As you are learning, there are many ways to get and give feedback to writers in our classrooms. If we were in a face-to-face classroom, we would meet as a class and I would ask for volunteers to let me edit their annotation using a doc cam. This is one way to help an entire class all at once. It requires you build a good deal of trust in a class because students are very vulnerable.
In our online and abbreviated class, it makes more sense to not do just one annotation but for all of you to post one annotation and for me to give each of you feedback. This way, you all learn from seeing what my comments are on everyone's annotations.
WHAT YOU SHOULD POST: Take one of your annotations--just one--and post it to the discussion board. I will copy and paste it in a response with my editing. I will try to narrate for you why I made the decisions I made. And I will ask questions when I have them. I suggest that folks read not just your own comments but everyone's comments so that folks can get a more balanced sense of what a strong annotation looks like. This kind of community workshopping can be a very effective teaching tool in a classroom--one that Kittle talks about in her chapter on teaching grammar.
Here is a story from my earliest years of teaching this course. Students had just read what you had read, Constance Weaver (not the Charity-Hudley Malinson because it hadn't been published yet). I gave students a a grammar test, one that I am including here. You don't have to take it, but you can. and I will give you the answers. Spoiler: people were pretty upset about how they scored. They assumed, as perhaps you did, that the rest of the class would be about how they would learn to teach grammar. But, as you must also realize, that is not what I was going to do. And one student, in exasperation, exclaimed, then what are we supposed to teach?
Of course, in an ELA classroom, you are teaching a great many things and, most of all you are helping introduce student to the literate world and all that that can make possible for them. To be a good writer, you have to have an idea. You nave to have an argument (no matter what you are writing). You have to have evidence. You have to have organization. And, also, you have to have nice sentences. But that is where it gets tricky. Because a "nice" sentence in one setting is not appropriate in others. How we give students feedback on their sentence level issues is important and. complicated because how we write is a version of how we talk and how we talk is very, very personal. It's one of the places where we can most hurt or help our students.
Finally, here is a simple truth: new teachers tend to focus on correctness more than meaning in student writing--on grading for correctness instead on the myriad things that make a piece of writing a good piece of writing.
WHAT TO POST: In the other post, I asked you to comment on this essay on a global level. For this final discussion board post of our time together, I'm asking you to think holistically about how you would help this student as a writer of sentences (I've repeated the essay as a file here). Consider what you might say to her directly, and think about what you might do in class to support this writer as well as the whole class of writers. If it helps you to quote specific sentences, but don't feel like you have to. Again, as I said in the last post, don't feel like you've got to do this right. Work together to hash out ideas for helping this student and helping each other learn how to do this.
A brief summary of the key points of Asao Inoue's Anti-Racist Writing Assessment Ecologies: Teaching & Assessing Writing For A Socially Just Future.
Rather than simply creating a discussion board, with a question to respond to, I would like for us to experiment with creating a useful summary document--sort of an extended annotated bibliographic entry--in a shared google.doc.
If we were in a face-to-face class, I would have asked you to work with your small group mates to discuss and put together the key points from the chapter you were responsible for reading and to connect it to the introduction--to identify what aspects of the introduction does your chapter expand on and explain. I would ask you to share reading journals and give you time to talk and then ask you to present back to the group.
Being online presents a unique opportunity to create a lasting document that you might refer back to when you enter your teaching career, and, also, a document that will live beyond you in my own class.
Pedagogy google.docs are thing--as they are a thing about everything these days (speaking of which, here is an article on exactly this topic: https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/06/06/1002546/google-docs-social-media-resistance/).
There are lots of crowd-sourced, community based google.docs that can give you information about just anything.They are free resources to teachers everywhere created by other teachers and educators.Two that might be of interest to you thinking about our past few weeks:
INSTRUCTIONS FOR WRITING YOUR SUMMARY: When you are ready, post what you believe to be the most important points to understand from Inoue in the chapter that you read to the google.doc accessible here or from the syllabus. Feel free to add to what your fellow chapter readers had to say. If you understood something in the chapter differently, feel free to add that information as well. The goal is not necessarily to be concise but to be thorough and accurate. You can insert your name if you want to, but you don’t need to. I’m looking at these as group documents.
ONCE YOU'VE CREATED YOUR SUMMARY AND READ YOUR COLLEAGUE'S SUMMARIES: Read the sample student essay attached below (first.paper.goncalves). You can also read through the assignment as I explained it to students(mix_tape_memoir). You will see how I developed the assessment for the assignment in the assignment explanation.
WHAT TO POST HERE: Once you've looked through the material, post your assessment of this piece of writing to the discussion board. Discuss what you would say to this student. Feel free to ask questions about your assessment. Respond to your colleagues at least once. If you think you have an answer to a question asked, answer your colleague. If you have a different idea for how to assess this paper, talk about that. You don't have to be sure about how you'd assess this essay or what you would say to this student about this paper, I just want you to try to puzzle through it. It's hard work. But to do it well, you've got to start somewhere. This is a start.
