ECI 519 Journal

Oliver/Pritchard Chapter Reflection.

I was excited to read this article to understand the approach to writing we would be taking in further depth.  I enjoyed reading about the process of writing, not in regards to grade level, but cognitive levels.  It was interesting to hear that expository writing was at the higher end of the scale.  Reflecting on my personal writing skills, I have always felt more comfortable writing for a purpose, rather than using symbolism and sensory details for narrative and poetic writing.  

I agree with the article’s point on how writing with technology can be a motivator and a support and metacognitive tool (MacArthur, p.364.).  Another aspect that I connected with, was using technology as a source and tool to connect to a vast audience.  By adding pictures, recordings, ect, it allows the writer to connect with others and also connect better to their own writing .  I was envious when reading about all of the ways technology can be used for shared collaboration and research.  On page 369, Rowen was cited saying that students can speak to real authors and NASA scientists.  The possibilities, when using the web, are endless and extremely beneficial if used appropriately.

Lastly, this article expanded my knowledge of the programs and tools available for students to use.  For example, on page 375, some the the websites for photos and videos were listed as well as “classroom pinterest” board.  The community building among classrooms can be taken so much further now and it is wonderful that it is happening through writing and technology.  It is so exciting that technology is there to support and develop the writing process.  I hope teacher’s take the time to learn and explore their options to provide students with a much needed tool for careers today and to come.

Pytash Chapter 5 Journal Reflection-Fostering Student Writing through App Affordances

This chapter was a good overview, for teachers, about how to properly use IPads in the classroom.  As a Kindergarten teacher, my IPad use is far and in between.  I have one IPad for myself and the school has a cart of 30 for classrooms.  I have still not braved the cart with the fear of Kindergarten hands not using them appropriately, and not having a lesson that uses them appropriately.  My personal experience using an IPad, has been to foster learning in small literacy and math groups and also as a motivational tool or incentive for my behaviorally challenged friends :).  The school has some wonderful, hands-on, math games and writing tools that I have been using.  

One lesson, that I felt could be adapted into Kindergarten, was using the IPad to illustrate the meaning of a story.  The article mentioned how the students had to work together, and also go back and read the text.  Also, I like the Voice Thread option.  Our class puts on plays of major fairy tales.  It would be fun to have a narrator record their voice and also record them acting out the plays.  As an adult, I liked the tools in Diigo and DocAS.  When students are learning how to find websites and utilize information correctly, I can see how these would be a very useful.  One of the great ways these apps are used in the classrooms is with collaboration.  It is nice how students can share, comment, and interpret research from their peers.

On page 75, it discussed the app Explain Everything.  I had students in my Kindergarten class that could have used this during our How-To writing unit.  It would have been a great way to challenge those higher-level students and also incorporate visual representation.  I have always felt that the most important lesson when teaching writing is sharing and responding.  In our classroom, students share their work on the document camera and their peers can comment, ask questions, and also see models of good writing, and writing that can be improved.  After reading this article, I see that there are many ways to use IPads as an alternative way for sharing work and peer collaboration.

Chapter 11- Write, Respond, Repeat: A Model for Teachers’ Professional Writing Groups in a Digital Age.

I like how they started this article by saying how professional writing groups can be used as a reflection tool and a way to build on effective practice.  It is hard to find the time to look back and as your respect colleagues on what is going well in your classroom.  One of the most challenging thing about finding that time, is finding is as a group.  Most teachers, like myself, have second jobs, take classes, or have family commitments.  We spend all of our extra time planning for our class and do not give ourselves the opportunity to grow and learn.  I think the idea of Google Hangout is a wonderful way to meet with fellow teachers.  I thought I knew a lot of what google had to offer, but I love finding out that there is so much more.  As I write this, I am thinking of all of the teachers I could connect with from college, who are now scattered across the country teaching.  

