What do you know?
What do you want to know?
What have you learned? (during personal narrative unit)
Melissa Benoit
It's important to be clear and concise with directions, and consistent with the criteria. Journals are a good way to get to know your students in a low risk form of writing. It's important to give students the basics for writing and show them what you expect, not just tell them.
How to teach students the difference between creativity within one's writing while still maintaining structure and organization? how do you get students to think outside of the box? Ways to get them interested in writing beyond academic writing. How do you make sure you are not being subjective?
I learned a lot about personal narraratives because I never have written before. I learned they are more work than I thought and they do require some sort of structure.
I learned peer-editing can be extremely useful if dont correctly. Getting so many drafts edited was extremely benefical to making the narrative a finished product.
I learned about making rubrics and grading narratives. Positive feedback first followed by suggestions is helpful.
I learned the importance of reading a narrative out loud to a class and also reflecting back on the writing process.
I learned how to use iMovie and create a video narrative. :)
I learned that details matter in a personal narrative and scaffolding is essential.
Amanda Carlisi
not all students like to write

it's hard to motivate students to write
new methods of teaching writing, how to get students interested in writing
What I have learned about Personal Narrative Writing:
-the parts of a personal narrative
-how to create a rubric for personal narratives
-brainstorming activities for personal narrative writing
-not all parts are or have to be true
-personal narratives can take many forms (informal, formal, video, audio, etc.)
-personal narratives can portray many different emotions
-a balance of scene and summary is often hard to achieve
-personal narratives provide a way for people to look back on an event in their life
Stacy Coleman
writing has many different forms and modes
the various technical aspects of different types of writing
Through the process of writing the personal narrative I have learned that there are many different components to writing a successful personal narrative, and that the guidelines for this type of paper have to be very flexible and adaptable for the students. In regards to the actual paper creativity is not something you just outright teach but rather scaffold students through the process and give them individual pieces to build upon each other. Students can then put them into the paper and turn it into something great. Along these same lines I have learned a lot about the actually process of writing and the amount of time needed to make a paper. During the class discussions about grading I learned that you have to give students some guidelines on the paper and judge them unbiased on the work that they submit, you also have to be broad in your categories so as to not hinder creativity.
Kathleen Davidson
I know some different styles and ideas for teaching essay type of writing. I also feel comfortable teaching introduction paragraphs and thesis statements.
I want to know how to teach creative writing. I have never had any experience in learning about creative writing or teaching creative writing. I would also like to learn some new techniques for teaching essay writing and other writing styles.
  • I learned what a personal narrative is.
  • I also learned some good ways to help students write a person narrative.
  • I learned that writing a personal narrative is a great way to get some feelings out.
  • I learned some good ways to look at and grade personal narratives.
  • I learned some ways to help students get topics or ideas for what they would like to write about.
  • I learned that rubrics may not be the way I’m going to go when grading papers.
Stephanie Davis
it requires a comfortable setting.
it's a great way to open communication between you and your students.
it's subjective.
a great starting and ending point.
it's gives students an opportunity to think about their own thinking.
how to grade subjectively.
how to work with students who don't like to write, because not all do.
how to give constructive criticism.
Allows you to re-evaluate an old moment for new understanding.
It takes a lot more work than I thought. (or at least, it should).
It's all about the details--which to add, which to take out, which to exaggerate etc.
As to constructive criticism--start positive, then add what could improve their paper for the next draft.
Be supportive throughout-scaffold, scaffold, scaffold. I feel like I can comfortably do that now.
The process is important--each step informs the other and even makes the next step that much easier.
Also, iMovie/MovieMaker/Transmediation all very useful tools to take a personal narrative or other compositions to another level with a different mode =).
Lyndsey Ferguson
Mechanics and styles of writing.
New methods and resources for teaching writing. How do I make it interesting for students? And how do I teach numerous styles of writing.
In terms of narratives, I have learned that the more meaningful the expressed experience is to you, the more likely you are to come up with amazing work. If the writer has strong emotions tied into the experience and can express them in the writing, than the more unique the experience of reading and writing will be.
Thinking about audience is another important thing that I learned during this time. It is easy for the writer to recall a particular experience but in order for the reader to experience the same thoughts/emotions, the writer must be descriptive and explain everything in as much detail as possible.
