February 21, 2007

Week 5

If I had my way, portfolios would be THE primary source of assessment for students across the country. Really, if you think of it, the influx of technology should make this easier. I have a writing portfolio from when I was in elementary school that followed me from Rochester to Mankato when I moved... why can't there be a national database for all students to have a portfolio they can access no matter what school they are at or where they may move to?
In the article about portfolios it was interesting to see the narrow ways the three types of portfolios were defined. While there were very distinct difference between the three, I agree with Wolf and Siu-Runyan that all three will overlap at some point. Ownership portfolios are great in concept, but will rarely exist on their own - without feedback or accountability portfolio elements. Most students will not just put together a portfolio on their own, and as soon as a teacher starts structuring the portfolio elements from the other two start to come into play.
Overall, the feedback portfolio is an incredi ble idea. Add to it online accessibility and parent/teacher/student involvement and interaction becomes very exciting. Imagine an online portfolio where student work is kept, and area where teacher progress notes/observations/journaling are kept, and another area where parents can post about literacy in the student's home life or ask questions, etc. This is my plan for my eventual classroom... I need to pick up some tech-savvyness....anyone who can help? In order to receive my undergrad degree in Speech Comm we had to put together a digital portfolio with artifacts, reflections, peer feedback, etc. Overall, it was one of the best things I could have been required to do to finish college...

http://eduscapes.com/tap/topic82.htm
GREAT RESOURCE for learning more about electronic portfolios. Lots of great links that include information on why they are a good tool for assessment, successes and failures in use, templates for creating electronic portfolios, etc.

February 15, 2007

Week 4

Revision, revision, revision. I have to be honest, I have never been a big revisor myself. But in spending more time thinking about it, most of the obstinence towards revising has had to do with time. Reading through some of the great tools and suggestions in the reading actually have invigorated my willingness to revise...especially personal writings.
All of the readings for today convinced me of one thing: I really want my classroom to take on the atmosphere of a constant writer's workshop. Students will turn to their classmates for help with ideas, description, structure, etc., and just view me as another resource, not the ultimate dictator in what they are going to write and how they are going to write it. Using my own writing in modeling peer-response and editing methods will be key in developing this classroom atmosphere. Barron's article lays out a great method for establishin productive peer-editing groups: 1) model the behavior, 2) introduce my own writing and have them edit it, 3) actually DO the revisions for the class. When students see what the whole process looks like, this will help build the confidence they need to create useful feedback in groups.
I really want to remember the different tools in Harper's article: 1) Questions (what a neat exercise she did with her engagement), 2) Snapshots, 3) Thoughtshots, 4) Exploding a moment and, 5) Making a Scene. How great it would be to put these different ideas up around the classroom to remind students of things they can do to improve/enhance their writing. And they seem like they could be fun to model and practice, as well.
Very helpful readings today. I will be returning to these.

http://www.mpls.lib.mn.us/wft/webforteens.asp
This is a nice resource to use for those of us student teaching in the Mpls school district. There is a link for live homework help, links for different workshops held for teens (there is a SLAM POETRY one coming up), and other great activities. Provides many different sorts of writing opportunities, including writing computer games in Spanish.

February 8, 2007

Week 3

No matter whether I find the five-paragraph theme paper to be exciting or not, I can definitely recognize its use in the classroom. Students must learn how to come up with a thesis, have supporting statements, and provide research/information that backs up their assertion. I agree with those who purport that the FTP is limiting; to only teach this form to students is a serious disfavor. But once we have taught students to organize their thinking, there are many different forms of writing we can expand to. Teachers need to quit being afraid of the student who has more than three valid arguments, or maybe only has two very strong arguments. The point of the FTP is to enhance students critical-thinking skills and to help them understand ways to strengthen their information. Relying primarily on this form, however, will have the directly opposite effect.
One idea I had while reading was to start by teaching students to write the FTP. From that point, we would explore other forms of writing but use the original FTP as a starting point. Using the information and writing from the FTP, students could explore how to modify this writing into poetry, prose, a performance piece, etc. Eventually they could put together a multi-genre research paper from all of the artifacts they create.

www.teenink.com
This is a great resource for a high school writing teacher. The entire publication is written by teens, there is an actual paper/magazine that comes out to the classrooms if subscribed. But many great resources for students and teachers...and a great place for students to publish material!

January 31, 2007

Week 2

Reading through the Williams chapter, while not overly exciting, brought up some thoughts about writing assignments. I had never really noticed how often writing assignments really are based on what students already know. I agree with Williams when he describes this practice as "extremely restrictive" (283). While it is definitely essential that students involve their prior knowledge and personal lives in their writing, this cannot always be the route taken with writing. I enjoyed looking at Williams assignment sequencing based on rhetorical difficulty and can see how this method would be effective if an entire district assumed this approach. If students had a logical progression through writing in this sequence, there would be clear sign-posting that could occur throughout their writing education. Williams, again, is such a matter-of-fact writer that it is easy to want to argue back with what he is saying... even if I find I might actually agree.

I have read Romano's "Writing With Passion" and have made a multigenre paper myself. To be honest, I love every minute of this sort of project. Romano makes a key point in Chapter 14 that in using multigenre research papers, we MUST remember to have "serious discussions on purpose, audience, and power" (87). While multigenre papers might be more exciting for a lot of students, and ultimately more exciting to correct, we must remember the real-world function of teaching students writing skills and not get lost in the romanticism of new ideas. But, overall, I think multigenre papers provide students an opportunity to learn an amazing amount of information about writing, as well as their research topic, and the chance to express themselves in new and varied ways.

http://www.seventhsanctum.com/generate.php?Genname=quickstory
My link is to Seventh Sanctum, which is a site to help generate story ideas. I enjoyed clicking through the possibilities. Check them out, some of them seem awfully fun!

January 24, 2007

Week 1

The Minilessons article started very slowly and I was not overly impressed by it. However, there was one very helpful exercise for introducing peer writing conferences. I really enjoyed her activity of modeling "proper" and "improper" responses in writing conferences and having students take notes and discuss the differences in her two different portrayals. I also liked the way she returned to modeling like this a few times a year, modeling things she was seeing and hearing during the student conferences. Definitely an activity to use in my classroom.
Across all of the readings, I like the emphasis on approaching writing as a process, and not necessarily a static one across writers. Staying away from referring to "a writing process" will involve more students' ideas and methods in improving writing skills. I enjoyed how Wilson referred to writing as "a very personal activity in numerous respects, which means not only that there are many behaviors that are not universal but also that there is variation within the universals" (101).

Additional Resource:
http://www.teach-nology.com/teachers/lesson_plans/language_arts/writing/
This is a great site with lessons, writing ideas, language organizers, etc. There are over 50 "mini lessons" to peruse and possibly use in the classroom.