Sunday, March 18, 2007

More on "Conversations"

In order to get some of these ideas going a little deeper, I will re-post Clay's comment on "Blogs as Conversations," here:

Clay Burell said...

Patrick, you really do nail the pedagogical affordances that, in my book, only blogging offers to developing student literacy--writing AND reading.

What I'm now experiencing with my own students is this: the idea of being writers is unsettling to them. After 9 years of schooling, they have only written homework and "schooly" writing assignments--have only been students, and never writers.

So they are resistant to this shift. They don't want to learn to be writers, because it's harder. It makes them find their own ideas, instead of hacking out some tired exercise based on ideas that Teacher prescribed to them.

So students have to be "professionally developed" as well as teachers into what the read-write web means for their learning. It's new to them too, and just as uncomfortable.

Which brings me back to your main point: the training I'm pushing on my students now is precisely what you highlight: reading with writing in mind; writing with an audience in mind; conversing with other writers and readers via comments; hyperlinking and connecting.

Some get it faster than others. All need to hear this: we know you've never been a writer, and we know you're a novice. We're forgiving that way. This is a long-term journey you're starting, so start where you are as a writer, and we'll take you as far as we can in the coming years. Trust that you'll grow.

That sort of thing. Enjoyed your post.

This is an observation that I have not heard about too often in my travels. As digital immigrants, we expect that we will have some issues with cognitive dissonance as we enter into blogging-as-practice and pedagogy, but Clay brings up examples from what he is seeing with his students. This is new for them as well, and this is equally as hard for them. By becoming consistent writers through blogging for larger audiences, we are kicking the chair out from under them, so to speak.

Think about the structures we have always placed on the writing process. We still use those structures, only the end piece is shifted dramatically. Audience is the most intriguing factor for us as teachers of writing because of the stress it places on the earlier steps of the writing process. Just by allowing for other students to access your writing openly and without the constraint of a 40 or 80 minute class period, it places new stress (what I would call "good stress") on the writer as he or she develops ideas, formulates syntax, and revises. Eliminating the time constraint that a student's work is open to others really transforms the whole process.

Professional development for students? I like that one, and our teachers will like to hear that as well.


Clay Burell said...

Hi Patrick,

I love this conversation. Do you mind if I cross-post your post on my blog?

Funny how vague the etiquette is about all of this. ;-)

I just want this conversation to appear on Beyond School also (not "instead of," since I love your blog), to keep the continuity of this whole thing.

Okay by you? And can I keep the cool picture? Full credit and link to you :)


Patrick Higgins said...

I would be honored, as would my son's rockin' Snoopy.

I agree about the etiquette; somewhat mannerly informal.