Day 6: Be like Oprah

Due today 

Make sure you turned in your rough draft for “This I Believe” (hard copy of course)

And don’t forget the resources we were supposed to have for today: School Writing Versus Authentic Writing and Ken Lindeblom’s bomb twitter (He tweets back sometimes!) 

For next class 

  • Benko (2012/2013), “Scaffolding: An Ongoing Process”
  • Smagorinsky, Ch. 2 “A Structured Process Approach” 
  • Be sure to start thinking about your First Twitter reflection assignment, it’s due 9/8 (Day 8)

Before I get started on what we did today, let me just say “Good Job!” Cathy Day observed us having an awesome and engaging conversation! 

So what did we do today? 

Today we started off reflecting on our “This I Believe” rough drafts (Any questions or concerns? Not happy with it yet? Totally thrilled with how it turned out? Let Dr. Benko know if you haven’t done so already!)

We did a lot of work with Mi Casa and had a great discussion on how to create an inclusive classroom culture, so that all students felt welcome and comfortable and really PART of the classroom and their learning.  We also analyzed the assignment and decided wether or not the assignment was Intellectual work, what was its’ purpose, does the student have ownership of the assignment, and who is the audience. We pretty much decided that it wasn’t really intellectual work because it didn’t invoke deeper thinking, the purpose was pretty clear but there were a few discrepancies on what the students needed write/who it was for. It scored high on student ownership, but the audience was unclear. (Google Doc here)

As for the news anchor project (This) it was decided that it was busy work (not intellectual), purpose was semi clear (“Jump from step one to step two is unclear/lacking connection and needs explained more.”), it provided a decent amount of ownership, and the audience is clear. One key note brought up that changed it was “Are they researching a story and then creating their own story, or are they recreating an existing story?” As a teacher, this is a good example of the importance of being super specific in your assignments. 

 

 

Food for thought: How does Emilie’s task fit into this analysis? 

Our main focus for our discussions can be summed up in the following points:

  • How do we know it’s authentic?
  • Why do we assign writing in school to begin with?
        • You have two kids: Those who write only in one way or those who don’t write at all. Some kids need structure
        • We also need to model and have them practice or they won’t
        • We have standards 
        • We also need to expose students to different types of writing 
happy_gary_e19595_e1909b_e19597_meme_emoticon_emoji_text_art_sugar_cookie-r7ed81cc2637743d987f45bb7988d7bc1_zimm0_630
This a standard before you come along.

 

Shifting gears a bit, how do we get students to think about “Authentic” writing as being academic writing? Can the two even mix? We had a great in-class discussion about how we can engage students to write authentically in the classroom. Traditionally, students see academic writing as just for the grade and don’t really get a lot out of the writing. They ask questions like “Can I do this? Is this wrong? Will this count off? Is it for a grade?” and cater to what the school or teacher want. While students who create authentic writing ask questions like: “Will this relate to my audience? Does this make sense? How can I make my character more dynamic?” 

Alivia brought up an excellent point in our discussion: “Authentic writing is so important because the audience is REAL.” She had a writing prompt in High School:”Write to school officials about your thoughts on getting school uniforms (Do you agree or disagree? Why?)” And Alivia said nobody really cared about the topic because they KNEW they would never get uniforms, so the audience isn’t real. So how do we engage our students and get them to write authentically? Well….

 

oprah-meme

Give students some choice, that’s how! You need to get students to take the information you give them, and do something with it! Don’t let them just repeat it back. 

Tom Forrest helps begin this idea of choice and student involvement by allowing his students to bring in decoration for the classroom in a new way. (Here) From this, we discussed the importance of a “Classroom Culture” where students feel comfortable and can be honest.

Key Notes from class discussion:

Intellectual work: Rigorous! Really make students use that higher level thinking. Don’t let students just regurgitate information. And don’t just give them a bunch of busy work. That isn’t stimulating for the mind and frankly nobody likes it. (Not even teachers, you have to grade it all later). 

Purpose:Do I know what I’m writing about? Why am I writing this?” They need to know how to go about it and what they’re doing it. (Always ask “What are you doing and why?” They need to know what they are doing and why. Be a teacher and question like a 3 year old).

Aim for authentic audiences: More than just the teacher should read it. Some alternatives:

AlternateAudience-Gardener.jpeg

Ownership: Let students have choice over their writing because it helps them care more about the assignment and makes it “real” and take “ownership” of their writing. 

Equitable choice: Don’t let one project/assignment choice be too hard and one too easy.

Food For thought: 

Whenever you can, let students write in a position of power or write over something they know a lot about! Don’t make them feel like they have to write towards what the teacher knows. Let them write about what they know or what they want to know.

“How do you make learning not in hindsight?” 

        • Reflect on what you’ve written while you’re doing it. Write a reflection over a rough draft, for example. What was easy? What was hard? What can improve? 
        • Don’t confuse fun for learning
        • Ask students to think about their thinking
        • Can we get someone else’s hindsight? 
        • Have students write to the next grade/class

“How can I create a more authentic audience for my students?” Well… here are some resources:

  • Tumblr (Troi and Brittany have a tumblr, it’s linked on their Twitter and now here too!)
  • WordPress ( Rachel and Alyssa both have one! Heck, our 350 blog is here too)
  • Iweb 
  • YouTube
  • Twitter
  • Blogger.com
  • Change.org (You can start a petition here and explain it too!)
  • Here’s a neat article about how one teacher got her students to write a little more authentically. Don’t forget that Pinterest is amazing at generating ideas and prompts and just in general teacher stuff!
  • More ideas for encouraging authentic writing 
  • Some cool writing prompts for all tastes!

“Useful” writing resources for those moments when students ask “Why do I need to practice writing?”:

  • Resume writing (complete with the standards that go with it)
  • Email etiquette! (You’d be surprised how many don’t know these things)
  • Sample scholarship questions

And our final thought for class:

feedback-meme

Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback from your students! 

Give students the space to be honest (“Well…I didn’t really like this or this.” or “I realize now that hard work sucks at the time, but it can become meaningful later on.”)

Take criticism about the class and lessons and realize they aren’t about you. Let them be honest. Be careful and intentional or else it may get personal. But just keep in mind the importance of creating an open classroom culture where both students and teachers can get feedback to help them improve. 

Don’t forget to sleep this weekend!

– Cassie 

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