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Reaction Paper: The Silenced Dialogue: Power and Pedagogy in Educating Other People’s Children

Fatima Muhammad

ENG 5020

Writing Theory & Practice

Dr. Mia Zamora

November 11, 2019

Reaction Paper:

The Silenced Dialogue:

Power and Pedagogy in Educating Other People’s Children

Picture this, it’s Saturday morning and you are in the supermarket doing your weekly grocery shopping.  Walking through the isle you hear someone call your name.  It’s your student and her mom.  They greet you with a hug. You’re filled with love. 

Now off to a mid-morning doctor’s appointment.  There you see your student’s parents, and they are sad and filled with emotions.  Mom just found out that she has cancer.  Instantly, you recall the emotional breakdown that their son experienced in class the day before.  You’re filled with empathy. 

It’s proving to be a full day as you go to your nephew’s football game.  Wow!   It’s like a family reunion.  You run into some of your students and their siblings that were once your students.   You’re filled with a sense of family. 

As the day ends you attend a late afternoon lecture at the local community college.  The speakers are addressing the topic of the academic struggles of your people.  The speakers are one male, one female; they share your race, your heritage, and your history.  You look around and you see some of your former students.  You remember their academic struggles.  You reflect on a quote by Lisa Delpit, “In order to teach you, I must know you.”  Your heart hurts; but you get it.  You know your students and you know what they need to be successful in the academic endeavors.    

Furthermore, you are educators of color.  You are that Black male graduate student who is also a special education teacher in a predominantly Black community.  You are a Black woman teacher in a multicultural urban elementary school.  You are a soft-spoken Native Alaskan woman in her forties and, a student in the Education Department of the University of Alaska.  You are a Black woman principal who is also a doctoral student at a well-known university on the West Coast.  (Delpit 280-281)  You are they, and they are you.  You are Black people, you are the other non-White people, you are the poor white people and you all have similar experiences and perspectives.  You know what your students need and you are ready to discuss “The Black Issue.”  However, when the dialogue of “The Black Issue” is presented to “White people, the decision makers,” it turns into argument, they won’t listen, they seem to have blinders and ear plugs on, they think they know what is best for everyone; they don’t believe you are qualified to address the issue if you aren’t reciting scholars or providing research.  As a result, the teachers of color became despondent and they gave up on trying to have a dialogue on this issue.  “Thus, “The Silenced Dialogue was born.”  (Delpit 281) 

However, this silence is deceiving.  The educators of color are in the dark.  They are not aware of the silence.  While White educators think that they, (the educators of color), have come to terms of agreement.  In effort to clear the silence, so that each side can express their voice, Delpit suggest the opportunity for an ethnographic analysis.  This would give each side the opportunity to express their sincere goals and alleviate harsh emotions.  She suggests that the debate of skills vs. process be used to understand the, “silenced dialogue.”  Students must be taught that skills and process are both necessary to the learning experience.

As Delpit, explores this debate she realizes that there is a connecting complex theme that she calls, “the culture of power,” that has five aspects of power.  The aspects are:   

1. Issues of power are enacted in classrooms.

2. There are codes or rules for participating in power; that is, there is a “culture of power.

3. The rules of the culture of power are a reflection of the rules of the culture of those                 who have power.

4. If you are not already a participant in the culture of power, being told explicitly the rules of that culture makes acquiring power easier.

5. Those with power are frequently lease aware of – or least willing to acknowledge-its existence.  Those with less power are often most aware of it existence. 

The ownership and practice of the culture of power is not readily acknowledged by those that possess it.  In contrast, those that are not owners of culture of power can easily observe the power of others.   This is so because “the owners of the culture of power, the White educators, have the authority to establish what was to be considered “truth” regardless of the opinions of the people of color, and the latter were well of the fact.”  Delpit Pg. 284

