Sunday, September 22, 2013

Toe-Dipper or Leaper?

It has now been four complete weeks attempting to use Penny Kittle's theories in my classes.  I find it difficult in that the class is a meager 48 minutes. Kittle's school follows a block schedule; her classes are 90 minutes.I can only imagine what 90 minutes with students would be like. At best I have 30 minutes.  I often devote 15 minutes to silent reading of choice books. Sometimes students use the 15 minutes to respond to prompts by writing in their working portfolios. I feel as though that time is important because they need to establish the habits that will carry them through the rest of the activities this year.

I will be finishing my SLO obligations this week.  I will have data that I can use to guide students' instruction, so it is definitely the right time for students to make some goals based on their performance the last month. I can put them into groups based on their goals and give them larger writing assignments to work on individually and together.

I wonder how much time they would actually focus and write? If I am attempting to get deeper writing, I need to give them more meaningful assignments. And according to Write Beside Them, the companion to Kittle's Book Love, I need to write beside them.  I will admit that I am a bit afraid to do so. When I think about sitting down in the desks with them, I wonder what I would write. I realize the irony in my fear. But that does not negate its presence. Do I complete the assignments alongside them? That makes me inwardly cringe though I do not know why.  My reticence leads me to ponder my desire to assign specific tasks to students. Are the assignments authentic? Are they similar to what students will encounter in the future? What do I write in my everyday life that could transform into an assignment for students?  Or do I approach the tasks as if I were an author, an actual writer of fiction and nonfiction alike who writes to publish? I think Penny Kittle would say stop thinking and just take the leap. But I am usually a toe-dipper not a leaper.  

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