Archive for October, 2013

Writing in the Digital Age

Posted: October 17, 2013 in Uncategorized
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So, I’ve been thinking about student writing. I have assigned a lot of writing in my years teaching, and I am sorry to say that not enough of it has been for an andience beyond the classroom.

I moved to doing most responses to reading on a class blog a number of years ago. I’ve written about it several times. The blog was truly a class changing move. I got better work, more work, and we had better discussion in class once I moved to the blog. It served served us well in many ways.

I tried to have students do more writing for a wider audience. I have to admit in the several of years that I tried to have students writing for folks beyond our classroom, I did not master it. I did ok, but I’m not a big fan of Ok.  It worked for some students, quite a few actually. It didn’t work for me. I found it overwhelming to keep track of everything and didn’t approve writing fast enough so that students had to wait too long to see their work published. I know I could have just let it all go, and that was the ultimate goal. I’m not a perfectionist at all when it comes to student work. Bu,t I am a fan of paragraphs and believe that punctuation is your friend. By 5th grade there are some things that I just can’t send out there looking all ugly.

Anyway, I am still thinking about students writing for an authentic audience. What is an authentic audience anyway? Is a teacher an authentic audience? I would say no. A teacher is an audience that you need to have sometimes, but a teacher is not a peer.

I recently saw this video on Edutopia. I think it pretty much covers it.

So now I’m thinking again about how to get at the public possibilities of writing in 9th grade.

Day 106

Creative Commons photo by Chris Costes.

So, I’ve been thinking about what people would say upon my retirement from education. I was part of a search committee last year and one of our last questions, if we had time, was “many years from now when you retire from your career in education, what would you hope people said about you?”

We had some lovely, touching answers. Mostly about how it’s all about the kids and loving students. All well and good, really good. Then I got to thinking about what I would want someone to say about me. Or, what I would like to be able to say about myself.

I think as a teacher, I would want to be able to say that I did right by my students. I would like my students to say that I modeled being a learner for them in a real and visible way. I know that I did not do a perfect job everyday. No secret there. But I hope that it was clear that I was always aiming to do a great job and that I never stopped thinking about what I could do better. I take being a teacher seriously and I hope that shows. I do not take it too seriously and I hope that shows too.

Beginning my second year in administration (and now adding some teaching back into the mix), there’s a lot to say yet. One can certainly say I kept at it. And, if 90% of life is showing up, I’ve been doing that for sure. However, what I hope can be said some where ages and ages hence is not that 2 roads diverged in a yellow wood, and that by moving into administration I took some “other” path. Instead, I hope that I am still recognizable as the same active learner as an administrator. It does not really matter to me that my ideas move forward, it matters to me that the best ideas move forward.

Whenever I see my former students I ask, “are you making 5E look good?” I want my students to shine in my classroom and beyond. Similarly, I would like my school to shine during the time I am an administrator and beyond. I can think of nothing better than to be able to look back on my career and see that good things happened around me, for my students and my school. I don’t need to see my image everywhere, but upon careful examination, I’d love to be able to look around and dust for fingerprints. There will be many prints I am sure. I hope I’ll see some of my own.