Context: We have been working on reading and writing our own piece in the “This I Believe” genre. Just as a reminder, a “This I Believe” piece is a personal narrative that allows the writer to express a strongly held belief and demonstrate that belief by letting the readers experience a powerful moment in the writer’s life.
CYNTHIA NEWBERRY MARTIN
What we did today: Today was an odd day in Eng 350 because we spent a majority of our class period doing individual work. Our group conversations focused on key points in our assigned reading and our reactions to our recorded verbal feedback from Dr. Benko.
Receiving our verbal feedback was a new experience for most of us in class. Some of the memorable and powerful comments from this discussion centered around the positive vibes we got from our recordings. I believe Kayla said that the recordings, “didn’t hurt as much as a red pen”. We can all remember a time when criticism was delivered. Even though our pieces were being criticized, we agreed that a verbal criticism was clearer, kinder, and more powerful.
This actually reminded me of a passage I read for Eng 412 in a textbook called “Differentiated Instructional Strategies for Reading in the Content Areas” by Carolyn Chapman and Rita King. In a chapter called “Creating a Climate to Motivate Readers”, Chapman and King bring up the idea of respect when critiquing work or maintaining classroom order. The golden line of this section is, “When a student is treated in a kind and respectful way, the student learns to reciprocate.” If we take this statement and relate it to our recordings we can see how impactful a respectful and personal critique is for writers in a drafting setting. The feedback from Dr. Benko was real, honest, personal, and respectful and it gave us a new positive perspective on our essays as we move towards revision. For tips on how to write your own respectful and genuine feedback on Thursday, check out Edutopia’s article “5 Research-Based Tips for Providing Students with Meaningful Feedback”. I think you will find that our audio feedback met tips #1, #3 and #4.
As Dr. Benko records her thoughts on our work, she never says, “That is wrong!”. It sounds more like, “I don’t really understand what you are doing here…” or “Maybe you could provide more detail to enhance understanding…”. We never here “Don’t do that” from Dr. Benko either. We hear, “Now be careful because…” or “You might try doing it differently because…” Respectful feedback is an important teacher-y thing to learn now while we have an expert to show us how to do it. We can probably remember a time when we did our best but were harshly criticized for our work. Not all of us can walk into such criticism like Leslie Knope – with our head held high and feet planted firmly in our beliefs.
We all need some kind, respectful and genuine feedback and I think Dr. Benko gives us examples that should follow us into our personal lives as well as our careers.
This respectful feedback bled into our discussion of the main point of our reading because Dr. Benko said, “I present these to you as possible strategies to use on your own work.” Some of the key points from the reading included editing sentences by cutting the fluff or unimportant ones, even if it hurts. Dr. Benko said sometimes she would just deleted the whole first page because it was just fluff that gave her courage to finally write what she was trying to say by page two. This made me nervous and I was glad to see Erin’s tweet about her feelings about deleting sentences.
Isn’t this precious? We feel your struggle, Erin, and let me tell you, we ride that struggle bus with you sometimes. It’s hard to write your heart out and turn around and delete your work. Sometimes, you just gotta. Leave your good sentence and scratch those that don’t meet the expectations of “good”. Go forth and delete, my friends. There is always more to write anyway.
What to do for Thursday: For Thursday we are sweeping the other reading under the rug for now and focusing only on our This I Believe essays. Let’s try to give this thing our all and spend a good chunk of time on them. There is a link to submit your revised draft and it can be found here. Before you do any submitting of any kind, read the directions posted in a document found on the Google folder. Even if you think you remember, read the directions again anyway!