All posts by Debra A. Bagnato

"Why the ‘Research Paper’ Isn’t Working" by Barbara Fister

Barbara Fister’s “Why the ‘Research Paper’ Isn’t Working” touches on something that gave me a very hard time when I first returned to school—citations. Until I got used to HOW I was supposed to cite things—meaning after I bought the better citation handbook by Diana Hacker—I was terrified to quote lest I did something wrong when I got to the “Works Cited” section, looming over me with all those specific rules, at the end. Fister’s love of the idea presented by Nick Carbone: “…students first learn to write using sources the way people outside academia do—drawing them into the text as journalists and essayists do” is shared by my former freshman self.  
However, had I not had to plunge forward and learn the different rules of citing, as well as the correct form of entering quotes (which had not changed very much since I was in high school—only the movement towards MLA) I would have had a terrible time as I moved into the classes where I was required to include annotated bibliographies and other more complex citations! I admit, the freshman me often skimmed the surface a little or did not include a piece that looked too threatening to cite, but again, it is a necessary evil and avoiding it completely until later might be a huge mistake. Fister’s suggestions about calling it a presentation are useful in that it makes for a more interesting approach to the assignment, and a slightly more cautious stroll into the citation arena could prove helpful to many students—even including a quick reference guide for them to follow. I had one wonderful professor who did that, after I had the Hacker book, but I know it was a life saver for many students in that class, and they kept it handy for other papers.

Practice makes everything become easier and the process, unfortunately, has to be learned. From recent experience I can attest that waiting does not make it any better.

The Popularity of Formulaic Writing (And Why We Need to Resist) by Mark Wiley

Who is this Jane Schaffer and why does she want to create a group of clones who can write ONLY as her approach dictates? I recognize and sympathize with the difficulties many students face as they begin writing more demanding, involved papers. More importantly, I feel the frustration of both the students---struggling to produce something effective on paper—and teachers as they begin the arduous task of placing a grade on that student’s product. While the teacher tries to write what they believe are encouraging comments, they may be shooting down what the student believed was their masterpiece! To instead, have a neat little packet which anyone can follow in easy-to-use steps, sounds like a life-saver and might very well be just that—initially. However, I agree wholeheartedly with Wiley’s contentions that once ALL students have the basic “formula’ down pat, many will have no idea how to progress (or digress) from this concrete set of writing rules. Because they have never had to experiment with their own process: brainstorming, finding their voice, organizing thoughts in their very individual style for the audience (the teacher) to appreciate and offer suggestions on, there can be no growth or understanding of how they-the writer--can improve. Without this experimentation with process—and often failure—the ability to move forward is simply not there. 

For some, the skills needed to complete their required writing projects might be enough. Those students might benefit by the implementation of Schaffer’s program as a tool to get them started in the right direction. Students who have a more creative desire to write individualistically might be able to progress beyond the simple formula and feel encouraged to do so. Other students who are comfortable only with following this step-by-step plan, might be challenged to go further, but will rely on the process they are comfortable with. Writing should be something all people can enjoy and feel confident about, particularly if they are referencing personal experience. Schaffer’s inclusion of instructions for that in her packet is unsettling to me, and Wiley is on point about a student’s dependency on her program. It stunts the growth of each writer’s process of discovery—of self and of their unique style. How can one develop or hear their voice if they are writing through the voice of formulaic steps, carefully adjusted to serve the masses? And without the voice, their growth as writers, and as people, never even begins so their desire and awareness of an audience (other than the teacher who assigned the paper) is nonexistent. The lovely intangibles each emerging writer embraces are reduced to following a rule book for structure and content thus putting an end to the joy of writing something where one hears their voice and actually likes it! No more creativity, no magic on paper. Better to follow Wiley’s suggestion and utilize this for young writers, to give them a solid base, and then say goodbye to Jane Schaffer forever!

