Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Entry #12 The end of the semester but not blogging!

Blogging was an interesting experience for me.  Initially I was not looking forward to having to having to BLOG each week.  It seemed to me as though it would be one of those assignments I would just complete and wouldn’t learn anything from.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  I gained a wealth of knowledge not only from writing a BLOG each week but also from what each individual involved in our blog brought to the table as well. 

I wasn’t very keen on the fact that others besides a professor would be reading my blog.  Why did what I have to say matter to others?  Did what I had to say make sense?  Would people really take the time and read what I had to say?  The most beneficial part of blogging for me was once we began our blogs using bless, address, or press.  After a few of our blog entries which asked us to bless, address, or press I really could see that what I had to say mattered.  People were thinking about what I had posted and I was in turn doing the same about what they had written.

The student learning outcomes that are stated on page one of our syllabus were satisfied.  I read a lot of different blogs where people had incorporated the genres presented that week into their blogs which in turn gave their blog a creative sense while reading it.  I was not brave enough to attempt writing my blog in any of the different genres we talked about.  I have always viewed blogging as more of a personal space to write so I found it difficult at times to incorporate readings and using it as an educational learning space.  I’m glad I had this experience because I was able to learn what worked for and what didn’t.  I wonder where my blog could’ve went if I would’ve taken more chances/risks.  I am still adapting to having such a wide audience.  The more comfortable I become writing with an audience such as this I am hoping to become more comfortable with incorporating some form of blogging into a future classroom.

Entry #11 Genres

Throughout this semester I have gained an incredible amount of new information on the different genres.  As Alyse stated “I KNEW about the genres but I didn’t KNOW”, as a teacher I thought I had a good base of knowledge about the genres but in actuality there were so many pieces I was missing.  There are distinctive features that belong with each genre and that is an area I needed some fine tuning in.

At the beginning of the semester I felt as though I had a decent understanding on using the biographical genre.  After this particular presentation I expanded my knowledge and what I had previous thought about this genre.  Although I have had practice with using this genre throughout elementary and high school I realize I was just completing an assignment, I wasn’t really taking time to understand what I was doing and the meaning behind it.  Now that I have learned about the different types of biographies as well as the distinctive features for each I am looking forward to incorporating this genre in my own future writing as well as in a future classroom.  For instance when it comes to autobiographies I never thought about digging in deeper and using different techniques such as life boxes or bio bags.  In a future classroom I would definitely incorporate using something such as life boxes to gain a better understand each other.

Tomkins states “one reason that children are so successful in writing personal narratives is that they can draw on what they know best-themselves” (p. 231).  I feel as though I am emotionally involved with this genre because it is a genre I know I can be SUCCESSFUL using.  I feel as though students are drawn to this particular genre for that exact reason, how can one be wrong when they can use what they already know.

I was the least knowledgeable about the descriptive genre.  Tompkins states, “too often, students’ writing is limited to one sense-sight: They describe something as though their writing were a home movie without sound” (p,139).  I relate to this statement because I feel as teachers we continually do this while planning lessons.  We’ve become so accustomed to the way we do things it becomes repetitive.  Being future literacy specialist it is important that we remember to teach with all of our senses but especially sound, this can be a difficult change.  The hands on activities in this particular presentation were great and could easily be shifted into using for future lessons.  Because there are so many distinctive features within this genre, I am going to continue to engage in reading more descriptive literature.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Entry #10 "Bless, Address, or Press"

I'm not sure why I don't have all these negative feelings towards writing poetry but I do know that it is crazy to hear about all of the negative experiences people have had when it comes to this genre of writing.  When we were first asked to write down on an index card different genres I don't exactly remember how I choose to order the different genres I was interested in.  However I do know that I have always enjoyed poetry and have always been interested in gaining more knowledge about the genre as well as teaching and implementing within my future classroom.

I would like to BLESS Alyse for her latest Blog entry, I don't want to write a poem and you can't make me...  The more I think about it, I realize that when individuals are faced with choosing to write a poem or use a different genre of writing is seems as though they almost always choose to write any genre BUT poetry.  In the beginning of Alyse's blog she talks about her response to thinking about writing a poem,  "Hmmm... naaaaaooooo. I don't think so. I don't really like poems"...it may be because I have had a couple of classes with Alyse and have gotten to know her but I loved reading this because I could visualize her responding exactly like this.  It seems as though most poetry related experiences I have read about students only explore the poetry genre when asked, it isn't something one tends to discover on their own.  Is this because of all the negative experiences people have had in the past? 

