Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Experimenting with Writing Evaluation

I have assigned a Cold War project to my learners, which requires them to know of the major events in the Cold War and demonstrate learning through a major media medium.  Some are choosing to do a podcast, newspapers, news blog, documentary, TV news, short film, etc.  I did not limit them in the media in any way.

I want the learners to write and perform expository writing using many perspectives and angles in order to answer the ultimate question, “How is humanity motivated by fear?”  Every learner is required to be the lead writer for one sub-genre within the chosen media. 

In order to evaluate the expository writing, I am using a new method.  I have printed a rubric for each learner and made the rubric available online for every learner.  As I talk and direct learners one-on-one or in small groups, I will evaluate what they have and let them know how they are doing on the rubric.  While the rubric is not the ultimate goal, it is an understandable continuum with which they are familiar.

I would usually require a rough draft, second draft, and final copy, but this allows me to get dirty in their writings daily and allows them to get the feedback right away.  I am trying to avoid spending hours grading and writing feedback that is never really appreciated or applied.  I want them to have real-time feedback and then get to work.  This takes time in class, but it also shortens the gap between the expectations and the learner’s composition.  Every time I meet with the learner, I will use the same rubric and simply move the line based upon their revisions.

We will see how the compositions turn out, but I am hopeful that more evaluating in class will lead to better writers and a lower stress in grading final essays.  Once the writings are done, the students will put them together to make a production with the media genre chosen.

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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Writing Words on Paper

In my writer’s journal yesterday, I wrote about the process of writing.  Here it is for your reading pleasure.

Writing is an interesting skill.  I don’t think about the specific strokes of my pen anymore.  I think about the words and my hand and fingers move the right muscles to make the words.  I don’t even think about the individual letters.  I think the word and it appears on the page.  When I don’t know how to spell a word, I think about the parts of the word and I write the chunks of the word.  Or, I write the word in the air to test the look of the word.  Is this simply because I have built the muscle memory of spelling words many times, or is my mind really thinking in chunks instead of single letters?  Our minds are so advanced that it stands to reason that my mind simply stamps each word on the page, but because the limitations of the writing utensil, I have to work through each word from left to right, from ink blot to ink blot.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Still Living With Mom?

I have been re-reading the story of Joseph in Genesis 37f lately, and some things that never really hit me before have struck me.  I have read the story, heard it preached, listened to it through audiobook, discussed it, referenced it in my own teachings, etc., but the Holy Scripture is God breathed, living, and active.  The spirit illuminates my mind differently based upon my needs and the context of my reading.

In Genesis 37, Moses calls Joseph a young man and he was his father’s favorite because he had him in old age.  There are two issues here.

First, Joseph is a young man at seventeen.  He is a middle manager for his father, checking up on his older brothers.  We call people young men today, but the phrase does not hold much meaning.  In his book The Myth of Adolescence, David Black writes that a boy becomes a man at puberty (when he is able to reproduce by siring a child).  Boys naturally become men at age 12-14.  Why do we allow our society to let men be boys until they are in their thirties?  It is like we are extending childhood past puberty into one’s twenties.  This limbo age is called adolescence and it is castrating our society of men.  Men feel enabled to play video games, use women, and eek out an existence when they could be adding value to society.

Second, why did Jacob choose a favorite son?  The reasoning does not seem good enough.  We know from scripture that Joseph is Jacob’s eldest son from Rachel (his favorite wife), but Jacob’s final son was Benjamin.  Why did he not get the honor?  He was actually the child born to Jacob in his oldest age.  We invite calamity when we choose favorites—especially in family matters.  Jacob was the eldest son to the favorite wife.  He was given supervisory duties and a special coat.  No wonder his brothers resented him.

I am not sure what my main point is, thanks for reading some of my thoughts.
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