Richard Straub’s “The Concept of Control in Teacher Response: Defining the Varieties of ‘Directive’ and ‘Facilitative’ Commentary”

I actually enjoyed this piece a great deal despite the misgivings I had initially when I saw the pages with corrections on them! Straub lays the groundwork simply; teachers should NOT take over a students’ paper as it then stops being the students work. It is difficult to know when one must stop when helping—and in a teacher’s case—guiding each student to a successful outcome. By making comments which do not fix or change the work but instead brainstorm with the student-writer, a teacher can: “…share responsibility with the writer” (225). 
This question of directive or facilitative responses is a tricky one; quite honestly, I still have trouble discerning one from the other. Straub, however, really makes great strides with the sample composition and the comments by well-known, respected teachers. The study illustrates how different teachers would respond to student writing, and which way or ways proved more effective for students (without writing for them).
I found all four very helpful, albeit different tools were offered, and different reactions presented to the piece itself. Peterson’s was a little directive but softened with facilitative words. White’s was even more facilitative and Gere’s was up on top. Peter Elbow’s was a whole other animal; he acted as a very encouraging reader, but probably not as much help as the student might have expected! However, he gave suggestions, as they all did, and the paper’s course was then placed back in the student’s hands—where it belonged.

None of these four gave strictly directive commentary, which is encouraging as it displays the trend towards allowing students to make their own choices in their writing matters. Straub notes one important fact: “…the optimum style of response for any teacher is going to be a function of her personality and teaching style” (247). In the end, it all comes down to the interaction between the teacher and student, and each teacher’s ability to know when to guide and when to stop. The models illustrated in this paper by Straub through his study, serve as excellent tools for teacher’s to model their own comments. The outcome is sure to benefit all involved in the writing process.

"Looking Back as We Look Ahead" by Kathleen Blake Yancey

Kathleen Blake Yancey, a voice I am coming to enjoy hearing very much, once again reminds us of the numerous changes that have occurred in the field of writing assessment since the first steps towards improvement on the old, stilted methods of the 1950’s and before.
She both reveals more details of the three waves, as she clarifies their distinct methodologies, as well as the way they do overlap each other. I believe the metaphor of “waves” creates the visualization, making it more powerful as one thinks of the meshing of ideas and often the overpowering and eradication.
I was a young student during both the first and second waves, and recall some of the more simplistic tests as well as the varying styles of teacher feedback. As a returning student, I was delighted at the new assessment tools in use, particularly portfolios, which is also used in other departments outside of English. My children were younger student during the early days of the Third Wave, so some of these transitions were not brand new to me. However, they were new for me as a student, and I immediately recognized the value of portfolios over a multiple choice test on reading!
Yancey also speaks about reflection as a necessity in preparing one’s portfolio and that is what makes the portfolio experience so dynamic. In the undergrad program when I was assigned to prepare my portfolio, I followed the outline carefully, as I had never done this before and wanted to do it correctly. While I was putting the items together and making it look like something one might want to view, I found myself taking a few hours reflecting on what I was creating out of what I had done. And that was before I knew about Yancey or reflection! The outcome was delightful as I enjoyed the stroll through my work as much as the task of preparing it for presentation to my advisors. The short piece I was required to write as the portfolios companion piece was easy and very upbeat, so my portfolio conference was a positive, enjoyable experience. Also, the review of my work proved beneficial to me for the balance of the semester.

Getting back to the beginning or First Wave, Paul Diederich was really an impressive pioneer. The problem throughout all three waves seems to be money. That, as in many other aspects of life, underlies the efforts made by so many, including the model by Peter Elbow and Belanoff (now defunct)—despite the improvements that could be made, and the far reach they would bear, if it is not cheap enough, it cannot be used. Nonetheless, all the ideas—good or bad—have led to improvements that are implemented here today. 

Yancey’s "Writing Assessment in the Early Twenty-First Century" and Bean’s "Using Rubrics to Develop Grading Criteria"

I really enjoyed Yancey’s piece, “Writing Assessment in the Early Twenty-First Century.” It seems that I find her voice very easy to listen to as she explains the particulars of assessing a student’s writing. The idea of becoming both hero and villain when in this position creates an amusing, and accurate visual, at least for me. Her concern over how this challenge can be both met and overcome is very refreshing as was the reminder about both the importance and use of reflection in writing.

