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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Entry #12

As I look back at the syllabus and take a look at the objectives, I realize how much this course helped me to grow as a learner.
I have definitely learned a great deal about the variety of genres readers and writers use to communicate.  I have also learned the flexibility in these genres.  I have gained insight on how these genres overlap to meet the needs of the writer.  Reading each genre is approached in a slightly different way, which is something I had not thought about before this class. 
Before class I had not thought deeply about the role of purpose and audience when writing.  I must admit that I now consciously think about my purpose and audience before writing a piece.  This helps me to determine the genre I will use as I write, as well as the voice I will write in.  This was a major learning point for me, as I do not recall focusing on purpose and audience in my own schooling as a child.  I feel this has helped me grow as a writer, as well as make writing easier for me. 
I had not thought about the idea of new literacy theories before this class.  I had just seen new literacies as a way of the education world evolving.  This is the area that I would like to explore more of, as I enjoy learning about the theories of literacy.  Comparing the new to the old theories is of interest to me. 
The relationship between the reading and writing process was a huge eye opener on the first night of class.  I had never thought of readers and writers going through the same process.  I am now much more conscious of this both as a reader and a writer.  I feel this connection between the two has helped me to understand students in classrooms from a teacher perspective.  I hope this information will someday help me as I am teaching students in my own classroom to be readers and writers.  Personally I feel that students should know the connection between reading and writing more than the fact they both involve words, and one is creating text while the other is interpreting the text.  
I was introduced to many types of reading and writing assignments in this class that could be used at a wide variety of age levels.  I was impressed by the variety that we discussed.  Technology has become so prevalent in our society that we need to be able to make use of it in the classroom.   Before class I had only thought of a writing assignment with technology to be typing a piece in a word processor.  I was exposed to so many new writing activities that I never would have thought of on my own.  This idea of being able to use technology in new innovative ways in the classroom has excited me as a teacher.  I now know that I can have fun with writing and teach my students to show their creativity in other ways than just words in electronic writing pieces.  There is much more to writing when it comes to technology than forming sentences.   Creativity with pictures, podcasts, and movies are all new ideas that I am excited to bring into a classroom some day.  Although technology is generally used more extensively in higher grades, assignments can be tailored to fit students of younger grades.  The earlier they are exposed to these types of reading and writing I believe the more excited and better writers they will become. 
Writing assessment and evaluation was always a sore topic for me.  I would become very uneasy when it came to assessing a student’s writing.  The biggest shift in my thinking with assessment was realizing it is not always just taking a look at the final product, but paying attention to the student as they are using the writing process is important as well.  Although I have grown tremendously with my comfort in writing assessment, I feel that this is an area I still need to grow in.  I think this is something that will come with time and practice in a classroom of my own.  I feel as though I can assess students work fairly now, but will become more comfortable and confident in doing so as time goes on. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Entry #11

When class first began I had a felt overwhelmed thinking about all the genres and how little I knew.  Literacy was always something that made me uneasy, especially learning about different genres.  I was always intimidated to walk into a library to find a book.  I could hardly pinpoint a genre if I tried.  As this class began I wondered how I was going to remember all of the genres and be able to tell them apart let alone know characteristics of each.  I quickly began to be amazed at how much I was retaining and how easy it all was to figure out.  Although there are many different genre names, I learned that many of them can overlap.  This put my mind at ease, knowing there is not always a single right answer.   As I was learning about each genre, I also realized that they are not always in a specific format as I had previously thought.  There is a large amount of flexibility within each genre.  For example, an expository text is not always an essay. It can also be in the form of a textbook, or even a poem.  If an expository text is a poem, then it includes two genres which is the overlapping I was introduced to.  
At the start of this class I felt as though I had an understanding of each genre, but not necessarily a deep understanding.  I knew what a poem looked like, or could pick out an expository text, but I wasn’t sure that I could create one of my own and feel confident. Once I was introduced to the endless formats and uses of poems, I felt as though creating one would be more manageable.  I think this was my largest growth throughout the semester.  That being said, I can't necessarily pinpoint a single genre I grew in.  Overall my eyes were opened to the variety that I had not previously been exposed to.  I now feel more confident in each genre, that I can mold it to what I need and express myself without feeling restrained.  I hope to teach my students to feel this way as well.
Just like my growth, there isn’t a particular genre that still intimidates me.  Descriptive writing is my weakest point still, but this is incorporated in all genres.  As a writer I do not easily convey my message with descriptors.  I often leave too much to the reader to infer, as I leave out the details in my writing.   This is a part of my writing that I have always struggled with, no matter what genre I am writing.  I tend to get to the point and not elaborate as much as I could.  This is my goal as I continue to grow as a writer, to incorporate descriptive writing more prevalently within any genre I write.  

