 3.38.41 PM
Kittle, who we’re reading for tomorrow, has a whole page of mentor texts on her website. What kinds of mentor texts do we already have in our mental filing cabinets or folders?

-In order to combat some of the concerns Dean brings up (e.g, emphasis on product, formula, and the possibility of copying, the latter of which Emily and I started discussing in the hashtag), we labelled mentor texts as tools in a toolbox, rather than end goals.
-After talking about these aspects of mentor texts, we broke up into different groups and, in the same Google Doc as before, began looking at the TIB essays as mentor texts, looking at the craft rather than the content (“envisioning” is missing from our chart in the document, but this is as it seems — envisioning how we might employ this element of craft in our own writing).

-As we were going over each author’s belief statement, I thought of something Silas Hansen said in my online class this summer (English 306, which is creative nonfiction; I can’t recommend taking CW classes here at Ball State enough), and it’s certainly advice that has stuck with me — remember to show, but also remember to tell; the point of a personal essay or memoir is not what happened, but how the writer feels about what happened, or how the writer makes sense of what happened. These belief statements are the part of the piece that tell and make the authors’ beliefs explicit.

Thinking ahead:

-Keep tweeting! We’re off to such a good start with this, and don’t be afraid to reply to one another if you’re struggling to come up with a tweet of your own. Twitter naturally invites conversation!
-Readings you’ll need to have done for Thursday are Cutler’s “To Teach Effective Writing, Model Effective Writing” and Kittle’s “Writing Giants, Columbine, and the Queen of Route 16.”
-In addition to bringing these readings, make sure to bring back the TIB essays we read for Tuesday, as we’re going to be starting work on idea generation for our own TIB essays.
-Make sure to sign up for your first blog post, too!

-Rachel

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