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Teaching Writing as a Process … NOT a Product

When reading this article, I could not feel nothing but overwhelmed with joy and satisfaction that this elephant in the room has final been addressed! With writing being apart of history as we know it today, these are still a lot of issues as as educators fail to address, and within this article we definitely do address it. So what this topic we will be looking at in this article is *drum rolls* … The process of writing!

The first topic I would like to drop some discussion on is what I would describe as The Writing Cycle. I want to take step back not just start off by just directly talking about the students but us, their teachers. For too long we have always been too quick to point the at finger at our students and not take a step back at ourselves! As I was reading, I came across an interesting point about a writing cycle for teaches. So it goes like this (in order): Training teachers to teach writing – We use these tools to teach students – Students are usually confused by the instructions – teachers pass on frustration to these students on to the next teacher – the next teacher uses the most likely use the same teaching tools as the previous teachers. What I took away from this little cycle is that not we only do we need to look at the writing process of our students, but the process of how we go about teaching them! For the sake of both me not being able to make or finding a picture similar to this cycle I wanted to put in visuals, I am going to show you a very simplified version of what the teaching writing process SHOULD look like, to an extent (on the left side of this passage).

Another point I would like to address is the way us as English teachers should teach the process of discovery through language. Referring back to my World Englishes course, with America expanding as a melting pot and majority of world adapting English in some part of their lives, people perceptions of English in so many different ways. Of course we as educators want to teacher our students the traditional academic standard of writing, but we first need to come to a common ground.

The next idea to address is instead of teaching finished writing, we need to teach unfinished writing and the glory in its unfinishedness. Yes, this may sound a bit confusing to the average writing teacher. Why should we teach unfinishedness, it that not backwards teaching? We are not literately teaching our students to half effort their writing, but to be okay with not getting your writing done in one swoop. An example I would like to add in is when I do example reading log writings with my students. Our goal when doing this activity in small group is not to help them finish the log in ones sitting, but to get their ideas flowing so that they can finish the rest on their own. I then send the off with a document I created titled My Reading Log Checklist. This is to further show my student what I am looking for in their writing. Even after having small group with my little scholars, I do not just want to send them away with any confusion! Look back at my last post addressing the confusion of writing teachers instructions.

Name:

Date:

My Reading log checklist!

Before I put my reading log in the reading log bin,

Do I have:

Do I have my COMPLETE Heading? Do I have an OPENING sentence? Do I have TEXT EVDIENCE? Do I have a CLOSING sentence? OVERALL (Self Editing)
First & Last nameThe dateThe title of my bookIs my book fiction (Fake) or nonfiction (Real)?The question I am answering Did I restate the question I am answering?Do I have details in my opening sentence? (You should not!) Did I say, “In the book it said” or “According to the text”?Do I have at least 1-2 sentences of text evidence?Does my evidence support my opening sentence? Did I restate the question?Does my closing sound like my opening? Did I follow the direction on my sticky from Ms. P?Do I have punctuations? (. , ! ?)Did I answer the CORRECT question for my type of book?Did I check my log using the rubric

Hi 2nd grade friends! This checklist is to help you check that your log is complete. You all are young writers and are going through the writing process! The writing process is the steps you take to make a good writing and become a good writer. This is another tool to help you!

“He doesn’t test his words by a rule book, but by his life.”

I thought this quote and image would fit perfectly within the scheme of my next topic within this article: The Three Stages of Writing. When reading the article, I decide to look back at my writing process of my Fulbright journey targeting these three strategies.

Three Stages of Writing: Pre-writing (85 % of the writer’s time)

This is the part of the stage where you are gathering all your information, jotting down notes, understanding that there is no for sure idea and what exactly you are writing about. When looking back at my Fulbright writing journey, I had to produce two type of essays for my application process. For the sake of time and space, I will leave the link here to what exactly is a Fulbright … just in case you might be interested in applying one day ( https://us.fulbrightonline.org/ )! You can also refer back to some of my older blogs where I am in the Writing Retreat course that was dedicated into developing my essay. That summer course served as starting ground for my pre-writing.

