Thursday, September 27, 2012

Entry 5

September 27, 2012
Dear Dr. Jones,

               When I begin to reflect back on how this class is going so far the only word that comes to mind is well. I do believe that this class is going well so far and I cannot believe how much I have learned so far. Since I am currently teaching right now, I am beginning to implement many of the ideas and strategies that we use in class within my own classroom. There have been so many insightful discussions and readings that we have done so far. I cannot wait to see how much more I learn about writing, digital media and literacy overall throughout this semester.

               Throughout the past couple weeks my understandings about the connection between reading and writing have begun to develop more. I have begun to see more of a close connection between the two subjects. I always knew that reading and writing were closely connected to each other, but after just a short couple weeks in this class, I have started to see even more of a connection between the two. I know see the importance of reading widely, meaning having both teachers and students reading a variety of genres to have some experience reading them for specific purposes or just for fun. When students and teachers read widely, they are then able to work closely with a specific genre and see all the different features and characteristics of a specific genre. This then can lead to being able to practice writing using a specific genre. With the help of exploring different genres with your students, a teacher can then teach students different styles and genres of writing. 

                Before entering this class, I do not think I was very aware of how much I did or should think as I write. I have begun to write more for pleasure  (when I have the time) and to write freely meaning that I write exactly what I am thinking about. After I am finished writing, I notice I go back through my writing and reread what I have written to make it flow and sound better than just my free flowing thoughts being written down. In a way, I see myself going through the same writing process I teach my students to do without even knowing it. I am trying more and more to think during my writing, but not necessarily about the conventions of writing but more about the topic in which I am writing about. I believe that I chose to think while I am writing because I am then more focused on the task at hand. If I did not make myself think about what I am writing about then I think I would be more apt to get off task and daydream. So for me, thinking while I am writing is the best thing to do.

                I think I have one reading/ writing habit that I need to actively take a part in changing. I seem to see easily distracted when I am both reading and writing. I have learned that I need to be in a room that is quiet and with the least amount of distraction to be able to get any active reading or writing done. All my technology that I am not using to read or write needs to be put away and I just need to focus on reading/ writing. While I block out the distractions I am better able to engage in my reading and writing and interact with what I am doing.

               The one main strategy that sticks out in my mind that could benefit my work as a teacher of literacy is the card strategy. This strategy involved students writing all their ideas down on cards which then they can sort, add and delete items from while they are prewriting and beginning to focus their topic for a writing assignment. I could see my students using a modified version of this strategy while they are thinking about all the ideas they want to include in their writing piece. This strategy could also help my students organize their ideas before they begin to the drafting stage of writing. 

              I do not think I am struggling with anything at this moment with the class. You are doing a great job and I love how we get time every class to just write and work on out genre pieces project!


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Entry 4

Hicks (2009) made me begin to think more about implementing technology into the writing process. I knew that it was something that should be done, especially with the generations of students who are coming into school knowing more about technology than I do. But Hicks (2009), truly has began to open my eyes on how I can adapt the use of technology with my second graders.

My second graders are just beginning to learn to type using the home keys through a typing program in computer class. I believe that with the help of this program and practice, my students will be able to master typing in a word processing program very soon. Once they have become more confident with their typing skills, I believe that they will be able to use the word processing program on their own to work through the writing process. This whole thought excites me!

I am excited for my students to know how to type and for me to be able to utilize their knowledge of technology to incorporate throughout writing. There are so many different avenues that I am able to take when implementing technology into the writing process. My students would be able to use the laptops in the school to write throughout the school day while taking advantage of the other tools on the word processing program, such as spell and grammar check. But I believe that my students need to have mastered the rules of spelling and grammar along with the conventions of writing to a certain extent so then they are able to know how to correct their own mistakes without having to rely on spell and grammar check. I believe that a student should not completely rely on spell and grammar check to make sure their writing has followed all the rules of English writing. But on the other hand, for the student that does struggle with spelling, the spell check tool may be a useful gadget for them to utilize when needed.

There are so many options for a teacher to incorporate within his/ her classroom's writing workshop. The ideas are overwhelming at times. I can see my students beginning the writing process in a word processing program and then moving on to other options, such as creating their own blog or having an email pen pal with another student from another second grade classroom. I believe that these are great ways for students to work through the writing process while still being able to take advantage of the technological advances that their school offers. Technology is such a large part of our lives today that I believe that it needs to be incorporated in schools and what not a better way to do that than through the writing process.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Entry 3

After reading Tompkins' (2012) section on personal writing with a focus on journal writing, I began to truly see the difference between different styles of journal writing. When I was a student, I remember doing a small amount of journal writing and used to love it! Now that I look back on it, I believe my teachers used reading logs and personal journals throughout my elementary schooling. At that time, I do not think I understood the importance or motive behind all of my journal writing. But now after reading Tompkins (2012), I truly see the importance of the different styles of journal writing that a teacher can implement within his/ her classroom.

As being a second grade teacher, I can see journal writing being very beneficial. Once I read the section of the book on personal journal writing and how to implement it within your classroom, my ideas just came flowing into my brain about how I could work this type of writing into my classroom. I began to think of having my students keep personal journals or even dialogue journals as a part of their morning work. Every student comes into the classroom in the morning with some type of story they need to tell me, so why not have them practice their writing skills and write about it in their journals. If I was to implement journal writing as a part of their morning work, then it may help my students start off on the correct foot and get their brains moving. If I was to implement, specifically, dialogue journals I would want to make sure that I had a system in place as to which journals I will respond to each day or even week. Even though I have a small class, I do not think I would be able to respond to every student's journal each day.

