Ideas for Final Project


Although I am still not sure about the possibilities for our final project I feel like I’m gearing towards the Handbook for Writers as our final project. We do need to keep in mind that with have both teachers and writers in our classroom so this handbook needs to serve both parties if we decide to go with it. 

I don’t think that this is complicated – I almost envision it as having it be sort of like a textbook that’s broken down into chapters and each chapter is approaching different topics/audience. Our handbook could have sections for writers and sections for teachers. 

I also liked the idea Laura had about the YouTube videos. I am not a camera person but perhaps videos with only a voice or graphics could be doable a helpful for our audience. 

This handbook for writers/teachers could be an online source that is also printed. This way, perhaps, we could find a way for everyone to put their own stamp on the handbook and tie it all together in each section.

Ideas for Final Project


Although I am still not sure about the possibilities for our final project I feel like I’m gearing towards the Handbook for Writers as our final project. We do need to keep in mind that with have both teachers and writers in our classroom so this handbook needs to serve both parties if we decide to go with it. 

I don’t think that this is complicated – I almost envision it as having it be sort of like a textbook that’s broken down into chapters and each chapter is approaching different topics/audience. Our handbook could have sections for writers and sections for teachers. 

I also liked the idea Laura had about the YouTube videos. I am not a camera person but perhaps videos with only a voice or graphics could be doable a helpful for our audience. 

This handbook for writers/teachers could be an online source that is also printed. This way, perhaps, we could find a way for everyone to put their own stamp on the handbook and tie it all together in each section.

Tobey’s Writing Theory Thoughts 2015-10-04 23:00:00

Yancey's "On Reflection" and Sommers' "Responding to Student Writing"

I have to admit that I really enjoyed both pieces this week as I felt they pertained to my teaching life. Providing feedback has been something of a "hot topic" in my language arts department at work, while using reflection more with my students is a technique that I have wanted to grow this year.

To begin with, the Nancy Sommers' piece was filled with value and truth. As my students begin their first big writing piece of the year, and we begin to talk about the importance of revision, I ask them if they have ever been given back a paper with comments from the teacher that they either didn't understand or that the don't know how to fix. Almost every hand goes up. They share that some teachers only care if they make grammar mistakes even if they have written the greatest stories of their young lives, or that they get the "you need to elaborate more" comment on every paper ever written, but the teacher never teaches them how to elaborate more.  My students seem to exhibit frustration when sharing these reflections. This resonates exactly with Sommers' text.

Within the text, Sommers opens by stating how time consuming writing comments and feedback on students' papers is. One would think that such a time consuming endeavor would be the most beneficial in helping student writers grow. However, she goes on to raise concerns surrounding this practice. The two issues found within her research shows that,"teachers' comments can take students' attention away from their own purposes in writing a particular text and focus that attention on the teachers' attention in commenting." The other finding states that," teachers' comments are not text-specific and could be interchanged, rubber-stamped, from text-to-text." Both of these findings show that the teacher holds a lot of power over the student and their writing. The voice and intention of the student can easily become lost as they worry more about the vague feedback they try to fix to gain a good grade. 

I am guilty of the red penned papers from my past, before I knew better. However, I feel that I have gotten stronger in teaching students that feedback comes along the way as they write. Comments are not special only to the end of a published piece. As hard as it is for students to understand this, writing truly is recursive. When I meet with my students in small groups or one on one, they gain feedback. When we gathered for whole class mini-lessons on how to ___ they are gaining feedback through a lesson that they need try in their writing. Yes, there are comments at the end, but they are never, "you need more elaboration." They are specific to each child based on his piece and his need. It may become a goal for his next piece. 

My favorite quote from this piece is," the teacher holds a license for vagueness while the student is commanded to be specific." That is really unfair!


