I was able to grab a hold of a few of her writing assignments, many of which centered around basic writing prompts for the grade level (i.e. argue for/against school uniforms, argue for/against technology in the classroom). She finds most of them boring, or generally uninspired. Like Smagorinsky (2010) states:
"...the problem with research papers is that students write on remote or uninteresting topics and that better topic selection will produce better papers" (p. 160)
For these assignments, she is prompted to turn in not only the final draft of the paper, but also the outline, rough draft, and any other related paperwork. Through examining her work as well as her grades, I was able to determine that Nailah has a working understanding of the conventions of grammar that is above and beyond what many students in her grade possess. She also has a firm grasp of what ideas are valued in the classroom, such as the ability to write a coherent argument, persuade, inform, etc.
A common issue in contemporary education is making lessons and texts relevant to a generation of students that often remain uninterested with the subject. In fact, Smagorinsky (2010) writes about the use of research papers:
"...the problem with research papers is that students write on remote or uninteresting topics and...better topic selection will produce better papers" (p. 160).
It is a given that a more engaged student body will put in more effort into the writing process and therefore produce better work. This is the challenge of the modern classroom. Likewise, in my personal conversations with Nailah, she had expressed that the assignments that she was given were, for the most part, boring or generally uninspired. They consisted of the typical argumentative/persuasive essays revolving around school uniforms or technology in the classroom, and were generally re-used year after year with minor tweaks. For these writing assignments, she is prompted to turn in the outline, rough draft, and final draft of the paper. Through examining her work and her grades, I was able to determine that, although Nailah is inherently uninterested in the assignments, she has a working understanding of the conventions o fgrammar that is above and beyond what many students in her grade possess. She also has a firm grasp of what ideas are valued in the classroom, such as the ability to write a coherent argument, persuade, inform, etc. However, it would be unwise to assume that students like Nailah will continue to produce high quality work if subjected to more years of un-engaging assignments. Therefore, it is important to realize that we must either create assignments that matter to the students or allow students the choice to create assignments themselves.
Surprisingly, I had a very good time revising this paragraph, because I was able to spend so much time on one small portion of the work and really hammer in the details. In the original paragraph, I had received criticism about the placement and introduction of the quote, as it admittedly seemed a little abrupt and jarring without a proper introduction. Also, I personally felt as though the ending of the paragraph tapered off a little bit and didn't really have a solid conclusion. Why was I writing about the difficulties of modernizing essay prompts only to end in how wonderful Nailah's writing was. Needless to say, it didn't exactly click. In my revision, I tried reordering a few of the concepts, giving the quote a proper introduction, and creating a new conclusion that tied into the use of the quote. The lessons I take away from this revision project are the same lessons that I want to make sure my students understand--that my writing is a process and is always improving. There is never truly a stopping point unless you throw away the paper and never revisit, and there is always something rewarding inherently about fixing your own errors and making a work better. In our reading for this week was this concept of writing for the reader, and I agree that this is precisely the reason why outlining, drafting and clarity are important things to accomplish in my own writing. By embodying the habits of good writers, and being an active writer myself, I will be better equipped to help students find flaws in their own work and correct them.