At present, I am sitting at the best kept secret in Atlanta, GA – Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee House. While overlooking the Hooch, I am catching up on my RSS blog feeds. I particularly try to stay current with the Westminster faculty bloggers. Well, I had gotten behind.
Yesterday a tweet caught my attention – a new post from a Westminster JH teacher of 8th grade students who are focused in her class to further develop their writing. The post is titled “A Real Audience,” and it can be found here http://superfluousthought.wordpress.com/2011/04/21/a-real-audience/ (sorry, working on iPad WordPress app). Having seen the tweet, I could not wait to read the actual post this morning.
A mystery solved! On Wednesday, I had received an anonymous email about our dress code in the Junior High. I wondered about somebody creating such an account, but the letter was compelling, so I responded to the request for uniforms. Well, now I am thinking that the anonymous plea and persuasion came from this class of crafty writers looking for a real audience.
I came to the coffee house to sit and think about grading, PBL, and integrated studies. I had no idea my thinking would take such a turn with this blog reading and perceived solution to my recent email mystery. But I am thrilled. If my hypothesis is correct and the email came from writers workshop, then that writing is non-graded. But it was heavily assessed. Isn’t that the best! The student’s letter served a purpose beyond writing for a grade from a teacher. The writing was real, for a real audience. Mine is too. This morning, my learning feels even more real!
Well, I suppose the cat is out of the bag. I did allow my students to do some anonymous writing for their persuasive papers. I struggled a little bit with the decision to allow anonymity because I know that most anonymous writing will not be taken as seriously as writing with a name attached. I also don’t want to encourage anonymity as the only safe way to voice ideas. Yet, I dowant to encourage my students to embrace the risk that comes with putting their names on their ideas, irrespective of whether their ideas will be embraced or not.
However, since this was thie first time that many of my kiddos had written to a real audience, I figured that I would allow them to risk as much as they were ready. Some were ready to put their names on their ideas. Some were not. I think next year I’d like to have them do this type of writing earlier and more often, and then encourage them, as they gain confidence in this process, to start to put their name on their ideas no matter if they write to an administrator, parent, or friend.
Thanks for responding! (I like having a real audience, too!)