According to Tompkins, "many students have misconceptions about what writing poetry is, they think it has to rhyme, or they're unsure of how it should look on a page...students need to develop a basic understanding of the genre as they begin to write poetry." (p. 171)  I agree with Tompkins that students need a basic understanding of what the genre of poetry is.  When talking with people about their poetry experiences I believe that they haven't been given the opportunities to properly learn about this genre.  Unfortunately because of experiences like this many feel the same as Alyse and "learn to SHUN the genre" (By the way I love the use of the word shun!)  I'm happy that you enjoyed our presentation and that it was able to INSPIRE you to give poetry another CHANCE!  I can't wait to hear about your POSTIVE experience using this genre for your project!

Maybe the reason I have always enjoyed exploring the poetry genre is because it's exactly what Alyse states, "Poetry is a celebration of the unconventional. It allows people the freedom to construct a  message in a unique way, placing more emphasis on the meaning of the text instead of following traditional form." Thanks Alyse for sharing and putting yourself up to the challenge of writing in the poetry genre!

Tompkins, G. E.  (2012).  Teaching writing:  Balancing process and product 
            (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ:  Merrill

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Entry #9 Bibliography

Last week Kristen and Elyse presented on the biographical genre.  From this presentation I gained a deeper understanding of all this genre entails.  According to Tompkins writers use this genre to tell stories about their lives or other peoples lives.  The biographical genre encompasses four types of life stories which include personal narratives, memoirs, autobiographies, and biographies.

I feel as though I was drawn to this genre because I have had positive writing experiences with the different types.  The type I feel as though I identify with the most is autobiographies.  Tompkins states that "students greatest source of information for writing is their own experiences..."  My earliest memory of using this genre is a My Feelings Book, which I made in third grade.  Throughout the years I have kept this book and it stays on my desk at all times.  I don't know what it is about this book that has remained with me through the years, but I'm guessing it's the personal connection I have with the book and the feelings that I had at the time.

This type of writing has continued to play a role all throughout my education.  I have always enjoyed the connection I fell with using this genre.  How can I get it wrong?  I can't it's about ME and MY LIFE!  While writing this blog I am reminded of LTED 609 and the first night of class and the timeline we were asked to create.  I had never had to think that in depth about my life.  Although I had previously had positive experiences with this genre, I felt defeated before I even began this particular assignment.  What could I even remember that was being asked of me?  How I was I taught to read and write?  Who read to me when I was younger?  Everyone around me had these great memories about their literary experiences and it seemed as though they were right there on the surface.  I really had to sit and think about these questions.  What would I be willing to share?  When I look back on these writing experiences it makes me wonder, why was it so much easier to write about these topics when I was younger?  Why was it more difficult to write about these questions now?
We use this genre in writing all the time.  When meeting my student for clinic this semester I wanted to build his trust and get to know him.  In our first session together we created all about me books.  We talked about our families, favorite foods, and our goals for our time together.  This was a great way to break the ice and learn a lot about one another in a short amount of time.

If I were to incorporate this genre in my future classroom I believe that I would like to explore life boxes.  I really enjoyed they way Kristen incorporated her life box in the presentation.  Although I am friends with her outside of class I learned new information about her that I didn't know before. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Entry #8 "Bless, Address, or Press"

I wanted to bless Alyse for her post this week A Fluke, it was really descriptive and there were certain instances in which I could visualize exactly what she was talking about.  I  appreciate how open she was about her struggles with her genre presentation piece.  I believe that each of us in different ways have struggled with the different pieces we are creating.  In addition to blessing Alsye for he descriptive blog writing, I also wanted to address something that came to mind and see if after her teaching the genre presentation which focused on descriptive writing may have also played a role in her figuring out where to focus for her first genre piece?  I admire that she was able to find time to do some personal reading for enjoyment and within that time have an "a ha" moment of which direction to move towards with her first genre piece.