On page 155, I connected to what Erin was commenting on.  I have high anxiety when it comes to being judged.  In some aspects, it is a good thing because I am always striving to do better and make things the best they can be.  However, at times it makes me second guess everything I put down on paper and eventually, I do not know who I arrived at my final copy.  The stress of excitement of sharing writing is felt by adults and students.  It is so important to keep that in mind when my students bring their stories to me or when we are writing for a specific purpose.  For a Kindergartner, I can imagine they get nervous.

With regard to the benefits of a professional writing groups, knowing who your audience is gives your writing more meaning.  My feelings were echoed in the article about wondering if my writing even matters.  Who wants to read a 3rd year teacher’s paper on guided reading strategies or the effects of family involvement on a student’s growth?  Knowing that my writing would have a purpose and knowing who my intended audience is would encourage me to write.  Later in the article, it talked about being less intimidating not sitting directly in front of your audience as  well.  Knowing who your audience is can be great, but sitting in a hot seat reading your work to them directly can be overwhelming.  

Reflecting on this article as a whole, I think it is an overall powerful option for teachers who are looking to write articles to be published or working on a project together for their school or district.  I do not know if I would use this model to the scale they described.  At this point in my career, I love learning how to teach my students better, sharing ideas with other teachers, and reflecting on my work in the classroom.  These tools they mentioned could be wonderful on a more informal approach for me personally.  If I do explore the option of working on a professional article, book, or lesson in the future, I can see this as being the perfect system.

Chapter 14- E-feedback focused on students’ discussion to guide collaborative writing

in online learning environments

I can remember in high school when it was peer editing day.  We would always switch with a friend because we did not want anyone else to read our paper, and we got to talk.  It was never an easy task to give feedback on your friend’s writing.  You did not want to offend them and you also did not want to sound stupid if your comment was not correct or what they had in mind.  As I got more comfortable with giving feedback, I noticed that giving suggestions rather that statements was always a better way to approach the process.

In almost every area of reflection and improvement, there needs to be discussion.  I like how the article focused on the dialogical model.  Students need to reflect on their writing, know where their critic was coming from, and talk about what the writer wants to get across.  Also, I like how the teacher can monitor the discussion going on between students.  This leaves a lot of responsibility on the students and forces them to put more thought into their feedback.

I am familiar with Google docs but I am curious to try Hylighter and NB.  They both look like they are user friendly and have many great tools to make collaborative writing and easier process.  What I like about Google Docs is that the teacher can form groups and the discussions and feedback are observable by everyone in the group.  This does take a lot of time on the teacher to keep up with each group and actively monitor the process of writing.

Lastly,  I like how the article suggested a way to implement this into the classroom.  Once teachers are familiar with a tool, it seems like the plan and design of this collaborative writing process is highly effective.  I also feel that this is a great way for teachers to reflect back and assess how the students did and how active they were in their own learning.  Overall, I think that high school and college students can get so much out of these tools and grow as writers.

Ch. 12 Comic Life + Writing= Motivated students

As soon as I started to read this article, my mind went back to when we did the same thing in class.  When I first looked at the lego box, I was overwhelmed.  After some time to think about the story elements we were supposed to follow and knowing that I need 6 spaces to tell my story, I had a better understanding of my task.  Sometimes when I get a writing assignment, the possibilities and open-endedness of it can actually hinder my writing.  I never know where to begin or how to organize my thoughts and it reads like my ADD mind.  For someone who does not read comics, this assignment was approachable for me and I enjoyed doing it.  I actually told my media center specialist all about it on Monday after class.  This idea would only be better in the hands of a creative 2nd-5th grader.  

One thing I liked about this article is how it talked about the pictures students choose are bringing added elements.  Once students have chosen the pictures to enhance the story, they can add the text.  The text is what makes the story come alive.  As students work on their project, they can clearly plan out their text for the story now that they can visualize the story.  Another great point that the article made was how certain filters, colors, or text features may not be true to the time period or tone of the story.  It was interesting how teachers can take this project and take it in so many directs about nuances of history, art and language.

