All posts by Marykate's Master Blog

Researching Headaches and Quick Fix Mistakes

Why the “Research Paper” Isn’t Working
By Barbara Fister

I enjoyed the article by Fister. Fister begins by discussing her return from the 4Cs and makes the statement that composition teachers and librarians are trying to instill skills students will need after college, however she questions if we are simply trying to “get them through college”. She also references the severity of correct citations, asking:  “Is the whole point to get students to confess what they don't know?” (Fister) This part particularly got me thinking about other articles we read this semester regarding students catering to the teacher. How when the teacher asks questions, it’s for the student to answer accordingly based off of the teacher’s preconceived idea of what the answer should be.
She also discusses how the research paper is supposed to original and creative, yet students need research and other people to back up their ideas as evidence. As a middle school teacher, we require our students to write a Thesis Research paper as a culmination of their middle school experience. I also find that I struggle with pulling out the creativity in student’s writing. They are so concerned about plagiarizing, that they cite everything. I also find that they take the lazy approach and use the evidence as their ideas. They almost forget that they need ideas of their own and the evidence only supports that. Fister also states, “The other and, sadly, more frequent reference desk winch-making moment involves a student needing help finding sources for a paper he’s already written” (Fister). This is another problem I encounter with my students. They do not see the value in using evidence to form their opinions, they only view it as a criteria to include in their paper. I also agree with her sentiment that clearly what we have been doing has not been working. It’s time for a change to figure out what that change should be. Can we get our students these skills in a more meaningful way?

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

Wily begins by stating that he discuss, with high school teachers, what colleges expect of writers and states, “While I enjoy these conversations, I am disturbed that too many teachers are looking for quick fixes for students' writing problems.” I find this to be ironic since he then launches into an explanation of the Jane Schaffer approach to writing, which is formulaic and appears to be a “quick fix” if I’ve ever seen one. Shaffer’s approach also appears to be one in which the students are dependent on the evidence. Even though she discusses commenting on the evidence, it sounds as if the students are just required to explain it, rather than be creative. While I disagree with the formulaic approach presented here, I understand that it is not the ONLY strategy and that there are others to be explored. I also agree that as a teacher, it is enticing to have a set of materials at the ready to use to teach writing.

I also agree that structure is important. I cannot remember writing classes I took in undergrad, so I cannot draw on my experience writing papers there. However, I can relate to how I teach in the middle school. As much as I rebelled against Shaffer’s approach, I do believe that students, in the early grades, need to learn structure in order to gain the liberty to deviate from it. We use a formula called RACE in order to structure each body paragraph. The students must restate their idea in support of their claim, “answer” a.k.a. Explain your ideas, cite evidence to support your ideas, and elaborate on how your evidence proves your idea. I find that this structure allows students the opportunity to express their ideas and then use evidence. However, I still find that students focus too much and just supplying evidence to have it for their grade rather than using it correctly.  This ties into Fister’s ideas about finding other methods to incorporate structure into our writing classrooms.

Researching Headaches and Quick Fix Mistakes

Why the “Research Paper” Isn’t Working
By Barbara Fister

I enjoyed the article by Fister. Fister begins by discussing her return from the 4Cs and makes the statement that composition teachers and librarians are trying to instill skills students will need after college, however she questions if we are simply trying to “get them through college”. She also references the severity of correct citations, asking:  “Is the whole point to get students to confess what they don't know?” (Fister) This part particularly got me thinking about other articles we read this semester regarding students catering to the teacher. How when the teacher asks questions, it’s for the student to answer accordingly based off of the teacher’s preconceived idea of what the answer should be.
She also discusses how the research paper is supposed to original and creative, yet students need research and other people to back up their ideas as evidence. As a middle school teacher, we require our students to write a Thesis Research paper as a culmination of their middle school experience. I also find that I struggle with pulling out the creativity in student’s writing. They are so concerned about plagiarizing, that they cite everything. I also find that they take the lazy approach and use the evidence as their ideas. They almost forget that they need ideas of their own and the evidence only supports that. Fister also states, “The other and, sadly, more frequent reference desk winch-making moment involves a student needing help finding sources for a paper he’s already written” (Fister). This is another problem I encounter with my students. They do not see the value in using evidence to form their opinions, they only view it as a criteria to include in their paper. I also agree with her sentiment that clearly what we have been doing has not been working. It’s time for a change to figure out what that change should be. Can we get our students these skills in a more meaningful way?