Hicks states that writers write to be read (p.82).  As I read that statement pertaining to this particular blog entry I find myself wondering, do writers write to be read?  I know that having a purpose and an audience is essential for ones writing process, but I am having a hard time finding that with blogging.  I feel as though I like to write for me, is this something I was taught?  Is it because no one can judge my writing besides me if I am the only audience.

 Like Alsye I have had my struggles with blogging, for me however the reasons are different.  I am struggling with the fact that my writing will forever be somewhere and at any moment can be viewed from a variety of different people.  Hicks mentions that when students are responsible for their own writing they feel more engaged in the process (p. 82).  When and how does this happen?  I mostly struggle to feel engaged while writing my blogs.  It really isn't the topics that aren't engaged because we mostly have the freedom to write about any topic pertaining to class.  I continue to ask myself what is it and why is this such a difficult assignment for me?

Hicks, T. (2009). The digital writing workshop. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Entry #7 Google Sites and Publishing

Technology is scary!  There are so many confusing questions but so many undiscovered places in which it can take you.  I am learning the key to technology is pure exploration.  Discovering all of these new ways in which technology can be incorporated into the classroom,  makes me wonder how many of my past teachers/professors were as scared as I was about learning unfamiliar ground.  It truly is amazing how much is out there for educators to incorporate into their classrooms.

Last class we learned about creating our own google site.  This was yet another new form of technology for me to learn about.  Although I am still learning about my google site page I am really looking forward to the end result.  I'm hoping to learn different ways to incorporate something like this in a future classroom.  I definitely think something such as a google site would be beneficial for students to learn about as well as use. 

According to Tompkins, publishing motivates them to improve their writing because they know they'll share it with a real audience.  This statement specifically stuck with me because we were recently talking about this in clinic.  We give students writing prompts that don't even necessarily pertain to anything we are talking about.  It's a topic way out in left field and we are asking them to write only for us.  I am their only audience.  It's pretty absurd if you really take the time and think about it.  Why would a child want to write about something they really don't care about when I am going to be the only person reading it?  They don't!  Finding a real audience as well as a real purpose is what will ultimately motivate the child.  In my next lesson I was thinking about just giving my student a chance to just have time do to a free write.  My biggest fear, what if he says he doesn't want to write or has nothing to write about?  Well I guess I will tell him that's something to write about, write about having nothing to write about.  It is an interesting balancing act when trying to figure out what works best and what doesn't.  I do agree with Tompkins that when a child have a real audience that in turn motivates them to write.  However I wonder in situations such as clinic how do you incorporate a real audience to motivate the writer?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Entry #6 Responding to Students Writing

After class, I was thinking about all of the different discussions we had in reference to Nancy Sommers article, Responding to Student Writing.  Initially I never really looked into this issue in its entirety.  I now realize there is much more invested in a topic such as this rather than what you only choose to see on the surface.

I personally am the type of student that never wants my paper read by ANYONE until it’s time to be handed in.  I can’t think of a specific example that in turn makes me feel this way, however I do believe that I must’ve come across some negative writing experiences to want to be so closed off from different writing experiences.

I feel as though I have grown tremendously in my writing in general as well as within the writing process throughout my time as a graduate student.  In certain classes we have used RAGS which made me more comfortable with sharing my writing because of the anonymity with this process.  I also feel as though I have been given more tools throughout the writing process to be able to grow as an individual writer and not feel so “judged”.

In Sommers article she states that written comments need to be a means for helping students to become more effective writers.  I feel as though it could only serve as beneficial to read through a student’s paper one full time before writing any comments down.  As teachers we need to make sure we are seeing the writing piece as a whole and not just word by word, sentence by sentence, or one error after the next.  If we take the time to see the writers view with a thorough read through to begin with, it will help us as teachers to know what type of information can be useful for the writer, and what they need to get to the next level.  By doing this I feel as though it will help me to not write down every little thought that may confuse the writer even more.  I have also come to the conclusion that writing is a creative process and I may write comments on a student’s paper and they may edit it and when I read it again I may still be confused.

