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Synthesis

Writing to Learn

The article I picked on July 5th, dealt with math and writing.  I wanted to learn more about how to incorporate writing into mathematics.  Wilcox and Monroe wrote that writing in other subjects could increase students’ writing achievement.  I tend to agree with the authors. I believe that any writing experience can benefit student’s writing.  The authors believe that writing needs to be an essential part in mathematics.  Wilcox and Monroe shared several ways teachers can incorporate writing without revision in a math class.  Learning logs can be used to help review learned material.  Think-write-share is my favorite.  This requires teachers to ask students questions about the material they are learning.  The students will think and gather ideas, write them down, and then share their ideas with the class.  This activity holds students accountable during class.  Note taking is also important for math.  Students write down main points, reflections, and make connections during the class.

Wilcox and Monroe also reviewed several ways to incorporate writing with revision in math.  Shared writing helps students review learned information.  Students are required to put the main ideas into sentences.  A class books is the final draft of shared writing.  The students revise/edit the sentences from shared writing, then they are put into a class book.  Finally, the authors explained what an alphabet book is.  I really like the idea of an alphabet book.  It consists of math vocabulary.  The students are required to make connections from their notes, construct sentences about the vocabulary words, and draw a picture to help reinforce the definition.  Overall, Wilcox and Monroe had some great ideas about how to incorporate writing into mathematics.

This blog post demonstrated how to write to learn.  Students would be writing in math to help reinforce the material.  I believe this can be very beneficial.  Personally, I am more of a hands-on learner, so doing the think-write-share activity or creating an alphabet book would be a great idea to include in my classroom.

Audience

            I learned a lot of giving students an authentic audience from the readings and discussions at Hull Springs Farm.  Students are so used to writing just for the teacher and usually do not get the opportunity to write to other audiences.  When teachers provide their students with an authentic audience, the students would create their best work.  They would feel like their writing as more meaning and is not just being judged by the teacher.  One of the graduate students explained how they provide their students with an authentic audience.  They let their students write and then publish it to the Internet.  There are sites where people are able to read what you published.  I think this is a great idea for provide students with an audience.

Purpose

Teachers help students learn the writing process step-by-step, and once they have written a piece; the teacher wants to read their work.  Bratcher suggests that teachers find a grading criterion that they like.  She stated, “If we chose a grading option that matches our teaching purpose, we do not need to bleed at all.  And neither do our students” (Bratcher, 2004, p. 6).

I enjoyed reading about the communication triangle in chapter two.  The triangle consists of three parts: the instructional purpose, student, and teacher (or intended audience).  When grading, teachers should “analyze the audience and attempt to communicate with them” (Bratcher, 2004, p. 10).  The purpose for writing should also be considered when teachers are grading papers.  When grading students’ work, teachers should provide feedback to help students improve and praise the student on the parts they did well.

If the teacher has a certain purpose for having the students write, then the students would be more willing to write and the teacher would be more willing to grade.  However, the purpose needs to be kept in mind when writing or grading.  There could be numerous purposes for writing.

Genre

Duke suggests that teachers need to teach to write towards a real-world problem. Duke stated, “Teaching genre with purpose means creating compelling, real-world purposes for students to use genres and then providing instruction in genre features and strategies to serve those purposes” (Duke, 2012, p. 2).

Students are growing up knowing about genre from their TV shows, movies, and books.  Teacher can merely reinforce genre and help widen the range of genres the students read and write about.  Duke wrote that genre is in every piece of literature and has evolved throughout time.  I believe students should be introduced to every kind of genre, so they are at least aware that different genres are out there.  Duke recommends that a teacher change genres for different students.  Not every student is on the same level, so not every genre would be appropriate for each student.

Duke’s book has several great ideas for each genre of reading and writing.  When I hear about informational texts, I think of reports that students write.  I remember having to write multiple reports throughout my school career.  Teachers should encourage students to write about topics in which they can inform an audience about.  Teachers should also allow students work to be seen by more of an audience besides classmates and the teacher.  When first introducing informational texts to students, teachers should find interesting topics and graphics to encourage them.  Also, finding a current, local topic might entice students to look into it and become interested in writing about that topic.  Students should also be taught the features of informational texts.  Some of these features include, table of contents, index, and headings.  Strategies should be taught to help students read informational texts.  Some of these strategies include, skimming, searching, questioning, etc.

