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

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…

Letter to the Editor Regarding DeVos

***Update:  At the time this letter was read at Monday’s board meeting, the hearing regarding Betsy DeVos’ nomination as the secretary of education was still scheduled for Wednesday, January 11. Later that evening, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions postponed the hearing until January 17 at 5:00 PM.

This is a letter to the editor that I will submit for the January 12 edition of the Belleville-Area Independent
-----
To the Editor:
This week marks a defining moment for public education in the United States. On Wednesday, January 11, a hearing will have taken place regarding Betsy DeVos’ nomination as the secretary of education.
During the past few board meetings, I have expressed my concerns publicly about Mrs. DeVos’ appointment to the top education post, and I reiterate those same concerns here. I have contacted Senator Stabenow and Peter’s offices, and they both have now expressed their concerns regarding this appointment and have vowed to…

Stop Ignoring Research

I just finished Kylene Beers and Robert Probst's Disrupting Thinking. I keep thinking about page 103 in the text, where they discuss the idea of "research-based practices" and how many of us "are willing to ignore what we know from research." They mention teaching grammar in isolation, spelling lists, lack of conferring in writing classrooms, monologic talk, prescribing novels without choice--the list goes on and on. I get frustrated because I hear from other teachers often excuses for why they do these things. And even I have felt forced to resort to some of these practices at times because it's what kids have been conditioned to expect at school. It is amazing how quiet a classroom can be when you give every student a worksheet. And if compliance is our end goal, then a worksheet works. But if we want students to undertake meaningful work that's often the work supported by best practices, we're going to have to be willing to get a whole lot more u…