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.

Annotation Comrades: Final

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jK-NcRmVcw

Hello comrades,  I am going to be using some of the methods implemented in Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe’s chapter “What is Backwards Design.” I use their methods as a launching pad for the annotation partner assignment in this class.  To believe in one’s writing as a career path, the student writer would need to be a student of this poet’s work (I will explain more on that in further detail in the planning stage). However, from a literary point of view, these annotations will ensure the critical thinking juices are in full effect for the students.   I will expand on my goals (which specific craft elements are crucial in order to be successful with this assignment), the evidence (in this case what sort of annotations will help them think about craft), and finally planning (what will be required from the students to complete this assignment).  This course section is completely coming from a creative writing point of view, but at the same time, they will analyze the poem and be able to read poetry like a writer.

But first, a little background on Billy Collins.  Billy Collins was born in New York City on March 22, 1941.  His poetry has been featured in the Pushcart Prize anthology and was picked on many occasions for the best American Poetry Series.  The poet Stephen Dunn once said this of Collins, ” We seem to always know where we are in a Billy Collins poem, but not necessarily where he is going. I love to arrive with him at his arrivals.”  This rings true with Billy Collins’ work and can be said when you read his poem for this assignment.

Goals:

My goal here for this assignment with my partner (and for the students I assign this poem to) is to identify Metaphor as a necessary craft element.  In the book How to Read Poetry like a Professor, author Thomas C. Foster says this about metaphor, “Metaphors worm their way into our consciousness so that their first, overt meaning gets lost” (Foster).  Metaphors should be used as something the students question in the poem.  Of course, the students will be very confused with the metaphors in this poem.  But the purpose is to read the poem several times and make meaningful annotations relating to metaphor.  Metaphors are conscious deeply inside our soul.  The students truly need to understand how a metaphor is effective in a poem because they could get lost very easily.  Some writers (poets) have frequently placed metaphors in the poem.  In short, it is crucial to grasp the concepts with metaphors and understand how they are properly used.  This assignment is designed for entry-level composition or creative writing students in mind.   From a creative standpoint, critically pinpointing metaphors ensures they have the linchpin engrained in their minds.  Remember, the students (and my annotation comrade) needs to read this poem as a writer and study this piece diligently.

 

Evidence/Desired results:

Some of the evidence for this assignment will be based on completing this annotation assignment one week before we discuss the poem in class. This includes creating an account for the Hypothesis module on the blog and dissect the poem with your fellow classmates.  What am I looking for in their annotations?  Their annotations should be open to interpretations (remember poetry is very subjective in taste) but at the same time, I expect them to respond to craft.  The student needs to be centered on craft in order to be successful with this assignment and deviating from the main idea of this assignment hurts their learning outcome within the larger group during lecture. In particular, they really to be centered in metaphor in order to effectively participate in this assignment (going back to the previous stage here).  For example, a great annotation could be in response to why this line in Billy Collins “Snow Day” reflects effective uses of metaphor.    In order to have meaningful annotations on the craft elements, I expect the students to proofread their responses and implement proper use of grammar.  These annotations on Hypothesis should be formal but very subjective in their approach to craft strategies.  The annotations are designed to revolve around on how a metaphor works and how it challenges the reader throughout the process.  That is one of my keys to success in this assignment.  The second desired key to success is by researching other poems written by Billy Collins (which I will post the link on the blog).  The students should have a historical background and include a breadth of knowledge of his work.  Failure to do outside research Billy Collins will result in confusion on connections being used throughout the lecture and not following directions.  Therefore the research will have a performative evaluation as well.  All of the background information and annotations will affect student engagement because they depend on the outcome of the lecture.  These annotations are designed for metaphor as the element of craft.  Metaphors can be easily missed in a poem and I hope students look towards using these annotations effectively.

Planning: Hypothesis and an in-class writing exercise

The requirements for this assignment is very straightforward, but failure to follow the directions posted on the blog will lead to less student engagement during lecture. You cannot learn inside the classroom if you do not go through the motions throughout this course.  The students will need their laptop and be able to create their own account in Hypothesis.  I will provide the directions to properly create annotations via links from Youtube on the blog.  If any of the students feel they are confused or lost on Hypothesis, I will suggest they email me their questions or meet with me in my office hours.  I want all of the students to be able to work on this together and not leave anyone in the dust.  Lastly, the students will be required to have their writing journals for the end of this assignment.  All of the students will be required to participate in an exercise after we annotate and discuss the poem.