Three Stages of Writing: Writing (1% of the writers time)

Many would think that the actual writing itself takes a enormous of time, but it actually dose not. After all the research, notes, videos, articles, and whatever else you used to gather all of your information, the writing feels like a breeze. I spent about an entire week of my summer course just doing research on my designated country I desire to do my Fulbright grant year in. It took me one sit down to get the first draft done. That was probably the easiest part of my Fulbright writing!

Three Stages of Writing: Rewriting (14% of writing time)

I can of digress with this percentage number, I would give it a little higher number like 30%. Again referring back to my Fulbright experience, my rewriting stage consisted of the following: 5 different drafts, a month of revision meeting with my Fulbright adviser, 4 different meetings with my school’s Writing Center, a couple of headache and tears, just to get th final efforts of finishing these essays. In total, it took me a 5 months to finish the two essays. Every essay varies on the type of writing process you take but it still sums up the generate Three Stages of Writing.

To end my little rant on this article, I would like to leave you with a few bullet points of ideas to consider:

  • How do you get a student do this process? (Three Stages of Writing)
    • Shut up and let them do it, instead of hearing it!
    • Be patient, it is called a process for a reason.
    • Respect our students as writers of the process. We are coaches and encourages!

Bad Ideas About Writing: Failure is Not an Option

Failure (noun): an act or instance of failing or proving unsuccessful; lack of success:His effort ended in failure. The campaign was a failure.

This is the standard definition of failure when looked at on https://www.dictionary.com/browse/failure?s=ts. Within this article I would like to explore on a different perspective such as on an dominate cultural narrative: Failure = weakness laziness, and stupidity. Instead of shaming our students, or our own failures, lets rejoice and welcome all failures in every shape and form!

I want to first start off by giving use a few bullet point on the history of failure from the article:

The History of Failure

  • Mid – 19th Century
    • To fail in reading and writing is meant as a failure of moral fortitude.
  • No Child Left Behind Act: We are so desperate to make sure all of our students to feel belonged that we are sending them under prepared for the next grade. In the 7th grade this act began to take place and made me question should I even try anymore if they are just letting anyone move on to the next grade!
  • Innovations discovered by accident: Post it notes (I love these things!).

Another worthy topic I found interesting in the article is the claim that ‘It takes years – decades, probably of repeated writing failure to get the hang of the technique.” It took me years to realize that writing in notebooks works best for me when doing my initial writing. Unfortunately, I learned and acquired this skill on my own without any guidance, which is a major issue for our student writers. We put so much pressure not to fail that they end up being entirely scared to write, building that mental wall of: I HATE WRITING!

So again, because I am a fan of bullet points (I believe it is an easy way of getting points across without lengthy paragraphs) here are someone worthy topics that came across while I was reading this article.

  • People are afraid to write due to failure.
    • I hate writing, its not fun!
  • Even the grates are failures!
    • So how do we expect our students to not accept failure? We are being Hippocrates people!
  • Writing scholars do not use the word failure, but we should!
    • When was the last time you wrote paper without tossing your entire ideas away?
  • Failure is apart of the process! Just don’t dwell on it.
    • As I would like to stress, its apart of the process, not something to stay stuck in.
  • Manu Kapur: Are brains are actually wired for failure.
    • Its in our wiring, we not built to be perfect

Bad Ideas About Writing: Writer’s Block Just Happens to People

This mental block that we all place on ourselves, whether we want to or not, is what keeps us from the world of creativity we wish to thrive in. Unfortunately, be both an artist of both the liberal and visual arts I know this feeling all to well. Most recently I have been have been experiencing both a writing and art block, hence why I am still writing this blog at 12:32 am on a Monday morning. I took the time to write out all my notes for my assigned reading well before I needed start the block. I began to question my own intelligence and my status of grad students. But I then was reminded from the article that Jacotot believed that everyone – regardless of cultural hierarchy – had the capacity for equal intelligence. I decided to take a break from the world of academia and pick up my pencil and sketch pad. After doing a couple of sketches, I finally became inspired to approach my laptop! One can facilitate writing by embracing the blank page.