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

Wily begins by stating that he discuss, with high school teachers, what colleges expect of writers and states, “While I enjoy these conversations, I am disturbed that too many teachers are looking for quick fixes for students' writing problems.” I find this to be ironic since he then launches into an explanation of the Jane Schaffer approach to writing, which is formulaic and appears to be a “quick fix” if I’ve ever seen one. Shaffer’s approach also appears to be one in which the students are dependent on the evidence. Even though she discusses commenting on the evidence, it sounds as if the students are just required to explain it, rather than be creative. While I disagree with the formulaic approach presented here, I understand that it is not the ONLY strategy and that there are others to be explored. I also agree that as a teacher, it is enticing to have a set of materials at the ready to use to teach writing.

I also agree that structure is important. I cannot remember writing classes I took in undergrad, so I cannot draw on my experience writing papers there. However, I can relate to how I teach in the middle school. As much as I rebelled against Shaffer’s approach, I do believe that students, in the early grades, need to learn structure in order to gain the liberty to deviate from it. We use a formula called RACE in order to structure each body paragraph. The students must restate their idea in support of their claim, “answer” a.k.a. Explain your ideas, cite evidence to support your ideas, and elaborate on how your evidence proves your idea. I find that this structure allows students the opportunity to express their ideas and then use evidence. However, I still find that students focus too much and just supplying evidence to have it for their grade rather than using it correctly.  This ties into Fister’s ideas about finding other methods to incorporate structure into our writing classrooms.

Writing Theory & Practice 2016-11-14 20:06:00

Bi, Butch, and Bar Dyke: Pedagogical Performances of Class, Gender, and Sexuality
By: Gibson, Marinara, and Meem

After reading the first section of the article titled Bi: Playing with fixed identities, I had mixed emotions. I enjoyed her anecdotes, especially the Tinker Bell reference. I was suprised her composition class was unwilling to read Rich’s “When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-vision.” However, maybe I was distracted reading this section, but I kept waiting for this discussion, albeit an important one, to turn towards writing. I may have missed the part where she discusses voice and finding yourself in your writing, but I felt like this section was a bit wordy, a bit opinionated, and a bit overwhelming. I tried to understand her points, but I kept getting lost in my own question of “Where is this going?”.
I enjoyed the second section more. I found the author’s anecdote about her male colleague who called her “bossy” very interesting. I originally read it as an annoyed colleague and less as a sexuality issue. I did not view him as challenging her the only way he knew how; however, I see that now. The author discusses the difference between butch and femme identities, stating that butch is considered higher class than femme. This section left me wondering though. She discusses that because of her open “butchness” that she receives a certain attention, such as students coming out to her or asking for advice, colleagues wanting to engage in debates about gender and sexuality, and being asked to participate on different panels. I couldn’t decide how she felt about this. As I read it, I felt like she was offended that her butchness brought this out in the people in her life. However, at the same time, she declares that she is going to continue to “own” who she is.
I also enjoyed the following section titled Bar Dyke. I felt that this section was the easiest to understand. After reading excerpts from the author’s dossier, I was shocked and horrified at the University’s response. I was upset to read that the university wanted her to conform more to identifying with the scholars and her colleagues, more so than her students. I also found it interesting that Dr. Gatekeeper told her that basically it didn’t matter if she changed it or not, she was still highly perceived. Why bother addressing it at all then, especially when it was pure academic discomfort on their part rather than something she did wrong? I think this speaks to the power struggle we discussed in earlier classes and how that goes hand in hand with people's comfort levels.

Looking Back as We Look Forward: Historicizing Writing Assessment
By Kathleen Blake Yancey

