Friday, October 12, 2012

Entry #6

Open Entry:
How do I evaluate a composition? Do the 6+1 Traits of Writing change when evaluating digital texts? 

Part of the writing workshop is responding to your students' writing. This feedback is not only important for the student, but also for the teacher's assessment and instruction. According to Nancy Sommers (1982), she takes this purpose one step further to mention that "we comment on student writing to dramatize the presence of a reader, to help our students to become that questioning reader themselves. . . becoming such a reader will help them to evaluate what they have written and develop control over their writing" (p. 148). If we are acting as a critic, as someone who is guiding students throughout their writing process, then we cannot wait till the final assessment to provide commentary. We must do give feedback as the student is drafting and revising. If we really want to help our students we need to make sure that our responses aid their learning, and do not make them rely on our approval. 

The concern, “How are we supposed to conference with every student on every draft?” may be a troubling one for some teachers. In my opinion, Hicks (2009) provides a number of avenues for us to conference with students that go beyond simply reading a students printed draft. For example, such as Dr. Jones does with this blog, if students publish their drafts as blogs, teachers can take the time to comment on multiple drafts, looking across editing and revisions. This not only gives the teacher access to a student’s work 24/7 but also allows the student to see their own progress throughout the writing process in one place and “keep an archive of a writer’s work, easily searchable and automatically time and date stamped” (Hicks, 2009, p. 39).

Often when we conference in person, we are required to give immediate feedback on our students piece so that they can continue working. If students use digital writing tools to edit and revise drafts, teachers can respond digitally, “which allows you time to pause and reflect on each student’s needs” (Hicks, 2009, p. 37).

In my classroom, I can envision myself using digital media to conference with and give feedback to my students. For example, on Google Docs, I am able to see a live-document and continually have communication with my students. While I firmly believe in the importance of face-to-face conferencing, I think it can only be enhanced by the digital conferencing as well. At home, the day before class, I can give my students feedback online. During class time, I will no longer have to read their papers and then conference; instead I can go straight to my comments or look at the revisions they’ve made since I gave them the feedback. In addition, if a student is confused by a comment, they can directly ask me via digital chats or it can be clarified right when they enter the class. While this may cause me to bring way too much of my work home, it can also give me flexibility during my daily instruction.

This flexibility, relates to Sommers (1987) notion that “the key to successful commenting is to have what is said in the comments and what is done in the classroom mutually reinforce and enrich each other. . . classroom activities and the comments we write to our students need to be connected” (p. 155). If I am able to conference digital, at any time of the day, this will allow me to instruct more efficiently and effectively because I will have an idea before coming to class what I need to reteach, clarify, elaborate on, or introduce based on the comments I've made the night before. It will also establish an open communication between my students and me, where they can recognize that I am paying attention to their interests, likes, needs, and concerns. 

Overall, I feel that digital conferencing opens up doors for teachers and their students. Before we can digitally conference, however, we must teach our students how to engage in the digital writing workshop. This class is allowing me to realize that while it may be difficult to do so, it is 

1 comment:

  1. I agree, having the opportunity to comment on students' works digitally does allow you to establish an "open communication." I certainly think that using blogs in this class allows me to gain a better insight into the specific kinds of connections students are (or are not) making as they read each week.