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?