This article opens up by addressing an overview of the three waves of writing assessment: Objective tests, holistically scored essays, and portfolio assessments, where we reside today. The history of the first wave of assessment came from aligning our assessments with the standards, as a way to place and move students to different courses. However, most of these objective tests did not include writing samples, posing a unique concern about where to place these students and whose responsibility was it. The second wave addressed the concerns of validity and reliability, which I found very interesting. It’s true that we need to find trustworthy ways to assess writing, in correlation to being consistent. The third wave of writing assessment addressed the needs for portfolio writing. The question of how to grade these portfolios came up. According to the text, “community standards are developed, and through these standards that fairer grades can be derived. Moreover, they claim, this process enables us to refine responding skills that can be taken back to the classroom. This model of assessment, then, functions three ways: (1) as a sorting mechanism (pass-fail); (2) as a check on practice; (3) as a means of faculty development” (493). This part of the text stood out to me as a teacher because I am constantly wondering if I am assessing my students correctly. I can grade them based off of if they are practicing what I teach, but how do you assess other areas. I am constantly voicing my opinion for a communal standard that we can relate back to. I graded my districts honors entrance essays, and went to the meeting with the assumption that I would be instructed on what makes for a high scoring paper and what doesn’t. Instead, I was thrown a rubric and told to Go. I would love to see more of collaboration in deciding on writing assessment standards.

Writing Theory & Practice 2016-11-14 20:06:00

Bi, Butch, and Bar Dyke: Pedagogical Performances of Class, Gender, and Sexuality
By: Gibson, Marinara, and Meem

After reading the first section of the article titled Bi: Playing with fixed identities, I had mixed emotions. I enjoyed her anecdotes, especially the Tinker Bell reference. I was suprised her composition class was unwilling to read Rich’s “When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-vision.” However, maybe I was distracted reading this section, but I kept waiting for this discussion, albeit an important one, to turn towards writing. I may have missed the part where she discusses voice and finding yourself in your writing, but I felt like this section was a bit wordy, a bit opinionated, and a bit overwhelming. I tried to understand her points, but I kept getting lost in my own question of “Where is this going?”.
I enjoyed the second section more. I found the author’s anecdote about her male colleague who called her “bossy” very interesting. I originally read it as an annoyed colleague and less as a sexuality issue. I did not view him as challenging her the only way he knew how; however, I see that now. The author discusses the difference between butch and femme identities, stating that butch is considered higher class than femme. This section left me wondering though. She discusses that because of her open “butchness” that she receives a certain attention, such as students coming out to her or asking for advice, colleagues wanting to engage in debates about gender and sexuality, and being asked to participate on different panels. I couldn’t decide how she felt about this. As I read it, I felt like she was offended that her butchness brought this out in the people in her life. However, at the same time, she declares that she is going to continue to “own” who she is.
I also enjoyed the following section titled Bar Dyke. I felt that this section was the easiest to understand. After reading excerpts from the author’s dossier, I was shocked and horrified at the University’s response. I was upset to read that the university wanted her to conform more to identifying with the scholars and her colleagues, more so than her students. I also found it interesting that Dr. Gatekeeper told her that basically it didn’t matter if she changed it or not, she was still highly perceived. Why bother addressing it at all then, especially when it was pure academic discomfort on their part rather than something she did wrong? I think this speaks to the power struggle we discussed in earlier classes and how that goes hand in hand with people's comfort levels.

Looking Back as We Look Forward: Historicizing Writing Assessment
By Kathleen Blake Yancey

This article opens up by addressing an overview of the three waves of writing assessment: Objective tests, holistically scored essays, and portfolio assessments, where we reside today. The history of the first wave of assessment came from aligning our assessments with the standards, as a way to place and move students to different courses. However, most of these objective tests did not include writing samples, posing a unique concern about where to place these students and whose responsibility was it. The second wave addressed the concerns of validity and reliability, which I found very interesting. It’s true that we need to find trustworthy ways to assess writing, in correlation to being consistent. The third wave of writing assessment addressed the needs for portfolio writing. The question of how to grade these portfolios came up. According to the text, “community standards are developed, and through these standards that fairer grades can be derived. Moreover, they claim, this process enables us to refine responding skills that can be taken back to the classroom. This model of assessment, then, functions three ways: (1) as a sorting mechanism (pass-fail); (2) as a check on practice; (3) as a means of faculty development” (493). This part of the text stood out to me as a teacher because I am constantly wondering if I am assessing my students correctly. I can grade them based off of if they are practicing what I teach, but how do you assess other areas. I am constantly voicing my opinion for a communal standard that we can relate back to. I graded my districts honors entrance essays, and went to the meeting with the assumption that I would be instructed on what makes for a high scoring paper and what doesn’t. Instead, I was thrown a rubric and told to Go. I would love to see more of collaboration in deciding on writing assessment standards.

Finding our Voice-In Our Writing and In Our Comments

“Response to Student Writing”
By Nancy Sommers

“Check your commas and semi-colons and think more about what you are thinking about” (151).

