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Friday, September 28, 2012

Entry #4

This week in class we focused on Hicks (2009) and digital writing workshop. I was the leader for the discussion in chapter 3, and learned a great deal of information about technology, specifically blogs, wikis, and word processor. I actually had the opportunity of using all three of these tools during my undergrad. I used a wiki for a group project, as well as Google docs for partner work. I definitely use word processor more that I use any other tool, and I feel much more comfortable using that tool over the others. After discussing chapter 3 with my classmates, I was able to understand more about how other view these tools, and how they are useful when collaborating with students and reflecting during the writing process. Some of my classmates mentioned that these tools are especially great for high school and college students. It is definitely helpful and convenient to use these tools for projects, brainstorming ideas, revising and editing, and collaborating ideas. I love that these tools also save your work, so that you can come back later and know exactly where you left off. I think these tools are also great for students to share their ideas, and get to see exactly what others are saying. The only tool I have used with students so far is word processor. I am very open to exploring these tools more, so that I can allow for students to grow and improve in digital writing.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Entry #3

Today in class, we discussed how to use a double entry journal to faciliate predictions, and summary evaluation. This was the first time I have used the double entry journal model, and it definitely seems beneficial for students and teachers. I chose to read Diary of a Spider by Doreen Cornin. Before reading, we made predictions about what we thought the book was going to be about, and what evidence there was to support our predictions. I think this before reading activity is great to get students thinking about what might happen in the book. It is also important to predict before reading because it allows for better understanding and comprehension of the story.  I really liked that we were able to explore the book for a few minutes at the beginning of class. This book was very engaging, and could be used for a variety of lessons, and throughout several content areas. After being able to explore and read the book for about 5 minutes, I was then able to make connections to my predictions, and summarize what really happened in the story. I also discussed what I was right about, and what evidence I had that supported my new insights. I also reflected upon journaling, and if journaling was used in the way I thought it was. This activity would be great to use with many age groups because it prompts critical thinking before, after, and during reading.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Entry #2

Given the three elements of the framework Hicks (2009) notes in Chapter 7-your students, the subject of writing, and the spaces in which we write-how would you describe these elements as they are currently present in your classroom and school? (If you are not currently teaching, think back to your last teaching assignment.) What do (did) you already have in place to begin your digital writing workshop? What else do (did) you need to develop in order to make your digital writing workshop successful?

The  three elements presented in Chapter 7 are all apparent within the classrooms that I am currently in. I am doing field work at Victor Primary School in both 3rd grade, and 1st grade. Both grade levels have writing procedures and processes already set in place, and it is only the second week of school. Within the 3rd grade classroom, writing is the main focus of the morning. Students keep a journal that they write in everyday, and reflect upon. Their teacher gave them the choice to choose their own topics, which excited many of the students. The first step before writing however was the pre-writing/brainstorming stage. Students came up with a list of different topics that they were interested in, and brainstormed some key ideas and words about their topic. After students found ideas about what to write about, it was time for Turn and Talk. Turn and Talk is an activity focused on peer conferencing. Students picked a partner, sat hip to hip, made eye contact, and discussed what they were going to write about in their journals. I loved watching this activity happen, because the students were all engaged and actively listening to their partner.I have not yet had the opportunity of seeing the students write their stories in a word document on the computer, but that step with be coming later on. For many students, using Word Document or another word processing tool is extremely helpful. I noticed a little boy in 3rd grade who was having a lot of trouble keeping his words straight, and his words evenly spaced. For him, using word document would be beneficial for some activities.

It is important to design a comfortable classroom environment to make the digital writing workshop successful. I observed that students in 3rd grade were positioned all around the room during writer's workshop. They found a comfortable work space, that they thought was going to help them focus the best. There was maybe three or four children off task, but the rest of the students were diligently working independently. It is also important to give direct instruction on what is expected before introducing writer's workshop. The teacher I'm with in 3rd grade modeled the Turn and Talk method, and had students model it before actually doing it. This allowed for students to know exactly what they were supposed to be doing, and helped them stay on task. After watching a full lesson of writer's workshop, I got a better understanding of what takes place and is implemented during this time of the day. I will definitely be implementing some writing strategies that I have learned into my own writer's workshop some day.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Entry #1

What core principles do you value and enact in your classroom? Time for writing? Conferring with students? How have those practices remained constant over time? At the same time, consider your familiarity with a variety of technologies including word processors, digital audio and video editors, and online writing spaces such as blogs and wikis. What are some of the challenges you anticipate in trying to blend the principles of the writing workshop with these technologies?

I value that reading and writing time should be a time of discovery and exploring. When children choose what they want to read or write, they are more engaged and interested in the material. The writing and reading classroom environment is also important when children are discovering and exploring. Throughout my student teaching experiences, I allowed children about 15 minutes of free reading or writing time. They were either reading a book of their choice, or they were writing about something fun they did over the weekend. This activity allowed for students to be engaged in what they were doing, whether it was reading or writing. I also liked to walk around and confer with students. I asked questions like, "Who was the main character in the story? Why did you choose to write about this topic? What was the climax or main event?" All of the students were able to give me appropriate answers to my questions, and comprehended whatever they were reading or writing.

Technology has always been a huge part of my undergraduate studies, as well as incorporting technology into my student teaching experiences. Technology is growing so much in today's society and is such a huge component of reading and writing today. By using different technologies, so much more can be accomplished. I am very familiar with wikis, google docs, youtube, videos, digital audio, and the world wide web. All of these tools have allowed me to expand my knowledge about different ways to express writing. I have seen children throughout my field experiences and student teaching, work so well with technology tools. They seem to enjoy writing so much more, when they are using technology. In many ways, technology can hinder a child's develop in being able to write on paper. I believe though that technology is the world today, and it can be so beneficial for many students of all ages, and developmental levels.