While reading the Yancey piece, I could not help but think about my time over the summer with the Kean University Writing Project. Whenever anyone asks me about my biggest take aways from my time in this institute, I always talk about the time that I had to reflect. I was able to reflect on myself as an educator, on my teaching practices, on my writing, and on myself as a person. I came to understand that reflection is invaluable. I also know that there is not always enough of it happening. It is something that I want to do more within my own life and also with my students. As I looked over some of my classmates' blog posts, I noticed that Colin really hit the mark on how writing reflection is treated in schools. It is that quick, end of the year piece, that goes on to their next year's teacher. What I would like to do is instill more time throughout the year. I have set up blogs for my students to reflect on their learning at different moments throughout the year. This text really solidified the value that I already knew was there.

Throughout the text there were many phrases and thoughts that stood out to me. That reflection:

  • Brings about self awareness
  • Shows how learning is happening
  • Is an ongoing conversation a writer has with himself
  • Stimulates the growth of consciousness
  • Gives authority to what is going on inside the writer's head
  • Allows for goal-setting
  • Is controlled by the learner
  • Calls for dialogue 
  • Allows us to understand ourselves through explaining ourselves to others
  • Is a habit of the mind- one that transforms
  • Is rhetorical
  • Helps teachers to know which methods are the most successful
  • Can be private or public


Finally, thoughts on our final project...

I was kind of amazed at how quickly ideas jumped out. I'm kind of a "marinater (??)." I need to really think about things afterwards. I like the idea of the handbook. I think I like it more for teachers than for students, as I feel it would be a very different construction. I think if we create it for teachers we can divide it into age groups or by lessons. I also agree (someone's post said it) that we need to think about those in the class who are not educators. How do they feel about this? Could there be more than one project? I'm sure the answer is yes. What is the focus of the handbook?  I'm also happy with digital and analog I do see the argument for both sides. I guess I'm still vague here. Perhaps we need a little more "hashing it out."






Tobey’s Writing Theory Thoughts 2015-10-04 23:00:00

Yancey's "On Reflection" and Sommers' "Responding to Student Writing"

I have to admit that I really enjoyed both pieces this week as I felt they pertained to my teaching life. Providing feedback has been something of a "hot topic" in my language arts department at work, while using reflection more with my students is a technique that I have wanted to grow this year.

To begin with, the Nancy Sommers' piece was filled with value and truth. As my students begin their first big writing piece of the year, and we begin to talk about the importance of revision, I ask them if they have ever been given back a paper with comments from the teacher that they either didn't understand or that the don't know how to fix. Almost every hand goes up. They share that some teachers only care if they make grammar mistakes even if they have written the greatest stories of their young lives, or that they get the "you need to elaborate more" comment on every paper ever written, but the teacher never teaches them how to elaborate more.  My students seem to exhibit frustration when sharing these reflections. This resonates exactly with Sommers' text.

Within the text, Sommers opens by stating how time consuming writing comments and feedback on students' papers is. One would think that such a time consuming endeavor would be the most beneficial in helping student writers grow. However, she goes on to raise concerns surrounding this practice. The two issues found within her research shows that,"teachers' comments can take students' attention away from their own purposes in writing a particular text and focus that attention on the teachers' attention in commenting." The other finding states that," teachers' comments are not text-specific and could be interchanged, rubber-stamped, from text-to-text." Both of these findings show that the teacher holds a lot of power over the student and their writing. The voice and intention of the student can easily become lost as they worry more about the vague feedback they try to fix to gain a good grade. 

I am guilty of the red penned papers from my past, before I knew better. However, I feel that I have gotten stronger in teaching students that feedback comes along the way as they write. Comments are not special only to the end of a published piece. As hard as it is for students to understand this, writing truly is recursive. When I meet with my students in small groups or one on one, they gain feedback. When we gathered for whole class mini-lessons on how to ___ they are gaining feedback through a lesson that they need try in their writing. Yes, there are comments at the end, but they are never, "you need more elaboration." They are specific to each child based on his piece and his need. It may become a goal for his next piece. 