            Moving on, Delpit shares her thoughts on the use of explicit and implicit instructions as a way to express the culture of power.  Using implicit/indirect instruction can be confusing for a student that is accustomed to explicit/direct instruction.  I believe that each type of instruction serves a purpose, and should be used at the appropriate time.  For example, a teacher of color will use explicit/direct instruction and say to her student, “It’s time for lunch.   Wash your hands and come to the table.”   The instructions are clear and straight to the point.  Whereas a White teacher will say to her student, “Do you think now is a good time to eat lunch?  If the student is not in the mood to eat lunch he/she may answer, “No.”   This is the opposite of what the teacher actually meant.  The teacher actually wants the student to eat lunch now.  But the implicit/indirect instruction is presented as a choice.   This miscommunication can cause potential behavior problems from the student.  A teacher may interpret the student’s answer as an act of rebellion, when the student was not at all rebellious.  The student simply answered the question that was presented.   If situations like this occur too often, it can lead to an unnecessary behavioral classification.  The teacher must be clear when giving instructions.  If the teacher is giving the student an opportunity to make a choice or to express himself/herself, then implicit/indirect instructions are appropriate.  But if the teacher is clear on the results of the instructions and there is no wiggle room, then explicit/direct instructions must be used.

There are those that claim they want equity in education.   They must also remember the following.  “To provide schooling for everyone’s children that reflects liberal, middle-class values and aspirations is to ensure the maintenance of the status quo, to ensure that power, the culture of power, remains in the hands of those who already have it.” (Delpit Pg. 285)  In doing so, the students that attend school ready to learn with, “cultural capital,” have more than enough supplies, can benefit from lessons of autonomous.   However, the students that are not equipped with cultural capital need different lessons.  Students of color, non-White students and poor students are usually the students without cultural capital.   They need to be taught communication skills and written and spoken language codes.  These lessons will enable them to be successful in pursuing their endeavors. 

Lastly, shown in a video, (DYSA), a teacher from a school in LA used a program titled, “Academic English Mastery,” to teach his students of color, how to translate their home language into mainstream American language.  He uses a game of Jeopardy to fully engage his students during this exercise.  According to the video the students made growth in written English.  Delpit suggest that students of color should be taught the code of language so that they are able to function and be successful in the world.  They should not be forced to give up their language. Instead, these lessons should be taught in a way that they can realize their skills and their uniqueness.   On the contrary, one parent stated, “My kids know how to be Black – you all need to teach them how to be successful in the White man’s world.”  (Delpit Pg. 285)  I’m stand between these two recommendations, especially in the case of Black students.  I do believe that Black students should hold on to their culture.  While at the same time careful attention should be given to the Black students that talk in a language called Ebonics, which is defined as African American Vernacular English.  When spoken it sounds like weak grammar and incorrect enunciation.  I feel that students should not be allowed to speak in Ebonics.  They should be taught proper English and be encouraged to speak it at home as well.  Ebonics is not the language code that will make them successful in mainstream society.  As we see there is a need for the silenced dialogue needs to be examined, discussed, and develop a plan on how to establish equity in all students.


Passage:  “Finally, if schooling prepares people for jobs, and the kind of job a person has determines her or his economic status and therefore, power, then schooling is intimately related to that power.”  (Pg. 283)

Question: Do think that it is fair that the culture of power has so much power that it literately dictates how a student’s adult life will be?

Passage:   In a conversation between a student and a teacher, the teacher asked the student, “But who decided what’s right or wrong?” The student answers, “Well that’s true…I guess White people did.”  (Delpit Pg. 295)  

The language code was developed many years ago when America was established, during chattel slavery.  This code was used as the foundation in education, in law making, in socialization, etc.  And even though African slaves were kings and queens, extremely skilled and well versed in their own languages.  However, their languages were of no use in this newly developing society.  As a result Black people did not have the privilege of being a part the culture of power.  Fast forward, this has proven to be a social stratification that has kept the power in the hands of the same group. 

Question: Do you think that people of color, non-White people, and poor people will ever have an opportunity to become a member of the “the culture of the power?”

Work Cited

McGarrity, Laura, DYSA African American (or Ebonics) in the classroom.