WEEK FOUR: Post Two
Our Second Post this week, is a follow up to some of the work we started to read in class. Last Thursday, we read and started (barely) to respond to a reading journal on Mixed Blood Stew. For this post, please read and respond to the remaining reading journals included in your packet.
When I assess student writing I think about the following:
1. What did I ask them to do in the assignment? Too often, teachers assess on a different set of standards than the ones they told students they would be evaluated on. This is patently unfair. We need to assess students on clearly states outcomes that the students know about well before they turn in that assignment.
2. The second thing I think about is what will the student do with my feedback? Is the student going to put it in a folder and never look at it again--that's a pretty good argument for a heart emoji and a hastily written "nice work." Not every piece of writing has to be evaluated by a teacher; it need only be valued by a teacher. Is the student going to expand or revise that piece of writing? If so, than my assessment should be directed toward that goal by outlining achievable revision goals for that student. Is the student going to have multiple chances at revision? If so, I need to pace my feedback so that the student gets the right kind of revision advice at the right moment. Is this the kind of thing, like a reading journal, where the student is going to end up doing a lot of during the school year and my feedback can help them improve over time? If so, then I might consider pacing my assessments differently to build skills as the writer is ready to work on them.
3. How much time do I have to get this feedback to the student? This has two parts to it. Very literally, how much time do I have and what can I do to maximize my feedback. Maybe a conference is a better idea for getting feedback to a student. Maybe an overall response to the entire class. Maybe it needs to be a very detailed letter. Part of this equation is how much time I'm giving students for turn around time. If they have a lot of time, I can ask for me. If they only have a short turn around time, I need to temper what I ask of them.
I'm sharing this with you because I think it's easy to believe that we read and respond to all student writing in the same way. That's really not the case--nor should it be.
A few things to keep in mind as you read and respond to these reading journals. . .
1) You will recall that, after doing the math, it's nearly impossible to take five minutes per two page piece of writing if you are going to have 120 students to manage in a school year. And yet, as I said, the way students learn to write is not by our correcting their writing, it's by having students actually write--and write a lot and write often. We need to ask our students to do a lot of low-stakes writing--reading journals are low-stakes writing. Thus, honor system in effect, try to only spend about two minutes per reading journal as you read and respond.
2) Make sure you re-familiarize yourself with the assignment. Click here to read the assignment these journals are written in response too.
3) Think about what our readings for the week suggest about how to help our students be better writers.
In your post, identify how you would assess these student samples. You don't need to comment on Taylor's since we already did that in class. Include wether it is acceptable or unacceptable and what you would say to a student in a comment or comments. You can add a comment about how you might mark the actual paper since we won't actually be able to see them. I am going to try to scan my own comments so you can see them on the actual paper.
IN MANY WAYS, our reading this week from Kittle and Delpit say similar things, but there are differences sometimes subtle ones and sometimes unspoken ones.
Consider, also, the difference in the position of our two writers. Kittle enjoys a great deal of privilege for a public school teacher. As you will read in Write Beside Them, the course she is describing here is an elective writing course for seniors in high school--these are students who want to participate in this intensive writing experience. That said, and I want to be very clear about this, I don't think there is anything that she writes about that I think wouldn't work in any writing/reading classroom.
Delpit, a black scholar in the field of Rhetoric and Composition, was blasted for her book Other People's Children when it came out originally in the late 80s. This was the moment in literacy instruction where teachers and scholars were turning towards what we now call "process pedagogy." In Process Pedagogy, students were invited to write more freely, with seemingly less concern for the conventions of standardized written English. Delpit expressed concern for some aspects of the process movement for what it was doing for Black and Brown students in public school classrooms. It was many years after the publication of her research in schools with Black and Brown students that white scholars started to entertain the possibility that process was not the solution to every writing struggle in every writing classroom.
Compare and Contrast what Kittle and Delpit are telling us about how we bring students into the world of literacy. As we did for Week Three, please respond specifically and directly to the person who posts before you. If you are the first person to post, please respond to the last person, who posts (there are 12 people in our class). Once everyone has posted, you can feel free to respond to any of your classmates.
Ideally, by posting with purpose, you will make sure that, as a class, we have covered all of the most important takeaways from these to teacher/scholars. We will help each other learn by paying deep attention to what we each write.
Q & A For Week FOUR
Use this space to post questions about class. You can certainly email me for issues that are more personal or specific to you. But typically if you have a question so do other people in the class. I check this fairly regularly and give answers that will benefit everyone (including me).
In all truth, if we had been In a face-to-face class, we would have had a round table discussion about what makes a good school experience versus what makes for a bad classroom experience. In order to bring that conversation into play in our own online space, it's important to look back at where we started this class in week one.
Thing to think about first . . .
The premise behind asking you this first question, "what is your best/worst learning experiences" is simple: research indicates that teacher classroom practice is influenced by how a particular teacher was taught as a student far more than any methods course you might take as a pre-service teacher, a sobering thought given how many of you wrote about bad classroom experiences.
