Sunday, March 4, 2012

Another Learning Experience

So, I decided to try something new today. I am was am on my blog, in my classroom, modeling how I write my writing in front of my students.  The experts say this is one way in which good student writing evolves.  However, I am quickly learning that this is not necessarily true at this moment. Maybe it's because it is Friday, or maybe because there is a strange shift in the energy equilibrium---I can tell you, by looking at them and listening to them my boisterous bunch that they are completely uninterested.  I have heard "I hate blogs" muttered at least four times in the past few minutes, but I also hear chuckling as I type this, so someone is paying attention.

Luckily, in one of my later classes, a one of my students stated states that "Blogging can be interesting if you have a great topic." And as the day went on progresses, more of my students were seem appear interested in starting their own blogs. (Yes, you can start a sentence with the word "and" as long as you do it correctly and sparingly!)

I am modeling my thinking (and remind them who my audience is), my writing, my random thoughts and some of my revisions.  Even as I create several drafts, this entry is definitely not an example of my best work.  (Did I mention I'm in the middle of reading Kelly Gallagher's new book Write Like This?) In the very first chapter he makes it clear that that is the point.  "We want our students to understand that writing well does not happen by osmosis..."(p. 16).

As I continue, I am also demonstrating how to use Blogger features.  I change the font, the font size (I make it huge so the students I the back can see it as I type), insert a link and insert a picture. (Mrs. R, who is THAT guy? So now I just provided a little background knowledge, even though most of them probably won't remember who Ray Bradbury is.) I also showed the students some samples of blogs they are definitely more interested in than my own.

Problem #1:  Blogger is very overwhelming to middle school students.  One of the students suggest  After checking it out and playing around with it in class, this seems to be an easier blog site for the students to use. Many of them are familiar with it due to use in another class from another using it in other class and I watch in pleasant surprise as familiarized students guide their peers.

Problem #2:  Pay attention to computer/classroom arrangement.  I have a SMARTboard and it is connected to my classroom desktop computer. As I was typeing in my first period class, my back ends up being is to the students.  Once I turn my back, the students see this as permission to no longer pay attention to me and begin their what-are-you-doing-this-weekend conversations.  Before my next class, I move the desktop (luckily it is on a table with wheels) so it is was turned the opposite way and when I sit down at the computer the students never lose site of my face and vice versa. Lesson learned. Complete chaos averted in following class periods. (Though, Still some chaos still present though.)

Problem #3:  I should model some type of drafting of ideas first.  I am going cold turkey--which I believe is good to model too but I had difficult time which took too long.  In the age of technology, some of us can draft as we type, but some of us need more guidance.  It hits me that a graphic organizer or brainstorming strategy should be provided for some of my students. 

Problem #4:  I didn't emphasize the notion that "all first drafts are lousy" in all of my classes.  I've stated it in past writing lessons taught in the beginning of the year over the course of the year, but I know I haven't hammered it hard come back to that enough.  I am confident that if I make this my classroom mantra, it will produce better results and students really will see that a first draft should never be the last.

Insert loud sigh here. 

All in all, this was quite the learning experience and I vow I will try it again--but not on a Friday.

1 comment:

  1. I love the realities of teaching posted as you are writing in front of the students!