Thursday, April 26, 2007

Narrative as Healer?

The article I chose is called, "Toward a Writing and Healing Approach in the Basic Writing Classroom: One Professor's Perosnal Odyssey" by Molly Hurley Moran.

This article describes the process a teacher used in her basic writing course. She began with narrative writing as the base of every assignment, moving her students towards more academic writing. So this is a case study for whether to use personal writing in the basic writing class, and one method of doing so.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Just for kicks, I looked up the definitions of "literacy" and "literate." Amongst the definitions was one that said: "having knowledge or skill in a specified field." I think this is the definition we are all getting at when we talk about students having various literacies. And I think it's an excellent point. I don't know how often I've read a student’s paper only to be educated about something I was completely unfamiliar with. For example, don't hang me for saying this... I was sheltered as a child, one of my students wrote his research paper about The Doors. It was really fascinating, all the mystery surrounding Jim Morrison's life. I remember it vividly because the student was so rapped up in this group, that his paper turned out really well. Not only was it good for him because my excitement boosted his esteem and made him the expert, but it was also really good for me because I learned something new that I might never have had contact with otherwise. It's exciting when you think of writing as a collaboration of knowledge among a group of "writers." I think it's important to see our students as people who are intelligent in specific areas. I would consider myself intelligent, but ask me to multiply a simple problem like 9 X 6 and you'll see me look really stupid! Yes, REALLY stupid! We all have something to bring to the table and we must look for those things in our students. I think making connections with what students are knowledgeable about, especially in the beginning will give them the confidence and assurance they need to tackle new "mountains." (I really like Chaz's analogy.) Instead of thinking about all we can teach our students, let’s start thinking about what they can teach us. Then maybe more collaborative, relaxed effort will take place and so much more will be accomplished! I feel like smoking a peace pipe now.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

The Twin Peaks

Amy’s blog made me do some thinkin’. As I scratch my head I'm pondering whether we should only focus on the main thing - Academic writing - or allow our students to experience other genres of writing as well. This question is especially interesting when considering the experience our high school students receive in writing. For the last few years, writing for the MAP test has been a strong focus. This means that students learn how to write a five-paragraph essay in one paragraph: topic sentence, 3-4 body sentences, conclusion sentence. What I noticed, and was amused yet saddened by, was that my students so had this form drilled into them that they couldn’t hardly produce anything else! They were stuck! They assumed that, because this was so important that posters were made and journals were written in this format, there was no other way to write anything. When asking them to expand their minds, they looked at me like a deer caught in headlights!

So moving to the collegiate level… should we shock our students by allowing them to write in memoir style that seems a little more relaxed and personal and then spring academic writing on them? When put this way, it seems like a bad idea. However, I don’t think it is. I think it’s important for students to see that there is not ONE type of writing, that academic writing is not the end all be all. I think it’s important to let students see what the wonderful world of writing has to offer. Perhaps if they discover that a particular form of writing isn’t so bad, maybe even enjoyable, that the other forms will then not seem so scary. Let’s head towards the mountains! Perhaps we’ll never make it there, but maybe we’ll find something better along the way.