The brief, yet concise, history of the “three waves” of writing assessment helped clarify the various changes along the way, including rubrics and portfolios which have been integrated smoothly, and proven advantageous additions. I also enjoyed the information on “writing-across-the-curriculum” or WAC programs (mainly because my knowledge of such programs is limited). I felt the proposal to include digital technologies in writing as far back as 2008 in their program is evidence of their revision process as well as of healthy progress.

The model I found most impressive was the one at University of Kentucky—this one piqued my interest. The five outcomes they used were: ethos, structure, analysis, evidence and conventions. These were “…designed into a four-point analytic scoring guide that was used to see how students fared on each of the five criteria”(177) based on various scales of development. The findings were positive, and produced target areas to further develop such as critical thinking skills. Overall, this seemed a very successful program.

Once again, the global and local issues were addressed, and the VSA exam, that a student might be paid to take, seems a waste of time for student development as well as aiding in curricula. Yancey’s references to reflection are sadly true—one needs TIME to effectively utilize reflection in their writing process. I know I often wish I had that time to truly think about what I wanted to say instead of having to write it all down in such a flurry.

John C. Bean’s “In Using Rubrics to Develop and Apply Grading Criteria” was a very simple breakdown of several types of Rubrics, including examples of the different types. I never realized the sea of contention over grading students writing fairly, and the numerous methods tried by teachers over the years. Probably because I was the student and usually felt comfortable with whatever was written on my papers, I never gave it much thought. Of course, now that I am thinking about being the teacher, I am giving it a great deal of thought, so I find all of this very beneficial information.

The history, Diederich’ research and its effect on group assessments of writing was very interesting, especially because it also enabled individuals to grade papers more fairly. The overview of rubrics was quite helpful to me as I only was introduced to them when my younger children would bring them home from school. I tried to grasp them fully, and often wondered if I was getting them right. When I returned to school myself, there they were again, and I hoped I was fulfilling all the areas as was expected.

Reading about them like this was very simplified so I liked it. The generic rubric I am more familiar with but have seen the Task-Specific one on occasion. Now that I understand how this can simplify things for the teacher as they grade, they seem less ominous. I think the task-specific ones can be wonderful as long as they aren’t overwhelming for the student. Between both essays, I came away with a renewed interest in portfolios, which I find helpful (though I like to have enough time to prepare one and to write my reflection of this process) and a new interest in Rubrics, as they appear to be a very helpful tool for both teachers (for grading) and students to incorporate into their writing process. At last, using a Rubric seems less complicated then solving a Rubik’s cube!

Debbie’s Vignette Rough Draft

Here is a rough draft of my vignette; I am still testing out the two "tools" I want to use, so will talk with you guys as we peer review in class. I guess I need some feedback before I go plunging ahead with something and hate it--will explain my concerns and hopefully, everyone's input will help me and my game plan! It is a tiny bit longer then the original time of 3:45, but I am trying to keep it under 5:00 maximum, with light music (perhaps?) to play behind the "storyteller"--let me know what you think in class! Oh, and Devon, your Draft #2 Is wonderful!! And Laura, yours is absolutely amazing!!!
       Once upon a time, there was a little girl who was sweet, and sunny, and very shy. She was sensitive to people’s feelings, and might cry when she listened to music, or felt someone’s sadness, or even their joy! It seemed her emotions would overwhelm her at times. She loved to sing to her dolls and make up wonderful stories for them, usually when she thought no one was looking. One special day, her Mom took her to dance school and everyone thought she would surely be afraid to dance onstage. But this little girl fell in love with ballet! Andwith the energy of the theatre. Here was a wonderful place to express all those emotions which nobody understood she was feeling.

When she got to perform on the big stage, she was mesmerized by the lights, the music, and the audience—all so alive and exciting. It was the first time she felt the “magic” and whenever she performed, there it was, again and again. The music, the lights, the curtains, and—most of all--the energy of the audience, waiting to be entertained. It was all part of an incomparable magic and she was part of it too! She loved to be performing and the only thing she liked as much, was writing it all down when she got back home, as fast as her emotions poured out on the page, so that she could remember the feelings of these beautiful moments. And it would come to life again, each time she read those special pages.

