Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Entry #5


In letter format write me an informal class/self-assessment letter.  In this letter discussion your answers to the following questions: 

Overall, how is the class going?  Second, in what ways have your understandings developed regarding the connections between reading and writing? For example, Donald Graves (2004) states “Writing is, after all, a medium for learning to think” (p. 90).    Given the writing you have engaged in during class thus far, how often do you currently engage in a process of writing which allows you to fully transact (to question, to reconsider, to imagine, to discover as well as to clarify, to refine, to synthesize)?   In short, how often do you think when you write?   In addition, why do you choose to  (or choose not to) engage in this kind of thinking?  Finally, what reading/writing habits” might you have to change in order to fully engage while writing?

Third, what specific instructional strategies or learning activities have you learned that you feel will benefit your work as a teacher of literacy?  Finally, what struggles, if any, are you having in this class and what might you need to do to improve the situation?  What, if anything, could I do to further enhance your learning?

October 2, 2012

Dear Dr. Jones,

    Overall, I've really enjoyed class thus far. I really like the concept of reading improvement through writing, and I enjoy even more how we are able to explore that personally and apply first hand experience to our definition and philosophy. This class has allowed me to recognize that writing and reading are both processes. This semester is the first time I have truly been introduced to writing and reading workshop. Prior to this introduction guided reading was always stressed. While I do feel that guided reading is important and can fit into a reading workshop approach, the relationship in process and format that reading and writing workshop share is very interesting for a young educator like myself.   In my content area class I've realized the ways that reading strategies such as clarifying and questioning can be applied to math instruction. If these types of connections can be made between math and reading, it is much easier to see the relationship between reading and writing, especially the revision part of the writing/reading process. 

I have never really considered reading to have a revision process, but after our class discussion and further reading I realize that after I finish a chapter or finish a book my thoughts and perceptions of how I viewed the topic or ideas in the text are changed, and once I have clarified my ideas I can reread and gain even more from the text. This is likewise when I engage in the writing process. Once I have completed or drafted a piece of writing. I return to revise the work and make more clear my ideas and try to understand more fully what this work is trying to express. 

I have noticed the most about my writing process through creating this blog. In this blog I synthesis information from class, our texts, and my own schema to more fully develop my understanding and ideas within each medium. I've also noticed that as I write these blogs I refine my thinking by rereading or even saving as a draft and coming back hours or days later to revisit my analysis with a clearer and more refined eye. Whether or not I think while I write, I'm not exactly sure. Do I do it consciously, it depends on the purpose or intention for my piece, however, I question how thinking and thought cannot be actively working or subconsciously participating when someone is using writing as expression. Most certainly, the type of thinking I engage in varies when I am pre-writing or free-writing and when I am trying to reach the highest level of Bloom's Taxonomy and critical point of reflection in say these blogs or other writing assignments. While my free-writing is closer to a stream of consciousness where I write whatever comes to mind (still thinking) and use an imaginative and curious aspect of thinking, my academic writing is much more refined and requires me to use a filter that questions, reconsiders, discovers, clarifies, refines, and synthesizes.

One flaw I've recognized in my writing/reading habits is that I have a fear of being wrong. I so badly want everything I write to be perfect and everything I read to make perfect sense that I often limit myself and stay within my comfort zone. It's not to say that I'm afraid to try new things, but rather it is a marker of my need to feel safe. Depending on the setting, I am able to extend myself and allow myself to move beyond my comfort zone, but if I do not find a forum where I feel at ease to express my ideas, I immediately disregard my ideas and find them insignificant. Being able to recognize this has conveyed even more to me the importance of creating a classroom environment that is welcoming and respectful to all learners. I want my classroom to be a  safe haven for kids. I place that my students are aching to walk into and dreading to walk out of. I want my students to feel like this is there place and no matter what they write, read, ask, or question their ideas and reflection will be met with respect and an understanding that they are valued for who they are, not what I or the education system wants them to be. 

This realization has allowed to look at the bigger picture of my classroom, however, there are several strategies from our course that cannot only benefit this classroom environment, but also look toward a more zoomed in application of literacy. For example, the "If I Ruled the World" poem is a way that not only supports the classroom environment and makes students feel empowered and valued, but it also a great instructional strategy for literacy and poetry, vivid language, but also the concept of authority, power, and government. Furthermore, the Hicks (2009) book has truly opened my eyes to the digital writing workshop and the endless possibilities technology and diverse media can bring to the writing workshop. I consider myself to be a technology wizard, especially in regards to using the internet, and Hicks (2009) brought in things like RSS and social bookmarking which I have never heard of. I had to immediately go to the web and try these new tools out for myself. I created a RSS account and registered on a social book marking site and began to experiment with these new utensils. I couldn't help but think that if I feel this way about new technology, how would students feel about it? Today, literacy can no longer be defined by the ability to read and write. It extends much further into the exploration of language, through multiple medias including, reading, writing, digital, social, communicative, listening, speaking, I mean the list goes on and on and the definition can never stagnate but must always change as the world does. This course has opened my eyes to how multifaceted literacy is, particularly when associated with technology and digital media. As a student of Literacy instruction this broadened and deeper understanding can only help my awareness of student needs and the various ways in which I can help my students. For example, the incorporation of blogs and wikis does not only allow for self-expression, as this blog does for myself, but also enables students to reach a greater audience which motivates and engages them to learn and master the processes of both reading and writing. Journaling/blogging is an instructional strategy/genre that I am absolutely going to implement in my daily instruction. As I've indicated this journaling not only allows for communication with teacher and students, but also a form of reflection and self-analysis that requires students to ponder on their thinking and learning styles. 

In my opinion the only true struggle I will have in this class is my tendency to procrastinate. I need pressure. I need time clicking away to tell me you have to get this done. I've realized that this truly hinders the writing and reading process, because often when I write or read something and then have time to revisit it again I am able to re-envision the work and understand or express so much more than in that pressurized time. What can I do? Well the obvious answer is not procrastinate. Do I think it will happen, most likely not, old habits are hard to break. I'm hoping, however, that my Teaching the Genre expert share group will motivate me to get ahead because I am not just accountable for myself, but my group members as well. 

Thank you for the opportunity to discuss my feelings in regards to myself and the class as a whole. I feel that this assessment has given me time to reflect and truly consider how this class fits within literacy and myself as a future educator. 

                                                      Warm regards,
                                                             Jamie Sinicropi

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for this thoughtful and detailed feedback Jamie. I agree that you are making great strides in your understandings regarding reading and writing in this class and I am sure you will continue to do so as the course progresses.

    One point I want to comment on is your recognition that "One flaw I've recognized in my writing/reading habits is that I have a fear of being wrong. I so badly want everything I write to be perfect and everything I read to make perfect sense that I often limit myself and stay within my comfort zone."

    This blog has been designed as a medium for you to safely but consistently push yourself outside of your comfort zone to admit what you don't know and to explore possibilities. I have a great deal of confidence in your ability to be your own best "critical friend" and to challenge yourself to construct new knowledge through your writings.

    As a way to help guide your writing-to-learn process, I also suggested in my comment for your Entry 4 that you consider drawing upon the questions Tompkins and/or Hicks offer as starting points for exploration.