Sunday, June 12, 2011

Question, Philosophy, Profile, & Inquiry

Okay, I'm not sure if we were supposed to put this on here or google docs, so I did both. I changed my question and I am not completely done with my Inquiry. I found 4 sources and only discussed one of them so far. If I did this wrong or you have any critics, let me know.

The Teacher Exploration Workshop (The Question and Profile & Philosophy):
Beginning Kindergarten Writing

The Question:

What are the best strategies for beginning kindergarten writing?

Philosophy & Profile:

This matters to me because I have only been teaching for less than two years. I feel that I lack the knowledge of how to teach writing through instruction. My Kindergarten students come from a low socioeconomic background and lack extra help with writing from their caretakers at home. Many parents would never sign my student’s folders or participate in their homework that I send home. I feel they also struggle with writing due to the repetitive workbooks and boring journal topics that they have to follow. For instance, when I started working in the district that I am at, I was told to have them trace their name over and over until they learn how to write it. Also, they had to copy sentences and questions I wrote down and they had to answer them. This was their daily journal until the end of the year. What about letter formation? All the students did were workbooks that you would trace letters in. Do they really learn by only doing repetitive work? When do they get to think for themselves? My next group of students, I am going to try everything in my power to change my ways of writing instruction. I want to motivate them, come up with create writing activities, and let them have a mind of their own. I want to stray away from the old fashioned type of writing that this district participates in and make writing fun.

My concern comes from my inexperience, lack of support from parents, along with the student population. The students in this district are difficult to teach due to low-socioeconomic status. The breakdown of the race or ethnicity is approximately 1.2% African American, 22% Hispanic, 76% White, and 9% other. The economically disadvantaged students consist of 61.9% and 45% at-risk. Many parents are uneducated and have never been to college and many did not graduate high school. This information is important because this is a challenge that I have had to face on a daily basis with my students. Due to parents being uneducated they do not seem to understand the importance of education for their child. I have had parents gripe at me when I ask for them to practice skills with their child at home. I was told, “It is not the parents job to educate their child, but mine”. Part of this statement is true because the teacher is supposed to teach their child. On the other hand, parents can have a huge influence on their child more than they realize. Kindergarten is a group that needs plenty of repetition, creative activities, and a lot of positive support. Parent’s can help do this by practicing skills a little each day at home with their child. With all this information a person would realize the students at my school lack the support they need. How do teachers like myself help motivate Kindergarten students to want to learn how to write the best way?

The Teacher Exploration Workshop (The Inquiry): Beginning Kindergarten Writing: An

Annotated Bibliography

Edwards, L. (2003). Writing instruction in kindergarten: examining an emerging
area of research for children with writing and reading difficulties. Journal of
Learning Disabilities, 36(2), 136-148. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Keaton, J. M., Palmer, B. C., Nicholas, K. R., & Lake, V. E. (2007). Direct
Instruction with Playful Skill Extensions: Action Research in Emergent Literacy
Development. Reading Horizons, 47(3), 229-250. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Singh, S. (2010). Independent and Collaborative Writing in a Kindergarten
Classroom. Journal of Reading Education, 36(1), 48-53. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Singh’s article gives really effective strategies for Kindergarten writing. It shows how to model writing and independent writing. Taking an approach that is based on real experiences in a particular kindergarten class. The students are given the chance to make connections based on reading and writing based on real life experiences.

Singh offers effective ways to model the writing process and independent writing. He gives the activity, time length, group size, the procedure, and the objectives. This article also presents examples of independent and modeled writing. This article showed evidence on how children are able to understand and demonstrate problem-solving, mechanics of writing, and use their social skills while working collaboratively.

Information in this article could be used in the curriculum writing in a kindergarten class. A couple of the topics address how to model writing and write independently. The chart of modeling writing would be appropriate for activities and kindergarten writing. Also, the article shows pictures of independent and modeled writing that could relate to other students.

Vander Hart, N., Fitzpatrick, P., & Cortesa, C. (2010). In-Depth Analysis of
Handwriting Curriculum and Instruction in Four Kindergarten Classrooms. Reading
and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 23(6), 673-699. Retrieved from

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The New Question - LeAnn Robertson

After much frustration and way too big an umbrella, I have come up with my final question, so consequently it will require a rewrite. Anyone have any feedback?

New Question:

How can I change teaching writing from a formulaic process taught in rigid sequence to a flexable method with recursive componants?

Michele's Big Question!

My question is this: What strategies can I use in order to be a more effective teacher of writing so I can better motivate my students?

Profile and Philosophy

Ryan J. Calhoun

Dr. Votteler

SHSU Writing Project

8 June 2011

Teacher Exploration Workshop: Profile and Philosophy

The Question:

How can I get students to offer more than just surface-level or hollow responses to analytical writing prompts?