ENG 5020 Blog #8 RECONSIDERATIONS: Voice in Writing Again: Embracing Contraries Peter Elbow Reaction Paper – Fatima Muhammad

In this article Peter Elbow discuss two kinds of voice linked to the self of the writer.  Voice is an important dimension of texts and we should pay lots of attention to it.  Everyone has a real voice and can write with power.  Writing with a strong voice is good writing.  Sincere writing is good writing.  My voice is my true self and my rhetorical power.”  (Peter Elbow)

            As an aspiring writer my task is to find my real self and tap into my real voice.  My focus in writing is to produce creative and uplifting, inspiring and motivating works of art; particularly writing poems.  I have begun my journey and I am confident that I am on the right path to gaining these skills.  However, I have a trait that can be a bit of a hindrance.  And that is, I am shy.  Unfortunately my shyness blocks my ability to open my world and share the real me, my real voice.  Not that my writing is fake; no at all.  And although,  my voice is sincere,  my written vice is not as strong as I would like it to be; or to my full potential.  Peter Elbow, “argues that writers should try to make their writing reflect their actual selves.”  He also states that, “the fact is that some effective writing seems to get its power from convincing readers that the writer is not calculating the right stance of voice but is allowing himself or herself to show sincerely.”  I have a poem that I wrote about love.  It describes a loving relationship in a simplistic state.  When writing that poem I allowed myself to show my sincerity.  When I read this poem to the public, the audience appreciates my sincerity and finds my poem relatable to their lives.  They always react with smiles, positive comments and much encouragement.    When writing this poem I allowed my true voice to express my sincerity.  I have other poems that I somewhat opened up, but not to that level.  Moving forward I will work towards revealing my true self in my writing.  “To learn to speak or write better, we need also to work on better persons.”  (Peter Elbow)  I will include personal growth to my task to express my voice.  I do believe that improving one’s personality and increasing skills does build confidence in sharing one’s sincerity.  

            Peter Elbow also speaks about resonance, “When I am reading a text of some length, I sometimes sense bits of what I want to call “resonance”: I experience them as pieces of added weight, richness, or presence-even if they are bits of irony, play, metaphor, or even silliness.”  My poem that I mentioned earlier has pieces of resonance.  The title of the poem is repeated throughout the poem.  And with a small twist, it is also the last line of the poem.  This repetition creates a rich melody that captures the audience’s attention.  In addition, the poem has many metaphors.  These metaphors paint visions of love at its best .  I’ve written other poems and read them to different audiences.  However, this poem usually gets the strongest response.  Peter Elbow states, “But can I argue that writers should try to make their writing reflect their  actual selves?”  My answer would have to be, “Absolutely yes.”  I wrote that poem from deep down in my heart.  I believe the success of the poem is that the poem is a reflection of my actual self.

Peter Elbow at WMWP

ENG 5020 Final Group Project Fatima Muhammad November 18, 2019

What learning outcomes matter the most to you?

I would like to learn how to write:

a Podcast

digital story-telling

play writing. 

Also, I am interested in the following courses:

Advance Writing Poetry

Writing Literature for Children and Young Adults

Introduction to Electronic Literature

Grant Writing

            Collaborative Writing

How can you make this project impactful to a way that is truly meaningful to you?

            Create a project that will be to useful society

            Create a project that will improve society

            Create a project that society will continue to use in the future


I will read extra material to gain more understanding of the subject.

            Collaborate with my classmates

                Attend writing tutoring sessions

                Learn as much as I can about technology and writing

ENG 5020 Blog #1 The Problem of Othering: Towards Inclusiveness and Belonging John A. Powell and Stephen Menedian in Articles Reaction Paper

While reading this article I felt a personal connection.  This article made me reflected on the many times, too many times, that I experienced group-based othering.  I live my day-to-day life in the framework of three categories that are easily identifiable.  I am woman, I am Black and I am Muslim.  My physical features show that I am woman, the pigmentation of my skin shows that I am of African descent and my attire shows that I am Muslim.  One can look at me and clearly define me by using these three categories.  My gender is woman, my race is Black and my religion is Islam.  I have often walked into to a public space and people look me up and down, turn away, and refuse to respond to my offering of a friendly, “Hello.”  Then as we begin to talk that realize that I am, as they are, human.  Never the less, the practice of othering still exists in society.  John A. Powell and Stephen Menendian state, “We define “othering” as a set of dynamics, processes, and structures that engender marginality and persistent inequality across any of the full range of human differences based on group identities.”  The othering is the act of strategies placing a group of people outside of a social structure.