As I have mentioned before, I chose Billy Collins’s poem “Snow Day” because it reflects a massive amount of metaphors.  A poet will either have several metaphors in the poem or have only a select few.  In fact, some poets might even stack metaphors together.  For instance, William Shakespeare had stacked a bunch of metaphors in Sonnet 73, “In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire/That on the ashes of his youth does lie” (Shakespeare).  Examples like this one shows how easy it is to miss metaphors.  That is why understanding the germinal ideas of a metaphor is so crucial for this assignment.  This poem injects so many useful examples of metaphor as a useful literary tool and in turn, will help students when they write their annotations.  It is the student’s responsibility to critically think about the metaphors in this poem and diligently analyze the poem with metaphor in mind.

The students will be reading the poem online a week before class.  The first time they read it will be solely on pleasure. Just enjoy each line and do not think too much on literary analysis.  The second time, Be in tune with the language and craft elements as you read the poem.  Jot down your original thoughts as a sounding board leading up to this assignment.  The third time, the students will be looking for metaphors to note in their annotation.  With that entails is how those metaphors are working craft-wise.  The fourth time, they will read it and identify metaphors that pop of the page in the poem. If they may do so, they could pick out the best metaphors (all subjective of course) and how they possess this sense of power.  I will pose these questions (if they get stuck):

  1. Which metaphors in this poem are useful?
  2. Did the poet provide powerful examples of metaphor?
  3. Which metaphors were the most challenging?

These questions are designed so that they can formulate good annotations.  A metaphor is supposed to challenge the students from a literary standpoint.  But at the same time, I do not want cram all of these ideas in a student’s head.  A student is supposed to be challenged in the most creative and productive way.

The students will then reconvene for class and we will all be discussing the poem line by line.  From there, I will call on students and get their responses from the annotations.

After we finish discussing this poem, I will begin my writing exercise.  The students will then close their eyes and imagine as many metaphors as they can.  They will control their breathing and be mindful of their thought process.  This exercise is supposed to be basic because all of these students are in an introductory course.  When they have finished, they will open their eyes and list all of the metaphors in the form of a poem.  This process will be part of the individual activity portion because the students will be working independently on their writing exercise and are required to turn in a typed version of the exercise. A real and authentic method of recording their writing in the journals is to not think too much about the writing.  The students must write and let it come from the heart.  However, I grade and evaluate this writing exercise based on following the directions and keeping those elements of craft in mind when the students write their poems.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/billy-collins

Thinking Beyond the Canon

Journal: Hastac

When we think about a syllabus, often there are visions of a packet full of background information on the course material, the required texts for the class, what is expected of the students, student learning outcomes, and a tentative class schedule for the semester.  However, this is not the case with this syllabus being discussed in this article.  In the article from the hastac journal titled “Thinking Beyond the Canon” by Flora de Tournay, Tournay identifies the complexities with this syllabus in regards to canon.  When you have several marginalized authors in the curriculum for the course, it is assumed that this would give students the chance to respond critically to the novels.  However, that is not always the case in some college classes and does more harm than good to the students.

With this new approach to the syllabus, it opens up possibilities for commentary, visual representations, and even notes left by the students.  For example, Tournay says this about the syllabus, “Self-authoring or -authorship, which here functions as the methodological manifestation of my own pedagogical approach, is also reflected in the course’s proposed content” (Tournay).  What this means is that the students are taking charge with the curriculum and in turn, the syllabus is a product to this activity.  In this course, the required readings are from African-American writers (which are either Queer or Female) that have been not discussed in your average English Literature college course.  All of these texts were mainly autobiographical, which includes the cultural history this author has endured in their life.  In a way, this gives students a chance to read the text like you are a writer.

Besides the texts being discussed during this course, the students are given essays that discuss the exclusion around the canon and what sort of hardships are faced when talking non-canonical literature.  Activities in this course would include group work, in-class free writes, and longer writing exercises; those writing exercises would be evaluated by their peers in class and several workshops would be assigned on the day of class.  The pedagogical goal is for the students to think deeper in literature at the higher education level and practice composition at the same time.  With revolving around the idea the marginalized authors and how the students can write about how the authors are not included in the canon, this affirms their chance to be co-designers of this composition course.

I found this article very relevant to Backwards Design because of the syllabus is designed to revolve around outcomes and desirable results (which is included in Grant Wiggins’s “What is Backwards Design?” chapter).  On top of that, in my creative writing course, I am an instructional assistant for, poet Tatiana Luboviski-Acosta shared with the class a crucial story.  She was a curator for a reading series, but only academics were allowed to this reading series.  To circle back to this article, Acosta and Tournay bring up a similar theme: exclusion.  The goal is to advise students to look at the deeper aspect of exclusion of these marginalized authors of literature and how to take authority over the discussion to focus more on inclusion outside of the canon.

https://www.hastac.org/blogs/floradetournay/2018/05/21/thinking-beyond-canon

You can see the syllabus here:

https://www.hastac.org/sites/default/files/upload/files/post/writing_literary_history_syllabus_f._de_tournay.pdf