Bad Ideas About Writing: Rubrics Oversimplify The Writing Process

  • We have to stick together as educators!
    • Speak up
    • Give advice
  • Students can benefit from a rubric when discussed in advanced
    • Refer back to the beginning of my blog where I introduce My Reading Log Checklist
  • A rubric is also apart of the writing process
    • This would fit into the category of rewriting stage
  • Get students involved in the learning process
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Revision Strategies of Student Writers and Experienced Adult Writers: Beginners v. The Experience

When reading this article I was taken back to the summertime of this year. This past summer, I spent most of my time as a Writing Tutor for EOF students at The College of Saint Elizabeth. As this being my first time working with college students, I was very worried that I would be caught in my fraud act of being “an experienced writer”. Little did I know, my students actually loved working with me! So what is the point of this little flashback? After reading this article and looking back at my WONDERFUL experience this past summer, I feel as though I have a different perspective on beginning student writers.

Usually, I like to aim my blogs towards my current 2nd Grade students, but this one will be dedicated towards my now freshmen college students (I hope that they are doing well!). My main objective over the summer was to help them develop as strong writers coming into college. To their surprise, I took my position quite serious and did everything in my power to strengthen their skills when making corrections and drafts to their paper. Whenever I would have my 1-on-1 writing time for each student, the same issue would occur. They would come to me with their papers and see absolutely nothing wrong with them **gasps in English Major voice**. They did not understand the concept of many revisions, that in most times would be the a second draft with new ideas and perspectives. I was at a lost of words and thoughts that they truly felt this way. Sure enough, here come this article that address the idealism behind both student writers (my EOF students) and adult experienced writers (Somewhat me).

Just as with the rhetoric discussion in our previous classes, the Greeks ideas behind the process of composition. We are introduced in this article about The 5 parts of Discourse: inventio (invention), dispositio (arrangement), elocutio (style), memoria (memory), and actio (delivery). I also found this neat slideshow on my fun surfing through the internet, if you would like further explanation on the topic: https://slideplayer.com/slide/15058367/ (fair warned. it is quite long!). To further on, because I like to use what I learned in real life experience, I have been pondering where exactly did my EOF students start, skip, or start their drafts of writing. I can say about 90 % of them were pretty good with inventio, the rest was pretty much up in the air for me to catch. When I would ask some of them, “So why did you put this argument in the beginning, when this connects more with your intro?” … that 90 % answer … “I don’t know, I just want this to be over.” What was I to do?

Looking further into the article another point that stood out to me was the Revision is impossible in Speech. Revision is speech is an afterthought, you can not erase what you said. Like many young writers, my students would write the way they speak and see no issue with this. Bringing some points from my World Englishes course with Dr. Griffith, all English is different everywhere you go. There is no right or wrong, just when to use the “certain type of English” that is acceptable in the world of academia. A lot of my students are from urban areas where there would be slang and miscommunication of how to use certain words in the writing context. Side note: Many of them could not believe I was a native of Newark, NJ. Many of my summertime students would write exactly how they speak, and when I would send them off to edited some areas in their essays, they would either come back exactly the same or some words just “remixed”.

“When revising, students primarily ask themselves: ‘can I find a better word or phrase?'” – I pulled this quote from out the article because this a common thought, I believe, that goes in many student writers mind. Example: I told my EOF student to reorganize his idea in one of the paragraphs I circled. He came back to me 20 minutes later; he moved that paragraph to another section in his paper and he replaced some words with words that I could not even pronounce! It took all the might in me not to start laughing.

Here are some other point I found interesting to discuss in the article. Like with my student in the above, the issue with how students are looking at the aspect of revision or in their case “re-doing” (which strangely was said in my summer writing tutoring) is that they are not thoroughly looking to revise, but to just change words and phrases. Students writers can hear the issues your are trying to express to them about their writing, but lacked the actual understanding of the deeper issue. They are worried about polishing surfaces errors than getting down to the nitty gritty. By all means, this does not make the student a “lazy writer’ just a misunderstood one.

REMIX!