            As this little girl grows up, she plans to study and perform as long as she possibly can. Her dream? To earn a dual degree in Theatre and English—her two favorites—but to perform as long as she can create that stage “magic.” And earn a living doing it! After that, she would complete any other degrees (if needed), and go forth with her plan of teaching one—or both—of her two favorites.  But, the day comes, sooner than planned, to put those dreams on a shelf to make room—and enough time—for other things.

The other things? “Grown-up things” like marriage and babies that bring a new, different kind of magic. Sometimes it is so very wonderful, and other times, quite hard. But dance is still her old, reliable “cure”, there to help release some energy—good or bad—and, of course, writing it all down, as fast as her emotions pour out on the page—so she can always remember and make sense of all these different new experiences. It is also her special way to thank God for the beauty, the laughter, the joy of her babies, the daily challenges, and even the struggles.

            Finally one day, that same little girl—very grown up with almost grown-up children, returns to school to earn her degree. Dance is still her wonderful release, and she loves those courses, but knows she must decide on her major. It has to be something she loves, and wants to do for the rest of her life. A passion she can share with students, like the shows she did for years with the students at her children’s schools! Music is a thought, but she knows that Theatre and English—her soul-mates—have to be the choice. English means writing and theatre has movement---this will be the perfect fit! But oh my—so much work! Sometimes not enough time to write anything down, as fast as any emotions might pour out on the page--except each new writing assignment...

            BUT, that is when a great new magic appears. It flows from her fingers, sometimes writing on a pad, other times as she types on the computer. The words—her words—are painting a picture. Much the same as painting scenery for a production, her words are making magicby coming to life in front of her eyes! The emotions she feels are as heightened as playing a difficult role or performing in her favorite ballet—the excitement and energy are unmatched as she stares at this new phenomenon. Has this magic always been there? Or did she just forget that she can do this!

The words are real. They are life, telling a story and reaching people. Simply discovered through an assignment, and then another--yet they are her words speaking clearly. Words of rage or sorrow; words of beauty and joy. But words creating something wonderful for someone else to read and embrace. A different audience yes, but one that will laugh or cry and feel exhilarated or cleansed by the magic she wrote on the page. And she had always held this magic, but never really believed in it until she was moved by reading her own words. Words she wrote as fast as she could, so all the emotions in her heart and head would be on the page, now to share with others.

Oh, in case you hadn’t guessed, the little girl who loved to sing and dance was me. And the magic did appear as I was writing an assignment, late at night, hunched over the computer with a cold cup of tea on the desk. I embraced that moment then, and still do every time it happens…

"Teaching Composition in the Multilingual World" and "Tutoring ESl Students: Issues and Options"

While reading Paul Kei Matsuda’s essay, “Teaching Composition in the Multilingual World”, I felt a sense of his pride in the great strides made by this specialized area of language within the larger, well-established field of composition studies. The history he provided of second-language learning was quite interesting for me as my knowledge of this field is somewhat limited. I had no idea that these programs were started after WWII, meaning they were in full swing by the time I was in elementary school. His breakdown of the various labels given this class, and its students, made me think about the potential to stigmatize such a department. I also thought about how incredibly difficult it must be to learn how to write when you are only learning how to speak a new language! When I have tried (repeatedly) to become fluent in Italian, simply to be able to speak freely to all the lovely friends my brother brings us to visit when we are with him in Firenze, try as I might, the best I can do is understand their conversations better (until they get excited) and utter a few practiced responses. My comprehension is better but my "speaking freely" remains problematic. More importantly, I can barely write a simple note (thank you or greetings) without carefully checking ALL my notes, and then pray that they can understand my message. The idea of writing an entire essay in a language other than my own is rather terrifying! Which brings me to my other observation about the author; there is a strong suggestion that monolingual Americans (such as myself) will soon need to broaden our linguistic skills as WE will be the minority in our globalized world. As a result of this globalization, including the influx of so many international students in the USA, Mastuda states the following: “The question is no longer limited to how to prepare students from around the world to write like traditional students from North America; it is time to start thinking more seriously about how to prepare monolingual students to write like the rest of the world” (50). He makes an excellent point, but I could not help but notice a feeling of bias towards the traditional American student and their natural ability to write, with ease, in their native language. In truth, that ability is no different than any student of a given culture’s ability to excel when writing in their native tongue, and, as I mentioned, it is difficult for most anyone to master a second language. I do agree that American students will have to step up their single-language limitations and become more comfortable with multi-lingual exploration, as these ESL students presently do, in order to keep up in today’s globalized world.