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Entry #10

When reading through peer’s blogs I came across and entry that Jaimie M wrote.  In this entry she asked three questions and gave her response.  The questions caught my attention as they are things I feel every teacher should think about.  The first question was “Is there a type of genre writing a teacher should focus on?”
I agree with Jaimie when answering this question.  I too feel that each of the genre presentations have been helpful in learning the specifics of each genre.  As we have watched and participated in the various presentations each genre seems as though it is of utmost importance to teach to children.  I agree that each genre should be taught explicitly, but as Jaimie asked, to what extent should they each be taught and used in the classroom?  I also agree with Jaimie that thinking back to my own schooling, narrative and expository texts were the most commonly used.  I rarely was asked to write a poem or a letter when in school, even in the later years.   I feel that this lack of creativity and variety needs to be changed in a classroom.  I think students should learn about each genre of writing and be expected to be able to write in each genre.  As students are creating writing I feel there should be a wide variety of genres, rather than an overwhelming emphasis on expository, or essay, writing.  Students’ creativity should be expanded, rather than facts being regurgitated in their own words.  With this being said I would like to also answer Jaimie’s second question. 
The second question Jaimie raises is “Is it necessary to master the genres?”
I feel that students, once they are ready to graduate, should feel confident that they could write in any genre they were asked to.  This does not mean the students need to feel comfortable writing in every genre.  With anything in life there are things everyone has to do and can complete, but is not necessarily comfortable doing.  An interview is an example, I cannot think of someone that enjoys interviewing and is overly confident, but everyone is able to complete an interview and get through it.  I feel as teachers it is our duty to teach our students the life skills they may need.  With this I am thinking of the lack of letter writing in school, and how it is an everyday skill for some people, but definitely a skill that almost anyone in society needs to have.  Poetry is a different idea, as it is more of a creative and expressive genre for most people.  Teaching this to students introduces a new avenue for students to get their ideas out.  As teachers I feel we need to introduce as many genres and topics as we can in an organized manor for students to be able to find what interest them.  This does not mean students need to become a master in everything we teach, including genres.  This leads to Jaimie’s third question.
The third and final question is “Should teachers be able pick and choose what they teach?”
I feel that teachers should have guidelines for what needs to be taught in each grade level, to be sure students are being introduced to each genre.  I do also feel that there should be an outline of what students need to know about each genre, but the way teachers choose to introduce the genre and key points should be up to the teacher.  If a teacher wants to use trade books of their choosing I feel they should be allowed to.  I feel that with the education and professional development each teacher has had to have, they should be trusted with at least picking out trade books.  Teachers have very little say in how they teach topics trade books is one area that teachers should be able to choose books that fit the genre and relate to their students level and interests. If administration is concerned there can be a policy in place for books to be approved before used in the classroom.  Overall I feel that teachers should be able to decide, within a general outline, how and what they teach in their classrooms as far as reading and writing in the many  genres.  

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Entry #9

As I have been learning about the different genres in class I have begun to reflect on my schooling as a child. I do not recall explicitly learning about a number of the genres that have been introduced in class.  Even as I student taught and been subbing in classrooms, I have not seen genres taught in the way we have in class.  In general I have seen students learning fiction vs. non-fiction as well as poetry.  Beyond this, genres are not really introduced from what I have experienced.  With this experience, and the influence of class I plan to change this.
In my classroom I want to teach each genre explicitly.  I would like for my students to know the characteristics for each genre and how they differ from each other.  I would like my students to be able to feel comfortable in writing each genre.  Not only should students know the characteristics that are specific to each genre, but they should also understand how the genre is flexible.  An example is poetry.  As we talked this week, many students see poetry to take a very structured form, which is not the case with the genre as a whole.  There is room for creativity within poetry as well as any genre.  We have also talked about persuasive writing in a previous class.  This genre can also take a wide variety of forms, ranging from a video to an essay.  This week we discovered the narrative and biography genres.   I was asked to present on the narrative genre, but paired it with biography.  It was a learning experience for me, as I was very unsure of how to mesh the two genres, let alone know enough about each.  Prior to creating the presentation I had always seen the biography genre as a research project.  This idea is far from the truth.  I learned that biographies, like the other genres, can also take many different forms.  The ideas I have learned from the presentations thus far will be extremely helpful in the classroom one day. 
Not only have I learned the characteristics that set each genre apart from the others, but I was also forced to find how the narrative and biography genres overlap.  This was an interesting finding for me, as I had not seen these two genres as similar before.  The major overlap is the personal narrative, which is a story about an even that happened to you.  After this presentation I began to think about the overlap that other genres have.  An example is biographies can take the form of poems, as well as resemble an expository text format.  I want my students to see these overlaps within the genres and not to see them as completely separate.  I feel that this will help them to become stronger writers.
As teachers we are expected to teach cross curriculum and have our students understand that writing and reading do not only take place during ELA time, and math is not only needed in math class.  With this in mind I feel that students need to be able to mesh different genres together.  Students will be required to choose the genre(s) and format they choose to write in that is the best way to get their message across.  Writing is not only the words that are written on the page, but also how they are formatted and used with each other.  Once my students have an understanding of the characteristics of each genre the use of the genres together will be a main focus in my classroom to make my students stronger writers.  I was never introduced to this idea as a student, but I feel it would be helpful to my students to have this knowledge.