Jennifer Harkness
it is a complex process
it is different for every student
how to teach writing
how to teach different styles of writing
how to grade writing
-PN does not need to be 100% factual
-in a PN, description is not limited to physical characteristics
-how a teacher comments on a paper frames the assignment and greatly affects a student
-creating a rubric is time consuming, but valuable if guided well.
-imovie is a valuable tool
-transmediation is a great way to add technology to your classroom AND it helps teach the writing process by building off of the fundamentals of intro, main idea, transitions, and slides with support.
-peer review is a great tool, but it must be modeled to be worthwhile
Jacklyn Heckendorn
Writing is a very involved process. It is very different for everyone...
as a teacher it is difficult to be objective because writing is so subjective...
It's reflective and expressive
How to grade objectively? How to be a fair grader?
How to have students feel comfortable sharing their writing in community?
How to motivate students...
For my personal post, I see that my learning and knowing has developed. I still see writing as a very involved process. The process we actually we went through in class was very involved (peer-edits, reading aloud, work time drafting, teacher feedback). I think it was all worth it and makes the assessment much more authentic. I think that whole process is where the learning happens and the value of that is incredible. For what I wanted to know, I wanted to know how to grade objectively and how to have students feel comfortable sharing their writing. I recognize that I’m in college and so writing this as a student I automatically felt comfortable with sharing my work. For high-school students, however, it may be a little different. Things that helped me were being able to share in a group I was comfortable with. Also, it motivated me when I got feedback from the teacher. As a student, this helped me because I saw that some of the writing was good when I doubted it, and there were some places in my writing I didn’t recognize that I needed to work on, but through Mike’s comments I was able to see that.

Overall, I feel like I would feel very confident in scaffolding a writing unit. I think I have learned techniques and gathered resources that would help me teach a personal narrative unit effectively.

I like that he used it as feedback, but I didn’t like it specifically for everything I grade.
Katherine Hedrick
there are certain steps that enable you to come to a final product
how to motivate students
I have learned that there is more to writing a personal narrative than just sitting down and writing. There is a process that can both help you think of ideas and refine them until you finally come up with a polished piece of work. In order to help students become motivated to write, it is important to use different brainstorming activities to scaffold them and help them arrive at a final product. If students feel that all the work they have done and are doing is leading them towards the final paper, they will be more motivated to do the work along the way and put effort into their final draft.

Heather Homant
Motivating students to write/edit can be difficult
By high school, many students already think that they know how to write well enough
Journalling can be a very productive way to get kids writing
Students want to write in real ways
How to motivate my students
How to teach students the difference between personal writing and formal/publishable writing
How to get students thinking deeply, and how to get those ideas translated onto paper
Sometimes kids will be resistant, but writing about what they know (their personal experiences) can help break down that resistance.
Writing about yourself is a good way to get ideas flowing onto paper.
It can be easy to distinguish between what you wrote for yourself and what you’re writing for others.
First drafts and final drafts should look very different!
Starrlene Light
I know that there is a writing process. If students successfully complete the processes of brainstorming, drafting, editing and peer editing, revising, and finalizing than any form of writing can be accomplished at any level.
I want to know what to do when students simply refuse to write or claim they don't like it. How can I, as a teacher, teach and demonstrate writing in a creative and fun way to get more students involved and enjoying the act of writing as well? Also, we all know that writing is controversial, especially when it comes to grading. What are some good standards to go by when grading a piece of work that a student has created?
When students don’t want to write, it is the job of the teacher to find a way in which to make it meaningful to them. After learning more about the personal narrative, I think one way in which that can be done is by defining “truth” as a class. Students need to include elements of a personal narrative in their written work, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be truthful. With this, students might feel more comfortable with writing; a fear that I think often holds students back from enjoying writing in the first place. As far as my concerns with grading, I think a helpful task we did as a class that could also benefit future students as well as the teacher, would be to create a rubric together.
Laura Mamassian
writing can be a hard process, especially when you don't have any idea where to start! sometimes the motivation factor is lacking.
i would like to know how to assess a piece of writing. do i grade it by looking at how many grammatical mistakes each students makes, or by the content/quality of their work?
