Friday, November 15, 2013

It Isn't Just the Writing

  • “Well, I wish I could have talked with the teacher more about my idea to have a clear goal in mind. I just wrote and came to a conclusion.”
  • “It’s good to ask questions, figure out what you could do better, then do it. Don’t be passive.”
Reading student reflections on their writing process for a particular piece of writing (see last week’s blog “Owning the Process” for the whole reflection guide) has been eye-opening--to student as well as teacher understandings and misunderstandings. Again I’m being nudged toward greater differentiation when I see the disparity of levels--from students who think writing is all about proper grammar, punctuation, and capitalization to those who have nuanced insight into and control over their own writing process. 

But the thought that sticks most deeply is the gap between the two student responses above. When I read the first one, I felt bad that I had missed out on giving input to a student who wanted it. Then I felt frustrated that the student hadn’t asked. The following day, I read the second response. My bad feeling and frustration resolved as I thought, “Yes! This is why that student is a good writer. And this is a lesson that will serve that student well in so much more of life than simply writing.” 

What springs to mind is so much reading I’ve been doing lately: 

So how does that come back to my classroom? I’m going to make sure I get a chance to conference with student #1 during the writing of our next paper. I’m going to work harder to touch base with all the quiet students. And I’m going to think about how I can target teaching not just the writing process and skills, but the life attitude of asking questions, figuring out what you could do better, then doing it. Not being passive.

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