Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Writing comes from who we are, modeling must begin with sharing ourselves and what interests us - rather than asking students, "What interests you?" Instead of interrogating them right off the bat, let's put ourselves on the spot. Let them see who we are first, and how that translates into what we write. (p. 81).
Writing is most authentic when it represents our real lived experiences - from the exciting to the absolutely mundane. For our last blog post let's delve into the type of topics that make us such unique writers.
Please list at least five topics that you could consider writing during the Summer Institute. You can either provide 5 keywords, phrases or sentences that represent areas of interest that interest YOU! Consider this quality "think time" towards writing your first piece that is due next Tuesday morning (remember to bring six copies for your Writing Response Group too!).
Sunday, June 12, 2011
"Voice is the human spirit. It is the essence of self. It calls us from the page and says, "Listen to me. This is who I am."
It is a common misconception that voice is an afterthought, like salad dressing on the side. When we write from deep inside ourselves, voice emerges as naturally as the expression on a surprised, enraged, dismayed, or enamored face- unless we deliberately repress it. Voice can be controlled, but when we try to conjure it up, the result becomes self-conscious and artificial....when we write what we know, and when we feel passionate about the message, the voice literally boils over.
When a writer knows her topic inside and out, and believes in the message right down to her toes, there is no stopping the voice.
This week consider the assignments that you as a writer have been required to write in a school setting (elementary, middle, high school and college) and/or the topics that you chose to write on for personal reasons (not school related). In either of these contexts (school or personal) which topics/assignments did you feel were authentically writing voice into your text and which ones felt forced/contrived? You should feel free to respond on your terms to this week's blog post on "voice".
Monday, May 30, 2011
A college friend once received this comment on her writing: "I think you have it in you to write competently, though not brilliantly." This is precisely what we say when we hand someone a formula. (p. 121)
Spandel firmly disagrees with a formulaic approach to writing as a means to support struggling students. As we will have many opportunities this summer to discuss our own experiences as students and teachers on the topic of formulaic writing let's hold off on debating the pros and cons of formulaic writing at this present time.
Instead let's celebrate the authors in our lives who have written a piece of text deemed by us as readers as written both competently and brilliantly.
Please upload a sentence, paragraph, section or link to an entire essay that you believe was written brilliantly!
(And if you feel so inclined to also share your own opinions on chapter 8 feel free to do so too!)
Sunday, May 8, 2011
Chapters 5 and 7 address the balance between providing time in the classroom for students to experience the drafting process and providing meaningful feedback via quality assessments. Spandel proposes that if we write ourselves, we will better understand the nature of writing and therefore be authentic teachers of writing for our students.
When we write we know how hard it is to get the right personal slant on a topic. We know how hard it is to get going, when everything in our brains is searching for reasons and ways to procrastinate. We know that as writing unfolds, it moves in unexpected directions, inviting us down trails we didn't know we'd be exploring. We know that serious revision requires us to read our work aloud, more than once. When we write, we see in our own drafts the same problems we recognize in our students' writing: underdeveloped ideas, erratic organization, miscue leads that fill a reader's head with expectations we as writers will never fulfill, tired language, stiff, pretentious, I'm-out-to-impress-you writing, and more. At the very lease this is, or ought to be, humbling. At the very least, it ought to help us figure out what writers need- and therefore what we ought to teach. (p. 105)
This summer you will be given the gift of time to engage authentically as a writer. You will be asked to bravely put forth your own writing before your colleagues and peers in a Writing Response Group where you will receive feedback on how you can grow and stretch as a writer. This act requires both vulnerability and humility. It is something we ask of our students on a daily basis.
In considering this opportunity to be in a Writing Response Group feel free to write to some of these inquiry questions below- or as always- respond in your own way to the chapters this week:
Where do you intend to push yourself as a writer?
What are both your successes and struggles as a writer?
What topics and/or genres do you want to explore?
What are your hopes and fears about being in a WRG?
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
In Chapters 3 & 4 Spandel firmly establishes her beliefs about the rights of a "student writer" in the classroom to deviate off from assigned prompts/topics and to personalize the writing process in a way that makes sense for their writing style.
Writers need a classroom culture that supports writing, a culture in which everyone, including the teacher, is part of a writing community. They need a supportive environment in which they feel safe. Safe to try new things, to share their writing, to take risks, and to feel free from the compulsive need for perfection. (p. 41)
Our attitude should be, "If you can come up with a better idea (and oh, how we hope you can), go for it." It's arrogant to assume that we can come up with better topics for our student writers than they can think up for themselves. And even if we could, they need the opportunity to seek out those personal topics, for that is one cornerstone of good writing. (p. 31)
As an educator what strengths & challenges do you face in establishing a writing community that honors "student writers"? And in the truest spirit of these two chapters - feel free to deviate from this scripted "prompt" because as Spandel puts it best ...writers do not wander off topic, but rather onto their real topics. (p. 35)
Saturday, April 2, 2011
Students look to us for writing ideas not because we inspire them, but because it is easier to follow an assignment than to think on your own what you will write. This is precisely why it is so important for writers- all writers- to do so. Defining a topic is central to the thinking part of writing. (p. 26)
Spandel promotes the concept that our role as educators is to help students become thinkers, not merely responders. What are the real struggles, successes and/or challenges you've experienced in writing instruction when it comes to assigning writing topics vs. allowing students autonomy to define their own writing topics?
Sunday, March 27, 2011
In your introduction post please include your name, teaching experience and choose ONE of the four questions to respond to in your own blog response:
What is the one thing you’d most like to change about education?
If happiness was the national currency, what kind of work would make you rich?
What’s something you know you do differently than most people in the classroom?
At what time in your recent past have you felt most passionate and alive in a teaching context?