My favorite quote from this piece is," the teacher holds a license for vagueness while the student is commanded to be specific." That is really unfair!


While reading the Yancey piece, I could not help but think about my time over the summer with the Kean University Writing Project. Whenever anyone asks me about my biggest take aways from my time in this institute, I always talk about the time that I had to reflect. I was able to reflect on myself as an educator, on my teaching practices, on my writing, and on myself as a person. I came to understand that reflection is invaluable. I also know that there is not always enough of it happening. It is something that I want to do more within my own life and also with my students. As I looked over some of my classmates' blog posts, I noticed that Colin really hit the mark on how writing reflection is treated in schools. It is that quick, end of the year piece, that goes on to their next year's teacher. What I would like to do is instill more time throughout the year. I have set up blogs for my students to reflect on their learning at different moments throughout the year. This text really solidified the value that I already knew was there.

Throughout the text there were many phrases and thoughts that stood out to me. That reflection:

  • Brings about self awareness
  • Shows how learning is happening
  • Is an ongoing conversation a writer has with himself
  • Stimulates the growth of consciousness
  • Gives authority to what is going on inside the writer's head
  • Allows for goal-setting
  • Is controlled by the learner
  • Calls for dialogue 
  • Allows us to understand ourselves through explaining ourselves to others
  • Is a habit of the mind- one that transforms
  • Is rhetorical
  • Helps teachers to know which methods are the most successful
  • Can be private or public


Finally, thoughts on our final project...

I was kind of amazed at how quickly ideas jumped out. I'm kind of a "marinater (??)." I need to really think about things afterwards. I like the idea of the handbook. I think I like it more for teachers than for students, as I feel it would be a very different construction. I think if we create it for teachers we can divide it into age groups or by lessons. I also agree (someone's post said it) that we need to think about those in the class who are not educators. How do they feel about this? Could there be more than one project? I'm sure the answer is yes. What is the focus of the handbook?  I'm also happy with digital and analog I do see the argument for both sides. I guess I'm still vague here. Perhaps we need a little more "hashing it out."






Responding to Students Writing (Sommers) & On Reflection (Yancey)


I like how Yancey open up the article by describing her class activity and characterizing the conversations and the students that made up her narrative composition class. The beginning of the article read almost liked a journal entry and I was convinced that would be the tone of the whole article. However the article changed form when she introduced the research study conducted in the 70s and 80s that asked the question “how do students learn to write.” Yancey stated that this question aroused because teachers who taught writing didn’t know much about the process. She stated, “We didn’t know much about the very thing we were supposed to be teaching: writing and the process that create it. We certainly didn’t know much about it from the point of view of those we were daily practicing upon: The students.” Yancey also discussed the writing process’s shift from traditional to current theories.  She briefly discussed these theories and stated that reflection played a very small role in their histories and out of theses popular practices in composition she asserted that only one single article was able to link reflection and composing together and this article was published by Sharon Pianko. In this article Pianko wrote, “The ability to reflect on what is being written seems to be the essence of the difference between able and not so able writers from their initial writing experience onward.” Although, both Pianko and Yancey admitted that reflection is a critical component of learning and writing, their descriptions of reflection is a bit different. In Pianko’s 1979 article, reflection was described as the author’s pauses and rescanning during the writing process and 20 years later in Yancey’s class room, reflection is “not defined behaviorally as pauses and rescanning, but as a means of going beyond the text to include a sense of ongoing conversations that texts enter into.” Further along the article Yancey clarified the term reflection in her text. “What I’ll mean in this text when I say reflection will be 1) the processes by which we know what we have accomplished and by which we articulate accomplishment and 2) the products of those processes.” Through out the article she continued to define and discussed reflection as a necessary body of practice that can help enhance the developing writer. Yancey does this by quoting others like Donald Schon, Brookfield, Dewey, Vygotsky and Polanyi.
Yancey ended her article by introducing 3concepts that she applies to teaching and learning of writing and they are reflection –in-action, constructive reflection, and reflection in presentation. 
Yancey’s article was very encouraging in that it discussed how reflection can enhance student’s learning of the writing process, however I had to trudged through it because its was not only boring, it felt very repetitive, wordy, and even a bit disorganized. I though too much emphasis was put on defining reflection rather then exploring how to apply it during the writing process and more importantly how to apply to teach and into the classroom.


