Thursday, April 21, 2011

Writing Center Visit

It's all set. I've arranged for six of us (teachers and me) to visit a fully operational writing center. The suburban writing center we are visiting has been in operation for four years, and is a dynamic part of its high school. Unlike our center, however, it operates completely on outside funding. Outside of that, I think we will learn much by the visit. My goals:

1). Observe a fully operational writing center
2). Talk with staff to learn the benefits of the center to students and teachers
3). Find out the qualities of a successful center
4). Find out how to make the writing center viable for all content areas
5). Brainstorm ideas for next year 
6). Learn about recruitment and training of tutors
7). Learn about the use of outside resources: volunteers, pre-service  teachers, etc.
8). Learn about sharing the resources of the center with articles for and by staff? How frequent?
9). Find out how contests are promoted.
10). Learn about cost of operation as well as other unseen areas to be aware of
11). Find out about all-school student publications (anthologies, etc.) and the writing center’s role in creating and publishing them.

If the teachers I bring with me are impressed with the effectiveness and potential of the center, there is an excellent chance for a writing center here next year. If not, I don't see The Write Place continuing. All I can hope for is that the teachers actually show up for the visit. Much has gone into the planning including numerous phone calls to the other site, arrangements on their end for teachers to visit with us and arrangements on my end to meet everyone's schedules. Already, however, as I brought driving information to teachers this morning, one person was "so stressed out" she doesn't think she will go. Not to mention the department chair - not going because she has been out of the classroom too much lately...but I'm going to hope that I have the right combination going from the school and just move forward from that point.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Electronic Portfolios

The title of this entry may be misleading if you're looking for ideas on how to do electronic portfolios - rather, it's about a 9th grade teacher who would like to do "electronic portfolios" but really is looking for a way to digitize an essay. I am totally in favor of electronic portfolios as a way to assess students as writers and was excited to know that this particular teacher was interested in developing them. I was a little suspect, however, at the thought of beginning them in April. As we talked, I realized that what she wanted was an electronic vehicle for recent essays. By the time we finished our discussion, however, we had looked ahead to future years and the possibility of this being the first piece in an ongoing portfolio that follows the students until graduation. That is exciting, particularly since this is a 7-12 school - soon to be 6-12 and  a student's writing progress could be tracked for 6 years! I would love that...

Anyway, we have decided to use imovie in much the same way the 10th grade did for their poetry projects. This time, however, students will polish and edit their pieces ahead of time and will record themselves reading their pieces. There will be time, as well, for them to bring in personal photos related to the essays instead of using all google images. So, this will then become Piece#1 in their electronic portfolios.