I've learned a lot about this personal narrative experience both as a student and a teacher. For example:
-peer review can be a good and productive activity if it is taught correctly
-let students experiment with different modes of “writing” a narrative such as movie making or voice recording
-since writing is a process, model things for your students
-every student writes/thinks at their own pace and you need to accommodate your students so they turn in the best work that they can
-learn how to assess students writing with a balance of content and mechanics
-rubrics can be good if they are used in a productive way...perhaps giving the students a rubric beforehand so they know what is expected of them because grading is subjective in regards to writing
Megan McClain
don't humiliate students, especially because of their writing
don't pressure students to share writing with others
that students can see how they benefit from proofreading and redrafting.
how to motivate students to always write their best and to proofread their work.
how to grade fairly for each student, which may not mean equally.
how to teach students to read and write critically
I’ve learned a lot about writing/teaching the narrative. I must have written one sometime in my life before this, but I don’t recall it, so it was a lot of fun for me. It was nice to write a topic of my choice in almost a story-like way. I learned that revision is really important and that we should all take the time to write out our best rough draft because it really lends to a much better quality paper. I realized that dialogue doesn’t have to be present, but it certainly makes the narrative a little more interesting. I learned that sharing the narratives with eachother was actually a lot more valuable than I first had thought it would be. I really enjoyed listening to my peers’ papers and wondering if in some future paper maybe I could try out one of their techniques, styles, or word choices. I learned that when I want to teach the narrative I really want to connect it with technology and transmediation. Melissa and I created an iMovie and I think it was fun and it really helped to think about my narrative in a different way, and from a different aspect. I think that I would like to emulate the way Mike scaffolded the personal narrative. I thought the seed writing, the brainstorming, the free writing were all really helpful. I don’t think I will construct a rubric with the class. I didn’t really find this useful, but I think I will develop one by myself if students desire one.
Julie McCracken
it requires a comfortable setting.
it's a great way to open communication between you and your students.
it's subjective.
a great starting and ending point.
it's gives students an opportunity to think about their own thinking.
how to grade subjectively.
how to work with students who don't like to write, because not all do.
how to give constructive criticism.
how writing can be used to re-evaluate our old memories to learn from them
how a peer revision session should 'operate'. that it is possible to do in the classroom, with the right modeling and scaffolding.
how to teach a personal narrative and the benefits of doing so. I feel confident that I could teach this and how important the process of writing is vs. the final product. I feel like this is a mode of writing to share with my students because it is so expressive and open-ended and allows for them to share and grow through the process of writing!!
Sarah Menger
Assessing writing can be subjective but I think that to make it more objective, a rubric is helpful.
Writing can be very personal, individualistic.
How do you assess creative writing, like poetry?
How to teach voice or style?
How to motivate students who "hate" writing?
If your rubric isn’t working, adapt/fix/get rid of it! It’s more beneficial to give feedback and a thoughtful engagement with the paper than to stick to an inflexible rubric.
Voice is hard to teach. Not everyone agrees how to do it or even what it is. You have to decide for yourself.
Be very clear in your expectations and instructions for a piece of writing (or anything!).
Establish definitions and conventions prior to asking students to use them. You have to teach them how to do something before you assess them on it.
Don’t correct every single error, find patterns and ask students to do something specific like “review comma usage” or something like that.
Emily Mullins
It can be difficult to motivate students. It is important to be clear with directions and give your students time to ask questions. Teachers need to be involved with the process just as much as the students are.
How do I assess creative writing? How do I know whether students are actually reading and their response are authentic and well thought out?
I have learned that it may be difficult to have students open up and to have them explore their own voice and feelings, but if this can be accomplished, their personal narratives can help to develop their writing style and feelings about personal writing. I have discovered the technique of “showing and not telling” and how important incorporating the learned ability of literary devices into writing is. This should have a concise and clear objective as well. I learned how helpful peer-editing can be if done well and if students know the objectives. Reading a paper aloud can show you more about the fluidity and language of your paper than reading it silently can.
I enjoyed the process and I learned more about my own writing and the process by which my writing develops. In terms of assessing creative writing as a teacher, as long as the story can be clearly understood and you can hear the student’s voice coming through it will be a job well done. We also explored other technological aspects of enhancing a personal narrative, and I thought this would be a great way to get even more insight into students’ feelings and hearts, as they write about what means the most to them.
Hannah Nagi
It's important to be clear and concise with directions, and consistent with the criteria. Journals are a good way to get to know your students in a low risk form of writing.
How to teach students the difference between creativity within one's writing while still maintaining structure and organization? how do you get students to think outside of the box? Ways to get them interested in writing beyond academic writing. How do you make sure you are not being subjective?
