Thursday, October 4, 2012

Even the Kids Are Doing It

After working at the WVU Writing Center for the past three years, I have applied my learning from my tutor training practicum appointment after appointment, day after day, and semester after semester. Although I was aware of the effectiveness of these strategies in practice at the center, I had thought that they were place-based, specific to the writing center learning environment.

As an Elementary Education major, I am learning how to teach students literacy skills in the classroom, helping them develop as not only readers and thinkers, but also as writers. In one of my methods classes, I am currently learning about the importance of establishing a time in the elementary classroom for "Writer's Workshop." During Writer's Workshop, students take part in the writing process and work collaboratively with their peers. Teachers model for the students how they should go through each step of the process and then allow the children to work with each other to develop their best writing possible. Students engage in conversations, brainstorming ideas for their writing, drafting pieces, and editing their work to make their ideas more clear and specific to their audience, all the while avoiding proofreading until they feel satisfied with all other aspects of their writing. This seems quite familiar...

Although I would never tell a second grader that they should think about the higher order concerns of their writing before they should think about their misuse of a comma, this similar structure applied in the elementary setting shows that learners of all ages benefit from their involvement in the writing process. When we can talk about our writing with someone else and bounce ideas off of one another, we are able to engage in collaborative learning experiences that help us foster our writing skills. And by going step by step to create a final product, we can look at how our writing has evolved and how we have grown as writers. This growth does not only occur for the person whose writing is being discussed, but also occurs for the peer.

Now reflecting back on these past three years as a tutor, I realize that just as the elementary-schoolers that I am student teaching benefit from their writing experiences, I too have benefited and am continuing to benefit from my work at the writing center. I have not only learned tutoring and teaching skills as an undergraduate tutor, but also have developed as a writer, appointment after appointment, day after day, and semester after semester.

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