Sounding Like a Writer

17 Aug

Looking out a window from a writers deskNext Monday, 8 a.m., is my favorite teaching moment of the year, the first class on the first day of college for my students.  They shine with bright expectations of the adventure ahead.  This year I will shine, too, with expectations of how I can help them see themselves not just as students, but as writers.  I started thinking about that transition in my study of the Common Core Standards this summer.  A phrase from the introduction to the Common Core really resounded with me.  The sentence read,  “They [college and career ready students] respond to the varying demands of audience, task, purpose, and discipline.”  That’s a description of a writer.  That’s what I want my students to become.

Later in the summer, as I was assessing first-year ePortfolios, I read reflections that sounded like writers reflecting on their writing.  The writers talked about responding to different audiences and purposes.  They used words like “context” and “strategies.”   But I also read reflections that sounded like students reflecting on their coursework.  They talked about projects and grades and used phrases from the classroom, like “the instructions were” and “the instructor said to.”  As I thought about those ePortfolios, I was reminded that one of my primary tasks is to help those students, from the very first day of college, cross that bridge from being a student who writes to being a writer who writes.

So that’s my goal for this year, and I’m using the picture above of architect Philip Johnson’s glass house as inspiration.  Rather than feeling walled off inside the red brick walls of their classroom and their campus, my students should feel open to the real world, composing not just as students finishing an assignment for a class, but as writers writing to real readers.  I’ll let you know how the work is progressing when I see you at Transitioning in September.

3 Replies to “Sounding Like a Writer

  1. Love it. This makes me excited for the possibility wrapped up in beginning a new semester – possibility and opportunity for the writers we encourage and for ourselves as educators.

  2. Today, at 9:00am, I got to experience what you’re talking about Karen. I also want my students to become writers who explore the world, and learn to respond to a variety of audiences and purposes too. Let’s hope we all accomplish that task this year.

  3. I love this image! In my first day of class, I wanted my students to know I’m going to be one of those engaged and interested readers. So I showed them Beyond the Red Ink and we talked at length about comments on their papers and what they find most helpful. Just opening with this discussion makes me so excited to see what they are going to do with their first reflection on what writing has been like so far for them. I hope that they leave feeling like writers who write!

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