Thursday, November 15, 2012

Entry #10

Find Something to “Bless, Address, or Press” : Spend some time reading through your peers’ blog entries. Select a particular comment, reading passage, question, experience or issue raised by one of your peers in his/her blog entries that is meaningful or engaging for you.   Use this as the focus for this week’s entry.
OPTIONAL: As you move through your peers’ blogs, consider leaving them a few brief responses or as Hicks would say a comment that would “bless, address, or press” (p. 83).

While perusing my classmates blogs, I began by reading Lindsey Vay's blog and specifically her post on the persuasive genre. Her comments got me interested in my own opinions and perceptions of the persuasive genre. I then decided to look at the persuasive genre presenters' blogs. I felt that Shawna's blog had an interesting approach and reflection on the genre. Her reflection was very honest, "I now understand how naive I was as an educator. My 5 year old students persuade on a daily basis. They persuade me to have more play time, to go outside for 5 more minutes, to be able to play a game with friends, to skip math all together, and many more. This is natural to them. I've learned in the past few weeks that I can use this background knowledge of natural persuasion to introduce the genre in my room." 
I have to admit when I think about my preconceived notions toward the persuasive genre they align with Shawna's. The persuasive genre seems to be an extremely difficult writing genre, that teaches students to not only "argue for or against an issue, persuade readers to do or believe something, and challenge people to take action" but it also requires them to "think critically, differentiate between persuasion and propaganda, analyze arguments, and use oral and written language effectively" (Tompkins, 2012, p. 252).  These skills and pertinent elements of the genre require much higher level thinking and it raises the question, are young student developmentally ready to address this genre? I think, however, that Shawna makes an important point that persuasion can come in the simplest forms. Furthermore, Shawna's idea that to introduce the genre she could use students' prior knowledge as a jumping off point is a great one. 

Tompkins's (2012) agrees with this introductory activity and states, "Teachers introduce persuasive writing by showing how persuasion is used in everyday life. . . Students often brainstorm a list of examples of persuasion they notice in their family, school, and community" (p. 260). Introducing the genre in this familiar way is even appropriate for younger students. Shawna also pointed out that Tompkins (2012) states, "children's persuasive writing abilities develop more slowly than their abilities in any other genre" (p. 252).  Shawna expands on this notion by stating, "young children are egocentric, and have a hard time understanding other points of view, it is hard for them to understand  topic, choose a side, prove the argument, and understand the counter argument." With this in mind, making the persuasive genre familiar to students is even more crucial.  Thinking about my own classroom, I am excited to make persuasive writing and reading a functional skill and interesting aspect of my curriculum to my students. I can do this through mentor texts, showing ads, and opening my students' eyes to the persuasive and propaganda around them. In addition, because of the difficulty and complexity of this genre, I also want to make sure that my activities and assignments are centered around familiar and meaningful topics so that students can truly identify with and be motivated to use persuasion and interact with and recognize it in their daily lives.

As I aforementioned, my thoughts and feelings on the persuasive genre were bundled together in apprehension. My unfamiliarity with the genre as well as my uncertainty with what and how to teach it, made the persuasive genre seem like a taxing task. After the presentation and exploring the blogs of my classmates, it made me feel much more familiar and willing to really teach and inform my students about the benefits and functionality of it. I really loved and appreciated the way Shawna closed her post, "Persuasive writing is an important skill to master since it is used in everyday text. It helps to empower individuals to make decisions at work and in society on a daily basis. Whether you are writing a cover letter for a resume, talking to a friend or family member, selling a product, or discussing which cake tastes better, persuasion is all around us!" Helping my students to see the authenticity of persuasion and how it is involved in their daily life will not only engage them but allow them to see the importance and functionality it can have for them personally. Tompkins's (2012) chapter coupled with the presentation has encouraged and excited me to implement persuasive instruction into my classroom!

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