Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Entry #12

Prompt: Review page 1 of the syllabus. In what ways did keeping a blog this semester help you to meet the Student Learning Outcomes of this course? Is there anything else you learned that is not represented in the identified Learning Outcomes for this course?

I have personally never experienced creating or reading blogs before, so this was a new and exciting experience for me. The blog in particular allowed me a "space" to reflect on what I had read and how I was comprehending and connecting it to other readings and conversations (online and in class). I saw my audience as being a group of my peers that were reading and writing about similar topics and we could use one another as a reflective and collaborative audience for feedback and response (which also created a relationship between the reading and writing process through response). Although I didn't receive much feedback from my peers per se, I was able to read their blogs and interpret what they were saying about similar topics which was very helpful to me in understanding my own thinking and stance on specific topics (role of metacognition in reading and writing proficiency).

Although the blogging was a digital writing/reading tool that was utilized for this course, being introduced to wiki, google docs, and many other digital writing and reading forums had given me an opportunity to use them for multiple purposes which will help me as a new teacher extend them into the classroom for my students. With the implementation of the Common Core State Standards and the emphasis of effectively preparing our students for college and careers, the use of digital software is imperative. As a teacher, it is even more important for me to know how to use and manipulate these programs so I can implement them into my curriculum. Also, because of my experiences with this technology and the discussions with my peers, I am better able to know which is developmentally appropriate for what age group or how to modify lessons to meet the needs of my students.

Although this is not specifically part of the student learning outcomes, I wanted to mention this anyway. The genre pieces project was helpful for me on many different levels. I have had conversations, lectures, and readings about student motivation throughout my college experience and in studying English and Literacy education. I knew that student choice and motivation was an important part of student success, but I got a first-hand view of this when I created my genre pieces project. We were told to choose any topic. I was nervous that my choice would be seen as non-educational or "silly". Although I am a skeptic of sorts when it comes to the paranormal, I find it fascinating and am motivated to read and learn all about it. I created a blog that would document my own experiences with the world of paranormal investigation and it serves as a timeline for myself and my the paranormal investigation team that I have joined up with. I don't think I would have ever tried to pursue anything like this without having this class and for that I am very thankful. This is something I can take with me past the realm of Nazareth and into the world. Mostly, it showed me as a student and a teacher just how powerful choice and motivation can truly be.

Blog #11 -

Blog Entry #11 - Learning through the Genres

I have learned so many things throughout the semester in regard to the genres which have been presented and explored. I would have considered myself to be very knowledgeable about the genres due to my educational background and English as my content specialty, but it never ceases to amaze me that I am always learning new information and I will forever be learning in this field!

Some specific features of the genres that were new to me or that I didn't fully understand or appreciate were the correlation between persuasive writing techniques and letter writing (as well as most other genres). For both of these genres, understanding what your purpose is for writing was essential as well as knowing your audience. Persuasive writing is a difficult genre to teach younger students due to the need to be able to think about your audience's needs and possible opinions. I love the idea of using conversation to introduce, model, and help develop students understanding of "the other side" of the argument.

With the addition of adding more digital writing tools and opportunities, as teachers we need to be aware and prepared for the potential problems that some of our students, myself, and other faculty members may have. As teachers we need to be active in continuing our education and collaboration so that we may better serve our students. With stress being placed on better preparing our students for college and careers, more emphasis needs to be placed on writing throughout the curriculum and using digital writing is even more imperative.

Understanding audience and purpose were ideas which repeated throughout all of the genres as being an integral part of becoming a successful writer. Many of the genre presentations included graphic organizers to aid the student with identifying the purpose and details for their writing. There were also graphic organizers that organized what the students had read which could work as great tools for modeling and practice prior to writing in the genre.

I absolutely love poetry, but I do not claim to know everything about it. I know that there are many students I have had in the past that shy away from poetry because they don't understand it or it seems intimidating. The Bio-Poem that was presented by the Poetry Genre Group was a great example of how I could take non-fiction and historical fiction and make it more interesting lesson and project than simply writing a book report or essay about a person, place, or time. And for students that are intimidated by poetry, this gives them an organizer that creates a formula for them to follow. I always want my students to feel successful and I truly think formula poems can be great tools and the bio-poem shows that it can relate to non-fiction and multiple subject areas.

