Ewa McGrail is an Assistant Professor of Language and Literacy from the Middle-Secondary Education and Instructional Technology Department. She came by one day last week and we had a spirited conversation about blogs and the possiblilities it held for literacy and language instruction. She had really taken a deep look at The Write Weblog and some other blogging projects. She teaches a small class of teachers on Wednesday evenings which just happens to be my late night! She asked me to do a session for her students and to address the following:
- the learning that can take place
- seeing the potential
- getting a sense of where to start, where to go
- understanding how to set up a blog for their own class
- realizing the value of comments
- commenting on student blogs
- listening to Zachary’s podcast
They were currently working on responding to student writing in their class. All of this fits so well with what they are doing and the professor is interested in some research possiblilities for later. We need that – especially at the elementary level. The texts they are using are Within and beyond the writing process in the secondary English classroom by Rosen and Wilson and Inside out: Strategies for teaching writing by Kirby, Kirby & Liner. I was familiar with Inside Out but not the other. I really like it The one for the secondary English classroom is a terrific read – lots and lots of good stuff. Chapter 8 lists seven assumptiona about teaching composition:
- Writing is thinking
- Writing is a language process.
- We learn to write by writing.
- Development of our own writing can be facilitated by becoming more conscious of our wrting process.
- Writing is a socially constructed process.
- We not only learn to write, but we write to learn.
- The young writer benefits from some direct instruction.
Now that sounds just like what we’ve been saying about blogging, right?The really neat part is that Ewa wants to meet and do some planning for a course for next semester. She wants to blog also. It looks like this will be the beginning for a great project for next semester. Ewa and I will put our heads together later on and do some serious planning for next semester. Meanwhile I left the door open for any of her current students who wish to have more help on blogging. Then to top it off I received this warm email from her this morning:
I wanted to write and express our appreciation for your visit tonight to our theory and pedagogy of composition class (EDLA 7460). The focus of your presentation was ideally suited to our today’s class readings and discussion, which was responding to students’ writing.
Your session showed my students the possibilities of technology (weblogs) for teaching writing. It also made them rediscover again their belief that each student can learn to write, provided we teachers assist him/her in this process through meaningful, strategic, and engaging activities.
You clearly prepared for this presentation with care and concentration. Thank you again for sharing your expertise and knowledge with my students, and, perhaps most of all, for letting us hear the stories about your students and their growth as writers in their blogging adventures.
I’m soaring again! And just think I get to go work with Miss Neville’s second graders this afternoon!