Profile and Philosophy:

This matters to me because after two years of working with a variety of students one on one as a tutor, a semester of student teaching at two grade levels, and six months of classroom teaching, I have had the opportunity to work with a diverse of level of writers from eighth-graders to doctoral students and have noticed a common area of weakness. I have found that although many students claim to understand the concept of forming an argument, making an assertion, and providing evidence for it, they do not quite understand how this really works in application. In a recent essay in my classroom, the students were tasked with evaluating the leadership ability of Odysseus using a clearly defined set of criteria, and while many students competently chose quotations from the text which could potentially prove their points, these quotations were frequently followed by statements such as: “This quote shows that Odysseus is a good leader,” offering no further proof to support their points. I have found through my tutoring experience that although the phrasing of statements such as these may improve greatly from the time students begin their high school careers to the time they enter college, the root of the problem behind statements such as these remains; students are making unsupported claims in their writing. One of the greatest challenges that students face is the coming to terms with the realization that no matter how eloquently they write or what evidence they pull from the text, if they cannot effectively explain how their evidence proves their points and why those points are relevant to their central arguments, then they have, in effect, said absolutely nothing. This pervasive problem plaguing our pupils is only going to get worse if we do not find and correct this issue as soon as it arises. The problem then is: How is this to be accomplished?

Scripted Exposure

Brandie J. Buford

SHSU Writing Project

8 June 2011

The Teacher Exploration Workshop (The Question and Profile & Philosophy): Scripted Exposure

The Question:

How can I break the barrier between my passion for reading instruction and my tolerance of writing instruction?
Philosophy & Profile:
This matters to me because my students suffered this year as I struggled to accept my label of writing teacher.  They said I would no longer be teaching reading; they said I would be teaching writing.  Pause.  I thought to myself how can one exist without the other.  It is no wonder I felt a part of my soul rip away; I was loosing my best friend.  I cringed at the thought of teaching grammar, writing research papers, and evaluating TAKS prompt essays for the entire year.  Previously, as a reading teacher, my students and I could escape the stony walls of our school and encounter new challenges, new characters, and new perspectives on life as we read aloud, silently, and in small groups.  This year, however, my students and I were imprisoned to RM 229 in August, paroled in June and enthusiastically danced to the recycling bin to destroy the writing folders.  I had never done that before, and the shame of such savage behavior against discourse nauseated me to the core.  Being nauseated lead to anger; anger lead to disappointment; disappointment lead to humility, and humility has brought me to this inquiry.
My students deserve better; honestly, they need better instruction and engagement than what was provided to them this school year.  I recall memories of passing by my students in the mornings; they would faithfully arrive at school with the best they had, and often times, that meant just themselves in uniform.  Though they were not prepared with binder, pen, and paper for the day’s work, they were prepared to listen and learn from me, although often times, I felt as though I was not providing beneficial writing experiences.  My students vary in socioeconomic background, linguistic ability, and are of Hispanic and African American descent.  Classes are blended so that there are no homogeneous regular, special or G/T writing classes.  This heterogeneous mixture was an overwhelming challenge that I was successful in addressing as a reading teacher, yet as a writing teacher ,I failed them.  Upon review of their TAKS scores, my students exceeded the requirements of the standards tested; I should be satisfied and utilize this exploration to focus on strengthening composition through effective syntax and diction, but when I reflect upon their attitudes toward writing based upon the instruction I provided, I am categorically unacceptable.  I struggle with myself as I take upon the role of the writing teacher, but I can not see myself abandoning my first love, reading, so I ask myself:  How can I break the barrier between my passion for reading instruction and my tolerance of writing instruction?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Found Poem

The voice of a winning formula
Original, venture, exclusive, model
value, luxury
sought upon the energy
the artist in us

The Teacher Exploration Workshop (The Question and Profile & Philosophy)

The Question:

Will incorporating technology throughout the writing process at the lower elementary level improve the quality of writing (i.e., conventions, conferencing, content,)?

Philosophy and Profile:

This matters to be because at our campus teachers have expressed concern regarding the quality of writing produced at the fourth grade level. I think as STAAR is implemented, building a strong writing foundation at the early elementary level will become increasing important and looked at with more scrutiny. The internet has become a crucial component of our lives, yet that isn’t always reflected in classroom teaching. I feel I have a responsibility to my students to do everything possible to ensure they have the skills necessary to produce work that is interesting, creative, grammatically correct, and contains substance. I believe digital writing will help my students become more successful writers who are prepared for the twenty-first century.

I teach in the first grade inclusion classroom. I work at a Title I school so many of my students have a low socioeconomic status. Some of my students do not have computers at home so access to computers at school is very important. My students have one hour of computer time each week during Specials. Based on past year’s experience, my students have been successful using many internet sites and typing final drafts of their writing on the computer. My students with special needs are often most successful when they have the opportunity to complete activities using a computer.