I actually L.O.L.ed when I read this quote, referencing one teacher’s command to his student. I found it hysterical that we are continuing to see these types of comments on students papers and expecting high quality revisions from our students in return.

In this article, Sommers begins by stating that “teaching writing, responding to and commenting on student writing” consumes most of our time as teachers. She later states that to defend teachers, most of us have not had proper training in responding to drafts to help students revise their ideas. I completely agree with this claim. When I think back to my training in undergrad, we were trained on pre-writing strategies, as well as the traditional structure of a five paragraph essay. I was not trained in the workshop model with conferencing, until I was exposed to professional development my school brought in, along with my training through attending Teacher’s College Summer Institute. Sommers makes the argument that we have been conditioned to write generic, rubber-stamped comments on student papers, which makes it difficult for the student to assess which needs should be addressed first. The student also falls under the assumption that their ideas are already there, meaning the the meaning they want to convey is already there and they only need to “clean up” their paper, such as focusing on grammar. In reality, most students need to strengthen and develop their ideas but are not given the instruction needed to do so.

I believe that students need to be trained to discuss their writing, and as a teacher at the middle school level, this is a constant struggle for them. When asking students to discuss their work, occasionally they are able to do so, but when I leave them to revise, they immediately turn to me and ask, “Wait, what do you want me to write?” They do not have any control over their writing and need to learn to take ownership over their ideas.

I found the study conducted regarding the program “Writer’s Workbench” where computers will comment on student papers. I wonder if students are more inclined to listen to a computer, because they are so programmed to use technology that they value those comments more than their teachers? If that is the case, I am worried about what our world will come to and what that says about the need for teachers in a technological world. From personal experience, I missed a few days of school due to an illness, but was able to create interactive presentations for the students, where the directions were posted, assignments were completed, and all was shared through Google Classroom. I was able to interact by commenting on the students slides, grading their assignments, and offering help all without leaving my bed. Now we have programs that grade and comment for us as well? Makes me wonder if this will undervalue teachers even more than we are undervalued now?

The article continues to discuss the idea that students are confused by teacher’s comments, but there is also confusion between process and product. Do we care more about how the student gets there or what the final paper is? This year I began to tell my students their final draft is really a “deadline” draft and that writing is never fully finished.

I also felt that this article critiqued teachers practice, but forgot about the students. Speaking again with a middle school background, teachers aren’t perfect, but neither are our kids. It’s time to put the learning back on the students and less about teacher’s comments to get the students there. Gone are the days were you assign a project or homework and the students simply come in with it done. Now we need to hold their hands. Students expect to just “find” the answers in a text or in writing, rather than coming up with their own answers and their own ideas. No amount of questioning from me as the teacher is going to make them any less lazy. If revision is a “sense of discovery”, our students need to be the ones to do the discovering.


“Reconsiderations: Voice in Writing Again: Embracing Contraries”
By Peter Elbow

I enjoyed that Elbow begins by stating the story of voice, referencing the Greek philosophers. I agree with Aristotle’s claim refusing the either/or conflict regarding voice, essentially that “It helps to be trustworthy; but, if you’re skilled, you can fake it” (169). When we have control over our voice and our ideas, we are able to manipulate them, and in essence, manipulate our point.
Elbow brings up substantial points that voice is alive and thriving in both politics and through the Internet, whether it’s email, social media, or blogs. As a teacher, if I were to have students analyze voice in each of these media, my students would grasp the concept. They could identify their own voice in their writing outside of the classroom, as well as distinguish how they write from someone else. However, when it comes to writing in the classroom, I fear identifying voice is a lost cause.
I also appreciate Elbow’s claim that readers hear voice in text, using the example of saying “hello” different ways to create meaning. However, I immediately thought about voice in writing, which Elbow proceeds to explain. Elbow explains that this is challenging, which as a teacher struggling with this, I appreciate. He offers the idea of having students continuously read their writing aloud in order to develop or better hear their voice. It is possible, that they best way to teach voice in writing is to analyze it in reading extensively. If students can’t identify voice, and examples of it, then they can’t begin to identify and use their own voice. I find that students are able to find their voice more in the creative writing pieces we do, and less in the academic. In order to better teach this, I believe that finding academic essays to read in order to develop voice. However, if voice can mislead readers, how do we use it? How do I teach students to pay attention to voice and “push it away” at the same time? Do we teach them that there is a time and a place for paying attention to voice and pushing it away? Ultimately, the question this article left me with was is voice more helpful or harmful?