The descriptive genre was initially confusing to me as I had never heard of this being a genre in and of itself before in all of my time studying! After the group presented it made more sense to me as there really were specific techniques that are utilized while engaged in this writing style. Dialogue, figurative language, word choice, and sensory imagery were all techniques that I had thought of as being separate from each other and not necessarily connected. The descriptive genre does just that connects them. This was by far my favorite presentation because of the impact that they all have on every other piece of writing we perform regardless of who or what it is for. It is the pivotal point of communication. They are all connected through the idea that there is a need to know your purpose, audience, direction, organization, and ultimately understanding. It just seems like description is in everywhere ( including our own speech) and narratives and biographies are such wonderful tools in and of themselves for harvesting information from outside curriculum areas.
Finally, in regard to the actual texts that I explored for each genre, I found that many of the texts that I pulled for one genre could very well be used for another genre (hence the multi genre texts).

Monday, November 26, 2012

Entry #10: "Bless, Address, or Press"

Blog Entry #10: "Bless, Address, or Press"

This excerpt was taken from:

Entry 7: Poetry Writing
Kelly P. at Kelly P.'s Blog

                     After reading Tompkins (2012) and researching this genre for my  
                     group's Expert Share presentation, I have realized that there are so
                     many more different types and forms of poetry than I had imagined.
                     Before this class, I wasn't aware that poetry was broken up into
                     different types (within the genre) and then broken down further into
                     different formats/formulas within those different types. For example,
                     the "I Am" poem is a specific type of formula poem and has its own
                     "rules" and structure

I am addressing the same concern in which many of us are not familiar with the dynamics and the multitude of rules that poetry bears. Poetry is my favorite genre as I have practiced writing almost everyday in my collection of journals since I was eleven. I will often bring in my journals for the students to see that not everything I wrote was "right" when it came to the rules of poetry, but they were right for me. I also showed then how my writing progressed as I began to learn more and practice more.

I am a huge fan of the "I am..." and "If I ruled the world..." templates. I have found this to be great with all levels of students. In particular, when I was able to implement these into the classroom, my special needs students were able to participate with a scribe and didn't require extra time. I remember how successful they felt which in turn made me feel good because they could do it and have fun doing it too.

Throughout my educational journey, I have taken many literature classes (haven't we all?) and poetry always seems to have the most negative feedback associated with it. I love poetry because it is not cut and dry and one person's interpretation can be different from another, yet one doesn't necessarily have to be wrong. I love teaching poetry but I have found many students feel overwhelmed by it. Free verse and formulas can be great tools to start students off on a positive note and give them a chance to be successful.

I have always thought it would be important to let our students know that:
A poem, is a poem, is a poem, is a poem.,,just like the rose.

Blog Entry #7 - To Blog or Not to Blog

Blog Entry #7 - Open Entry

To Blog...or Not to Blog. That is my question.

I started my "other blog" not too long ago for the genre pieces project. It's amazing what a little motivation can do which Hicks agreed with as well (Hicks, 2009). I was originally concerned with my topic being too "far out there" and that I would receive negative feedback, but so far it has been great! I have also experienced first-hand what a little motivation can do for writing and your general outlook on the process which connects to our readings and previous discussions over the topics of student choice and motivation.

I have never done an actual blog with my students or even on my own, but I can see where it would provide them with an opportunity to not only experience and manipulate current technology, but to create something of their own with the authentic purpose of being published and read by others (not just the teacher). I had not thought I would have many people read my blog, but there are apparently many more believers out there than I originally thought. I am still hoping that they will start to give me feedback and possibly ask questions or give me advice which is another reason I think that blogging can work in the classroom. It provides an authentic audience where students can get feedback from other students that will help them to know what their readers are thinking while reading their work (which is something that many students find difficult).