I though Nancy’s article shed a light on a not often mentioned topic in education. As Nancy stated in the beginning of her article commenting on student’s paper is needed because “as writer we need and want thoughtful commentary to show us when we have communicated our ideas and when not, raising questions from a reader’s point of view that may not have occurred to us as writer,” however its not always clear that students learn from teacher’s comments on their writing. In my educational experience I don’t ever remember getting insightful feed back comments from my writing teachers that had help me to better evaluate my writing, I mostly remembered making the changes that my teachers requested so I can get a good grader and also to follow directions. Now that I’m a teacher I try to add thoughtful commentary to students writing and at times to the point of hinting to them what to add to their text, however I haven’t really put too much attention on whether they truly understand some of the comments. As the article stated this is an area teachers truly lack training in and I appreciate Sommers’s article because although there’s not really a right or wrong way to response to student’s writing, unlike Yancey, Sommers provided practical guideline teachers can use for commenting on students paper.


Regarding the final project I thought the handbook idea where everyone share their expertise in a subject is exciting, however like many have already stated the right audience and grade level need to be established before moving forward. Also, the idea of going digital vs. print is a good one to ponder on, but I would prefer a printed book because for me as an educator if the book is physically present I am more likely to read it and retain the information in it. But that’s just me though, others may see it differently. In any case we can always combine both.




Responding to Students Writing (Sommers) & On Reflection (Yancey)


I like how Yancey open up the article by describing her class activity and characterizing the conversations and the students that made up her narrative composition class. The beginning of the article read almost liked a journal entry and I was convinced that would be the tone of the whole article. However the article changed form when she introduced the research study conducted in the 70s and 80s that asked the question “how do students learn to write.” Yancey stated that this question aroused because teachers who taught writing didn’t know much about the process. She stated, “We didn’t know much about the very thing we were supposed to be teaching: writing and the process that create it. We certainly didn’t know much about it from the point of view of those we were daily practicing upon: The students.” Yancey also discussed the writing process’s shift from traditional to current theories.  She briefly discussed these theories and stated that reflection played a very small role in their histories and out of theses popular practices in composition she asserted that only one single article was able to link reflection and composing together and this article was published by Sharon Pianko. In this article Pianko wrote, “The ability to reflect on what is being written seems to be the essence of the difference between able and not so able writers from their initial writing experience onward.” Although, both Pianko and Yancey admitted that reflection is a critical component of learning and writing, their descriptions of reflection is a bit different. In Pianko’s 1979 article, reflection was described as the author’s pauses and rescanning during the writing process and 20 years later in Yancey’s class room, reflection is “not defined behaviorally as pauses and rescanning, but as a means of going beyond the text to include a sense of ongoing conversations that texts enter into.” Further along the article Yancey clarified the term reflection in her text. “What I’ll mean in this text when I say reflection will be 1) the processes by which we know what we have accomplished and by which we articulate accomplishment and 2) the products of those processes.” Through out the article she continued to define and discussed reflection as a necessary body of practice that can help enhance the developing writer. Yancey does this by quoting others like Donald Schon, Brookfield, Dewey, Vygotsky and Polanyi.
Yancey ended her article by introducing 3concepts that she applies to teaching and learning of writing and they are reflection –in-action, constructive reflection, and reflection in presentation. 
Yancey’s article was very encouraging in that it discussed how reflection can enhance student’s learning of the writing process, however I had to trudged through it because its was not only boring, it felt very repetitive, wordy, and even a bit disorganized. I though too much emphasis was put on defining reflection rather then exploring how to apply it during the writing process and more importantly how to apply to teach and into the classroom.