In addition to this week’s reading, I was mulling over some ideas for my Genius Hour writing project. One idea I had was to get permission from my principal to videotape students and ask them “Why they write?”. I pride myself in cultivating a classroom environment of readers, but would like to cultivate one of writers as well. I was considering exploring what makes students write and how to foster their engagement. I was also tossing around some other ideas and answering a more focused question of: What can I learn about myself through writing? Or how does writing help us deal with issues? I bought a few books for my library that deal with teenagers suffering from OCD. I feel that I have some OCD tendencies but have shied away from reading these novels in case they trigger my OCD. I then thought about writing poetry or a novel from this perspective. I would possibly explore how reading about them or writing about real issues to me would help to overcome them?

Finding our Voice-In Our Writing and In Our Comments

“Response to Student Writing”
By Nancy Sommers

“Check your commas and semi-colons and think more about what you are thinking about” (151).

I actually L.O.L.ed when I read this quote, referencing one teacher’s command to his student. I found it hysterical that we are continuing to see these types of comments on students papers and expecting high quality revisions from our students in return.

In this article, Sommers begins by stating that “teaching writing, responding to and commenting on student writing” consumes most of our time as teachers. She later states that to defend teachers, most of us have not had proper training in responding to drafts to help students revise their ideas. I completely agree with this claim. When I think back to my training in undergrad, we were trained on pre-writing strategies, as well as the traditional structure of a five paragraph essay. I was not trained in the workshop model with conferencing, until I was exposed to professional development my school brought in, along with my training through attending Teacher’s College Summer Institute. Sommers makes the argument that we have been conditioned to write generic, rubber-stamped comments on student papers, which makes it difficult for the student to assess which needs should be addressed first. The student also falls under the assumption that their ideas are already there, meaning the the meaning they want to convey is already there and they only need to “clean up” their paper, such as focusing on grammar. In reality, most students need to strengthen and develop their ideas but are not given the instruction needed to do so.

I believe that students need to be trained to discuss their writing, and as a teacher at the middle school level, this is a constant struggle for them. When asking students to discuss their work, occasionally they are able to do so, but when I leave them to revise, they immediately turn to me and ask, “Wait, what do you want me to write?” They do not have any control over their writing and need to learn to take ownership over their ideas.

I found the study conducted regarding the program “Writer’s Workbench” where computers will comment on student papers. I wonder if students are more inclined to listen to a computer, because they are so programmed to use technology that they value those comments more than their teachers? If that is the case, I am worried about what our world will come to and what that says about the need for teachers in a technological world. From personal experience, I missed a few days of school due to an illness, but was able to create interactive presentations for the students, where the directions were posted, assignments were completed, and all was shared through Google Classroom. I was able to interact by commenting on the students slides, grading their assignments, and offering help all without leaving my bed. Now we have programs that grade and comment for us as well? Makes me wonder if this will undervalue teachers even more than we are undervalued now?

The article continues to discuss the idea that students are confused by teacher’s comments, but there is also confusion between process and product. Do we care more about how the student gets there or what the final paper is? This year I began to tell my students their final draft is really a “deadline” draft and that writing is never fully finished.

I also felt that this article critiqued teachers practice, but forgot about the students. Speaking again with a middle school background, teachers aren’t perfect, but neither are our kids. It’s time to put the learning back on the students and less about teacher’s comments to get the students there. Gone are the days were you assign a project or homework and the students simply come in with it done. Now we need to hold their hands. Students expect to just “find” the answers in a text or in writing, rather than coming up with their own answers and their own ideas. No amount of questioning from me as the teacher is going to make them any less lazy. If revision is a “sense of discovery”, our students need to be the ones to do the discovering.