So my thinking leads me to the question of how to best implement blogging into my classroom practices? Since I have never done this myself, I am wondering if any of my peers have done this? I have listened to other teachers talk about creating classroom blogs, but due to limited availability of computers and laptops, their plans were put on hold and I had to move on to another LTS position before I had the chance to find out what the outcome was. Unfortunately, I have also been out of the classroom for over a year now and am wondering if blogging has become more of a regulated practice in school? Some of my concerns with having students create a blog is Internet safety, teaching students "netiquette", and being able to monitor 25+ students on the computers at a time. This is where I am going to ask my readers/followers what their experiences are with this so far. I would also like to know if blogging and other digital forms of writing are taking hold in the classroom? Feel free to write me back about any of the experience you have had lately!

"Bless, Address, or Press" Blog Entry #8

Blog Entry #8

"Bless, Address, or Press"

While reading my peers posts, I found one that was written by Shawna Wright about the persuasive genre that we had done together for our genre presentation. In part of her blog she wrote:

                "Nippold, Ward-Lonergan, and Fanning would agree with Tompkins
                 about many things. They agree that persuasion is used everyday regardless
                 of age or where one lives. Even young children use verbal persuasion
                 to prove to their parents they should be able to stay up later. In fact, when
                 asked to generate an example of persuasion for our presentation I was
                 thinking to myself "How in the world am I going to find an example!"
                 I learned quickly that I have a ton! Even last month I created a
                 persuasive PowerPoint presentation to persuade my fiance to wear
                 grey tuxes at our wedding :)"
I thought that this was an exceptionally great example of how we were all feeling as a group when thinking of what persuasive writing is and what are the best ways in which it should be taught (and not to mention what grade level to begin). I too realized that I write persuasively on a regular basis. It is not always through the form of an essay or speech, but many of my examples are informal texts and conversations in which I am trying to persuade my daughter to come home early so I can go to bed. I write letters when I am angry and feel as though I need to get my point across to someone. Writing allows me the time to reflect on my thoughts prior to writing them down whereas conversation does not always afford those opportunities to think and reflect before you say something. I also have conversations when I feel very strongly toward a particular subject and am not willing to give in to the conversation or other persons side until I have persuaded at least one person to see things the same way that I do.
The research I had studied for this project focused on how we should utilize conversation as a means of scaffolding persuasive writing instruction. Even young children can engage in conversation at a young age when they feel strongly about a subject. Just ask a five year old why he should have a birthday. My niece wanted a bounce house for her fifth birthday party and a clown. Just a reminder here that she was only five...She took it upon herself to go online and get some prices of bounce houses to rent and what the cost would be. She even printed out pictures. She came up with a list of reasons she should have the bounce house at her party. She was still too young to be able to come up with answers to the negatives that would be brought up, but even with what she had researched and done showed that she was able to engage in conversational persuasion.
Personally, after reading the research, listening to my own students, gaining feedback from all of our peers, I think persuasive reading/writing can and should be taught in the younger grades. Readers Theatre could be a great way to help students experience and come to an understanding of opposing view points, creating contrasting drawings that depict the multiple viewpoints, and read alouds as well as many others. There are many books available at the P and M levels to demonstrate this type of writing as well.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What to Read? - Blog #9

When we first had the chance to choose the topic to write about for our blogs, I didn't have a clue where to start. Now, I am overflowing with ideas that I want to write about. I have become addicted to blogging! Not too long ago, I even started a blog for my genre pieces project that would allow me to document my journey into the world of paranormal investigation. I can't wait to have the chance to use blogging or something similar when I have my own classroom. This has truly shown me the power of motivation and choice that Hicks, Kucer, and many other well-known researchers have previously researched and discussed (Hicks, 2009 & Kucer,2009).

I am choosing to write about the genre presentation experienced. I always cringed when there were group projects when I first returned to college. There always seemed to be "floaters" which is what I called the students that did the minimum or just enough to say they did it, and there were others that didn't help at all.

Since I have been at Nazareth I have never had to relive any of those negative group experiences. I have also noticed as a graduate student, being more focused on a specific topic is more intriguing and all of my peers which I have done group projects have been absolutely amazing (and my group for this presentation - Danielle and Shawna - were totally awesome! I know very 80's to say, but they really are).

When it came to the presentation that my own group did on persuasive writing, I was stunned by the amount of information I didn't know about persuasive writing! As an English major for my undergrad and a graduate student in the Literacy program, I felt as though I should have known some of the concepts and components, and those concepts and literary devices I was familiar with, I should have had a more substantial understanding  of them.

