Thursday, November 15, 2012

Entry 12

I cannot believe that this semester is coming to an end already. I feel as though it was just the beginning of the semester and I was trying to feel out the boundaries of graduate school. As I reflect back on this semester and this class in particular, I have learned so much!

As I review the syllabus and see if I gained knowledge in all the specific areas this course was supposed to encompass, I noticed that I achieved all the learning goals or outcomes and then some. I have gained an in depth knowledge of the various genres that people read, write and communicate in. I am not less intimidated by a lot of the more difficult genres that I was not comfortable teaching and writing in. I know see the importance that each genre has and why students need to learn specifically about each genre. Modeling and scaffolding the process of reading and writing each genre is key to a students success.

Also, I have been made aware of the importance of the role of the audience and purpose that each writing piece should take on. I believe that through the writing process and completion of my Genre Pieces Project, I have become even more aware of this aspect of writing. I always just thought of my writing as being for my teacher and only my teacher, so that was the constant audience that I was writing for and the purpose was just to complete the assigned task at hand.

This semester has opened my eyes to the connection that reading and writing truly have together. I do believe that both a teacher and student is better able to write a specific genre after they have been exposed and taught how to read a genre. When a student has been made aware of the characteristics of a genre they are better able to adapt them into their writing of that genre. The mentor texts used to display a genre are very valuable tools to be used in a classroom as both modeling tools and exploration for students. By having students explore genre texts, they will become curious and hopefully want to write with the characteristics of the genre they are learning about.

Finally, I have reinforced my previous knowledge on scaffolding and differentiation throughout this semester. I believe that each genre of reading and writing can be taught to every grade and developmental level of students as long as it is differentiated to meet the needs of the students and is at a level at which they are able to comprehend and apply the knowledge they are gaining. For example, some students may be able to handle more individual work while others may need the teacher to walk them through each step of the writing process. Also, some students in your classroom may need to be challenged or need to go through the writing process in a different way so they could be publishing their works through some type of word processing system. Technology can be implemented into your classroom to aid in the writing process but only when it is developmentally appropriate for your students. I believe that differentiation truly is the answer to reaching each student in your classroom no matter what content area you are teaching.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Entry 11

When I began this class, I knew that I did not know everything about every single genre of reading and writing, which made me excited to learn about each genre specifically. I was nervous to explore and present on the expository genre since I did not like it as a child or even now as a teacher. After exploring the genre and learning multiple ways to make it exciting to teach and learn about, I began to really enjoy the genre. I learned that you can really make any genre of reading and writing fun just by the methods you teach about it and the materials you use throughout your instruction.

So when I began this exploration of the expository genre, I was not looking forward to reading about it since I had a feeling it was going to be boring. I had many misconceptions about this genre and one being that it is very boring. Another misconception that I had was that it can only be taught in one way with the same materials that were used when I was a student. But after reading Tompkins (2012), my eyes were opened to the many different ways that it can be taught in an exciting way. I learned that exposure to expository texts should be early on in order for students to be able to read, comprehend and write fluently within this genre. So with this early exposure to expository texts and their specific features, students are better able to read and write within the expository genre. This exposure is so crucial since everyone is expected to read and write within the expository genre throughout their whole life so they will need these skills that begin to be acquired early on for the rest of their lives. Expository texts are what we all learn from, whether we know it or not.

Another genre that I thought I did not know a lot about at the beginning of the semester was poetry, but after the presentation on poetry I began to see that I really do know a lot about it. Also, poetry seemed to intimidate me both as a student and teacher since there are so many forms and interpretations that a poem can take on. Once again, after the presentation on poetry I was able to wrap my head around the genre and see that it truly is not as intimidating as I thought it was.

One genre that still seems a little difficult for me to wrap my head around is the persuasive genre. I do understand the concept of it and why it is important, but the one aspect of this genre that I struggle with is personally writing persuasively. I feel as though I am not a persuasive person in general, so when I go to write it, I am a bit lost. I know with more practice with reading and writing persuasively, I will be able to wrap my head around it more.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Entry 10

"How can we use it with the younger students?"

As I was going through many of my peers blog posts, I came across this question in Rihanna's blog. I have been thinking the same exact thing as I have worked my way through this class and the readings that we have done for it. I find that there are so many great ways to implement technology into the classroom and the writing process, but I struggle to see the way in which it can be adapted for the primary grades.

I know that many of my students have computers at home and have grown up using them, but there are still many obstacles that I am faced with on an everyday basis when it comes to technology and my second graders. First off, they struggle to even log onto the computer since their typing skills are so poor. I know that they are still young and trying to perfect their fine motor skills, which will come with time, but it makes it difficult to implement many of the strategies that we have read about. I know that in computer class they are slowly gaining more of a tech savvy ability by learning to type a couple sentences and using power point. So hopefully with time they will be able to handle some of the more technology based strategies throughout the writing process. 

I do believe that once my students gain more of a confidence and typing ability they will be able to type final drafts of writing pieces to be published while adding graphics to them. I could also see my students using some type of googledoc or blog to keep track of all of their writing pieces, so that I would be able to conference or even check in with every student on a daily basis by going to their blog or googledoc to read what they have written so far. With these ideas, comes many challenges. First of all, by teaching a private school the funds are very minimal. I am lucky to have a smartboard and two computers in my classroom. Ideally, for my plans to implement more technology based strategies into the writing process, I would need a computer for every student to use throughout writing time. I know this will never happen, or at least, not any time soon. So I could see my idea working if I had a roatating schedule, somewhat like centers, where some students would be working on the computers on their writing pieces while others were doing other writing/ reading/ phonics activities. So that way hopefully each student would be able to use a computer during writing time at least once a day. Then at the end of the week I would be able to go onto googledocs or their blogs to check in with their writing progress. In order for this plan to work, I believe that it would take a lot of my time to model, support, guide and scaffold the process for it to work the way that I would want it to. So hopefully by the New Year in the school year my students would be able to somewhat independently work through the writing process on either a google doc or blog. I know that there may be other hurdles that I am not intending for throughout this process, but with trial and error I believe this could work. Also, the blog or other program you decide to use would have to be simplified with specific directions as to how to use it so each student would be able to navigate through it on their own or with the help of a buddy.

Ideally, I would love to be able to implement this idea with my class and see how well they move through the writing process while using technology. I am still trying to refine my idea for implementing this, so hopefully I will be able to start taking the baby steps towards this idea very soon.