            The act of demagoguery is a dynamic force that is utilized by American society to use political persuasion toward the laymen.  When politicians appeal to a person’s worries and concerns and then chooses a group as the other, division develops, hence you have, “group based othering.”  “As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump not only announced his intent to build a wall along the United States-Mexican border, he also demanded a ban on Muslims immigrants, even Syrian refugees, from entering the United States.”         JAP & SM.  During this time race relations were a powerful dynamic that formed the mindset society. 

            At one time during the early development of the New World, Black people were at the bottom of society.  However, as generations passed Black people became well educated and were able to make great personal and societal accomplishments.  This made me consider my view on secession and segregation.  I do realize that secessionism and segregation are not completely the same.  JAP and SM state that, “When a group feels oppressed by another group, secessionism may seem like a reasonable response to resolving intergroup conflict.  “Secession is actually segregation between new boundaries.”  New boundaries were created when chattel slavery ended. Black people held political offices, became educators and president in universities, homeowners, medical professionals, and creative artistes.  The list of their accomplishments is extensive.  In this case I believe that secession was necessary and very successful.    

            My belief is that we, as a society, must accept that we have different ways of living our lives; we must respect each other and find a way to successfully cohabitant in our world.  One way to do this is by practicing the act of “belonging.”  As the world advances in technology, we are also evolving with new identities.  These new identities are increasing our knowledge and possibilities in all fields.  And even though the act of othering still exist, I believe it will not prevail; because society has become more diverse, global relations have increase, people are traveling more and learning first-hand what the world is truly about.  “We must not only create inclusive structures, but we must foster new identities and inclusive narratives that can support us all.  This means generating stories of inclusion that reframe our individual and group identities while rejecting narratives that pit us against others.” (JAP & SM)

I would like to share with you aYou Tube video of John A. Powell as he presents at the Othering and Belonging, A National Conference.

john powell keynote: The Mechanisms of Othering

The Day They Found Their Voice

For on the day that she found her voice it was a glorious day

And she danced and she sang and she sang and she dance

And with confidence she decided your life she would enhance

For on that day that she allowed herself to look in the mirror 

She looked far beyond her pupils to see herself clearer

And said, “You made a mistake and that’s OK.”

“Precious is your inner beauty, don’t let it go astray.”

But she found herself lost within herself
As her reflection faded away 

Her pupils travelled down the wall

Upon her the stress did fall

Her vision collided with the floor

As she thought, “How much more?”

Her affirmation 

Was really a refutation

So again she tried to heal her aching heart

Looking in the mirror to give herself a new start

“You are a beauty to behold and you did not make a mistake

For that was God’s divine plan to lead you on this most wonderful journey.”

Chrystal clear realization

Exhilarating elation

Renewed affirmation

I have the strength of the sequoia tree

I’m studying to attain my academic degree

And I am the beauty of my sweet family

My possibilities travel far beyond the kiss of the sky and the ocean

Yes, the day she found her voice was a glorious day

And she danced and sang and she sang and danced

As her life she joyfully enhanced!

The day he found his voice he stood up and said no more

No more will the “Black Issue” be silenced 

Be silenced, the culture of power must confront this issue

Confront this issue, a must from his heart he exclaims,

His heart exclaims “I have a future in front of me with career plans

Career plans that must be supported by a quality education 

A quality education is a matter of importance

A matter of importance is the conversation of the equity of my education 

The equity of my education is vital to my success

Vital to my success is my possession of culture capital  

Culture capital I must own these tools for success

Tools for success like discourse patterns, interactional styles

Interactional styles teach me spoken and written language codes

Spoken and written language codes will open the gates to diversity

Gates to diversity, I will no longer be deprived because of the color of my skin

The day he found his voice he stood up and said no more

No more will the “Black Issue” be silenced! 

Her butterflies scramble as he entered their adobe

Not sure of what to say

She thought I’ll try it anyway

“Hi sweetie, how was your day?”

In his roughed, threatening tone,

“Not good.  Come here,” he moaned..

Frozen in fear, her feet stuck in cement.

He promised to hurt her, and she knew what he meant

She thought to herself, “The way he treats me is such a disgrace

But this time I’m not going to let him hit me in my face!”