After deliberating with my group regarding the information we had all consumed through our readings, it was apparent I had the background knowledge and schema to comprehend and apply my new knowledge (eg. all propaganda should be considered biased, underhanded or  shady and we should use these cases to model and demonstrate bias for the students).
I thought it was very interesting how much we actually engage in persuasive actions and writing as adults in our everyday lives. It could be through e-mail, text messaging, facebook, twitter, and some use the mode of friendly conversation, debate, reading, and writing as their career choice, but I personally also found I engage in persuasive conversation daily (if not hourly depending on my mood and my daughters actions).

There is still one question that I am pondering and which is one of the reasons I chose to write about my genre presentation for this open entry. I wanted to do the "U" level book for our group project because most of my teaching experiences (as well as my dream job) are at the middle school level. Tompkins (2012) had some recommendations, but nothing that really stood out to me or that I could get my hands on. As I asked around for some reading suggestions, I found and read a wonderful book titled, One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia.

In most of the "U" leveled texts I have read, persuasion was not "in your face" or clearly evident as in the case of many of the "P" leveled texts. An example would be Click, Clack, Moo by D. Cronin (2000). It followed the typical formula in which a position statement is presented (by the animals), the reasons and steps they took to make their position known and/or rectified (to the farmer), and then reverting back to the original position statement at the end.  The "U" leveled books had underlying tones which indicated the position that was being taken, and many of the reasons and counter-arguments were implied rather than clearly stated.

I also discussed my observation with Dr.Jones and she mentioned that most books contain some form of persuasion within them and many are considered multi-genre. In many books, the reader needs to be persuaded in some way. If you are reading this, think about anything you have read for your own enjoyment lately. Did it contain any persuasive literary devices?

Here is my confusion and main question; if persuasive reading/writing is considered to be one of the most difficult genres to teach students, why are there so many persuasive books at the P and M levels? I understand the process of persuasive writing is more difficult than reading and requires a different skill set and the ability to take understand multiple perspectives, but can we begin to teach our students at younger ages through the reading of these books (either aloud or independently) and the conversation that ensues after the reading is completed?  We can also use natural conversation with younger students to enhance their understanding of a two-sided issue in which they are defending a position. How young is too young and with the younger students, what is the best way to start them thinking, reading, and writing persuasively?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Blog Entry #6

Blog #6 - Open Entry

This course is truly fostering my ability to question the ways in which I interact with the writing process. I am older than the average college student, and in many cases, the ways in which I was taught the writing process varies greatly from those that are younger. I do not remember much about there being any specific model of the writing process in which to follow. I remember beginning with three paragraph essays and then moving to five paragraph essays. I don't ever remember being taught that reading and writing were a parallel process either (Kucer & Rhodes, 1986). I never learned how to do an outline until reviewing for regents exams in high school and I remember that if we were required to do an outline because it would count toward our grade, I would often throw one together after completing the essay or writing assignment.

I know that much of my learning to write came to me as being the "great imitator" where I could replicate and/or apply what was being taught when given a solid and tangible reference or model. Until graduate school, I was still very much reliant on examples and modeling to support my own writing. I would keep the examples next to me the entire time I would write and compare my piece to the example.

The only time I felt comfortable in creating my own pieces with little to no instruction was when I was given opportunities to engage in creative writing assignments, personal journaling, and subjects or topics of extremely high interest. Choice and inquiry is a major topic mange researchers and was discussed in Hicks, chapter 2, in the beginning of the semester (Hicks, 2009). A recent example of motivation and choice being an important factor in my own writing was when creating the blog entries for this class. For open entries, I found it very difficult to get started and I will have to admit that I often procrastinate because I don't find the process enjoyable. I thought that this was possibly my own personal aversions to not being familiar with blogging, but I created a blog for my genre pieces project, and I can't wait until I have extra time to add to my blog! It is of a high interest topic which supports the theories that motivation is a crucial factor in engaging students in the reading and writing process. Well...I'm a believer!


Hicks, T. (2009). The digital writing workshop. Portsmouth, NH:

Kucer, S.B. & Rhodes, L.K. (1986). Counterpart Strategies: Fine
              tuning language with language. The Reading Teacher, 40
              (2), 186-193.