Monday, December 1, 2014

Leonard- Chapter 13 Journal

Chapter 13 discussed a very important topic, communicating with students.  I think many teachers tend to forget the impact they can have on a student with only writing or speaking a few words or the lack there of.  Even now, I can't wait to see what a professor thought about a paper I have turned in.  Waiting for an assignment to be returned can be torture, especially if the assignment is returned late. Also, a grade with no comments at all can be equally frustrating.  With that said, I have been guilty of leaving only a few words when I have been rushed to return journals to my students.  I try not to write negative comments, but instead I will write, "come see me".  
Negative comments can stay with students for a long long time.  I can remember my 6th grade teacher being frustrated with me for not understanding how to complete a writing assignment.  Compounded with the fact that I was extremely shy and soft spoken annoyed her even more, because I did not ask for help when I should have.   Previously, she had taught my sister, who was very outgoing and honestly tended to pick things up academically faster in those days. She seemed to be rushed and finally barked out something about how I would never go to college and it didn't matter anyway.  For the rest of my life, I will never forget that experience and it is what I remember the most about that teacher.  While going for my undergrad in education, I used her as an example of what a teacher should not be like. 
The chapter also pointed out that teacher comments, especially when they are very vague, can be misunderstood. Positive comments can actually be taken in a completely negative way.  I think the example on page 354, 13.1, involving what a kindergarten student enjoyed about the school year is excellent.
I love the two minute conference idea as well as the conference topic suggestions.  Conferencing with students about their writing is definitely something I need to do more of in the library.  The two minutes conference will give me a way to do it, but I still think I may struggle.  I will not be able to conference with every student on every writing assignment, as I only see them once a week for about 40 minutes. That does include book checkout time. Peer response groups may also be another way I can go to save time, but I also must model it correctly and define the student roles clearly!

Parent involvement with reading and writing is always a good idea and I like how the chapter encourages parents to read and listen to their children.  A parent writing with their children is probably not as often practiced, but something parents should still do. Teachers can help guide these experiences by sending home good examples and suggestions for writing at home.  Maybe this could even be a topic for open house or parent teacher conference night. 


  1. This is an excellent reflection on the chapter, and something we should all strive to remember. As teachers, we are only human, and can sometimes say things in the heat of the moment, out of frustration. However, harsh words can stay with a person for a lifetime.

    I agree with you that our feedback should be overwhelmingly positive. We should look for the good we see in students. However, if we don't show them where they need to grow, they won't improve. Many students are very conscientious. Others don't seem to be bothered by creating inferior work, or receiving inferior grades. I guess this is one of the instances when we just have to know our students. I believe this is why a computer can not teach a child. It takes an empathic human to diagnose the situation and the student, and provide the feedback that will encourage the student to be their best.

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  4. Bethany, I agree with on the notion of being compassionate critics of our students' writing. I was very sensitive as a writer in elementary and high school, and I still am to a certain degree. Our skin thickens with age, right? Writing is a very personal form of expression.

    With that said, I also agree with Andy. We still need to ensure that students are learning and growing as writers. Yes, I do have a few students who, unfortunately, are very apathetic about writing, and often, school as a whole. Knowing our students is key so we can tailor our approach to the uniqueness of each individual.

    With my current project, I am going to attempt enlisting parent involvement by asking my students and parents to both complete the self-check rubric before submitting the writing to me for a final grade. I hope this initiative is well received.