Then he stepped so close leaving very little breathing space

Spontaneously, they both lifted their arms in an unannounced race

You see, she blocked his raging fist that aimed her eye

She squeezed his wrist so hard that it made her cry

Inhale, exhale, beautiful is the butterfly

She looked past his pupils, deep within his eyes 

You will not abuse me anymore she cries!

For this treatment I do not deserve

This is my life, my body, what nerve

He was quite shook up and terrified

Finally, she resisted his beatings leaving him horrified 

That day was the beginning of her beginning

For on that day she found her voice 

Yes, the day she found her voice was a glorious day

And she danced and she sang and she sang and she danced

As he packed his things to exit her life…

ENG 5020 Blog #10 Tutoring ESL Students: Issues and Options Muriel Harris and Tony Silva

ENG 5020

Blog #10

Tutoring ESL Students:  Issues and Options

Muriel Harris and Tony Silva

Reaction Paper

Fatima Muhammad

November 18, 2019

            When tutoring an ESL it is imperative that the communication between the ESL student and the tutor is clear.  Both parties must agree on a mutual time and place and the length of time that the tutoring sessions will last.  The sessions must be one-to-one to be more effective.  The expectations of both must be understood, what the tutor expects from the ESL student and what the ESL student expects from the tutor.  As the tutoring sessions begin, the student may become anxious to have their grammar errors corrected.  As well, the tutor may be anxious to begin correcting the written work.  However, both must be patience during the process.  Before they begin to make grammar correction, there are other strategies should be developed and established.

            An initial strategy for tutoring is to encourage the student by prioritizing the errors. Muriel Harris and Tony Silva state, “When tutors ask how to prioritize among errors, they should be encouraged to begin looking for what has been done well in the paper, acknowledge that, and go from there.” (Pg. 526)  As well, there should not be a division between the ESL students and the other students in the class. If a student is singled out it may cause that student to become embarrassed which can lead to behavioral issues. The tutor must always make the ESL student feel like he/she is a part of the mainstream. This may increase the student’s self-esteem ensure high productivity from the student.

            Also, tutors must boost the students’ self-esteem by reassuring them that errors are a part of the learning process and that everyone makes errors at one time or another.  Tutors can use research as another strategy.  A tutor that is knowledgeable about their student’s background can be helpful to the students.  This is especially important because each student, is an individual with their own background.  The tutor may grade an assignment based on the errors that the student made.  The tutor may think that the student is performing on a low academic level.  Instead, the student’s performance is low due to a lack of command of the English language.  I work with high school ESL students.  Sometimes struggle with written assignments. However, when we discuss the assignment, I see that the student is capable of verbally expressing their thoughts.    

            As well, another strategy in tutoring an adult ESL student is to divide the writing process into chunks, “(1) work more on planning, – to generates ideas, text structure, and language so as to make the actual writing more manageable; (2) to have their ESL students write in stages, (3) to separate their treatment of revising (rhetorical) and editing (linguistic.)  This strategy will teach the student to simply slow down the writing process so that the quality of their writing will improve.  These strategies will the writing process a learning experience and not just an exercise of correcting errors. 

The Popularity of Formulaic Writing

ENG 5020

Blog #7

Fatima Muhammad

October 28, 2019

Mark Wiley, a composition coordinator of a university, is often asked to provide instruction on teaching writing. Teachers of high school students look for guidance on how to prepare their students for college. “While I enjoy these conversations, I am disturbed that too many teachers are looking for quick fixes for students’ writing problems.” (Wiley Pg. 61) Wiley understands the position teachers are in and the pressure that they deal with regarding the results of assessments. He recognizes the issues that teachers must confront daily: too many teachers are not trained effectively enough to teach writing, schools are not in the best condition, there are low school supplies, too many students are assigned per class, the list can go on. 

Nevertheless, Wiley offers a formulaic method that does not lead to, “pedagogical blindness” (Wiley Pg. 61). The Jane Schaffer Approach to Teaching Writing has, “successes so well conceal aspects of writing instruction crucial to students’ further development.” (Wiley Pg.61) This nine-week program provides instruction to teachers on teaching multi-paragraph essay writing. Some teacher training is required and this method assures success no matter the student’s level. The teacher and the student must both memorize and use the provided vocabulary. This vocabulary becomes their common language.