I though Nancy’s article shed a light on a not often mentioned topic in education. As Nancy stated in the beginning of her article commenting on student’s paper is needed because “as writer we need and want thoughtful commentary to show us when we have communicated our ideas and when not, raising questions from a reader’s point of view that may not have occurred to us as writer,” however its not always clear that students learn from teacher’s comments on their writing. In my educational experience I don’t ever remember getting insightful feed back comments from my writing teachers that had help me to better evaluate my writing, I mostly remembered making the changes that my teachers requested so I can get a good grader and also to follow directions. Now that I’m a teacher I try to add thoughtful commentary to students writing and at times to the point of hinting to them what to add to their text, however I haven’t really put too much attention on whether they truly understand some of the comments. As the article stated this is an area teachers truly lack training in and I appreciate Sommers’s article because although there’s not really a right or wrong way to response to student’s writing, unlike Yancey, Sommers provided practical guideline teachers can use for commenting on students paper.


Regarding the final project I thought the handbook idea where everyone share their expertise in a subject is exciting, however like many have already stated the right audience and grade level need to be established before moving forward. Also, the idea of going digital vs. print is a good one to ponder on, but I would prefer a printed book because for me as an educator if the book is physically present I am more likely to read it and retain the information in it. But that’s just me though, others may see it differently. In any case we can always combine both.




A Reflection of Rhetoric

Nancy Sommers’ essay “Responding to Student Writing” provides a thoughtful, carefully devised process for improving a controversial and problematic area for many teachers--writing comments on student’s papers. Her 1982 study focuses on the importance of these comments as a tool for the student-writer to “engage with the issue they are writing about” (154). By following the studies recommendations, skills of reviewing and revising can become a learned practice for each student. Sommers states, “Written comments need to be an extension of the teachers voice--an extension of the teacher as reader” (155). This ability to be the reader is an important one for any student’s progress; the teacher’s comments are now that of an audience as well as a guide. “On Reflection” is an interesting—though lengthy—observation of a practice which, perhaps, should be infused in each student’s writing process. Written in 1998 as the opening chapter to Kathleen Yancey’s book Reflections in the Writing Classroom, the essay discusses various research methods employed to understand how students write. Pioneers of this movement, initially Sondra Perl and later, Linda Flowers and Joseph Harris, used extremely close analysis to document this process; however, this boom was followed by a period of vast disinterest. Yancey’s study is a rebirth designed for students to become “agents of their own learning” (5). Reflection carries multiple interpretations but the focus for Yancey is its importance to the composing part of the writing process. She feels it must be tapped to provide a clear idea of what one wants to express, revisited to produce an articulation of that truth, and lastly, used as a reflection through revision of the composition. Yancey’s beliefs are supported by theorists such as Vygotsky, Dewey, and Piaget, who find reflection an invaluable tool. Philosopher Donald Schon’s perspective and its relativity to her entire project sums it up neatly, “reflection is rhetorical” (12). That simple statement clarifies the concept of Yancey’s project. Mastery of rhetoric is necessary for any writing, speaking or persuasion to be effective, as noted by Aristotle back in about 335 BCE, in his Art of Rhetoric. This was about a century after the Golden Age of Greece and height of Athenian theatre, yet this student of Plato documented the necessity of ethos, logos and pathos for a mastery of persuasion. His other essential writing tool, The Poetics, clarifies the field of “poetry” into different genres—epic, tragedy, comedy and dithyramb. The precedents he set, and his keen sense of these principles serve as the base for both theatre criticism and persuasive writing today. He states, in The Poetics:”…begin in the natural way, with basic principles” (Worthen, 153). That sounds like a form of reflection and should be employed each time one takes pen to paper. One’s rhetoric can then be used for either good or evil purposes as this reflection is put on paper and eventually relayed to its audience. The idea of teaching students to write and the confusion as to how this is achieved can also be answered by Aristotle. He explains the use of composing—in its various mediums—as part of each genre’s collective imitative processes. I have never questioned how I learned to write, but in reflecting on this remarkable concept, I have to agree with his perceptions. Through imitating the writers who inspire and ignite our imagination, we attempt to become as dynamic. This imitation is seen in the other genres Aristotle discusses, particularly in the rhythm, speech, and melody of the “poets” or dramatists, but more importantly, it is observed in most every aspect of one’s existence as we get older and begin to “reflect”. We see that the rhetoric and reflection go around as the circular pattern of life continues. Imitation is a natural human response we all experience from our earliest moments as children, and will unintentionally use throughout life. By following Aristotle’s basic steps-- reflection, imitation, review, and revision, coupled with encouragement, insight, and a teacher-audience for each student-writer, perhaps we can produce confident, competent, and exciting new writers for the next generation to imitate. Works Cited Aristotle. “The Poetics” The Wadsworth Anthology of Drama, 6th ed. Ed. W.B. Worthen. Boston: Wadsworth, 2011. 156-156. Print.
The questions I would like to pose for discussion involve our personal composing strategies; 1. I would like everyone to try and remember the first important piece you ever wrote. What or who inspired that work? 2. Did you try and model your writing after any specific thing that was important to you, and if so what? When you write now, as adults in an MA program, do you ever refer to that “model” or inspirational piece to get started? 3. Do you use reflection in your own compositions? If so, how do you begin that process? If not, what do you draw on to write? 4. Lastly, in reference to Sommers essay, what types of comments have you received from teachers and were they helpful? For the teachers, any advice for the rest of us who hope to teach one day? On the topic of our class project I am rather excited about the handbook, both paperback and net-based! I believe we can all contribute something substantially useful based on our individual research; I look forward to this adventure with all of you!

