Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Entry #5 - Letter to Dr. Jones

Dear Dr. Jones,

Class is going well! I enjoy every opportunity we have to meet, and all activities planned during class. The technologies we have learned has taught me a great deal I can use in my classroom, and some I already have! Most of the programs we have been introduced to I honestly had no idea existed and they have such benefits to using them in the classroom. I also have been reflecting on the writing process itself. Even more so than with Hicks (2009), I can take Tompkin's (2012) ideas regarding 6 + 1 traits, writing strategies, and writer's craft and directly relate it to my group of 5 year olds!

I have developed a much stronger understanding of the connection between reading and writing. I have seen this first hand in myself. I have been given the opportunity countless times throughout the semester so far to use writing as a bridge between reading and processing or thinking. Every week, as I complete my blog entries or drafts for the blog, I am using the knowledge I got from the text read prior to construct my own understanding and meaning of something new. I have questioned myself and my tactics, as well as new learnings, more in this course than I have my whole college career. Once I think I am on the right path (in any assignment we have done) I think of a reflection or question which leads my mind back to square one, and I end up with my questions than before!! Although this process seems to lack benefits, I know that the art of questioning itself is cyclical. Through this questioning I am in turn discovering new things which leads to clarification... eventually :).

My reading and writing habits in general have already changed drastically. Prior to the first day of class, I viewed the writing process as a one direction process where you continually move towards a final product. I now know that it is the process of writing that should be stressed! Whether the process is digital or written, it lends to a variety of higher level thinking skills one does not develop without involving the writing task. As an example, the stressed collaboration process has made such an impact on me and on my classroom. Being able to collaborate and discuss, regardless of the distance or time between the collaborators, has changed the way we write. I have learned more from my group members in the past 5 weeks than I ever would've learned myself in any course. Being able to see things from a new perspective is key in this understanding, and it is a entirely new view on writing. I also love the 6 + 1 idea introduced in Tompkins (2012). Habitually, when thinking about writing specifically, I was not able to separate the goals into traits to be used. As previously stated, the product was in mind versus what was done in the process.

Specifically, I have learned more about many writing strategies I can use in my classroom. When reading, my focus went to the elaborating strategy Tompkins (2012) discusses on page 34 and 36. The reason this stood out is because in the past, I always found myself having a hard time teaching students how to elaborate. Especially working with younger students, it is difficult to ask them to expand their ideas into more complex thoughts and details. When reading, I found that it is easier to think about if students brainstorm and explore the idea they are writing about. During the exploration phase, I thought back to the RSS discussion. If students had a safe environment to explore and get more information, it would not only solidify their motivation but also allow them to elaborate without feeling the need to add 'fluff'. I also focused on the narrowing strategy discussed in Tompkin's (2012) work for the same reason as elaborating. I found it is difficult to 'teach' students how to narrow and specify information when writing, which is why I enjoyed this section of the chapter as much as I did.

I also appreciated Tompkin's (2012) discussed regarding the 6 + 1 traits. Prior to this course, I did not even know I was incorporating many of these themes into my classroom. For example, when reading about the ideas trait, I instantly thought of my classroom. Since I am working with such young students, I need to be creative in how I introduce and use the writing process. I have used wordless picture books in many classrooms to discuss author's craft and the development of ideas in a story. With the use of those, as well as read alouds, I have been able to teach and implement specific aspects of the 6 + 1 trait with even the youngest of students. That is what I love about Tompkin's text. When reading Hick's (2009), I have a hard time thinking of ways to implement the wonderful ideas in my own classroom. Tompkin's (2012) helps me to adapt all of her insight and manipulate it to fit my own room!

In general, this course so far has been an eye opening experience. I honestly look forward to what is to come.

Shawna Wright

1 comment:

  1. Shawna, I am glad to learn that you are finding this class beneficial to your professional development. I also hope that you continue to deepen your understanding of how to help your students engage readily in the writing process.