Below is the visual format of the body paragraph that shows each paragraph must have 8 sentences that follow a specific format. Please note the concrete detail consist of any kind of specific detail such as facts, evidence, examples, proofs, quotation or paraphrase or plot references. And the commentary consists of the writer’s analysis, interpretation, insight, explication, and personal reaction.

One chuck equals: one CD, Concrete detail, and two CM, Commentaries 

Chucks must have a minimum of 100 words

Introduction and conclusion:  

     -must contain 40+ words

     -(introduction), must have three sentences and a thesis somewhere in the first paragraph

     -(conclusion) must contain all commentary and provide a finished feeling to the essay.

Description: Image result for jane schaffer approach to teaching writing

                                                            1.Topic sentence

                    2.Concrete detail #1

                    3.Commentary #1

                    4.Commentary #1b

                   5.Concrete detail#2

                   6.Commentary #2a

                   7.Commentary #2b

                   8.Concluding sentence

Schaffer’s goal is, “to teach students how to write an essay.” (Mark Miley Pg.63) Some students have no idea of how an essay should be structured. This model has proven to be successful. Students learn how to explain and defend the topic sentence and are encouraged to write a complete paragraph with a minimum of eight complete sentences. Schaffer recommends that it is best to use this method during freshman and sophomore high school years, to lay a foundation for writing essays. You will find that some students may become dependent on the formula; while other students master these steps and then confidently, advance on to other styles of essay writing. 

I like The Jane Schaffer Approach to Teaching Writing. I like it because it offers a method that has easy to understand and easy to follow instructions. Students enter the classroom with different skills and different academic performance levels. Here is a method that each student can find useful.  Educators are pleased with this method because according to Schaffer the scoring of these essays is at the same level as AP exams. Also, this method comes equip with activities that support learning. Like prewriting activities and rubrics that the students can use to evaluate their work.

Here is a video of The Jane Schaffer Body Paragraph,   

ENG 5020 Writing Assessment Blog #6 Fatima Muhammad October 21, 2019

Writing Assessment in the Early Twenty-First Century

Writing assessments have been utilized since the early 21st century.  Assessments are a valuable method for the pedagogy of writing.  It measures students’ writing performance, and it helps students to improve their skills.  I work with high school students.  I find that they have strengths in certain areas of writing and weaknesses in other areas of writing. Writing assessments enables the student to evaluate their work, learn from their errors and edit when necessary.  Writing assignments enable the student to decide which type of writing they are skilled.  For instance, I am skilled in writing poetry, while I am not skilled in writing laboratory reports.  “The ability to write one kind of document does not automatically guarantee the ability to write another kind of document; the successful completion of a generic ‘research paper’ does not ensure the successful completion of a journal article or business proposal or laboratory report” (Paretti and Powell 4).

In addition, writing assessments are beneficial for teachers because it evaluates their skills.  Sue McLeod, “when I began consulting at other institutions that wanted to start WAC programs, writing-across-the-curriculum, I always included assessments as part of what I recommended they should do, a feedback loop into the program that would let them know what they were doing well and where they needed to improve.  Kathleen Blake Yancy Pg. 171.  Teachers must take on the responsibility to attend personal development workshops and stay informed of new studies and developments in pedagogy for writing. 

Description: Image result for teacher student conference with rubric clip art
Description: Image result for writing assessment clipart

Using Rubrics to Develop and Apply Grading Criteria

Grading students’ assignments without a grading system can be time consuming and confusing.   A teacher must decide if the answer is worth a whole point or maybe a half point.  However, if the grading system is established before the assignment is administered, the teacher will not have to estimate grades.  Instead, the percentages and letter grades will already be established.  Also, rubrics empower students.  A clear and detailed rubric will display the requirements, instructions and the grades of the assignment.  I asked my students if they liked being graded with the use of a rubric.  Most preferred the use of a rubric, because it is clear as to what they need to do to successfully master the assignment.  I am in favor of using rubrics to develop and apply grading criteria.  I found myself drawn to the, “Generic Writing Using Analytic Method”. John Bean Pg. 21, and the “Generic Rubric for Summary Writing Using Holistic Method”, John Bean Pg. 272. These rubric have criterion fits the type of Sociology and Investigating Careers assignments that I give to my students.  Rubrics improve communication between the students and teachers in three particularly ways:

 “The descriptive criteria on the rubric provide helpful feedback to students and allows me to write shorter marginal and end comments.”   

“My rubric scores on a paper make my revision conferences with students more efficient because the circled scores for each trait indicate at a glance the main problem areas in the paper.” 

“By analyzing the distribution of rubric scores for each trait among the set of papers, I can identify general patterns of strength and weakness in student performance and develop ideas for improving instruction.”  John Bean Pg. 282.

The teacher must be organized when discussing the criteria of an assignment to a class of at least 20 students, as well, when discussing a student’s progress, by having one-to-one conferences.  It is very beneficial to have a system established for student-teacher conferencing, such as a rubric.   

The Writing Process & Bad Ideas about Writing

Fatima Muhammad

Blog #5

Reading and writing are two fundamental tools that are the bases to learning all subjects. In the world of academia reading and writing are important, however, also very problematic.   Students’ ability to effectively read and write is diminishing.  When addressing students’ ability to read and write, there are four main points that need to be addressed: the need to teach reading and writing simultaneously, there are some teachers that are unqualified to teach, too often writing is treated as a product instead of a process, and failure is an option that can leave to expertise.  
Description: Image result for certificate reading and writing

For too long reading and writing have been taught as separate skills sets.  Ellen C. Carillo states, “language arts instructors now teach reading and writing alongside each other.  They do so because research has shown that students learn to read and write better when they are instructed in both simultaneously.”  If you examine the table below, you will find six skills that are needed to learn how to read and write.  You will see that these skills are either the same or they complement each other. 

Skills needed to learn how to read Skills needed to learn how to write
Decoding Transcription
Fluency Reading comprehension
Vocabulary Planning, revising and editing
Sentence construction and cohesion Sentence construction
Reasoning and background knowledge Genre and content knowledge
Working memory and attention Self-regulation

            When all of these skills are taught to the students simultaneously, the student is literally empowered.  For example, when a student is assigned a writing assignment, he must conduct research so that he may have knowledge of the topic.  In order to perform the needed research he must first read.  As well, when a student is assigned a reading assignment he must understand sentence construction; a skill shared by both reading and writing.  Hence, reading and writing skills support each other.  Alice S. Horning and Elizabeth W. Kraemer, wrote in, Reconnecting Reading and Writing: Introduction and Overview,  This study shows that research and writing can and should be successfully connected through the application of strong critical reading and thinking skills to writing in a context of information literacy.” (p, 17)

 There are so many short cuts that a student can make when working on a writing assignment.  I’ve noticed that too often the student is more concerned with the product and not concerned enough with the writing process.  Donald M. Murray expresses, “writing is a demanding, intellectual process.”  I love that statement.  It motives me.  He list the three stages of the writing process as, (1)“prewriting, 85%, – awareness of the world, focus on the subject, research and daydreaming; (2)writing, 1%, is fulfilling the commitment; and (3)rewriting, 14%, is the mental and physical task of writing.”  Rewriting is researching, rethinking, redesigning, rewriting then editing.”  Writing is a journey.  Murray, “All writing is experimental.”   It is extremely important that teachers allow students the chance to explore their ideas, to experience the thrill of discovering new thoughts.  Murray shares, “When you give him an assignment you tell him what to say and how to say it, and thereby cheat him of the opportunity to learn the process of discovery we call writing.”  Students must stop and admire the flowers.  Then reflect on the flower in its early stage as a seed.  Next, picture the process that the flower went through to become beautiful.   Now apply scenario to his writing assignment and enjoy the process.  

A student enrolls in an online writing instruction, (OWI), course, because of the scheduling convenience it offers.  Then the student uses his parents’ and his hard earn money to pay tuition to a college/university, that unknown to the student, has hired unqualified professors.  It’s actually frightening to think that a student attends college to prepare for his adult life so that he can to fulfill his financial responsibilities; but instead he may graduate with a writing deficiency due to the fact that the professor lacked proper training on how to teach the OWI.  Beth L. Hewett states, “Effective online writing teachers need three types of skills:  they must be able to teach online writing; specifically in a digital environment, and primarily through written communication.”  Also, the college must value the OWI professors and the course. I was shocked to learn that English composition did not become a course until the late 1800’s.  Writing is the foundation of every course.  And it should not matter if the course is taught online or in a class, writing is absolutely necessary.  So why does the OWI seem to be less important than other English courses?  OWI professors need, “real professor training, better paid, benefits, an office, participation in staff meetings, internet access and access to the copy machine. Do you think this type of support will improve the quality if OWI instruction?

We hear this statement many times throughout our learning experience, “Failure is not an option.”  “Failure is not an option.”   To me this makes no sense, because failing is an option.  Failing is a reality.  Anytime we attempt something and we are not successful, that is a failure.  It’s just a natural process.  Failing should not be look upon with shame.  Instead, one should have a sense of accomplishment; because they tried.  And no matter the result, they were successful at trying.  Here’s a quote I’ve heard many times throughout my childhood. Thomas H. Palmer in his Teacher’s Manual, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”   Beth L. Hewett writes, “Students learn to write by having the opportunities to read, think, write, reflect, receive feedback, and write again.”  Sometimes repeating a step is part of the process that can lead one to becoming an expert. 

The Role of Revising in Writing & Remix/Creativity Blog #4 Fatima Muhammad

Description: Image result for balled up wrinkled paper on the floor
Description: Image result for typewriter from the 1800's balled up paper
Description: Image result for balled up wrinkled paper on the floor

As I read this week’s readings the subject of revising caught my interest.  I asked myself what will become of the process of writing if students put more of their attention on cleaning their writing and less attention on rethinking and being creative.  To further understand Nancy Sommers conducted research using two groups: the student writers and the experienced writers, “there titles were based on the amount of experience they have had  in writing.”  According to the student writers, “When revising, they primarily ask themselves:  “Can I find a better word or phrase?  Or  more impressive, not so clichéd, or less hum-drum?  Sommers refers to this theory as, “thesaurus philosophy of writing; a harvest of lexical substitutions.”   This made me think about the great writers of the 1800’s.  My mind traveled back in time and I envisioned some great writers from the past.  I pictured them typing their novels on a typewriters: The Complete Stories and Poems by Edgar Allan Poe, published 1849, The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, by Frederick Douglass, published 1845, Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen, published 1813, The Time Machine, by H.G.Wells, published 1895, and W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk, published 1903,  and  many  more.  All of  these novels are phenomenal and have become classics that are used for academic and leisurely reading.  I wonder how many times did the authors revise their ideas.   And just think their revisions were made without whiteout, without a backspace key, without cut and paste and without the delete key.  I wonder if they had not made those revisions back in the 1800’s, would we have these novels in our libraries today.  I’m sure that the task of writing using a typewriter was taxing.  However, they worked through it and as a result they produced valuable pieces of literature. 

As I continued my reading I wondered, what was their motivation?  I think it had to be their desire to be creative.  I’m sure that the writers of the 1800’s put much time and labor  into revising the creative process of their writing.  Unlike, the student writers of today; they do not see the need to revise their ideas.   Sommers, ”The student writer does not practice revision as an activity that can develop ideas.” Therefore, they lack creativity.  Revising is so much more than checking the vocabulary.  Revising is an opportunity to emerge creativity into the writing.   Experience writers seek form and shape to express their perspectives.  Experience writers will check the mechanics of writing in the later process of writing, while in the beginning of the writing they will focus on the development of their main idea.   This theory that revision is more than checking vocabulary is expressed in a video by “Excelsior Online Writing Lab, Importance of Revision”,  Sommers, “Revision means seeing again, looking at everything with fresh eyes. It is a sense of writing as discovery – a repeated process of beginning over again, starting our new.”   I agree with Sommers as she stated that,” writing is like a seed.”   So again, what will happen to the writings of student writers that only clean their writings?  What happens when the author does not revise the writing as a  whole?  Should the possibility of current day authors creating  literary master pieces a matter of concern?