What does it mean to teach writing?

One of the assignments for this class was to create a personal statement on our beliefs about teaching writing, which we tackled about halfway through the course. For my piece in particular, I am most proud of how I included all the ideas that were important to me. Unfortunately I feel there was some repetition and a few things could have been added or combined with other topics to make the piece more thorough and fluid, so that is what I would have done if I had had more time. Oh, and I would have revised it of course. What is shown below is my first draft as I did not have the time to make revisions.

Another of our projects that took place throughout the term was writing to pen pals. I believe that this project was used as a way for us to write to an audience that wasn’t just our teacher. When we write for a real purpose, and to an audience outside of school, it gives our writing more meaning and makes the task more relevant to our own lives.

I learned from my two pen pals that I wasn’t the only one who didn’t feel like a writer. Even though they were many years younger than me, I had more in common with Piper and Lily than I thought possible. They both had their own struggles and triumphs with writing and with life, and being able to get to know them through the pen pal project was probably the most fun part of class. Using their letters, I also got to experience what it was like to give feedback on adolescent writing, which was good practice for the future when I teach English.

The final assignment of the course was to create a summative assessment for a unit whose central novel was Internment by Samira Ahmed. We read this book during the first month of the class and it is a great novel to include in any high school curriculum to bring up important topics like racism and human rights atrocities including (but definitely not limited to) internment and labor camps. Included with our summative assessment for the unit was a lesson plan draft for one lesson from the unit.

I am most proud of the fact that my unit asks students to do some deep reflection into topics of social justice issues that existed in the past as well as current issues that are important to them. I also ask them to reflect on issues that are not necessarily relevant to them or their community but are present in other communities and just as important. The topic brings in cultural relevance and awareness of social justice issues across the country and world, which is something I already do with my middle school French language students.

If I had more time, I would add in a more thorough outline of the unit and add more to my reflection. I’m not sure I was able to convey how important it is to me that I teach social awareness, empathy, and fighting for change. These topics have always called to me, but until taking this class I wasn’t sure how to talk about these issues with my students, let alone incorporate them into the curriculum. Now that I know more about designing curriculum to be culturally relevant and socially aware, I can’t wait to get out there and bring these issues to my students to see what insights they bring to the table. Overall, I am relatively happy with the final product. I know that I could include and address more social issues, and in a way that more seamlessly integrates into the standards I will have to cover as an English teacher…but this was a good starting point.

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