“Tutoring ESL Students: Issues and Options” by Muriel Harris and Tony Silva was a delightful and informative piece dealing with the same topic. I very much enjoyed the explanations on tutors’ concerns and where they must draw the line when they help their ESL students with writing projects. Often, we all have to stop ourselves from “fixing” everything when helping our friends or children with a paper. The temptation to correct rather than point out problem areas is a strong one, but must be ignored if we are to help the student develop their writing and revision skills. I was happy to see their suggestion about praising the strong parts of a paper first; it reminded me of our other readings which also discuss revision approaches and teacher’s comments.  The explanation of global vs. local errors was very helpful information as it clarified that area of writing concerns (I wouldn’t have been very sure which was which…). “Rules” are deemed wise and suggested to serve as a guideline—a needed replacement--for the intuition of native speakers. Teachers are expected to “tell” students what they need to do in many cultures, so the authors’ suggestion for tutors is to lay out a plan (for students) of areas that the tutor can help with, and then explain how students can utilize those recommendations. Most important is the suggestion for tutors to tell students that: “…it is unrealistic for them to expect to be able to write like native speakers of English…” (531). When writing in a second language, one’s accent will peek through, as it does in speech. These authors also explain it is more helpful to work with students from their earliest drafts and to then remember to deal with one problem at a time. The list of common ESL errors is very useful for anyone trying to help a fellow student or proofread their own work, as well as a must-have for ESL tutors. Idiomatic expressions are evidently a well-liked form of language, particularly to second-language learners, and encouraged as a tool. However, proofreading and reading aloud--better left for the tutors’ than the ESL students; their accent will always come through in their writing but that is a reality to be embraced, not discarded. I really enjoyed this paper and felt the authors’ strong sense of commitment to their project and its continued success.

Writers, Revising, and Then, More Revising

                Nancy Sommers 1981 essay, “Revision Strategies of Student Writers and Experienced Adult Writers”, though somewhat dated, is a very thorough descriptor of revision for all writers. The principles are the same as current thinking as are the student responses. I especially liked her references to writing as being modeled on speech (the art of rhetoric?) and I agree wholeheartedly that revision is often viewed as a separate part of the writing process—almost an afterthought. However, because writing was originally an art prepared for oratorical use, where one could not reverse their words once uttered, revision needed to occur before the words were spoken---within the composition. As Sommers states: “What is impossible in speech is revision…” (379). Writers, can enjoy the luxury of this process until their project sounds as they imagined and expresses what their intent demands.

            The reduction of revision as a major part of the writing process is, evidently, a common mistake made by many students. To me, the idea is ludicrous as I revise almost anythingI write—including emails and greeting cards—until I get the writing to honestly reflect what I hoped to say. Most pieces are always in revision until they must be handed in or submitted.  Sadly, even supposedly finished pieces are victims of my harsh revision (or at least some minor “tweaking”). I am just eternally grateful for Microsoft Word and computers…
From a case study done at Boston University, Sommers’ provides samples of student definitions of revising. Though many of my fellow students share those opinions, an equal amount know the importance of working through their entire piece to improve clarity, organization, and argumentation. Sommers believes that only through revision can one find the true argument. I personally agree as this has proven true on several occasions when, after hours of research and conflicting thoughts, I have grown away from my main point. But, as one revises and cleans up the ball of confusion (Temptations) they have created, the original argument—in all its conviction--is rediscovered and hopefully, proven. If not entirely, more revision usually solves the problem. Sommers’ experienced writers echo this philosophy, and some other ones far more advanced then I employ, but her student writers are not using this process in the way it is needed. Of course, her student writers are probably my age, considering when this study took place, so perhaps they have learned to utilize the benefits of revision by now…

Donald Murray's "Teach the Motivating Force of Revision" follows the same theme. He suggests that teachers write along with students which seems to make sense and serves as a model for the students to follow. I like his mentality for students to find new meanings and make discoveries in their writing. I am uncertain, that all students are willing to find those meanings but I applaud his ideas. The concept of "internal revision" I especially like--I think I do a lot of that myself and it is a benefit for students to utilize in much the same way as Sommers' advice! His main point that struck home with me was that teachers should be teaching revision as part of the writing process. If students believe something is a minor afterthought they will treat it that way. Now, because I had read the other essay before I checked the revised reading list, I will post some thoughts I had on that one too.
 The voices behind “Teacher-Writers: Then, Now, and Next” focus on the teacher as writer and how this practice enhances the teacher-student relationship. This current essay reviews the development of the teacher-writer from the early phases, through the research period, and today with teachers as writers advocating intellectualism and high pressure issues. At its inception in the 1970’s and 80’s, the idea was to promote teachers as writers to promote pedagogy and both encourage and pioneer the writing workshop. Teachers were expected to ‘walk the talk’ (178) and be on the same page (no pun intended) as their students. As time moved on, teachers became researchers during the 1990’s and 2000’s. Today—advocacy, as teachers fight and write for a specific cause and create a strong voice for activism and resistance.
Teacher-writers situate themselves among other same-minded individuals where all study and engage in similar groups where the emphasis is on inquiry, agency and advocacy of this, and other, processes. This involvement supports the life of teacher as writer, and research does show a change in perspectives that form teaching practices. This makes sense as teachers are essentially becoming the “student” as writer-researcher’s, taking them back to their earlier days of writing. As teacher-writers, they too seek approval, face deadlines, and are rewarded by the success of a finished product. But where is it all going?

In today’s society, teachers are often being put down, which makes this action all the more purposeful. Teachers as spokespersons pose an important step towards recognition of the benefits of writing. The need for a strong voice is answered with teacher-advocates and the “power of the pen” has been proven superior to that of the sword repeatedly. Teacher-writers can promote writing as a valuable skill, a necessary tool, and a catharsis using theirinformed voice.
The final project! I have been throwing my idea around all week as it seems to be changing before my eyes. But at least I know what I want to use! I love Martha's Voki; I already played with that and she will introduce (at the very least) my piece. I also want to use Animoto for the body. My hope is to use Voki to begin AND then shift into Animoto  to keep it moving.Also, I love Laura's idea of Writing Matters--it is perfect!

Very Confused by Digital Tools…

As I revisited all of the digital tools which appeared so inviting at first glance (with the exception of the one which would not open..) I am now more confused than when I started! The other day I checked out several of these sites, and signed up for a couple of them. Today I found some other ones I really liked and signed up for those too. Unfortunately, all of this has distanced me further from what I would like to do for my contribution to our final project! I was intrigued by Chatterpix, and Online Image Editor gave me some ideas as well. The other idea involves Pic Monkey and Haiku Deck but those may be a bit of a stretch. My hope was to reenact the actual "Aha" moment, with (perhaps) an emphasis using sound and animation. In short, bring it to life and maybe have a few bars of background music; make the point memorable and lend a laugh too. I will try and iron out exactly where I want to go during the upcoming week (I hope) and be able to give you all a clearer picture of what I have in mind. These are all quite amazing tools but as I am unfamiliar with their use, they are also intimidating to this older student.

