The Garden Of Writing Needs Plenty of Water and Good Soil

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2 thoughts on “The Garden Of Writing Needs Plenty of Water and Good Soil”

  1. Hi Ben and all,

    Your observations about writing being the slow seeds to germinate if allowed to grow on their own terms are so in line with my experiences with students. My experience includes an internal argument that I have with myself all the time, and I am getting better at winning! LOL! The argument is whether to just let them write and count the words, or whether that doesn’t really count unless I point out errors to them. Don’t get me wrong. I really have not offered that kind of error correction in a long time, and allowing them to just write and count the words almost universally results in their own personal observations about what they are getting better at (and they are always correct), but that teacher in me that wants to correct errors is slow to let go.

    I do a semester end portfolio analysis that is proving now, several years in the making, to be a very good example of all this. When students do timed writes, we toss them into a portfolio. At the end of the semester, I give students an analysis sheet which guides them through a way of looking at their work and observing and reflecting on their progress. Have they made progress in writing Latin? If so, where is the evidence? What insights do they gain about their own language learning from looking through a semester’s worth of timed writes? What students write is stunning. We keep these portfolios going for 4 years, so by the time they are seniors, they can look at their very first timed write as freshmen and compare it to what they can do as seniors.

    This year, my Latin 3, over and over again, wrote someting like this: “there is a direct correlation between how many times I read and disuss a story and how well I am able to write about it.”

    GEEEEEZZZZZZ! They have nailed an insight that took me years of teaching to get to! So, we have been celebrating this all week this past week.

    On a side note: you all know that I just completed teaching a grad course at The University of GA–Comprehensible Input and SLA. The department has asked me to teach a course in the Spring. I will be teaching “Teaching Reading and Writing and SLA” for the spring. I already have 23 grad students registered. I am very excited. We will be using resources from Krashen and Frank Smith. I will be combing the PLC for posts on reading and writing. If you have resources, I’d love it if you sent them my way. robert.patrick59@gmail.com

  2. Congrats, Bob! Your reading and writing course for next semester is a huge sign of success, for you and for all of us. Go Georgia!

    I’d love to have a copy of the free-write analysis page sheet if you’re willing to share. The insights it could give the kids would be really valuable.

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