I took out of the three readings for the week that learning how to teach writing is as much of a work in progress as is learning how to write. Gardner’s approach is practical with alot of preplanning before beginning the writing unit along with paying attention to what works and doesn’t work and tinkering with the assignment from year to year. My co-operating instructor told me that teachers need to decide what they want to get back from students before starting a lesson. His point was basically the more thought goes into planning and implementing assignments the better quality of work that students will do. I like how Gardner sets three goals for designing a writing assignment that teachers must meet before giving the assignment to their students. If teachers go into the unit knowing what they want from their students they can then concentrate on helping students reach their own goals.
Student autonomy exists within the Gardner model. Gardner’s focus seems to be on student choice and ownership of their writing. Students choose the topic they feel most like “experts” on and write about that.
The most effective form of feedback I’ve received has also been the most demanding. Teachers have wanted me to focus on what I was trying to say and how I was trying to say it, not on grammar and structure. This is most effective because the teacher is telling me that I have something to say that is worth listening too and they want to hear more. This form of feedback is also the most demanding because deep thinking and consideration is needed to get at what I am really trying to say.
In the upper level courses I’ve taken I’ve yet to encounter a professor who stressed giving written feedback on rough drafts. Like this week’s authors they’ve concentrated on content and helping me get to what I want to say with my writing. I say I’ve evolved as a teacher in the respect that I no longer focus so much on marking up every little error I see to helping students get more “meat” in their writing.
Receiving feedback is essential for writers, and receiving feedback from multiple sources is just as essential.
I agree with Ming and Kittle. Student learning is the ultimate goal. As long as students understand that they must submit a finished paper by the deadline and do submit it, I’m all for allowing students to continue working on a finished paper. I also agree with Ming that the students who do continue to work should get higher grades than those who don’t.
This argument goes to the grades vs teaching perspective and what teachers are truly trying to accomplish with their students.
As a teacher or writing Murray is dead-on with this sentiment. Good or great writing can’t be taught but it can be learned, and only through trail and error. Lazy students what their teachers to tell them what they do well and don’t do well and so would rather listen than to think and talk. I find Murray’s method of teaching “less” to be effective as it allows students find answers on their own.
One note I made while reading this article was that maybe other English teachers fear they too will be “exposed” as not really teaching anything so they overcompensate by giving too much work or too many graded assignments.