These two articles were very funny to read! I would like to first talk about the article How Remix Culture Informs Student Writing & Creativity. As being closer to the millennium generation, remixing just about everything has been apart of me growing up. Either it be a fashion trend, TV show, or a song, this process of remixing is what has breaded a generation of insta-famous, bloggers, and YouTube sensations! Remixing is a two-way street. When looking back, an important remix for me was the two adaption that I love: Hamlet! My first encounter of Hamlet is with the Disney Production, The Lion King (Yes! The Lion King is the cartoon Hamlet!). My second Hamlet watching was a more update hip-hop version that I had the please to watch while I was in London my senior year as an undergrad. I have never actually read or watched the traditional version of Hamlet, but from watching those two remixes of it I can definitely tell you the plot of the story! When using remix in this manner, I learned about a classical story. This article express how we should use these remixes in today’s society to reach our students. Example: Using the digital space of blogging and twitter to connect with other students globally using the hashtag #unboundeq as a connection.

“It is how we challenge the status quo and forge new pathways for critical expression as we move further into a society enmeshed in the remixing of the past. ” This quote from the article greatly explains how we need to use what we have in the past to better our present. The old quote of “History finds a way of repeating itself” does not necessarily have to be a bad thing.

“I WOULD USE THE KITCHEN SINK”

What I truly I liked about this article is that it does the opposite of the previous article on remixing. It takes a look at remixing on a more non-tech bases. For one, I wish I could have taken a class like this an undergrad! These assignments in this syllabus are designed to help students use things outside of technology. Fore instance, the classroom Notebook:

Classroom Notebook

A notebook is required for taking hand-written notes in class. It is also used for in-class writing exercises. Please be sure to bring a notebook to class everyday, since access to computers and other personal electronic devices will be limited in order to focus on the specific materials we are engaging with in the classroom.

It has been a long time since I have seen that a notebook is REQUIRED in a classroom setting! Recalling back to my time as an undergrad taking Education courses, I remember my observation portion of my class. When I went to the local high school in Morristown, every students I encountered did not use notebook in class. I literately counted three people throughout the day with notebooks .. and out of the three, I was one of them! It truly showed my age. So reading this syllabus was quite refreshing.

Another aspect from this article I like is the extra credit option that the syllabus gives the students.Imagine how much creativity you would be able to pull out of a student if this was given as an extra credit! Syllabus building is probably one of the most difficult things to build/write. This writing activity gives student not just the space for creativity, put a potential skill that they would be learning in possible future careers.

* Syllabus Building – Describe 10 activities, readings, or assignments that you would include if you were teaching this course next semester. For each of the 10 items, write 2-3 sentences describing the reasoning behind putting this particular item on the syllabus. What would you want students to learn from this? How would you get them to engage with it? (10%)

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Responding to Student Writing

The Red Pen Effect!

When reading this article, it made me reflect on myself as both an educator and my beginnings schooling years as a young writer. Teachers play a major role on young writers’ confidence as they emerge into the world of academia. With that being said, this issue of marketing up, or the inner child in me would call ‘doodling’ does more harm than benefit if not approached correctly. When reading the article, there are a few points I would like to touch base on.

  • The time consuming pressure of thoroughly commenting on students writing. Not only we are educators putting pressure on our students to make all of these unbelievable changes (so that they sound like us) but we are doing just us much damage to ourselves! Put the pen down for a second my friend and THINK before you have a field day on one of your poor students’ paper. Commenting on about 100 different essays will not only leave your hand crapping but also your judgement a bit foggy.
  • We are trying to get our students to think like us. This one is a little self explanatory. Sometime we are so consumed with trying to make our students these ‘perfect’ writers through vigorous commenting on their papers, that we start putting our own twist on their creativity. I have a secret to tell all my fellow adult essay doodlers … YOUR STUDENT WILL GET THERE EVENTUALLY. The process of writing takes time, and you basically correcting ALL of their mistakes does not help
  • Teachers’ comments can take students’ attention away from their own purpose in writing a particular text and focus that attention on the teachers’ purpose in commenting. How would you feel if you see several red words, circling, scratching out, and questioning question makers all over your own writing?

Writing Comments on a Student’s Paper

“Perhaps nothing involves us so directly in the messiness of teaching writing as our attempts to comment on our students’ essays.”

This is a quote I pulled out from the reading because it just stood out to me and had so much meaning behind this. The quote real speaks value on that of trying to teaching writing through commenting. In fact, we are stirring our students away from their writing individuality with these comments, along other things we are doing to them. I know I am hitting you readers with two quotes back to back, but I have reasoning behind my madness! The first quote is kind of a counter attack against the first. The quote in the picture emphasizing on in class opportunities, rather than just comment after comment.