Sommers, N. (1982). Responding to student writing. College Composition and

Communication, 33(2), 148-156.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Entry #5 Class/Self-Assessment Letter

Dear Dr. Jones,

At first I was feeling very uneasy about taking this class because the thought of writing makes me more than uncomfortable.   Once we began class I began to feel even more anxious, especially with the thought of writing a blog.  The thought of classmates having open access to “judge” my writing or thought process is very intimidating.  I initially was struggling when reading Hicks because I felt as though so much of it I was unfamiliar with.  I never knew about wikis, what the purposes of blogs were, and how these could be valuable to our students.

Since the beginning of class I feel as though I have become more comfortable to the thought of the different types of writing assignments I am presented with, such as blogs and discussion forums.  I believe that my feelings steam from the fact that I have never had to write like this before with classmates as audience as well as my professor.  I can see why incorporating different facets such as these with our students serve to be beneficial learning.  Not only will they be able to grasp these concepts early on but they will be able to use them in their future.

I feel as though my understanding of connections between reading and writing have progressed since the beginning of the semester.  When beginning the program at Nazareth I had no idea about all of the information I was going to gain pertaining to the connection between reading and writing.   I never knew the connection between the two were so in depth.  The writing I have engaged in so far in class has allowed me to fully transact.  I feel as though when using the discussion forum this is when I am to reconsider what I have written.  I am able to see others views and look into the discussion a bit deeper than if I had just been responding for my own wellbeing. 

I have learned many strategies that help me to better understand what good readers and writers do.  As I learn different strategies and think back to my education I wonder why I wasn’t taught such skills.  The school I work at I am always hearing the principle talk about what good readers and writers do, it makes me feel good to know that he is talking with students about strategies.

I still feel a bit overwhelmed with all that we are learning this semester.  I have always been a very organized person and at the moment I am feeling unorganized, not in the general sense but an in my head sense.  I feel as though I am still trying how to figure out how to write and use technology to its fullest in many new ways.  The most important thing however is that I am learning all of this new information and the different ways to utilize it which can only benefit my future students.  If I didn’t have access to learn these kinds of tools I would be a disservice to them.  One area I would like to focus on is having more time to further explore these different tools, how can they be used outside of educational purposes and be used towards personal thoughts.  I would like to focus on being able to write with a “clear” mind when using the blogs and discussion forum.  I feel as though I have a “block” because I know others are reading.  I don’t believe that there is anything needed to further enhance my learning there has just been a lot of new technology introduced to me and as I stated before I just need to find the time to explore these tools to their fullest ability.

I appreciate the time you take to respond to our blogs and discussion forums it is really beneficial while learning about all of these new topics.  Thank you for introducing me to a new way of writing.


Still getting used to it

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Entry # 3 Journal Writing

As Tompkins states there are a variety of purposes that students write in journals for. In my journal writing experiences I mainly wrote to record experiences, explore ideas, and ask questions. I never really thought about journal writing in the other aspects which Tompkins states that consist of activating prior knowledge, engaging the imagination, assuming the role of another person, or to solve a problem. I do however see the benefits is talking and modeling all of the varieties mentioned above. I find journal writing to be very fascinating. It seems as though when writing in one’s journal there could be limitless possibilities as well as no boundaries.

 I first began writing in journals around the age of eight. I also had a diary with a lock on it and thought that would be the perfect place to keep all of my top secrets. Little did I know they were very easy to break into, especially when left for an older brother! I wanted a diary to escape from the thoughts of my parents’ divorce. I believed that if I was able to write my thoughts down they would somehow vanish from my mind. I realized this really didn’t happen but it was a “safe” place for such ideas to be written.

 As I got older I found that I didn’t write in my journal as often. Did I not have enough to say? Was it not important enough to keep track of? Was I afraid of someone seeing what I had written? Ultimately the last question was what always made me fearful of continuing to write in my journal. In my earlier years of journal writing I was always so forth coming and willing to write so freely, but as I got older I found myself “blocking” out what I really wanted to write down in fear of who might one day read what I had been feeling at this particular time in my life.

