Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Compelling

If there's one thing about this research in composition class that has served me in my pedagogical outlook, it is that I feel strongly compelled to use more writing in the classroom.  I'm sure we'll never feel like we do enough, but I need to push myself (well, push the kids) to do even more.

I need to really use writing as a learning tool, encouraging students to write out ideas in order to share them or reflect on class.  I want more pens-on-paper without requiring a grade, just to practice writing with no performance pressure.  I want real, functional, writing workshops in which students learn from one another and hold each other accountable.  I want more context for their writings and a recognition of the reality of an audience: have them send letters, essays, etc. to kids in other schools or the local newspaper or somewhere it would be read.  I want to create an in-class literary magazine, where they can publish some of their favorite works and preserve them in my classroom for all time, for peers, parents and future classes.

More, more, more!  I liked that I pushed my kids to really produce some deeper literary analyses.  I like that I also allowed them to explore a variety of writing styles through writing workshop.  But I could always do so much more.  It's easy to shy away from writing because I think of how long it's going to take to grade.  But maybe I should stop taking it up for a grade, which only reinforces the idea of Teacher As Audience, and instead have them share amongst each other or parents/guardians/mentors.

I know, I'm starting to sound like an idealistic first yearsie, aren't I?  Mainly my point is: I need to have more writing.

Complete sidenote:  Someone in our class mentioned an interesting way of grading formal essays.  Give the essay two grades: one for mechanics, and one for content/argument.  I really like this idea.  Have you ever encountered something like that, either received a grade or given one like it?  Thoughts?

1 comment:

  1. I have tried short writing conferences with my sophomores this year, and that's exactly what I've done (two scores). Sometimes I average the scores together, sometimes I just point it out (content: strong, mechanics: weak) and gie one score. I want them to remember that there's no such thing as writing without writing about something, and form is tied to function.

    Anna Quindlen said, "I don't know what I think until I've read what I've written." I need to do more writing in class, too...I'm having trouble figuring out how to shift the paradigm.

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