I can’t believe that the writing program is over! These past few months have flown by! I would have to blame the snow days for this and also the fact that I had such a great time working with these students. For a while, I was concerned that we would not finish our final publication with all the complications from the snow days. We were working with such a limited time to create such great works of writing! In the end we pulled it all together as a group. Each student was able to create at least one final, revised and published piece that was bound in a small book for each student to take home. Words can not describe how proud I am of each and every one of my students. They each came into the program at a different level of writing and in the end, they were all able to create a work that they could say they were proud of and that I can say that I am extremely proud of. I am very impressed with the creativity of these five students and their dedication to the program. They showed up every week ready to go and for the most part, eager to write (with a little encouragement from our weekly snacks). The last day of the program went very well. It was great to see all of the students’ works from throughout this whole process. Every student from the program had their own, unique contribution to their final publication and their personalities and skills really came out in each of their writings. The students even left some very genuine comments to their peers after reading their works, which was very touching. I feel that this program not only helped develop these students’ writing skills, but also their confidence in writing and maybe even made them enjoy writing a little bit more.
Today was a little chaotic since it was the last day the students could work before submitting their final pieces for the publication. We were in a bit of a rush to finish up our final pieces. Something that the students have struggled with the most is finishing their zero drafts. Their planning process took a lot longer than we expected, delaying the first drafts, furthermore delaying the entire writing process. We tried to rush along the students planning process which worked to our advantage and disadvantage. By rushing the planning process along because it was taking so long, it made the writing of the zero drafts a bit harder for the students. Since writing the zero drafts was a little harder, they did not complete the drafts as quickly as we would have hoped. Looking back, if we hadn’t have rushed a long the planning process, we probably would not have anything concrete to submit for the final publication, but I believe that their final pieces would have been a lot better. Overall, I am happy with our decision to rush the planning process because we now have something to submit for the final publication. Everyone has completed and revised at least one piece of work that they are proud of and that is more than I could have asked for.
One of the things I am most proud of this semester is really learning about how my students learn and work best. A few weeks ago, we did an experiment to discover under what circumstances do the students write best. We tried listening to music while writing versus using ear plugs. Then we experimented with writing on an empty stomach versus with a snack and finished up by comparing writing with pens and pencils. Each students had their own checklist to record their preferences on. I collected them and have utilized them all the classes since then. One students likes writing in complete silence and I bring her a pair of ear plugs everyday; the other students listen to music from a Pandora station on my phone. All of the students enjoyed eating a snack before or during writing, so each week I bring chips, cookies, cupcakes, or pretzels. Lastly, I bring an assortment of pens and pencils so the students can chose the writing utensil that best suits them. These changes have provided the students with a comfortable writing experience, which I believe has improved their writing and has made them eager to write.
One thing I am still working on is finding a way to get a boy in my group to stay on task. He’s only been to half of the sessions, so I am just starting to figure out who he is as of now. He loves to share what he’s thinking with the group, but sometimes he overpowers the other students and does not give them opportunity to share or he gets off topic and distracts the group. In a past week, I separated him from the group to work with him one on one. This really let him and the rest of the group focus on their writing without as many distractions. In our next meeting, I would like to do something similar.
A critical moment in today’s lesson occurred when I was working with one particular student. He has only come to half of the classes so he was a little behind. Today I was faced with the decision of letting him go along with the lesson with the rest of his peers or work with him one on one to catch him up. I thought it would be best for us to work one on one at the computer so I could get him up to date with the rest of the group. We worked on researching information on six flags so that he can make his brochure. I was happy I chose to work one on one with this student because he tends to get off task easily and needs the extra attention.
We worked for the entire length of the period getting the majority of his research done. This way he is ready to start writing next week. I’m glad I made this decision because he needs this type of one on one attention and I believe that it is important that he is caught up with the other students. If I hadn’t have worked one on one with him, I fear that he would have fell even more behind and would not have his contribution to the final product completed in time.
Overall, I was very happy with today’s lesson. I was thrown for a bit of loop when Taylor could not make it to today’s lesson. I had a lot of planning to do and some changes to make at the last minute. Considering I was under a bit of a time crunch and the surprise circumstances, I am actually very proud of today’s lesson. I felt like it was very beneficial to discover what circumstances the students write best under. The students had fun trying out the ear plugs, snacks, and music. It was great to see the students engaged, motivated, and interested in their writing.
As far as our zero drafts go, I believe that we are ahead of the game. The students have made a lot of progress in the last few sessions. We have already moved past the planning stages and the students have all began their zero drafts. the beauty of today’s lesson is that I now know how the students write best and under what circumstances they write best. We’ve come to the conclusion that the students like soft music to play while they write, they like to eat snacks while they write, they like to write with pens, and they like sitting at desks to write. With this knowledge, I will now provide the most comfortable writing environment for the students each week.
I am very happy with today’s lesson and I am happy with the success from the group.
I was really enjoyed today’s lesson! We had a new student today which is always exciting. One reason in particular I enjoyed this lesson so much was because it was the first one I really planned ahead for and put a lot of time into. I chose four genres that I thought the students would enjoy the most (how to, fairytale, song lyrics, brochure) and introduced each one with an example. We discussed what makes each of these genres unique. The students then got to pick a genre they liked the best and write a sample piece in the that genre. This was a great opportunity for my co-teacher and myself to get to know our students’ writing preferences and what interests them. We decided on a topic that everyone enjoyed and we are going to use a compilation of genres to represent the one topic. The students are writing about Six Flags and using genres such as brochures, poems, and science fiction to talk about it. I am really excited to continue this final project throughout the next couple weeks. I anticipate the final project will be a great representation of our students!
Overall, today was a very successful first day! Taylor and I had a lot of fun with the students and our lesson went smoothly. Since we have had the after school math program in the same library for the past couple weeks, I knew what to expect out of the environment and the attendance of the students. I expected that we would be working in the library with a few other groups and I also expected that not all of our students would show up. Although disappointed about the lack of students, I was still prepared for the experience. I really enjoyed the first part of our lesson. the students listed the letters of their names down the left column of their page and then had to write a short story using the letters down the page. I was a little concerned before the activity. I thought that the students might have a hard time coming up with a story because it was a little tricky for myself to even complete mine! I was super impressed by our three students; they completed their stories without any help at all! For the most part, my expectations matched my reality.
Mapping Our Stories: Teachers’ Reflections on Themselves as Writers by Carolyn Frank, Marilyn Carpenter, and Karen Smith.
“Inexperienced writers give most of their attention to form rather than context from the moment they begin writing”
Up until this past week, I would have to call myself an inexperienced writer. For most of my primary and secondary education, I was taught form, grammar, spelling, punctuation, and many other masteries that supposedly make you a better writer. Not to say that these things are not important, because they are, but they do not require the amount of attention they have been give for most of my schooling. Just recently, one of my professors told me that when writing I should just write. As simple as that. I need to put a pen to paper and not remove it, not even when I have nothing more to say. She told me to write fast, furiously, excitedly, sloppy, and openly. In order to get out what you truly need to say, you need to let your thoughts flow. She called them, “happy mistakes.” I’ve realized that I have spent entirely too much time focusing on making my first draft my best draft. As a result, my writing is not nearly as great as it could be. Since receiving this advice, I’ve found myself with a lack of writers block and a wealth of thoughts and ideas that I want to share. Making these “happy mistakes” has made me a better and no longer inexperienced writer, in a matter of just a few days.