A Reflection of Rhetoric

Nancy Sommers’ essay “Responding to Student Writing” provides a thoughtful, carefully devised process for improving a controversial and problematic area for many teachers--writing comments on student’s papers. Her 1982 study focuses on the importance of these comments as a tool for the student-writer to “engage with the issue they are writing about” (154). By following the studies recommendations, skills of reviewing and revising can become a learned practice for each student. Sommers states, “Written comments need to be an extension of the teachers voice--an extension of the teacher as reader” (155). This ability to be the reader is an important one for any student’s progress; the teacher’s comments are now that of an audience as well as a guide. “On Reflection” is an interesting—though lengthy—observation of a practice which, perhaps, should be infused in each student’s writing process. Written in 1998 as the opening chapter to Kathleen Yancey’s book Reflections in the Writing Classroom, the essay discusses various research methods employed to understand how students write. Pioneers of this movement, initially Sondra Perl and later, Linda Flowers and Joseph Harris, used extremely close analysis to document this process; however, this boom was followed by a period of vast disinterest. Yancey’s study is a rebirth designed for students to become “agents of their own learning” (5). Reflection carries multiple interpretations but the focus for Yancey is its importance to the composing part of the writing process. She feels it must be tapped to provide a clear idea of what one wants to express, revisited to produce an articulation of that truth, and lastly, used as a reflection through revision of the composition. Yancey’s beliefs are supported by theorists such as Vygotsky, Dewey, and Piaget, who find reflection an invaluable tool. Philosopher Donald Schon’s perspective and its relativity to her entire project sums it up neatly, “reflection is rhetorical” (12). That simple statement clarifies the concept of Yancey’s project. Mastery of rhetoric is necessary for any writing, speaking or persuasion to be effective, as noted by Aristotle back in about 335 BCE, in his Art of Rhetoric. This was about a century after the Golden Age of Greece and height of Athenian theatre, yet this student of Plato documented the necessity of ethos, logos and pathos for a mastery of persuasion. His other essential writing tool, The Poetics, clarifies the field of “poetry” into different genres—epic, tragedy, comedy and dithyramb. The precedents he set, and his keen sense of these principles serve as the base for both theatre criticism and persuasive writing today. He states, in The Poetics:”…begin in the natural way, with basic principles” (Worthen, 153). That sounds like a form of reflection and should be employed each time one takes pen to paper. One’s rhetoric can then be used for either good or evil purposes as this reflection is put on paper and eventually relayed to its audience. The idea of teaching students to write and the confusion as to how this is achieved can also be answered by Aristotle. He explains the use of composing—in its various mediums—as part of each genre’s collective imitative processes. I have never questioned how I learned to write, but in reflecting on this remarkable concept, I have to agree with his perceptions. Through imitating the writers who inspire and ignite our imagination, we attempt to become as dynamic. This imitation is seen in the other genres Aristotle discusses, particularly in the rhythm, speech, and melody of the “poets” or dramatists, but more importantly, it is observed in most every aspect of one’s existence as we get older and begin to “reflect”. We see that the rhetoric and reflection go around as the circular pattern of life continues. Imitation is a natural human response we all experience from our earliest moments as children, and will unintentionally use throughout life. By following Aristotle’s basic steps-- reflection, imitation, review, and revision, coupled with encouragement, insight, and a teacher-audience for each student-writer, perhaps we can produce confident, competent, and exciting new writers for the next generation to imitate. Works Cited Aristotle. “The Poetics” The Wadsworth Anthology of Drama, 6th ed. Ed. W.B. Worthen. Boston: Wadsworth, 2011. 156-156. Print.
