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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Entry #12

Now being able to look back on this semester, I can say I have gained a great deal of new understandings towards digital  reading and writing. Some new understandings I've developed have been ways to communicate with groups of people, conferencing with parents and students, recording and documenting important information, and being able to go back and revise and edit, without losing everything. All of these new understandings have contributed to me becoming a better reader and writer. This was the first experience I had with writing a weekly blog entry, and it helped tremendously to reach the course learning outcomes, through digital writing. The knowledge I have gained through writing a blog and using digital writing, has allowed me to think about how I want to implement digital writing in my classroom some day. I think being exposed to technology, allows students to experience many new forms of writing, and communicating. Literacy is ever changing, as well as technology. If we expose students to new ways of thinking, they can start to develop higher order writing and reading skills, which can strengthen their learning.

Through this course, I was able to learn about the variety of genres there are, and how each one can be taught within the classroom. Just from learning about these genres more in depth, I have understood how they can relate to digital writing, and creative writing. Students are able to post poems, or letters, or descriptive writing pieces onto a blog or website, where their peers can see their masterpiece. I have learned that this is a worthwhile approach to writing. When students are able to view other students' work, they can give constructive criticism, areas of strength, recommendations, and positive feedback. Digital writing has created a community of learners. It allows for communication to go beyond face to face interactions. Even just writing a weekly blog, allows for my classmates and I to communicate without having to meet. We can collaborate on ideas, and reflect on one another's work.

Another important aspect that I have learned throughout this course, is that reading and writing form a very close relationship. Before entering this course, I new reading and writing needed each other to work as one, but I have begun to learn that we can go beyond just regular pen to paper writing, and page reading. Technology has enhanced so many aspects of literacy, and it continues to grow throughout this information age. Students are now developing higher order thinking skills through the use of technology and digital writing. This advancement is only going to increase, and we want to expose our students to this new era of reading and writing.

Overall, I can go away from this course with many new understandings, and concepts. I have learned a great deal through digital reading and writing, and can reflect on how I have grow throughout this process. This reading and writing blog has been most beneficial for asking questions and trying to comprehend what is so important about writing. I have been able to see my progression and also read how others have been working through the writing process. I think students would really benefit from a reading/writing blog, because they can write whatever is on their mind, and can also go back and review what they have written. It is also a great way for teachers to see how students are discovering new ways of writing. I am confident I will continue to use a reading/writing blog, and incorporate it into my teaching.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Entry #11

Exploring new genres can open new doors to the writing process. I have become a better writer and teacher from exposing myself to new ways of understanding genres. Each area of genre brings something unique to writing. I never thought about how the poetry genre relates to all of the other genres, and how some seem so different, yet they are similar. The way the genres were presented also allowed me to experience each genre first hand, and it gave me the opportunity to ask questions if I was confused. Being able to learn a new genre and also apply new understandings to a follow-up activity is extremely beneficial. 

Prior to these genre presentations, I was not confident teaching an expert lesson on a particular genre. I can now say that after presenting the poetry genre, I overcame my hesitation to be open-minded to poetry. Not only did researching poetry allow me to broaden my perspective of different forms of writing, but it gave me the confidence to enjoy writing poems and gave me the opportunity to see some other powerful poetry pieces. Jack Perlutsky is such a great poet because he relates to children, and writes in wacky, fun ways. He really captured my attention, and made me think about how poetry doesn't always have to be boring or hard to comprehend. If we make poetry and other genres enjoyable for children to learn, they will be engaged. 

Before learning more throughout the expert genre presentations, I thought I had a pretty good understanding of what the narrative genre was; however I learned so many new aspects of teaching this genre after it was presented. I learned that we should write for a purpose, and make sure we include the 5 elements of the genre. Tompkins discusses that these 5 elements are key to narrative writing. I never broke down each element, but after learning more about them, I can start to think in ways which I can provide guided instruction, throughout the reading and writing process. I have also developed a new understanding to relating genres with one another. Jame, Esther, and Jennie did an amazing job intertwining the narrative genre with the biography genre. They focused on a theme which was relevant and apparent throughout their lesson. I understood that theme is the underlying message that the author is trying to convey. Before deconstructing this genre, I never focused on theme as a crucial component to the narrative genre. I didn't even really know much about the genre as a whole. I think through hands-on explicit learning, students can have a valuable experience with genres, and begin to learn new ways of reading and writing. I am now confident to further my understanding of each genre, and allow myself to become comfortable with teaching them.  

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Entry #10

For this weeks blog entry I chose to reflect on Jennifer's blog. Entry #9 stood out to me in many ways. Jennie reflects on how she was taught in school, and if she was explicitly taught each genre. I can relate to this topic because just like Jennie, I don't recall ever being explicitly taught each genre one by one, or piece by piece. Even currently working in a classroom,I don't see each genre being explicitly taught and explained to the extent that we have understood the genres. However, I have seen activities related to the descriptive writing genre, poetry genre, persuasive genre, and journal writing genre. I think for many teachers, it is important to explicitly teach each genre, but inter-relate them. Jennie mentions she has observed fiction and non-fiction writing through the poetry genre. I have also seen this in the 1st grade classroom I'm currently with. Students were introduced to a non-fiction book about bats, and were given a structured format to complete a poem. I like that Jennie mentioned, "Many students see poetry to take a very structured form, which is not the case with the genre as a whole. There is room for creativity within poetry as well as any genre". Even though students in my 1st grade class used a structured format, they were able to be creative with their word choice, and draw pictures related to their poems. Poems are very flexible, just as Jennie states, and they can be taught multiple ways.

After presenting on the poetry genre, as well as learning more about other genres, I can see how each one can work together, and relate to one another. I liked that Jennie discusses how each one can mold together, and can be taught as one. I enjoyed learning more about her groups presentation on the Narrative and Biography genres. I never thought of teaching those genres together, nor do I really remember being explicitly taught them. However, both work very well together and can also work well with the other genres. I liked that through the biography genre, we created a poem about someone in history. I had President Obama, and it was interesting to see what our group came up with. We were able to convey and describe who he was and is, in the form of a poem. I will definitely use this technique of cross-genre lessons. I think that if each genre is explicitly taught, it can be brief, but to the point for students to understand. By incorporating more than one genre into a lesson, it can show students how diverse each genre is. 

Jennie mentions that she learned a great deal about her genre presentation project, and liked that they were able to connect the narrative genre to the biography genre. Through finding an initial theme, they were able to develop and underlying focus of their lesson. By finding a common theme, they were able to relate the Narrative genre to the Biography genre. Jennie states, "I want my students to see these overlaps within the genres and not to see them as completely separate. I feel that this will help them to become stronger writers". I couldn't agree more with Jennie. I think that if students are being exposed to not just one genre, but several and at the same time, they will become more aware of using these genres throughout their writing. I have become more aware as a teacher of how to use each genre accordingly, and how to relate each to one another. I learned a great deal about each genre, how they can be used throughout literacy, throughout grade level, and throughout content areas. If students are able to understand how different yet similar genres can be, then there can be many possibilities to writing.