On top of opening up my eyes to the many ways this can improve student writing, they provided many extensions of how to implement it.  Some of my favorite ideas were narratives, biographies, timelines, and social stories.  As a kindergarten teacher, I obviously would not do this as a lesson for kids to do, but it would be fun to make one with them.  I loved how the special needs teacher make a comic about how to act in the hall and asking a friend to play.  It would be nice to have those up in the room to refer back to.  Also, students would love to see their picture in the story.  Role-playing to take the picture is just another added benefit to this lesson.

I think that this type of writing is very approachable and doable as a teacher and a student.  Students are more familiar with uploading pictures and editing them now with Facebook and Instagram.  This software seems very user friendly and I think students would think of it more like a game more than work.  When they talked about students doing this during their inside recess, it reminded me of when I was hooked on a website or game.  All you want to do is upload more things and share with others.  I will pass this idea around to my school and I hope that I can use it as well in my upcoming year.

Ch. 15 Wikipedia

I have ingrained in my head to never use Wikipedia from every English teacher I had.  I was surprised to hear how this teacher used this site to engage students and use is more as a writing assignment rather than a research project.  In my personal use, I always use it to find quick information.  With my teaching experience, I do not use sites such as this.  What I liked most about this article is how is opened up my eyes to using sources in new ways.  Having these students add to the research instead of pulling from it, makes them accountable and proud of what they have learned.

If I were to use this with my classroom, I would want to go through the many different referencing techniques and how to follow citations back to their original source.  Students need to understand how authors and contributors get their credit and how to access more in depth research.  In kindergarten, we talk about treasure or trash with vocabulary.  When the author talks about finding information that is useful or opinions, it reminded me of that lesson.  Even on the kindergarten level, we can talk about if information we find is good or bad and why.

Ch. 9 Teaching Long-Term English Learners

to Write in Content Areas:

The Application of Dynamic and Supportive Instruction

I was excited to read this chapter because I feel that teaching ELL students is one of the biggest challenges for me.  Especially at such a young age, I know they pick up the language quickly so I feel like I do not focus on it as much.  From my experience, my students respond to visual and physical representation the most.  It is always so much fun to watch students during social centers using new vocabulary and interacting with others.  By letting them be each other’s representation, they are able to connect to the language better, and I can link their experiences to their writing.  In Kindergarten we begin the writing process with predictable sentences.  I was glad to see that the author touched on that strategy with the visual and physical elements.  One idea that is different in Kindergarten, I feel, is the amount of direct instruction.  In my experience, at least in the first half of the year, I do a longer direct instruction lesson before I let students begin on their own.  I do have groups that are able to begin on their own, but I still like to go very slow and gradually let go of the reins.  

It was hard to read that students are getting cut short in their education with respect to content.  I know that the course of study is so rigorous now especially when it is time for E.O.Gs.  I am a firm believer in integration of content and mechanics. That is how I am my team plan our units.  It makes sense to me as a teacher and I am sure it solidifies ideas and concepts for students.  It also helps students to think about their writing so it doesn’t become such a burden on them.  This article has been a nice refresher to read in regards to what I can be using to help my ELL students.  I am going to try and incorporate more of our provided resources so that students learn in the best way possible.

Ch. 7 Engaging Teachers in Digital Products and Processes:

Interview Feature Articles

In high school, I did an assignment very similar to the one described.  I do not teach older students, so it was interesting to hear what teachers go through when putting a lesson like this together.  A couple points that liked was, first, not to introduce the formatting expectations first.  This allows students to be creative and not think about the details.  This could narrow their thinking or cause them to second guess themselves.  It also gives them a chance to put their ideas down without any pressure before they worry about grammar, margins, and fonts.  I always think it is much easier to go back and edit after ideas are put down then go from a rubric right from the beginning.  Another thing I liked about the lesson was the first feedback session.  Feedback can be scary, but with the whole class up and moving it takes your mind off of your own paper.  Also, making the first comments positive and the second comments author driven about specific aspects of the writing is helpful to the author.  I agree with the point of looking at other pieces of writing to help improve your own.