The questions I would like to pose for discussion involve our personal composing strategies; 1. I would like everyone to try and remember the first important piece you ever wrote. What or who inspired that work? 2. Did you try and model your writing after any specific thing that was important to you, and if so what? When you write now, as adults in an MA program, do you ever refer to that “model” or inspirational piece to get started? 3. Do you use reflection in your own compositions? If so, how do you begin that process? If not, what do you draw on to write? 4. Lastly, in reference to Sommers essay, what types of comments have you received from teachers and were they helpful? For the teachers, any advice for the rest of us who hope to teach one day? On the topic of our class project I am rather excited about the handbook, both paperback and net-based! I believe we can all contribute something substantially useful based on our individual research; I look forward to this adventure with all of you!

Blog #2 – Responding to Student Writing by Sommers and On Reflection by Yancey

Responding to Student Writing by Sommers and On Reflection by Yancey

Sommers’ essay talked about comments teachers write in students papers. One of the first things that caught my attention about this essay was when it was stated: “we comment on student writing because we believe that it is necessary for us to offer assistance to student writers when they are in the process of composing a text, rather than after the text has been completed.” When I read this, I thought about classes I’ve taken and where the professor has actually shared how it is hard for them to comment on unfinished drafts because they don’t know how could they comment on something that is not yet finished. The professor shared this with the purpose of letting us know that the comments we were going to be reading from the professor were more to help us develop our drafts rather than to make us change what we were trying to say. The professor knew that what we were trying to say was still being developed. Therefore, the professor encouraged us to develop our thoughts and ideas through the comments. I feel like comments on student’s drafts, without a conversation or explanation, could be confusing for a student because they won’t see the reasoning behind the comments and could feel lost when reading them.

In this essay it was also stated that: “sometimes the students do not understand the purpose behind their teachers’ comments and take these comments very literally. At other times students understand the comments but the teacher has misread the text and the comments, unfortunately, are not applicable.” This made me think about the importance of having a relationship with the students. I feel like when comments are dry on a paper without further conversation about them, they leave a lot of room for interpretation. It could never be clear what is the teacher trying to say with the comments or what is the student trying to say in their draft.

Sommers later stated that students admitted having great difficulty with the vague directives the teachers were giving them in their comments. The students stated that when a teacher writes in the margins or an end comment, “choose precise language,” or “think more about your audience,” revising becomes a guessing game.” I find it ironic how the teachers ask constantly for students to be specific about what they are saying yet their comments are vague. I feel like this does not help the student develop their writing or learn anything about it. Instead, it creates confusion and a desire to write what the teacher wants if the student is able to figure it out rather than to write something the student is content with.