I could relate more to the dramatic genre chapter in Duke’s book.  Duke stated, “Plays are still an opportunity for people to gather and interact as a community, both onstage and as part of an audience” (Duke, 2012, p. 113).  My family has always been into going to plays.  I have been attending plays for years and really enjoy going.  There is something different about a play than a movie that I like.  Duke wrote, “Drama provides opportunities to integrate reading, writing, speaking, and listening” (Duke, 2012, p. 114).  Students are able to learn from dramas, they are not just for entertainment.

After reading Duke’s book, she opened my eyes to all the different genres teachers could be teaching.  I think students would enjoy writing more if they are using several different genres.  Even though the standardized tests focus on a five-paragraph essay, students should also learn about informational texts, dramas, poetry, etc.  I am looking forward to using all kinds of writing genres in my classroom.

Assessment

After reading Wilson and Kohn’s articles, I liked Wilson’s thoughts about rubrics better.  Wilson started her article off by relating rubrics to an airline recording.  “Just as the options on the airline’s recording were not responsive to my situation and therefore unhelpful, the comments on rubrics are not responsive to students’ writing and often don’t reflect what I think about their work” (Wilson, 2007, p. 1).  She wrote that rubrics are made without specific students in mind.  They seem to be generic like the airline recording.  Rubrics touch on certain topics and mechanics, but do not focus on the progress or promise students show in their writing.

Wilson wrote a lot about how rubrics do not communicate with students.  There is no real feedback or communication with students about their writing.  “The feedback they offered to students was still generic because they weren’t uttered in reaction to the students’ actual work” (Wilson, 2007, p. 2).  Teachers should comment on students work with their reactions and questions that arose while reading their work.  If teachers shared their ideas and thoughts about students’ writing, it would help students revise their work and understand the importance of writing.  Wilson wrote that peer review could be helpful to some students.  They are able to decide what feedback they want to work on and better their writing.  I liked Wilson’s outlook on rubrics.  Rubrics are not catered to specific students; however, they do provide a basis when grading.  I think communication with students about their writing is extremely important.  Students will see that the teacher cares about their writing and want them to improve.

When reading Kohn’s article about rubrics, I got the sense that he would rather find a different way to assess students’ writing.  He wrote that rubrics are not an authentic from of assessment for writing.  “They do nothing to address the terrible reality of students who have been led to focus on getting A’s rather than on making sense of ideas” (Kohn, 2006, p. 1).  Wilson wrote that rubrics have forced writers to think that is the way writing should be.

However, Kohn does believe that rubrics can be used to help develop criteria early on, but they should not be the focus of writing.  Kohn stated, “I can imagine a scenario where teachers benefit from consulting a rubric briefly in the early stages of designing a curriculum unit in order to think about various criteria by which to assess what students end up doing” (Kohn, 2006, p. 2).  I think it is okay to use rubrics when first developing an assignment or criterion, but it should not be the main focus.  Kohn wrote that students are used to having rubrics when writing, which causes students to not have confidence when writing.  Students are more focused on the grade they will get rather than the actual writing assignment.

I think certain rubrics can be useful when assessing student work; however, I do not believe they should be the main way of grading.  After looking at Meg’s rubric, in her graduate lesson plan, I liked how she used a points system.  The students would be able to see exactly what grade they were getting.  I think I would like to use that type of rubric in the future.

Writing Process

I think that I could incorporate the writing process a lot more in my future classroom.  I have thought about creating a writing process chart for my students to reference.  I believe that this might help refresh their minds when they are writing.   It would also make sure they are using the writing process when composing a piece.  The poster would help build students’ confidence with writing

I like to brainstorm or list ideas before I start writing an assignment.  I would require my students to brainstorm in some way before beginning to write.  It will get all their ideas together, so the composing step would come easier.  After creating a lesson plan for each step of the writing process, I have a better idea of what each step entails.

 Modeling

I agree with Bratcher that modeling is extremely important when teaching students.  Bratcher stated, “When we model writing for students, we talk them through the writer’s process of thinking and questioning and decision making” (Bratcher, 1997, p. 177).  I believe that students are able to grasp a concept more when someone is physically showing them how to do it.  Personally, I am a hands-on learner, so I do better when I am able to see a model.  I think Bratcher is correct when she says that learning to write is a lifelong thing.  There is always a component of writing that a person can improve on.  My favorite quote of Bratcher’s is “The mood changes from one of expert passing along information to one of experienced learner making suggestions to inexperienced learners” (Bratcher, 1997, p. 183).

 

Works Cited

Bratcher, S. (2004). Evaluating children’s writing. (2nd ed.). Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

Bratcher, S. (1997). The learning-to-write process in elementary classrooms. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

Duke, N. (2012). Reading and writing genre with purpose in k-8 classrooms. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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