Responding to Student Writing


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This presentation was designed for the Southern Nevada Writing Project and its purpose is to provide an exploration of a dialogical model of engaging students in the revision process through teacher response on written text.

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Responding to Student Writing

  1. 1. RESPONDING TOSTUDENT WRITING:REVISITING MOTIVATIONFOR REVISION Nayelee Villanueva Southern Nevada Writing Project 2011
  2. 2. IntroductionAt some point in the writing cycle, teachers will engage withstudent writing through response often as a means forassessment.Whether the assessment is informal or formal, questionsregarding perception, motivation, and authorship come in toplay both for the teacher and student.Typically, the main objective for providing response as ameans of assessment is to foster revision in order to increasestudent writing levels. Therefore, the role that revision playswithin this process is critical.
  3. 3. What this often looks like…
  4. 4. Modern day… How does this affect student revision?
  5. 5. Confused and angry, he stared at the red marks on his paper. He had awkedagain. And he had fragged. He always awked and fragged. On every theme, acouple of awks and a frag or two. And the inevitable puncs and sps. The cwsdidnt bother him anymore. He knew the teacher preferred words like courageand contemptible person to guts and fink. The teacher had dismissed gutsand fink as slang, telling students never to use slang in their themes. But heliked to write guts and fink; they meant something to him. Besides, they werein the dictionary. So why couldnt he use them when they helped him say whathe wanted to say? He rarely got to say what he wanted to say in an Englishclass, and when he did, he always regretted it. But even that didnt bother himmuch. He really didnt care anymore....Edward B. Jenkinson and Donald Seybold, "Prologue," Writing as a Process of Discovery, p. 3
  6. 6. Origin of a Dilemma• Responding to student writing to promote the revision process is often a difficult task.• No “one size fits all” approach to responding to student writing.• Best efforts to provide effective feedback for students in order to promote revision often fall flat.• Students are quick to feel the sense of hopelessness about writing, and their motivation for writing wanes with each writing assignment.• Students often lose the sense of authorship and inevitably adopt what they perceive to be my agenda as the teacher.
  7. 7. Dilemma Questions• When responding to student writing, how can I ensure students do not lose the sense of authorship?• How can I get students to truly think about their writing and apply it to their revision process more authentically after I have provided written feedback?• How can I involve the students more in the response process?
  8. 8. Reflecting on Response PracticesReflection Elementary Middle School High School CollegeQuestionsWhat forms (written,oral, individualized,general, etc.) does yourresponse typically take?What aspects of writtenwork do you typicallycomment on? Why?At what stages in thelife-cycle of a writingassignment do youtypically respond, e.g.,drafts, final papers?How (and when andwhy) might you involvestudents in response?How do you assesswhether the responsewas helpful for studentrevision?
  9. 9. Teacher Assumptions Student AssumptionsStudents understand linear marks Perceive teacher comments as the only areas needing improvementStudents know how to make Writing for the teacher/professorsuggested changes when revisingStudents understand the writing Perceive writing as “right” and “wrong”assignmentPerceive low level writer’s errors as Believe they have no “say” in possible“careless” revisions based on feedback (authorship)There is a “common language” in Perceive writing as a “final product”responding to writing and students when given grade/written response withwill “get it” no opportunity for revisionTeacher response should focus on Revision is all about “fixing” grammargrammar, mechanics, and structure and mechanics errors.Students will review responses and Perceive teacher comments as negativetherefore will improve student writingskillsTeacher response should focus Perceive the teacher as the judge ofsolely on problem areas their writing ability
  10. 10. What the Research SaysA study conducted by Sommers’ (1982) that examinedteacher comments, illustrated that “teachers’ commentscan take students’ attention away from their own purposesin writing a particular text and focus that attention on theteacher’s purpose in commenting” (p. 149).Lindemann (1995) argues that written response shouldprovide a teaching opportunity. The whole purpose forresponding to student writing is to get students to see theirown strengths and weaknesses in a paper and makeconscious, authentic decisions about revision.
  11. 11. ResearchKnoblauch and Brannon (1982) argue:…this correcting also tends to show students that theteachers agenda is more important than their own, thatwhat they wanted to say is less relevant than the teachersimpression of what they should have said...Once studentsperceive this shift of agenda, their motives for writing alsoshift: the task is now to match the writing to expectationsthat lie beyond their own sense of their intention andmethod. Therefore, far from controlling the responses of anintended reader, they are forced to concede the readersauthority and to make guesses about what they can andcannot say.
  12. 12. How to respond to student writing while maintaining studentauthorship and motivation?•Dialogue•Addressing students motives for writing•Involving students in the response processThis leads us to our activity…
  13. 13. Activity1. Fortune Cookie/ Writing Prompt2. Template and something to write with!3. Directions Sheet4. Choose a partner5. Writing Time6. Response Time7. Debrief Time
  14. 14. Discussion QuestionsHow can this activity be adapted for all grade levels?How can this activity be used in various ways within thewriting process?How can this activity be used across the different contentareas?How can teachers use this activity in contexts with timeconstraints?Other questions to consider…