Archive for the ‘The Writing Process’ Category

During week seven of my writing course, we focussed explicitly on the writing process and now during week nine, students are dutifully using prewriting, organizing, drafting, editing and revising. It is a sight (and a beautiful one) to behold. Some where in all of this, we began to use the wondrous wiki for editing and revising.

Step one was to for me to set up the wiki for our class. Here I’d like to offer you a word of warning. When I used a wiki with students for the first time, I learned about something called orphan pages and I am hoping that you won’t make the same mistake. With my original (wicked) wiki, I thought everyone could simply do their work on the same page, but that is when the orphan pages began to appear (or not!). Orphan pages are pages that users create, but then don’t link to any other page. In my case, without being instructed to do so, some of my students created their own pages, did all of their hard work on that page, saved it, and then closed. The unfortunate thing was that there was nothing on the home page or any where to indicate that these pages even existed. It wasn’t until some students said that they had done the work and couldn’t find it that I went hunting. Under “Pages” I found these little lost pieces of work and quickly made links for them to the home page. To be honest, it was kind of a mess.

The best way that I have found to avoid this is, when I make the wiki, to create a page for each student and put links to these pages on the menu. When you use a wiki, you won’t always want everyone to have their own pages, but because my students use the wiki to write rather long pieces, I wanted each of them to have his or her own page. Next, I familiarized the students with the wiki. I showed them where their links were and explained they needed to click on edit, do their writing, and then save.

Wikis are excellent for editing and revising because I can look at the history of the pages and see what improvements have been made. With paper and ink pages, this type of insight is lost. This weekend I graded students’ tests and next week students will take their tests, put them on the wiki with the mistakes, save the page, edit and revise, and save the page again. Not only does this ensure that students benefit from feedback, it allows classmates to see one another’s work, ah — from wicked to wondrous.

Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dnL00TdmLY


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We all tell stories in our classrooms. The best ones both entertain and illustrate a useful point. Last winter, I heard just such a story told by Dorothy Zemach who was one of the plenary speakers at a conference I attended. Dorothy is a freelance writer who often speaks at workshops for language teachers and she is a wonderful storyteller. On the afternoon of the conference, I went to her workshop on the writing process. One of the creative things she did was tell a delightful story about her young son’s experience with the writing process.

I returned to my writing classroom determined shore up my students’ committment to the writing process.  I also returned with Dorothy’s story. My students smiled and laughed when I retold it to them, and later I thought it would be even more enjoyable if they could hear it directly from the story teller’s mouth. And then I began to think that it would be even more wonderful if our students could benefit from hearing the stories of teachers from all over. They would not only benefit from the stories themselves, but they would also enjoy the simple sound of a fresh voice in their classrooms. My theory is that after hearing the same voices again and again, a new voice is sometimes all it takes to get students’ attention.

Podcasts are an excellent way for us to share our stories. I asked Dorothy if she would be willing to record her voice digitally so that I would be able to use it with my writing class. She very graciously agreed. To keep is simple, I asked Dorothy to call my office telephone number and leave a voicemail. At my school we have a telephone system that connects voicemail with email. Voicemail messages are turned into wave files and are attached to email messages. This way we are able to access our voicemail when we log into our email accounts.

I used Audacity to make one small edit and convert the file into an MP3. I am new at this, but I believe that an MP3 is smaller and therefore better for downloading than a wave file. My next step was to find a place to publish the podcast. Ideally I hoped to find something like a YouTube for audio files. I asked around and connected with Joe Dale who suggested trying PodOmatic, Podbean or Blip.t.v. and here it is on PodOmatic.

Happy listening and please let us know if you have a story that you would like to share. Thank you very much to Dorothy for sharing her story and to Joe Dale for helping me find a place to publish it.

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