“Reconsiderations: Voice in Writing Again: Embracing Contraries”
By Peter Elbow

I enjoyed that Elbow begins by stating the story of voice, referencing the Greek philosophers. I agree with Aristotle’s claim refusing the either/or conflict regarding voice, essentially that “It helps to be trustworthy; but, if you’re skilled, you can fake it” (169). When we have control over our voice and our ideas, we are able to manipulate them, and in essence, manipulate our point.
Elbow brings up substantial points that voice is alive and thriving in both politics and through the Internet, whether it’s email, social media, or blogs. As a teacher, if I were to have students analyze voice in each of these media, my students would grasp the concept. They could identify their own voice in their writing outside of the classroom, as well as distinguish how they write from someone else. However, when it comes to writing in the classroom, I fear identifying voice is a lost cause.
I also appreciate Elbow’s claim that readers hear voice in text, using the example of saying “hello” different ways to create meaning. However, I immediately thought about voice in writing, which Elbow proceeds to explain. Elbow explains that this is challenging, which as a teacher struggling with this, I appreciate. He offers the idea of having students continuously read their writing aloud in order to develop or better hear their voice. It is possible, that they best way to teach voice in writing is to analyze it in reading extensively. If students can’t identify voice, and examples of it, then they can’t begin to identify and use their own voice. I find that students are able to find their voice more in the creative writing pieces we do, and less in the academic. In order to better teach this, I believe that finding academic essays to read in order to develop voice. However, if voice can mislead readers, how do we use it? How do I teach students to pay attention to voice and “push it away” at the same time? Do we teach them that there is a time and a place for paying attention to voice and pushing it away? Ultimately, the question this article left me with was is voice more helpful or harmful?


In addition to this week’s reading, I was mulling over some ideas for my Genius Hour writing project. One idea I had was to get permission from my principal to videotape students and ask them “Why they write?”. I pride myself in cultivating a classroom environment of readers, but would like to cultivate one of writers as well. I was considering exploring what makes students write and how to foster their engagement. I was also tossing around some other ideas and answering a more focused question of: What can I learn about myself through writing? Or how does writing help us deal with issues? I bought a few books for my library that deal with teenagers suffering from OCD. I feel that I have some OCD tendencies but have shied away from reading these novels in case they trigger my OCD. I then thought about writing poetry or a novel from this perspective. I would possibly explore how reading about them or writing about real issues to me would help to overcome them?

Student Ownership of Writing

On Students’ Rights to Their Own Texts: A Model of Teacher Response
By Brannon and Knoblauch

This article begins by making the connection between professional and student writers, claiming that “The incentive to write derives from an assumption that people will listen respectfully and either assent to or earnestly consider the ideas expressed” (158). The authors claim that people will stay with a more intricate text, deciding that the text is difficult for them and become frustrated with the writer. The text claims that this “connection between a writer’s authority and quality of a reader’s attention is altered because of the peculiar relationship between teacher and student” (158). As a teacher of writing, I immediately got my guard up. I was weary of what direction this article was going to take.
The article continues to discuss how teachers are too quick to “correct” the ideas of a student and are less concerned with what the writer was trying to say. The article believes that the writing becomes more about the reader then and less about the writer’s message. I agree and disagree with this idea. I agree with this idea because we want our writers to see that the teacher isn’t their sole audience. We want them to think about the bigger picture and decide on their own who they are speaking to and what message they want to get across. I also agree with the idea that teachers tend to revise or correct papers to fit their ideas and care less about the students’. Sometimes we can attempt to force our students into a confined space where they need to produce what we expect. It is a fine line between completing an assignment and expressing ideas. This idea may work for college students, but my sixth graders are not capable of viewing their audience as anyone other than their teacher. In order to think in the bigger picture, you must learn the structure first.  It also brought into question the idea of grading. We live in a world where we have to grade students on their work and justify our grades to their ever demanding parents; therefore, we have a curriculum to follow. How do we assess students if it is all about what they want to produce? There has to be a compromise.
After reading some of my colleagues blogs, I was pleased to see that I had the same reaction as Sara. I was a bit offended by the articles assumption that we do not give student options. As a Language Arts teacher, we are encouraged, and evaluated on, our availability of student choice in our classroom. Students may have to produce the same type of content, but they are given options on what they want to produce and how they want to get there. My job is to coach them within the realm of the assignment, but to encourage them to find creative ways to do so.