I would like to dive deeper into some key notes that I took away from this article. One important point that I would like to target is that article talks about how we can mistakenly let our emotions and frustration get in the way of our commenting. I can recall one too many times of an almost sarcastic tone within some of my grade level teachers who would comment on my essays. Even as a professional, I say us because I have caught myself time and again doing such things, get tired of the work load. Referring back to the article, Responding to Students’ Writing, we put so much focus on giving such details comments on about 101 different student essay that we start to lose track and reality of the real matter at hand; making our students better writers!

Another note from the text I would speak upon is comments themselves, or more so the clarification they may not give our students. This point ties back into the frustration we are putting on ourselves that could trickle down our students. The article goes on to say that our students may not be able to truly understand what the comments are referring. We can also send off the mix signals of what should be minor tweak, or start a whole new idea. These confusing comments can lead to young writer becoming frustrated with the process of writing and have a negative notion towards writing in general.

Last but not least (don, don, donnnn *dramatic effect*) … the circling of grammatical errors. For one, in my personal opinion, I am very much against making a big to do on punctuation on drafts of essays. In my imaginary hierarchy of the writing process pyramid, punctuation is at the lower tier. Seeing a thousands circles everywhere can be nerve racking, especially if you are one of those people who have phobia with holes. This serves as a distraction to the matter important matters at hand, like actually getting a second essay draft completed!

Ranking, Evaluating, and Liking

Ranking v. Evaluating
” What do we need to get an A?”
– Every student you may ever teach

The main idea that I would like to address within this article is the notion of Ranking v. Evaluating. I would like to you this portion of my blog to list some pros and cons for each category to see which one comes out victorious.

Ranking: ProsEvaluating: Pros
Finding where a student learning level is
Efficient results
Computer based
Understanding the students learning level
Learning about the student without comparing to other students
Seeing personal growth within every student
No group ranking or average

Ranking: ConsEvaluating: Cons
Computer based number
Forced testing
Not truly understanding students’ intellect
Being compared to other students
Not seeing exact numbers
Having to evaluate students individually 
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Rhetoric & Composition, Othering & Belonging

When reading, analyzing, and digesting the article, Rhetoric and Composition, I can honestly say that I was very pleased and satisfied with what the author had to offer. My understanding of the article is that it takes a very strong stance on emphasizing the importance of rhetoric within the discipline of the study of English. For all of  my lovely readers who don’t know exactly what rhetoric means, take a gander at this definition provided by https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rhetoric.

Rhetoric: the art of speaking or writing effectively: such as. a : the study of principles and rules of composition formulated by critics of ancient times. b : the study of writing or speaking as a means of communication or persuasion. In other words, this is the part of studying English that most people do not connect with.  

The author makes a lot of great points throughout the reading, and I would like to target two main passages from his writing that I would like to address upon.

Page 107!

Earlier in the reading, we are introduced to some pretty ‘memory retrieving’ facts! Laure brings up many points in where how we are introduced into the English Discipline on different stages of our education. She first address how in the primary and middle grades, both age groups of students do learn both rhetoric and composition, but within the nature of rhetoric it is only taught on the basis of emphasizing on traditional grammar instructions. I do agree with Laure! Recalling back to my grade school education, my 7th grade ELA experience ties hand and hand within this. We really had two English classes! One that focused on just reading literature, and the other was for writing (emphasizing on traditional grammar instructions). To be quite honest, this is where my childhood trauma of writing began. My writing grammar and writing teacher stressed the idea of perfect heading writing and spelling that I was not able to gain a true writing voice until I reached college. Sad stuff, man. 

The passage goes on to address students entering into college, “most students concluded that the field of English studies entails the study of literature and, to a lesser extent, the teaching of composition.” English comes off as this ‘read, read, read!” discipline that the writing portion comes off as the pepper on the right side of your soup that you may or may not when to add it. As an undergrad, in one of my lower level English courses, one of my professor made us literally go through the process of making the traditional essay standard for high school just so that we could rip it up and throw it in the garbage. She then continued to stress the idea of how the English major is separated into the readers and writers, and how in her courses we are going to make it a one big happy English family! 

