The WasteLand discussion-10/30/18

Tuesday’s discussion on how to teach T.S. Eliot’s “The Wasteland” made me think of how hard it is to teach a poem of that magnitude and the planning that needs to be done.  In other words, it made me think of how context is so crucial with this poem and how that comes into play.  When I first read the poem in Professor Hanley’s English 528 class about a year and a half ago, I didn’t realize how complexed this poem is with students until we really came up with ideas yesterday on how to make sure the students understood it.  For example, I remember coming up with some visual annotations for the poem and going further into the symbolism with each section.  However, this was such a good idea to come up with fresh new lessons to look towards authentic learning with the students.

One thing that I really thought was extremely resourceful was Veronica’s idea of looking at the pre-war/post-war connections to “The Wasteland.”  I would have never thought of that.  It made me think in the class of the literature that could be compared/contrasted to the poem.  For example, even though this is not an American novel, but what if the students read excerpts of All Quiet on The Western Front and contrasted it with the poem?  To me, I think of “The Wasteland” as this pre-war struggle in the world and All Quiet on The Western Front as this post-war struggle.  However, both of them discuss this sort of fear occurring in the world.  That is the connecting theme that could be looked at when teaching “The WasteLand.”

I really thought it was interesting when Professor Hanley simply explained that poems are transactions.  Poems exchange ideas throughout the whole piece and present fragmented ideas.  When we use dialogue in our daily lives, we blurt out fragmented phrases and rarely do we have precise sentences in our verbal language.  In other words, poems reflect the language in which we have learned ever since we were born.

I think this discussion taught me ways to formally come up with a lesson plan for “The Wasteland” because it teaches us grad students to look beyond just coming up with our own assignments and look deeply how we can benefit the undergraduate students in literature.  In fact, this will help me when I take the teaching creative writing course this spring because one of the main projects in that class is to formulate a syllabus.  It stood out to me when someone brought up the syllabus being your thesis for the class.  To me, that is so significant because of the texts being discussed in class reflect your teaching philosophy.  I loved going back to the “Conversations with Text” article because it helped me with how much it is crucial for students to think about the poem and how it makes them feel.  This is something I would want to implement when I get a chance to teach this poem.  I truly wish our graduate seminars included more of this because it gets us thinking about how to really authentically teach these texts and make them learn/unlearn the poem.  We need more student input on how to teach challenging texts like “The Wasteland.”

Reading Room 10/16- Student-teachers Across the Curriculum Learn to Write Feedback Does it reflect on their writing?

Journal:  The Journal of Effective Teaching

Feedback is extremely crucial in the writing process and all writers need noted elements to improve on.  However, there are often times where people may not give the best feedback and it doesn’t constructively respond to authentic learning.  In the Journal of Effective Teaching article “Student-teachers Across the Curriculum Learn to Write Feedback Does it reflect on their writing?” by Esther Cohen-Sayag, Cohen-Sayag focuses on feedback on quality writing (more than themes and language aspect of writing).  Feedback is very crucial for teachers in their classrooms.  But do many teachers truly practice accurate methods to give/receive feedback?  Cohen-Sayag looks beyond the English teachers in this study and based off of other subjects.  Sayag gives an overview of this study by looking over how feedback changes with writing competency.

Writing down feedback is one of the ways a teacher-student relationship creates a conversation with their work.   In other words, the teacher may give quality notes on how the student could improve their writing or possibly the teacher will give questions for the student to think about on this assignment.  Feedback enables the students to have a chance to put more effort into their work and truly dive into the material.  What seems to be the challenge with receiving feedback on writing is that students want to appease their teacher and not writing based on authentic learning.  The intentions are not clear for students that feedback should be a consistent conversation between a teacher and student to express the writing.

In this article, Cohen-Sayag delves into the complexities with feedback, “The complexity of feedback writing depends on the context of the writing circumstances, teachers’ perceptions and goals and on the writing assignment” (Cohen-Sayag, 6).  The teacher’s goals on this writing assignment shouldn’t be highlighted during the feedback process.  If the goals truly do not match the feedback given by the teacher, the student is not authentically learning.  However, this is where Formative feedback comes in handy for students.  Formative Feedback relies solely on looking at the goals they want with their writing and how could they project their writing to the readers.  They would need to forget about on all the spelling mistakes and everything relating to syntax as well.

The resulting effects of feedback from the teacher in this study found behaviors and methods was very crucial for these student writers.  Second language writers felt feedback on condensed writing qualities was more helpful than non-condensed notes on their writing.  Second language writers found it extremely challenging to find those spelling/grammar mistakes and that their feedback had to be directed at their writing.

Other problems with writing feedback can cause so many challenges for teachers.  This one has to do with teachers look at specific lines they point out in an assignment and ignore the importance of comprehending the writing process each student uses.  The other one has to do with a teacher being extremely critical and do not give too much positive feedback on their writing.  Lastly, teachers are too bogged down on the technicalities of writing and completely disregard the ideas included in the assignment.

The course for teachers to practice accurate feedback and make sure they are ready to give notes for their future teachers.  The feedback should give the teachers to look back at their writing themselves.  However, it gets very tricky when it is strongly stressed this process is very formal.  The teachers should authenticate their learning by giving feedback in order to read the children writing.  All of this will be based on the child’s point of view in the writing.  The teachers need to read the writing aloud the written text with their colleagues so that accurate discussion is met in this course.

I found this article to be relative to my experience as a graduate instructional assistant in the creative writing program because it helps pose questions for me when I give feedback.  I have had creative writing professors tell me to always give positive notes and where they could expand in regards to craft.  However, in my practicum seminar, I hear my peers tell me it is challenging to continue to praise the students’ work all the time because not every paper they turn in will be great the majority of the time. In addition to that, I have to continue to stop myself from giving them formal notes on their writing and look more at their ideas.  How could their ideas be improved on by using craft elements?  To me, that is authentic learning inside the classroom because as an instructor, you are interested in their ideas.  We are taught by our former instructors/teachers that we have had in the past to put emphasis on grammar.  Correct grammar and spelling should be crucial for a student because you do want the writing to follow, but are we too engrossed in that aspect?  Shouldn’t we be fixated on their concepts that work with their writing?  That is something that I learned with this article.  It is something I need to continue to work on as a graduate instructional assistant.