Off to Educon. You Come, Too.

I’m sitting at DIA about to board a flight to Philadelphia, headed to Educon. It should be a good conference, and much of it will be available online. I hope we all learn lots. And I hope you, wherever and whenever you are, come, too.

Check out the wiki and join me and us. I think it’ll be useful. I’m doing a session on writing and I hope to get some writing done while I’m there.

What have you been writing lately? Where? Who’s been reading? What should we be talking about when we talk about writing? What shouldn’t we be talking and writing about?

In an age of ubiquitous publishing and always public if you want to be writing spaces, what new writing behaviors should we be adopting? What older behaviors still require our attention? What can we leave behind?

What about writing have we never gotten right in the classroom, and what can we do about that?

Your answers to these questions will probably make an appearance in the session, so feel free to share them in the comments.

5 thoughts on “Off to Educon. You Come, Too.

  1. What about writing have we never gotten right in the classroom, and what can we do about that?

    In response to the above question—Consistency in instruction, skills and expectations. As a community college writing teacher who often deals with recent high school graduates, I have students entering my classroom each semester with drastically different writing skills. Some are experts in organization while others submit writing with little to no punctuation or organization of ideas.

    There is a great need for more communication among teachers from all grade levels—higher education included. It can be challenging to meet each student’s need in the college classroom when they come from such diverse educational backgrounds and the lack of communication in terms of student success and skills widens the gap. We all want the best for our students and to offer an environment that best harnesses their educational growth, but it seems that many institutions get lost in thinking primarily within themselves and not where the students are headed next and if they will be adequately prepared.

  2. I think there have always been major challenges in teaching writing, no matter the era. It’s a very abstract activity, at least initially, when one is trying to get a hold on ideas and feelings and translate them into words and syntax. This is tough enough for many people, not to mention 13 year olds preoccupied with life at middle school. Then layer over that the different technologies we are using today for writing: cell phones, blogs, e-mail, etc. These are definitely more engaging for students, but they also erode a lot of what traditional writing instruction emphasizes: correct use of conventions, strong organization, thorough development of ideas. Think about a lot of the emails we receive from colleagues! No wonder teachers like Lisa Mulka have such varying levels of ability in their incoming students!

    It seems to me, then, that a major challenge for teaching writing today is how to employ these new, highly engaging technologies, but still maintain consistent expectations for the quality of the writing. My 6th graders who are using Moodle for their book clubs instantly began communicating in IM language; so step one, it seems to me, is to explicitly state expectations to students for when they use such tools: no abbreviations; use complete sentences; address people’s questions/comments directly; use specific examples and ideas. A simple rubric could be created to communicate this.

    The other necessary component is to montior regularly students’ use of the tools, which is no easy task, I think. It’s a lot of information that is happening all the time. Additionally, regular feedback to the students about how well they are meeting the writing-quality expectations would help them to keep focused.

    Well, those are my thoughts. Thanks for a great question, Bud, and a nice follow up, Lisa. Have a great week!

  3. I think that schools are overlooking the fact that students DO write, just not in the mediums that teachers are accustomed to. Students today use email, blogs, and text messaging on a daily basis. They are writing, and teachers need to figure out what it is about these mediums that get students to write, and try to incorporate that into their lesson plans. You have to reach out to the students, and connect with them on their level.

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