Yancey’s essay is about many theories that focused their study on reflection when composing. I started reading this essay and started to just take in the information in very smoothly but when I read “reflection has played but a small role in this history of composing.” I found this statement very disappointing. As a writer, I value reflection. If I don’t reflect on anything that has to do with what I am writing, then what’s the purpose of me writing anything at all? In my experience as a writer, I’ve found that when I reflect about what I am writing I am able to not only develop my pieces further but I am able to learn more in the process. Whether I am learning about me as a writer or about what I am writing, I am still learning and that is valuable. I valued when it was stated: “When we reflect, we call upon the cognitive, the affective, the intuitive, putting these into play with each other: to help us understand how something completed looks later, how it compares with what has come before, how it seems stated or implicit criteria, our own, those of other.”


Overall, both article stated important topics when it came to writing. The comments that teachers write on students papers form great part of the composing process as well as the importance in reflection when composing.  

Blog #2 – Responding to Student Writing by Sommers and On Reflection by Yancey

Responding to Student Writing by Sommers and On Reflection by Yancey

Sommers’ essay talked about comments teachers write in students papers. One of the first things that caught my attention about this essay was when it was stated: “we comment on student writing because we believe that it is necessary for us to offer assistance to student writers when they are in the process of composing a text, rather than after the text has been completed.” When I read this, I thought about classes I’ve taken and where the professor has actually shared how it is hard for them to comment on unfinished drafts because they don’t know how could they comment on something that is not yet finished. The professor shared this with the purpose of letting us know that the comments we were going to be reading from the professor were more to help us develop our drafts rather than to make us change what we were trying to say. The professor knew that what we were trying to say was still being developed. Therefore, the professor encouraged us to develop our thoughts and ideas through the comments. I feel like comments on student’s drafts, without a conversation or explanation, could be confusing for a student because they won’t see the reasoning behind the comments and could feel lost when reading them.

In this essay it was also stated that: “sometimes the students do not understand the purpose behind their teachers’ comments and take these comments very literally. At other times students understand the comments but the teacher has misread the text and the comments, unfortunately, are not applicable.” This made me think about the importance of having a relationship with the students. I feel like when comments are dry on a paper without further conversation about them, they leave a lot of room for interpretation. It could never be clear what is the teacher trying to say with the comments or what is the student trying to say in their draft.

Sommers later stated that students admitted having great difficulty with the vague directives the teachers were giving them in their comments. The students stated that when a teacher writes in the margins or an end comment, “choose precise language,” or “think more about your audience,” revising becomes a guessing game.” I find it ironic how the teachers ask constantly for students to be specific about what they are saying yet their comments are vague. I feel like this does not help the student develop their writing or learn anything about it. Instead, it creates confusion and a desire to write what the teacher wants if the student is able to figure it out rather than to write something the student is content with.

Yancey’s essay is about many theories that focused their study on reflection when composing. I started reading this essay and started to just take in the information in very smoothly but when I read “reflection has played but a small role in this history of composing.” I found this statement very disappointing. As a writer, I value reflection. If I don’t reflect on anything that has to do with what I am writing, then what’s the purpose of me writing anything at all? In my experience as a writer, I’ve found that when I reflect about what I am writing I am able to not only develop my pieces further but I am able to learn more in the process. Whether I am learning about me as a writer or about what I am writing, I am still learning and that is valuable. I valued when it was stated: “When we reflect, we call upon the cognitive, the affective, the intuitive, putting these into play with each other: to help us understand how something completed looks later, how it compares with what has come before, how it seems stated or implicit criteria, our own, those of other.”


Overall, both article stated important topics when it came to writing. The comments that teachers write on students papers form great part of the composing process as well as the importance in reflection when composing.