I was happy when this genre was a topic in class. It brought me back to remember that journal writing is for a variety of purposes and that it doesn’t have to be a fearful topic. This topic made me excited to look back on some of my journals that I haven’t revisited in many years. As I reread my writing from previous years I was reminded that I wasn't taught about journal writing in school, it was just something I found interest in initially as an escape. I am reminded just how essential it is to talk to all of our students about the many different genres of writing. If these different types of writing aren't modeled for them I'm not sure they will have the benefits of exploring all that writing has to offer.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Entry #2 Digital Writing Workshop

When dealing with my students, the subject of writing and the spaces that surround the environment in which we write in are all very complex in their own ways.  While I was student teaching in a kindergarten classroom I believed that it was essential to introduce my students to the benefits of writing workshop.  Writing workshops can be developed in many different ways.  I would use mini lessons to develop concepts, ideas, and organization. 

I believe that it is important to model writing and show my students how to write about topics that really matter to us. While reading  Radical Reflections for clinic I discovered that giving students a real audience for writing is essential in developing language.  Fox implies that language develops only when it is used “for real” (1993).  Many times I would need to adjust my lessons and teaching according to the different needs of my students.  From this I learned that when using real topics my students were able to have a more in depth connection with their writing.  My personal favorite part of the writing workshop was having the individual conferences with students.  Although these conferences were much more difficult than I anticipated I gained an emmense amount of knowledge about each student individually.  These conferences were needed in order to help move my students forward with their writing.  I believe that when I first started conferencing with students I was using it as a time to correct errors.  I learned from this that at a kindergarten level conferencing should focus on what parts of the writing the student liked the best and where were they going with it.  I was also able to use this time to note specifics about each student, were they able to blend and segment could they use the word wall or classroom environment to find a word if needed? 

I introduced technology by having students create digital vocabulary books.  The kids used digital cameras to take pictures of things that depicted their vocabulary words. Then they uploaded them to the computers and used Windows Power Point to make slides with sentences using the vocabulary word to describe the picture they took. We printed them, laminated, and then used book binding machine to make a book!  Making these vocabulary books took a long time.  In reflection I think at the kindergarten level it would’ve been easier to begin with using a photo that went along with a single sentence they wrote.  I wasn’t prepared for the amount of time this particular lesson would take.

Looking into my future teaching I would love to use a digital writing workshop and have students create their own topic page.  Students would be able to use the internet as a learning resource.  Students would be able to choose a topic of interest and it would be intended for a real audience.

When it comes to writing whether it be with a pencil and paper or using technology I have learned that students need a foundation.  The most important is giving students a purpose for writing.  I learned that at the kindergarten level that students can only write about what they know.  I learned that I needed to be careful if I wanted to choose to use a prompt with students, this was because not all students were able to relate to particular prompts.


Fox, M. (1993). Radical reflections. (p. 4). San Diego: Harcourt Brace & Company.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Entry #1

While reflecting on my prior experiences teaching writing there is a lot that comes to the surface. Teaching writing to me is a topic that comes naturally when truly it is much more involved.  My only real experience with teaching writing was during my student teaching in a kindergarten classroom.  Currently I am teacher's assistant in a pre kindergarten classroom in which writing takes a whole new dimension.  The area in which I am most comfortable with the writing process is what I learned throughout my student teaching experience. 

Students were usually given a prompt to help them begin their writing.  This was modeled and talked about prior to the students beginning their writing.  Eventually we came to a place where students were able to use a map with a bunch of brainstormed ideas to help them formulate ideas of which they would like to write about that particular day.  Students would use a blank sheet of paper to begin their writing.  The students would also get their writing checklist out at the end of their writing to go back through and check back on what they had written.  This checklist included questions such as did you use capital letters in appropriate places, did you remember punctuation?  Once a student was confident that their writing was done being edited they would write their name on a white board and wait to conference with a teacher.  When a student was done conferencing with a teacher they would be able to publish their writing.  On Friday's we would have celebration readers where the students would be able to come up to the authors chair and read their finished learning to the class.  Occasionally students would be able to go and sit in the authors chair in the first grade classroom next door and share their accomplishment with a new class!  This was familiar with what Tompkins talked about in chapter one during discussing the writing process.

I do believe that attempting to teach writing workshop poses some challenges when used in connection with technology.  Mainly I see that writing is only because used in the world of technology for word processing.  This possess issues because writing could be delved into much deeper when discovering new writing ideas.  Such writing projects that could be used along side of technology is having students create a virtual field trip.  Even with a project like this the students would still have to look at all of the steps of the writing process and evaluate their writing.