Three Exceptional Pieces on Writing Comments for Students

John C. Bean’s “Writing Comments on Student Papers” is a very straightforward piece which addresses the immeasurable importance of sensitivity and constructive criticism when in the position of “paper­-grader.” This positive reinforcement of students can only serve as a tool for improved skills as well as incentive for success. I especially enjoyed the section on “mitigated criticism” which is explained quite thoroughly. The combination of both positive and negative elements, presented in an encouraging yet succinct manner, seems a very honest and productive method for this task. Students are praised for their strong choices while being reminded of their weaker areas that need attention. The approach clarifies, for the student, where revision is needed while praising the sections that exhibit strength. I also was impressed by the concept of teacher as coach (instruct and encourage) and later judge.
The strategy for teachers ­­placing the comments on a later draft as opposed to each rough copy ­­makes sense as does the hope this will prompt revision. The list of possible marginal comments, and sample paragraphs included, I found very helpful. The author runs workshops on this process of grading/ commenting on student writing, so these examples are worthwhile tools. It does appear that grammar truly is considered far less important than one would think when it is referred to as a “lower-­order concern.” Because grammar does seem to be a recurring situation in many cases. “student-driven” corrections demanded by teachers is completely acceptable. Also, the refusal to grade papers until said student has cleaned up these errors, is fully within the scope of reason. Stylistic problems, however, are not so easily dismissed.
Wordiness is another problem, and one I can relate to far too easily. I generally have to eliminate a great deal of my original writing to create anything free of excessive language. Choppy sentences are hard for readers to follow and need to be avoided--­­students have to try and smooth their writing for their intended audience. The review of all these marvelous skills, organized and clarified by the author, is an invaluable reference I may turn to ­­hopefully ­­one day as I grade papers. I rather enjoyed this useful and informative essay.
“Response to Writing” written by Richard Beach and John Friedrich, is a very similar piece which also supplies vast amounts of research, innovative methods, and outcomes. A somewhat older work geared towards a larger range of students, this essay is filled with statistics from various research projects on the same topic. These studies found that:”...the nature and quality of the teacher’s feedback during the composing process is critical to whether students revise” (223). This research shows how essential it is for students to understand a teacher’s feedback in order to utilize the recommendations in a positive manner. The revision process can then be a source of substantive change towards a higher quality of writing.
The section on teachers misjudging a student’s writing is reflective of Peter Elbow’s piece and his suggestions to know students as people in an effort to objectively and constructively read their works without bias. Also, the stress in this discussion on knowing one’s audience reminded me of our discussion last week, and Martha’s knowledgeable reply. The techniques for feedback in this study are consistent with the other piece--most teacher’s comments are deemed too vague, inconsistent and just not very helpful. Elbow’s “reader-­based feedback” (226) is referenced as a method of positive reinforcement; I felt that concept is the equivalent of the “Mitigated Criticism” discussed by Bean in the previous essay.
The majority of students:”... prefer comments that explain why something is good or bad about their writing” (226). As for peer review, the point made in regard to student’s effectiveness is quite true; I often am uncertain how much is proper to say when in this position. Training for this task would probably be productive as well. I found the trend towards teacher conferences to discuss writing issues more personal and a wise choice as well as the online conferencing tools. In retrospect, both essays offered many excellent processes that have been proven effective as per research. Hopefully one day soon I will find myself in a position to utilize my new-found knowledge!
The final essay: ”One Approach to Guiding Peer Response” by Kim Jaxon, is an answer to my suggestion for student training for this task! The author is quite thorough with her instructions for successful peer responses, and the process makes a lot of sense.  I especially liked the clarity of this author and her inclusion of both questions and an example feedback statement. The only drawback to this process is that it involves a great deal of extra writing for both parties.

Assuming that all students in the class have the same assignment, both the initial essay (with its accompanying research) and the requirements listed for a successful peer review would be the first matter of business. Then, before submission, carefully writing a memo for the teacher as well as peer reviewer, AND proofreading the original assignment, both memos andrequirements for the student reviewer. Wow! That is thorough but requires a lot more preparation time. It does sounds wonderful but only if all class members share this enthusiasm, and will treat the peer review with sensitivity and respect. If so, I think it’s a terrific process to implement in all writing classes.