Skip to main content

On Surveying Students

I began my Creative Writing course this year surveying students. I adapted the Personal Writing Inventory from UNC-Chapel Hill's Writing Center for this.

Having finally had the time to sit down with them on this sunny September afternoon, I learned a lot about the diverse set of ninth-twelfth graders that comprise my CW course.

For starters, I learned that some participate in online writing communities. They turn to these groups for positive feedback, criticism, and inspiration. I know I can leverage these students within their own writing groups to be leaders that will help others grow.

I learned that some students only write for school. This is the very reason they're in this course, they said. They want to learn to "brainstorm better" and "come up with ideas." They are frustrated with always "writing to someone else's prompt."

I found that most of my students write outside of school and not just tweets and texts. So many of them have journals in which they write about their dilemmas and lives. I can't wait to talk to these kids about mining those same journals for inspiration for larger pieces.

I learned that many students yearn to inspire readers, to create that goose-bump sensation while writing. And I know that I can plan lessons for this by talking about audience and how to appeal to ones in particular.

I learned that some students have authors they look up to. Overwhelmingly, J.K. Rowling made the list of authors. But I also learned that there are some students that don't look up to any writers, creating a need for dedicated Sacred Reading Time (SRT) in my classroom.

I found out that some students are afraid to write because of spelling, and others are afraid to write because what they might write is too real, too raw, too honest. As an English teacher, I've found that we are uniquely positioned to learn so much more about students than others because we strive to make connections between content and students' lives.

I learned that some students see "important writing" as college application essays only. I want to expand their understanding of importance and get them to see purposes of other pieces of writing.

And I learned that far too often students don't engage in personally relevant writing assignments despite their passions for them.

Sometimes it's important that we sit back and let students tell us about themselves. Teach us, the teachers. Let them share their past experiences and preferences, and then spend a little time shaping our course to meet not only their needs but their passions and interests, too.

Comments

  1. I like creative writing too. But I am just learning. I dream to become a professional writer. To get more experience I am going to practice on this service 99 papers

    ReplyDelete
  2. Very nice essay! You have a talant in it! As for me it always was a big problem to write an essay or other kind of writing, I usually look for the best resume writing services through the Internet.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I would be worthy if you would learn from me, because I'm just a terrible writer and it's very difficult for me to write absolutely any kinds of compositions. Usually for this I use https://academic-consultants.com/ but I still hope that someday I will learn this.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

How Changing My Car’s Battery Made Me Think About Education

A lot of people write about how educators use the summer to “recharge their batteries,” which is true. It’s nice to have some down time to reflect and plan for the next year. It’s the one time of year when there aren’t constant demands for teachers’ and administrators’ time. No concerts, no after school events, no evaluations to prepare for.
Part of this time allows me to catch up on things that I didn’t have time for during the school year, like changing the battery in our Jeep, which is our only vehicle that has roof racks for us to transport our kayaks. We were able to get by this winter by jumping it a few times when it was really cold out, but my wife and I both knew it would eventually need to be replaced. My wife and I also knew nothing about replacing a battery.
So I turned to YouTube. And I watched video after video of someone changing car batteries in order to figure out what to do. I learned about “core charges” that auto part supply stores charge. I learned that batterie…

Targets and Time

I just finished Cris Tovani and Elizabeth Birr Moje's No More Telling as Teaching: Less Lecture, More Engaged Learning from Heinemann's Not This But That series edited by Ellin Oliver Keene and Nell Duke.

Needless to say, I pick up anything that's by Tovani and Moje because of Tovani's belief in the workshop model and Moje's extensive work in both disciplinary and out of school literacies.

After finishing this quick read, I've been thinking a lot about two things.

First, how we spend our time matters. I get less than 60 minutes with students each hour. Time is a hot commodity! Because of that, I am constantly looking at ways to maximize instruction. If I pass papers back this way or if I move this to this point in time, I can gain another minute. And those minutes add up! Sometimes, however, it feels like there is just never enough time. All teachers know that. In fact, I've yet to meet a teacher admit that she or he has too much time with students, especia…

'Embarrassment' Review

I just finished Thomas Newkirk's Embarrassment: And the Emotional Underlife of Learning. Like anything by Newkirk, I devoured it and found that so much of it rang true with my philosophy and feelings when it comes to teaching.

Here are ten lines that stood out to me in the book (in no particular order):


"Unless we can get beyond this reluctance, we never put ourselves out there to learn--we never become the novice we need to be to learn." (15)"Schools face what might be called the paradox of offering help... you need a designation for that group, and that very designation may be so stigmatizing that students would rather forgo the help than to accept the label." (33)"We need to look beyond the posture of indifference, or just see it as a posture." (61)"We are happy, gratified to offer help--that is a big part of our professional identity. But we (or at least I) are far more reluctant to receive help." (63)"Failure or disappointment is le…