Thing to think about second. . .
You've all been students far longer than you have been teachers at this point. I myself have not yet quite even passed that line. I'm about at 50/50 if we don't count graduate work (though I do). So it's important to consider and critique our own experiences as students.
Think to think about third. . .
We don't teach in a vacuum. We teach in a wider world where everyone and anyone can have an opinion about education. Mike Rose says (in a different text than the one we are reading) that no one would ever invite the general public to be "a urologist for a day," but everyone and their brother, somehow, can be "a teacher for a day." We treat teachers, like nuns and priests, as called to the work, a vocation rather than a job or a career, and, thus, it allows governments and the public to treat teachers as less deserving of equal pay and equal work--we don't even have to get into the gender dynamics to make that point. So think about what you and your classmates read about in education news. What are the many diverse issues that teachers have to face in the classroom (and out) today? And how does that intersect with what we know about best practices.
Finally, Post: A Class-Generated list of Best Practices.
I'm looking for a class list of sorts of best practices. So rather than post your list of best practices, I'd like for folks to post in response to the person who posted before them, adding to and subtracting from or qualifying/explaining what the person before you posted. This is a unique way of running a discussion board that asks students to pay careful attention to what is being said and to build a response that considers what everyone had to say.
Hopefully, you have found time to read Lives on the Boundary. If you have not located your own copy yet, remember, the entirety of the text is available for you for a limited time on our syllabus page.
Lives on the Boundary is not a new story. Published in 1980, it is a unique scholarly text that combines memoir, statistical data on economically and racially diverse populations of students and how successful (or not successful they are) in the US education system, and scholarship on how students actually learn. I urge you, as you read, to pay attention to all three ways this writer, Mike Rose, a respected scholar in the field of Rhetoric and Composition, who has devoted his entire career to supporting all learners in all settings, makes his argument.
Think, too, about where you see connections to other texts in our class--namely, "Why Johnny Can't. . ." (notice that LOTB was published about five years after the "Why Johnny Can't" article appeared. This means that there was a certain sense of what was happening in education at that time that people felt the need to respond to. Can you identify what that sense was? And what sorts of answers where people giving to the questions being asked at that time?
Finally, what resonated with you on a personal level--either as a student or as someone who is going to be a teacher?
Your Initial Post
Finally, post about your top 5 to 7 takeaways from this text. What is Rose telling us about students? about learning? About good practice in the classroom? What is he telling us about the role of good assignments, particularly good reading/writing assignments? In what ways does this text, now nearly 40 years old, still resonate?
After reading the posts your colleagues make, read the chapter from Victor Villanueva's Bootstraps available for download on the syllabus. Consider in what ways Villanueva's story is different from as well as similar to Rose's. Then respond to your classmates by adding, subtracting, qualifying our top takeaways from both of these readings.
NOTE: PLEASE COMPLETE THIS POST NO LATER THAN NOON ON THURSDAY, 4 JUNE 2020.
In 1975, the year this article appeared in Newsweek magazine, "Why Johnny Can't Write" became the talk of the nation. The article became so popular that that title phrase "Why Johnny Can't . . . has become ubiquitous. It's used to signal that students don't know something--math, coding, how to be a member of a workplace, etc. Sometimes Jane doesn't know something in these enlightened times.
This was a popular article written for a general audience--not research written by teachers for teachers. In your post, write your reaction to this article: your reaction to what it argues, how it makes the argument. What you know about the organizations that the article talks about. Does it affect how your read or react to it to understand that it was written 45 years ago?
In a second post, what is your reaction to what your classmates have to say? Try to avoid the "Oh, I totally agree with everything you said" stuff.
FOR THURSDAYS IN CLASS MEET UP: To follow up on this, on your own, locate any article that uses as it's title "What Johnny or Jan Can't . . . " It'll be great if we can get a wide range of titles from a wide range of time periods. A quick google search should do it.
Come to class ready to talk about what your article says Johnny can't do and how it makes it's argument. Be ready, also, to talk about what commonalities you see across the two articles--yours and the original. We'll explore what we find and talk about what this tells us, as future teachers, about what we face teaching today in the US Classroom. Hopefully, we'll be able to combine all three meet up sessions discoveries and conversations to make the point.
I would like for us to get into the habit as functioning as a community of practice. One way to do that is to post questions about the course--any kind of question--to a common space so that we can all benefit from the ask and from the answer.
If one person has a question, most likely others have it. And, admittedly, I'd rather answer the same question once rather than 13 times.
You may have weeks where you don't have any questions, and that's fine, but this space will be available to you every week just in case. I will check it as frequently as I can and answer as promptly as I can. Of course, if you have a question that you would prefer not to ask in this shared space, you should still email me privately to fill me in on your situation. This is a space for more general and less personal issues.
FOR THIS FIRST WEEK: Once you've done a read of the policies and syllabus for this course, post a question that you have about what you saw there or other questions related to our five weeks together that you don't feel like you have the answer to just yet.