I think it is very important for teachers to learn about these digital tools before they use them with students.  One thing that always lost my interest in college, was went we had an assignment that the professor could not assist us with.  Already through this course, I have learned and used numerous sites and tools that I could use with my students.  It is so important to keep learning and USE the tools we will be teaching.

Ch. 2 Developing Preservice Teachers for 21st Century Teaching:

Inquiry, the Multigenre Research Paper, and Technology

While I agree with the comments in the first part of this article, I do understand why we are taught so many research based strategies first.  It is difficult to pack in to two years, all of the basic ideas teachers need to understand and practice, along with current practices and expectations.  One thing I think can be done better, it to have more professional development provided to teachers that are relevant and current.  But learning about Common Core has been fabulous as well…

It was a good idea for the teachers to write down their questions, why they had those questions, and what they already know.  Sometimes we have all the knowledge we need to find answers or develop answers on our own but do not use our resources.  It was also powerful to have them discuss their questions with other teachers and share ideas and tools.  As discussed in the last class, it is brought up again the positives to giving students time in class to work and having the tools available to them.  I think teachers will see more improvement when they provide opportunities for their students to collaborate and work.

Along with lessons and technology tools we have learned, I was excited to see some more resources to try out.  I have really liked many of the tools presented in our course and I am continuing to use them for personal use and planning to use them in my classroom!  It was fun to see other teacher’s examples of things we have done in class.  Using the weebly to present different projects, especially for this muli-genre project, is such a great way to save and organize work.  I can imagine it is nice for the teacher as well.  Having the rubric to look back on throughout the project is a good strategy to make the students more accountable for their work.  After reading this article, it makes me want to go back onto my weebly and add more description to what we did and the lesson that was used for our digital tool.  It is a great portfolio to have and I want to use this in the future.

Ch. 17 The effects of new technologies on writing and writing processes.


It is obvious that technology has had major impacts on education, writing, and in almost everything we do.  Even since this article was published, I feel like there have been so many substantial changes that affect the classroom.  It is hard believe that my Kindergarten students can pick up my IPad and know exactly how to navigate on it.  My reaction to reading the data was that, technology can be positive when used the right way and the students have background knowledge.  One thing I found interesting during the word processing research, was that if students work well with word processors it is a disadvantage to not have it for tests.

For the most part, I feel like this is an in-depth review of what we have been talking about in class.  Technology can be great.  It all depends on the students, instruction, and flexibility and availability for scaffolding.  As I read about all of this mixed results, I think about what the differences were between students.  When you add the technology layer, you have to look at not just the content ability, but also how fluent they are with technology.  It is a difficult job to make sure that students are using technology to their benefit.  I am very glad that I took this course because it has opened my eyes to how students can do just that.

Chapter 8

Helping Teachers Make the Shift:

Professional Development for Renovated Writing Instruction

After reading this chapter and reflecting on our course, I do feel like it was a very positive experience.  Coming into this, already being confident with technology, I was excited to see how to incorporate it more into my lessons.  It was great to have so many opportunities to work with the resources hands-on and to create projects of our own.  I am going back to the classroom with so many ideas and things to share with my colleagues.  One thing I wish we could have done more with is working in groups with other teachers in our grade level to discuss how we will implement this new wealth of information.  Especially in the lower grade levels, students are just being exposed to writing and technology all at the same time.  A lot of the projects we did were aimed for 4th grade and above.  I will be able to use many of these to present information to the class which will be fun.  This course encouraged me to look up more information about how to, effectively, introduce technology for writing at a young age.  I appreciate the amount of effort that went into this course to create a welcoming environment for everyone.  The students all have a great relationship together and have already started talking about things we want to try in our classrooms.  Many of the tools introduced are very practical and I can even see some Kindergarteners using them at the end of the year.