On top of modeling and implementing personal and dialogue journals, I believe that my students already use reading logs in class. They are not always formal reading logs that Tompkins (2012) describes, but they are a form of a reading log. After we have read their reading story for the week, I ask the students to respond to it with any thoughts, questions, predictions, etc. that they may have had after reading the story. We also discuss predictions about what the story may be about, which then could turn their reading logs into double entry journals if I wanted to. If I did teach my students about double entry journals, then they would all be able to write questions and predictions down as they take a picture walk through the story or even after they have had just read the title.

There are so many options when it comes to journal writing that a teacher can adapt and implement any of the journal styles in his/ her classroom as a way to have their students practice their writing skills to become fluent writers. As I have come to understand, journal writing does not have to take place everyday in the classroom, but is just another way to get your students writing and practicing to become more fluent writers in a less formal way.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Entry 2

Hicks (2009) explains that there are three main elements of the framework of writing. The three main elements are your students, the subject of writing and the paces in which we write. All of these elements are just as important as the other.

Given that I have just begun to teach in my own classroom as a long term substitute teacher, I am now somewhat able to create my own space and writing process for my students. At first, I was completely overwhelmed by having to create all my own lessons and put forth all of my ideas for what I want my own classroom to be and function like. Once I was settled, I began to put all my effort into creating a space for my students to become the best readers and writers that could possible be. I have created many small areas in which my students are able to go in order to think, write and grow as learners. I have found that these small areas are ones that my students gravitate towards when they need to think aloud or need to have more focus. With this said, the space in my classroom so far has been created to guide and produce proficient readers and writers. I am sure that as the year goes on and my students grow and mature as writers, I may need to change the set up of my classroom to better engage my students within the writing process.

When thinking about the other element of the writing framework, my students, I am excited to see their potential blossom and mature throughout the school year. With the just the first few days of school completed, I have already begun to see their true strengths along with their specific needs come to light. My support and guidance through the writing process at the beginning of the school year with be crucial. As I get to know my students and their strengths and weaknesses that are unique to each one, I will be able to better instruct and guide my students to become better readers and writers. As Towle (2003) wrote, teachers need to conference and informally assess their students throughout the entire writing process to see each students' strengths and weakness so that a teachers instruction can be targeted to help each student mature as a writer. I believe that with this in mind, I will be able to engage, guide and support my students throughout the school year to become proficient writers.

The final element of the framework that is currently present in my classroom is the subject of writing. I believe that when many students hear the word writing they begin to groan, become anxious or nervous or just completely shut down. I have realized that there is too few students that get excited about writing these days. I am not completely sure as to why this is the way it is, but if I can do anything to change it in my own classroom then I will do it! For starters, I believe teachers need to let their students pick topics that interest them when they need to produce a piece of writing. When a student is interested in the subject of writing that they are working on, I believe the student puts forth more authentic effort and excitement. When a student is excited about their writing, they can make their peers and the teacher become just as excited to hear or read their piece of writing. So if a teacher is able to manipulate the curriculum to make it fit with their students' interests then they will have a classroom full of excited and growing writers.

Many of my students have not been completely exposed to the idea of digital workshop just yet. I know that through their computer class they have begun typing classes and use the internet along with other online resources when researching for a project or writing piece, whether it is in or outside of school. I believe that the older my students get the more tech-saavy they will get, which will increase their knowledge and exposure to the idea and use of the digital workshop. I believe that with the help of the computer teacher and other resources throughout the school, such as ipads and laptops, my students will be able to fully participate in a digital workshop. They will become familiar with the programs and software that is a necessary part of a digital workshop both within the classroom and outside of it.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Entry 1

When I first think about teaching writing, I begin to get anxious. This anxious feeling comes from believing that writing is such a crucial aspect within a student's education. Once the anxious feeling is suppressed, I am able to focus on my personal core principles of writing.

A major core principle that I value and enact in my classroom is the idea of planning or pre-writing. With this critical stage of writing valued, my students see the importance of getting their ideas down on paper without any judgements. In a way this is a time for them to brainstorm and work through many ideas that could later be turned into fully developed writing pieces. But without a great emphasis put onto planning and pre-writing, students are able to create works of art with their writing.

The one aspect within the writing process that I value is meeting or conferring with my students as often as possible. I believe that through these writing conferences, a teacher is able to understand and get to know their students on another level as well as seeing a students strengths and weaknesses with writing. Once a student's strengths and weaknesses are identified then a teacher can better target their instruction.

My love and need to conference with my students along with teaching and implementing the planning and pre-writing stage with my students are remained constant throughout my various experiences with children. I have been able to adapt and transform my writing values with various grade levels, while still keeping conferencing and pre-writing a part of the writing process.

There can be a number of challenges that are faced by both teachers and students when using new age technologies. Many students now have computers in their homes, which makes them at a greater advantage when told to use a computer to word process a final piece of writing. On the other hand, there are students who may not have a personal computer at home or have only used a computer for games or internet use, so they will not be familiar with any word processing systems. So the teacher may need to gear their instruction to target these students. With the large amount and fast pace at which new technologies are coming about, it may be difficult for teachers to keep current.

If there was infinite amount of time in the school day and even the school year, I would love to be able to devote a large amount of time to writing and working through the various stages of writing. But with all the pressures that are placed on teachers with curriculum, standards and testing, there is just not enough time in the day and year to devote endless amounts of time to writing within the classroom.