Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Mundane Musings

So this week I collect essays based on my snazzy new assignment. I asked students to identify and define the audience for one of four websites, in an effort to combine their love of the Internet with my desire to anchor their concept of audience in writing. The thesis process has been positive overall although I did realize that my directions needed modification and clarification. Once I tweaked those directions, the thesis statements improved. (Oh, those guinea pig first period students, eh?)

I’m nervous about grading essays based upon a new assignment. Usually, I dive right into the pile and start my stack countdown immediately. However, with a new assignment, I need to get the lay of the land a bit. Right now, a good version of this essay exists only in my imagination. I haven’t seen yet what students will produce in response to this assignment. Lots of weary experience has taught me that my imagination can be inflated. In a way, getting students’ products on this new idea gives the assignment itself a grade. I get to see if the assignment fosters the skills and understanding I intended for it or if it just creates a brand new level of confusion and ambivalence.

Waiting for these essays feels like a professional version of getting first class mail. (Okay, I can now never deny what a total and utter dork I am. I love first class mail even though I am devoted to technology. I. Love. Snail. Mail.) Teaching writing can be very isolating. We assign essays, we explain them, we get students pre-writing; it can be difficult to summarize for a fellow teacher how we guided a class of students to write a certain essay. Crafting an essay assignment excites me, but it is like being the first person in a couple to ask the other person out. I've put myself out there with this assignment. Did it land? Did it help? Did it further my pedagogical goals? Did it ignite the "aha moment" in my students when they'll start to feel like writers? (Gosh, I don't take all this too seriously, do I?) When the stack comes in at the end of this week, it will be like the other person's answer to my risky proposition: "Would you like to learn how to love to write with me?"

co-posted on Between Classes: Living a Balanced Life as a Quality Teacher

No comments: