ENG 461

Teaching Reading and Writing

For this blog post, I will be referencing “Learning How to Teach Writing” and “Learning How to Teach Reading” by Atwell and “I’m Teaching Writing to the Whole 5th Grade–Now What?!” by Amy Rasmussen.

The first article I will be discussing is “Learning How to Teach Reading”. Right away, Atwell discusses the traditional way of teaching literature. This includes lecturing students about the importance of reading. However, with this strategy, it does not allow for students to explore why reading is important for themselves. It is important to guide students to see the importance but if we just lecture them and tell them to believe us, it is much less effective then having students read for themselves. It can change their life as a reader once they find a book they enjoy and see their eyes light up when they actually get it.

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Image from DJ Bass

Something I think is really important from this article is the idea of a good reader. The stereotype for a “good reader” is someone who is in a book study finishing every book he ever starts. The “good reader” reads every single word on every single page and even looks up words he doesn’t know. While this is what most people think when they hear that someone is a reader, it is not true. Most people I know who enjoy reading do not do this and Atwell agrees. When teaching reading, it is critical that we do not expect students to be the stereotype. Of course, we want students to read and finish their books but they also need to know they have reader rights. They are allowed to skip pages and not finish a book if they do not like it. It is important to allow students to use their reader rights but first, we need to give them time to read in the classroom.

Next, I want to talk about teaching writing in the classroom. For this section, I will be referring to “Learning How to Teach Writing” and “I’m Teaching Writing to the Whole 5th Grade–Now What?!” The first thing I noticed about Atwell’s article is when she talks about learning with the students. To me, this is not specifically talking about reading and writing, but teaching in general. I believe that it is important to show students that teachers are people too and we learn every day based on our students.

When reading about Jeff’s story in Atwell’s article, I had a lot of different feelings. When he went to Atwell and discussed his writing method and how it is different than other students, I was hesitant because when things are not done the way we like or the way we are used to, we get stressed out. Asking if they will actually get it done or in this case if Jeff will have his writing folder full by the end of the year. In this case, it worked. Jeff was able to fill his folder and actually write but through his own learning style. For some teachers, me included, it can be difficult to let the student go away from the traditional way of learning because it feels safe. However, student’s know themselves better than any teacher will. They know what works and what doesn’t. If we do not give them the chance to use their own learning strengths, we are failing them in school. 

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Image from Denise Krebs

In “I’m Teaching Writing to the Whole 5th Grade–Now What?!”, Rasmussen, talks about a variety of methods to teach writing. All of these are great suggestions and I could see myself using all of them but my favorite is the idea of choice. Like Rasmussen says, it gives students more apt to take ownership and care about their writing. I believe if a human wants to be successful in anything, they first have to care about it. When students are given this chance, they not only care about their writing during that class period, they also have a better chance of continuing to write into their adult lives. I don’t expect every one of my students to become a writer (even though that would be awesome!). I expect my students to see how writing is important for their lives and others. When we are writing, we leave our mark on something. Who knows, a grocery list could be used in history books to show handwriting!

Overall, these three articles were very informational on not only teaching reading and writing but teaching in general. Our goal as teachers is to help students learn. There are many different ways to go about this goal but our main focus is the students.

References:

Atwell, Learning How to Teach Writing. Retrieved from https://online.csc.edu/access/content/group/f15194b1-3620-4ba5-a5f5-8bec8b8da125/Curriculum%20and%20Lesson%20Planning/Learning%20How%20to%20Teach%20Writing%20_Atwell_.pdf

Atwell, Learning How to Teach Reading. Retrieved from https://online.csc.edu/access/content/group/f15194b1-3620-4ba5-a5f5-8bec8b8da125/Curriculum%20and%20Lesson%20Planning/Learning%20How%20to%20Teach%20Reading%20_Atwell_.pdf

Rasmussen, A. (2015) I’m Teaching Writing to the Whole 5th Grade–Now What?! Retrieved from https://threeteacherstalk.com/2015/08/26/im-teaching-writing-to-the-whole-5th-grade-now-what/

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