The New Year 2012 is here, and there is nothing more promising then a new calendar of opportunities. Now is the time to take stock of student progress and make plans for the second half of the year. Now is the traditional time to make a resolution. What resolution do I want to keep?
RESOLUTION: Assign less student writing that will be seen by the teacher alone.
Currently, the routine standard is student writing to teacher—teacher corrections back to student. So, why should a student’s writing be limited to this repeated stale volley of paper?
Classrooms, particularly language arts classrooms, are designed to be safe areas for students to engage in repeated practice. Unfortunately, that means school are limited in duplicating the demands of authentic world experiences. Yet, schools are charged with the responsibility of preparing students to become “productive citizens in an ever changing and dynamic society” (to paraphrase school mission statements everywhere…) So, what can I resolve to do with the remainder of this school year to try to make the student’s experience a real world experience?
I resolve to break the “assign, grade, return” cycle of student writing as much as possible.
The purpose of writing is to communicate ideas, opinions,and/or information, and that purpose does not change once a student leaves school.The only differences may be that post-school writing will be on varied platforms, perhaps to wider audiences, or limited in breadth or depth in ways that are not seen in the classroom.
Therefore, I resolve to assign writing that can be viewed by larger and diverse audiences, audiences outside the walls of the classroom.
I specifically resolve to:
-use persuasive prompts in order to have students develop the skills to articulately express their opinions, and then share those opinions through different media;
-continue student blogging while encouraging students to write to each other on blogs beyond the standard “I liked what you wrote” response;
-place student presentations on school websites instead of limiting them to class time by posting links, QR codes, or embedding powerpoints for public viewing;
-use collaborative essays to improve transitions and organization in group assignments;
-encourage students to submit creative work to forums that actively seek to publish original work.
These five resolutions to make writing real in 2012 should also help me control the paperwork load and allow me the opportunity to give students the feedback they need in a more timely manner.
I also resolve not to grade everything a student writes, because sometimes students need to practice without penalties. That is also a real word experience.