Page 109!

On this page I was introduced into the ‘Holy Trinity of Rhetoric’! 

rhetoric

I found this interesting because it gives the reader the kind of back story of the ideas of rhetoric. Makes us call upon three different aspects of approaching writing. For the sake of writing space, here is a link to the breakdown of each component: https://www.studiobinder.com/blog/ethos-pathos-logos/ 

Looking at through another lens!

When looking at a fellow bloggers response, it made me think at The Holy Trinity of Rhetoric different.

MEDEATHEWRITER:

Lauer explains that writing should not be taught in a strictly linear, hierarchical way. Ideas breed in a horizontal manner and are affected by the writer’s society, interpersonal and cross-cultural connections. She stresses the importance that the teacher should not be the intended spectator; rather, the student writer should develop his or her own sense of who his or her audience is. This makes writing dynamic, current and important. Imposing borders on students on what type of writing is acceptable serves only to frustrate their learning processes.

rhetoric cartoon

“Othering and Belonging”  

To be honest  this article was quite hard for me to grasp the first five pages. I was expecting the two articles (Janice M. Lauer “Rhetoric and Composition”) to make some groundbreaking connection! When further reading, I came to the conclusion that this article has no ties with the first and that I needed to get over it. This article circles back around to my Race & ID class and how this word othering is just another word us as U.S citizens like to categorize people who are not like ‘us’. Which makes no sense because no of ‘us’ are like ‘us’ (my apologies for the over played word). 

download

I would like to take back the comment for lack of connection between th two articles. I would like to bring something I noticed and highlighted within the reading. As stated in the article, “Aristole and other ancient Greeks warned of “demagogues” – leaders who used rhetoric to incite fear for political gain.”  To remind my reader of the definition of rhetoric: the art of speaking or writing effectively: such as. a : the study of principles and rules of composition formulated by critics of ancient times. b : the study of writing or speaking as a means of communication or persuasion. In other words, this is the part of studying English that most people do not connect with. Now who said rhetoric and composition is not that important? If you can not properly articulate yourself as a leader, who would really wanna follow you? The Greeks called it and I am just stating the facts. 

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Why Do I Write? A glimpse inside the mind of an aspiring grad student!

English-Language-Learning-Market

“Be the person you needed growing up”

Where do I begin? Writing has been something implemented within all my years of formal education. Whether it was writing about my summer break in the 8th grade, or writing a poem for national poem month, the process of writing has never been a new idea presented to me. Quite honestly, for about 13 years of my academic life, writing has been the vain of my existence! Having your 7th grade writing teacher blatantly insult all your writing can take a toll on your early years of learning. With that being said, this is where my lovely quote, “Be the person you needed growing up”, comes into play. Deciding to become an English major as an undergraduate, I started to fall in love with the idea that maybe writing is not that bad! Being mentored by the English Department at The College of Saint Elizabeth, I learned that even I can have a writing voice that needs to be heard. Still being quite honest, I do not consider myself a “writer”: in the sense of being an author, poet, or storyteller. What I did realize it that I am a true academic. I love to analyze literature and spit out my ideas of how I portray the readings. Being able to understand other people’s views, feeling, cultures, etc. is the serial feeling that the world is bigger than my own little space. So to wrap back around to the question of, Why do I Write?, my most simplest answer is this: I write to prove a point, I write for intellectual stimulation for my brain.

Coming into graduate school is pretty scary and intimidating feeling, especially being a graduate assistant. When reflecting upon these feelings I started to think back at the Fight or Flight circumstance. Do I fight my way to a M.A in English Writing Studies or go home and cry? In these last couple days as a first year graduate student I came to the realization … I can do both! When approaching uncertain situations, I try to use humor to subsided my ridiculous feels. As syllabus week is coming to an end I am slowly realizing something … I got a bang for my buck! Even though I can see myself crying within the next 3 weeks, I will be crying as a graduate student! I am nervous but yet excited for this new journey to advance my academic career. In the words of Dr. Zamora, “There is no Masters degree that is going to come easy!”