Waiting to Exhale

The time has arrived when we prepare ourselves to exhale. Not because it was a movie from the 90’s with Whitney Houston but because the wait is about to expire. It was only yesterday (in my head) that Dr. Zamora asked us why we write. Though it is a great question, I still struggle with my answer. From the beginning of this class, I always knew writing is a genre within art but lately it has become a kaleidoscope of colorful words. Having the ability to work with other students with similar artistic taste has broaden my senses.

Related image This is daily advice I used to give my students. As time progressed, they all derived at his/her own meaning. I guess that’s the point of teaching. To plant the seed and allow your students to develop and grow in the direction that suits them with your consistent support. Thank you Dr. Zamora because that’s exactly what you have been doing. Now you would like us to continue our development to form a masterpiece (work of art).


This is a song about accepting yourself for who you are and what you can do. Don’t focus on what you cannot control. This is not only for women but one of my favorite songs.

It has been awhile since I’ve worked in a group for a major project. I think Emily described it well when she mentioned having certain self work standards with OCD traits. It can be a struggle but a worthwhile self- challenge. When you have fun and encouraging classmates like Nives mentioned, the comfort does exist and it is definitely motivating.

Related image   Since we only have three classes remaining to figure out a theme and to create a final piece. My mission is to take from every individual what I have learned from them and their experience because believe it or not I have noticed real talent. Related image

I’m not sure if my ideas would make sense but here it goes.

  1. Why can’t we record everything that we plan on doing. Like behind the scenes, discussions at the table, people leaving for food, stressed out facial expressions, the way we play music to relax us, Dr. Zamora’s pep talk, papers all over the table, scholars name appearing on the screen, red pens on table, jokes/laughter filling the room. It’;s raw footage but it’s the genuine side of us. If we can cut and paste to create a form of table talk. Send some of us out to video interview other students about their red pen experience (with a signed waiver for written experience). From that we can create any form of doom from the red pen, maybe Red Pen Mysteries/Chronicles.  We can continue adding as the months progress. In the end, we share each share a negative moment and how we found our silver lining.
  2. .  Why can’t we create a Writers Motivational Journal with special quotes we have learned from the readings and/or our own. Possibly 10 pages each with a design, or a picture to color and with literary advice.
  3. Or a mini skit of similar to HBO’s Taxi Confessions. Ours will be Writer’s Confessions.
  4. Create a book/planner/manual for students, teachers, parents, tutors. This will have tips, techniques, definitions, literary quotes and explanations, calendars, motivational pictures to prevent stress and writers block. In order for this to work we all need to write at least 3 of our own strengths and weaknesses. This activity will help us fill in particular gaps to truly support one another.

Image result for strong team team work weakest link quotes

What I do understand, is that it’s our time to be brave. Maybe this around it could help me exhale after answering the same question…Why do you write? 

Thoughts On Group Project

Propelling Kids To New Heights

I haven’t participated in a group project since my undergrad days, so I am a bit out of touch with the dynamics and my computer skills are lacking, though they are much better now than when the semester started, but this sounds like a fun and interesting undertaking. I think the brainstorming phase is the hardest part of any project because we all have such great ideas and narrowing it down to one will be difficult. 

Having been out of the classroom for so many years and not having had any teaching experience, I was unsure of what I would get out of this class and was nervous about whether I would be able to meaningfully participate in the discussions. Thankfully, the articles were so interesting and thought provoking that I had formed enough opinions and insights to contribute to our exchange of concerns and ideas relating to the teaching and advancement of writing in classrooms. I am also grateful for having such a wonderful professor and classmates who enriched our discussions with a wide range of writing and cultural experiences.  By sharing your classroom practices and stories about interactions with your students, I have been brought up to date on the state of education in our schools. And I am happy to say that with teachers and aides as deeply caring and dedicated as you, the children are in good hands.

It’s no wonder you all (especially Linda) love Peter Elbow and John Bean.  Like many of you, they were once educators and through years of teaching, grading, commenting, encouraging, and interacting with their students, they came up with observations and strategies that can bring out the best in both students and teachers.  Research from all of the articles we studied shows that educators should be moving away from most of the old, traditional practices used in teaching writing and that classrooms should be more student-centered. A common thread in all of the readings is that kids are a lot smarter and intuitive than we give them credit for, and I agree that removing as many obstacles as possible that hinder creativity is the wave of the future.

But enough with the research. I’m getting tired of reading about what scholars and researchers think about how to teach writing. I’d like to hear what students have to say on the subject.  I’m curious to know what they think about comments on their papers, formulaic writing, high and low stakes writing, rubrics, grading practices, voice in composition, etc. With this in mind, I like Emily’s idea of an open mic night. I also propose creating a questionnaire or survey using topics discussed in class and asking students who respond to them to be guests on a series of podcasts moderated by members of ENG 5020. I would like to see what teachers and students agree and disagree on. Having this discussion in a neutral, friendly setting would be a very eye-opening experience and would give each insight into the struggles of the other. I could see much to be learned from an honest and sincere exchange of opinions and ideas.