Composition at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century
By Richard Fulkerson

Fulkerson’s article was a bit difficult for me to read. I found that I was getting lost in the translation of vocabulary and had to constantly reread sections of the text to create meaning. I found that this article pertained to college composition, which was maybe one reason I struggled to relate. I appreciate the theoretical lens Fulkerson used to express the shift in composition studies into different disciplines; however, I felt that it was drawn out and over explained. The article poses interesting questions about what is good writing and why are we teaching it? The article discusses how there is a different answer to these questions depending on your profession: teacher, dean, parent, and ultimately it’s the students who suffer from our lack of a coherent answer.
I did enjoy when Fulkerson discussed the Critical/Cultural Studies discipline being about liberation for a writer to develop tools to help them challenge cultural inequalities and to question their role in society. As a Language Arts teacher, I strive to expose my students to texts and variety of ideas that help them question the world we live in. However, this raised the idea of working across disciplines, with the social studies and science teachers, to expose our students to writing to make sense of the world in other classes as well. The article brings up this point and states that this work and this writing does not need to occur in solely the English Department, but history and sociology departments as well. I believe it is important for students to view writing as something they do outside of an English course, which most do not. Upon talking to my friend about his experience with writing in college, outside of his freshman English class, he took one other writing course, in technical writing for engineering majors, which he found beyond practical for his career. I think it is important for students of all ages to see writing through different lenses and through different disciplines, but all are important.


Student Ownership of Writing

On Students’ Rights to Their Own Texts: A Model of Teacher Response
By Brannon and Knoblauch

This article begins by making the connection between professional and student writers, claiming that “The incentive to write derives from an assumption that people will listen respectfully and either assent to or earnestly consider the ideas expressed” (158). The authors claim that people will stay with a more intricate text, deciding that the text is difficult for them and become frustrated with the writer. The text claims that this “connection between a writer’s authority and quality of a reader’s attention is altered because of the peculiar relationship between teacher and student” (158). As a teacher of writing, I immediately got my guard up. I was weary of what direction this article was going to take.
The article continues to discuss how teachers are too quick to “correct” the ideas of a student and are less concerned with what the writer was trying to say. The article believes that the writing becomes more about the reader then and less about the writer’s message. I agree and disagree with this idea. I agree with this idea because we want our writers to see that the teacher isn’t their sole audience. We want them to think about the bigger picture and decide on their own who they are speaking to and what message they want to get across. I also agree with the idea that teachers tend to revise or correct papers to fit their ideas and care less about the students’. Sometimes we can attempt to force our students into a confined space where they need to produce what we expect. It is a fine line between completing an assignment and expressing ideas. This idea may work for college students, but my sixth graders are not capable of viewing their audience as anyone other than their teacher. In order to think in the bigger picture, you must learn the structure first.  It also brought into question the idea of grading. We live in a world where we have to grade students on their work and justify our grades to their ever demanding parents; therefore, we have a curriculum to follow. How do we assess students if it is all about what they want to produce? There has to be a compromise.
After reading some of my colleagues blogs, I was pleased to see that I had the same reaction as Sara. I was a bit offended by the articles assumption that we do not give student options. As a Language Arts teacher, we are encouraged, and evaluated on, our availability of student choice in our classroom. Students may have to produce the same type of content, but they are given options on what they want to produce and how they want to get there. My job is to coach them within the realm of the assignment, but to encourage them to find creative ways to do so.

Composition at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century
By Richard Fulkerson

Fulkerson’s article was a bit difficult for me to read. I found that I was getting lost in the translation of vocabulary and had to constantly reread sections of the text to create meaning. I found that this article pertained to college composition, which was maybe one reason I struggled to relate. I appreciate the theoretical lens Fulkerson used to express the shift in composition studies into different disciplines; however, I felt that it was drawn out and over explained. The article poses interesting questions about what is good writing and why are we teaching it? The article discusses how there is a different answer to these questions depending on your profession: teacher, dean, parent, and ultimately it’s the students who suffer from our lack of a coherent answer.
I did enjoy when Fulkerson discussed the Critical/Cultural Studies discipline being about liberation for a writer to develop tools to help them challenge cultural inequalities and to question their role in society. As a Language Arts teacher, I strive to expose my students to texts and variety of ideas that help them question the world we live in. However, this raised the idea of working across disciplines, with the social studies and science teachers, to expose our students to writing to make sense of the world in other classes as well. The article brings up this point and states that this work and this writing does not need to occur in solely the English Department, but history and sociology departments as well. I believe it is important for students to view writing as something they do outside of an English course, which most do not. Upon talking to my friend about his experience with writing in college, outside of his freshman English class, he took one other writing course, in technical writing for engineering majors, which he found beyond practical for his career. I think it is important for students of all ages to see writing through different lenses and through different disciplines, but all are important.