Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Dear Dr. Jones,

Over the last five weeks I have learned more about myself as a
writer and a student and have had to consider my own purposes and
audiences when engaged in the writing process. As a young student
I can remember learning about the writing process in a five
paragraph format. It seemed simple and we used transition words to
move from idea to idea. I have taught many of the genres we have
and will be studying at the middle school level and had never
questioned the differences, purposes, and audiences that are
addressed in different reading and writing situations. I now can’t
write without thinking to myself, why am I writing, and who am I
writing to? Danielle’s blog title, Thinking as a Teacher / Writing as
a Student made me think that we are always students when engaged
in the writing process. We do not simply copy previous writings to
meet all of our reading and writing purposes. We are constantly
creating new writings and interpretations of readings to meet our
needs for the type of language transaction we are engaged in. I also
believe that we are as human beings, lifelong students; always
learning and changing.

I literally write every day, several times a day for multiple purposes
and to varied audiences. Every morning I have to write a pre-trip
bus report so the school district can keep records of the condition of
the bus, the mileage, and track the number of students riding. I
complete conduct reports to inform school personnel and parents of
student behaviors, and each night I have to complete a journal to
document any problems encountered other drivers. I send daily e-
mails and text messages. I read e-mails, traditional mail some are
formal and most are informal. I previously did not think about how
much I write or compose and to whom.

My previous writing habits were that I didn’t necessarily have
many. For essays I used the five paragraph rule and would
complete an outline to keep me focused. As I am preparing my
genre pieces project I am beginning to realize that I need to put
more thought into my writing than just the “rules” that were
dictated to me as a student. My topic is one which has me
wondering how I could write and word my information without
sounding crazy which is a stereotype associated with paranormal. I
also am very interested in trying to create a digital story about my
personal upcoming experience with my first paranormal

This last week I completed many of the readings associated with
the genre study project. The persuasive genre was not my first
choice, but I have found it to be fascinating. I had never
contemplated the difference between persuasive writing and
propaganda.  I had previously just thought of propaganda as
someone trying to sell you something. I did not process that this is
an actual form of writing and advertising to confuse and sway a
person’s desires and opinions without actual fact based
information. Tompkins explains propaganda as not being the same
as persuasion because “the word propaganda suggests something
shady or underhanded,” (p.253, 2009, Tompkins).  It shows how
important wording and the manipulation of language can be for
communication and comprehension. This is an extremely important
concept for our students to understand as they become more
interactive in the world as well as becoming young adults that are
beginning to make more independent choices, not to mention the
astronomical amount of ads that are targeted at children and young
adults every minute of every day.   

I like to think that I hold myself to a higher standard, and I am not
content with my progress so far in this course. I am not a person
who uses her personal life to make excuses for substandard
performance in my professional life, but the last year has been a
test of my strength on a mental and physical level. I know I have
already told you that my oldest sister attempted suicide (thankfully
unsuccessfully), but also my father passed away (I almost feel
strange using this phrase now that I have read about doublespeak,
euphemisms, and inflated language in Tompkins), and most
recently I have been the target of workplace bullying and am now
fighting to keep my job driving the school bus. I have been
contemplating leaving my job as a bus driver due to the stress and
impact it has had on my college studies as well as my personal
health. My education means a lot to me as well as my family and I
will do what I need to do in order to be a better student, teacher,
mother, and friend. I am going into the next ten weeks of this
course with a renewed sense of motivation and desire to be


Marsha O’Leary