Like I have said before, I am not a classroom teacher and I may never be one, but I like the idea of tutoring. But before I help even one person, I need to know what circumstances are optimal for motivating students to want to write at a higher level. From all the articles I have read for this class as well as research I have done on my own, I have gained plenty of background knowledge in writing theory, however, the practice component eludes me. I need to actually sit down with someone and help him or her with their writing in order to experience how theory becomes practice. But before this happens, I want to equip myself with the best tools and learn how to use them effectively in order to help others become better writers. With that said, I would like this group project to further enlighten me on the struggles both teachers and students face when it comes to putting thoughts on paper. 

Blog #10

The article Tutoring ESL Students: Issues and Options, by Muriel Harris and Tony Silva, made a distinction between tutoring practices that would be applied to a native English-speaking student and an ESL student.  Although there are many similarities in the way both categories of students can be supported in the writing process, it is important to note the differences to be an effective tutor.  For example, global errors should be prioritized for both and local errors should be addressed afterward. Restated, focusing on revising (rhetorical) needs should be prioritized above editing (linguistic) concerns.  Additionally, both groups of students benefit greatly when approaching the process by implementing planning, writing, and revising.

                This being said, ESL students are likely to need more support in generating ideas and planning, as well as realistic strategies for placing ideas into the appropriate rhetorical structure and editing (global and local needs).  Before working on one or two points in need of correction, in each session, it is important to acknowledge something that has been done well in the paper.  A student’s self-esteem influences their success in the writing process and therefore, it is essential to recognize strengths as well as offer guidance on how to improve on weaknesses.  Corrections should begin with that which “interferes with the intended reader’s understanding of the text”.  The tutor should spend one or more sessions on this objective before moving on to sentence level concerns.  Unlike native English speakers, ESL students may not have an intuition as to why there is a problem with a given structure.  It is likely that an ESL student will benefit from having rules explained to them in order to avoid making the same error in the future.  When working with intermediate and advanced level ESL students, I have found that the same rule is often violated multiple times in the same paper.  What appears to be 50 local errors may in fact only be six grammar rule violations: If the tutor explains the rule to correct one error, the student is given the opportunity to learn by identifying other errors in the paper, which can also be corrected by the same new knowledge.  Learning and applying new rules is time consuming, so the tutor should be realistic about how much new information can be absorbed by the student and applied in one session.

                Cultural awareness also helps the tutor to help the ESL student.  This is possible if the tutor works with only one or two different cultural groups.  From the perspective of linguistics, it is helpful to be aware of common errors that are made when transferring knowledge from the L1 of a specific language to the target language of English (L2).  There are other cultural factors that have an impact on the tutorial session as well: Body language, including eye contact and the amount of space people maintain between themselves, is relevant.  The relationship with time also varies from culture to culture.  If a culture has a loose relationship with time, the tutor may have to accommodate the student’s cultural assumptions initially.  Obviously, if this cultural difference dramatically impacts the learning process, a discussion about time, lateness, or showing up may need to be addressed.

 The article, Tutoring ESL Students: Issues and Options, is an excellent resource to serve as a starting point for English tutors who want to expand their skill set, beyond native English speakers, by offering their support to English language learners. The advice given about setting priorities, implementing important approaches when offering support, resources, and cultural sensitivity was valuable and concisely presented.

Using Rubrics to Develop and Apply Grading Criteria” by John Bean, is an excellent guide for helping teachers to select an appropriate rubric style for their grading purposes, to serve as a standard for peer review, and/or as tool for student self-evaluation.

Bean advises teachers to “communicate grading criteria to students at the outset”.   After having been a student for many years, I appreciate the fairness behind this advice.  Knowing the standards by which one will be evaluated, at the outset, makes one feel much more secure in moving forward in the learning process.  As a pedagogue, I understand that involving mature students in the process of contributing to the standards of evaluation, or altering them, may result in the student being more involved in the production of the assignment itself. 

Diedrich’s experiment, in 1974, gave birth to a scale that utilizes five criteria of good writing for evaluation purposes: Ideas, organization, sentence structure, wording, and voice.  Although this is a very good model, it is not the only one.  The evaluation style of rubrics can be analytic, holistic, generic, task specific, grid, or non-grid.  Bean recommends coupling the results of the rubric evaluation with the instructor’s comments and/or a holistic grade before deriving a final score.

General rubrics, such as Diedrich’s model, can be applied to many writing assignments; however, rubrics can also be designed or adjusted to meet the specifications of a particular assignment.  Additionally, there are different methods that can be used to describe performance levels.  A step-down approach can be adopted or a gridless rubric containing the instructor’s central questions, and the point value for each section.  Various rubric styles are suited to best meet the evaluation needs of specific disciplines, as well as specific assignments within a given discipline.  Using rubrics as an evaluation tool and/or a tool for feedback, enables the teacher to efficiently give students focused and productive feedback and streamlines the need for excessive commentary.