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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.
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:
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.