Sunday, April 17, 2011

Week 6

What I like about facebook is rather than students "commenting" on a given writing prompt, students have the option--through the facebook group page--to open a "document" and write. This document interface (complete with toolbar) is very similar to a Microsoft Word document page. Having students open a document in facebook and compose rather than "comment" on a writing prompt seems to trigger a more "formal" response. Students often format their response the same way they would if they were typing a Microsoft Word file (personal/assignment info in the top left corner, etc.). I'm finding this even in low-stakes assignments. I've never asked them to do this. They don't need personal information on the page--I can see exactly who posted what. And I can see exactly when it was posted.

Well, I'm now considering not only how I'm going to network with Michelle's class, but also how I might use 2.0 technology in my ENG099 classes next semester. One question I'm asking myself is Blogger vs. Facebook? One reason I'm interested in continuing with 2.0 technology is that I'm consistently pleased with the level of work produced in class. So pleased, in fact, that I'm considering having my students write more of their longer essay assignments in class. I like being able to counsel students during the composition process. They seem focused and aware and free of distractions in a way that I suspect is seldom true if merely set them free with an assignment to complete at home. I also found student in-class writing to be more focused last semester (in my ENG101 course) as well. With the ability to type (rather than scribble) essays during our two-hour sessions in the lab--why not have every essay (except the researched essay) an in-class assignment? 


  1. Jason actually switched the assignments he had them do at home (writing) for the ones he did in class (lecture) when he started doing work in the labs. This may work for you too. You can tape yourself or something similar. The advantage of this, of course, is that the students can repeat your lecture as many times as they want.

  2. Setting aside class time so that students can receive instruction during their composition process is a good idea that might enable you to nip some of your students' problems in the writing bud, but I'd recommend staggering the format. Too much of such a practice early on might lead to some dependent writing habits. Moreover, I've always found writing environments to be extremely idiosyncratic. I, for one, have an awful time writing when I'm put on the spot to do it, and have always found my best work emerging under very specific circumstances. I've tried to teach these notions--that the task of writing isn't a one-size-fits-all activity, and that the circumstances of writing are sometimes as much or even more important than the content--in my own classes. Maybe prefacing their in-class composition time with acknowledgement that it won't be the only way in which they'll be asked to write, just one possibility of many, will make for a compromise and help them to think more critically about the writing act.

  3. Jeremey--I'm completely in accord that the writing on blogs is so good that I want to find more ways to use it as "stage" towards formal essay...(in my case out of class--yours is in from what you describe)--I also agree with C that we need to vary strategies--but I'm sure you know that!