About Me

I teach language-arts enrichment to 3rd graders, advanced reading to 4th and 5th graders, and 6th-grade math to 5th graders. I’m also the school’s G/T coordinator, which entails testing and identifying students and collaborating with colleagues to meet the needs of high-ability students through differentiation in the regular classroom. I’ve been teaching for ten years, almost all in gifted education.

I graduated from high school in 1978 and, thirty years ago, English was a different subject. Instruction was equal parts literature, composition, and grammar, one quarter devoted to each during the school year, at least in my high school. No one questioned the sanctity of the five-paragraph essay, and reader response theory hadn’t become part of practice. In college, the shift toward reader response was apparent – and disconcerting, with its concomitant antagonism toward historicism – but by then there were so many requirements for my B.S. in biology that I didn’t have room for English electives.

I’m currently pursuing an M.A. in English Education. One requirement is E402, Teaching Composition. However, because I’ve been teaching ten years, I’ve already had a lot of professional development in this area: Barbara Mariconda for narrative writing, Maureen Auman and Step-Up for expository writing (controversial, I know), Six Traits for elements that apply to any mode of writing, still other workshops about writing across content areas or using picture books to model writing, CCIRA conference sessions about boys’ writing or writing workshop or peer revision.

Teaching writing is incredibly challenging; I’ll need to continually learn as a writing teacher. However, for my M.A., I decided to take E501 because I want to go deeper into theory, come to my own conclusions, and make sense of the multiple writing programs I’ve experienced. I believe I will be a better practitioner as a result.

Here’s an example to illustrate why. Last spring I was conducting a literature review on revision for some teacher-research. I came across an article by Fitzgerald that presented a historical view on the development of the meaning of revision. I was fascinated to discover that a major shift occurred in the 1970s. This is when writing became seen as a recursive process, which affected the thinking about revision in three major ways: 1) revision can occur before, during, or after the physical act of writing, 2) revision is more than minor editorial changes, and 3) researchers became interested in identifying the process by which writers revise (482). The first point, especially, caused me to reflect on my ideas about revision. I had been defining revision as the changes students make between their first and final drafts. Because many of my students in this class insisted they needed to talk in order to write, I decided to record their conversations and look for evidence of revision occurring before writing.  I discovered that a significant amount of revision was taking place before students ever wrote their first words, through the act of exchanging ideas and asking for peers’ feedback. If I had not read this article on the history of revision, I would not have thought to include this in my research and would have a more limited view of revision.

Fitzgerald, J. (1987, Winter). Research on revision in writing. Review of Educational Research, 57(4), 481-506.

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