First of all I definitely have found that what I already know to be true is still true. While writing my narrative I have found that one of the most important aspects of narrative writing is to make sure that you have a specific focus that is supported through your personal experiences. While supporting it is imperative to be clear and concise, and not ramble or go off on a random tangent. I still agree with my former thinking that journals and pre-writing are a really good way to start the thinking process. I actually pulled my topic from the wiki post we did about the three most important pieces of writing that I have done.
As far as if the questions I had were answered I believe to some extent they were, but there is still more room for discovery. In class we did learn about movie making programs and sound adaptations that would be able to enhance our narrative and tap into our creative self. Finally, I have found that if I want my students to get interested in formal writing they need to write what they know and write what inspires them. This is exactly what I did, wrote through inspiration. It became very beneficial for me to use such a strategy. In fact, I am probably most proud of this piece of writing more than any one that I have composed before.
Heather Parr
You must use various methods of teaching the same concept (writing) in order to reach more students, since not all methods will be useful to all students.
What are some different ways you can teach writing in order to reach more students? How do we make our students want to write? How do we assess writing?
Ø Everyone has to take their own stance when it comes to grading. Some people will grade based on which papers are better than others, and some people will grade based on how much the student improved during the unit. As a teacher, you have to choose which kind of teacher you will be.
Ø Rubrics can be tricky to use. While they seem like they are a way to grade ‘fairly,’ not all rubrics are fair. Some rubrics work well for some types of writing assignments, but not for others. I have learned that we have to be wary when it comes to using rubrics, and I have also learned that it is okay to open discussion up to students about the rubric that you will be grading them with.
Ø Journaling/personal narrative writing are really good ways to get students interested in writing and motivated. Since students get to choose their own topic for these types of assignments, they will be more likely to make a personal connection to their writing, take pride in their work, and put a lot of effort into the piece to ensure that their experience is being perceived (by the reader) in the way that they (the writer) want it to be perceived. It helps students share their experiences with others and gives them a way to use their own personal voice in their writing.
Ø I had never written or learned about personal narrative prior to this class, so this was a very new experience. I learned what went into this type of writing and how to teach it to my students.
Ø When giving feedback to a student on their paper, give them CONSTRUCTIVE and SPECIFIC feedback so they know why something needs to be changed and how to change it.
Caroline Pawelski
I know that in our time of technology with texting, e-mailing, IMing that our students are becoming less and less interested or concerned with proper writing skills.
I want to know how to get my students motivated to realize how important proper writing is. I also want to know how to get them interested in learning about writing.
I learn a lot from writing my own personal narrative. I learned that I really didn’t know that much about it in the first place. I thought it was just a summary of something we experienced, but it is so much more than that. It is a lot about scenes and describing something so in depth that the reader can feel like he or she is actually experiencing what I experienced. This process really helped me to see what writing was all about and how important it is to make sure my students appreciate it and are good at it. I enjoyed how we were able to view actual student’s personal narratives. I thought that showed me a lot of what we as teachers will need to work on with our students. Having to actually do it myself, allowed me to put myself in their position. It also allowed me to think about the process in two ways. How it feels to write it and how I can as a teacher help my students with the process.
Katlyn Purcell
It can be difficult because not every student in your class will have the same background in writing. Sometimes, you have to be super specific about the directions (especially with 6th graders) because they might not know where to start.
I want to know how to make writing appealing to all students in my class. I also want to know how I can improve my students' writing without being completely strict or teaching explicit writing rules to them.
-Use many modes of teaching and take it one step at a time.
-Show your students what you mean by modeling things for them.
-Everyone likes to take their own time on writing. As a teacher, we might need to accept that at some point.
-Peer editing can be a good thing if you want to take the time to teach it right.
-Grading is still subjective. We need to lay out what we want our students to learn and them help them succeed.
-Personal narrative is a huge genre that can take on many forms.
-Allow students to experiment with different things (movie making, voice recording, different formats of writing)
so the motivation level goes up.
-Rubrics can be helpful but should be concise and understandable by teacher and students alike.
Sarah Rehim
I know that you need to be clear in your instructions and expectations. Also, you need to be consistent while still allowing room for creativity. Writing about personal experiences is a good, low risk way to introduce writing.
I want to know what activities or tools can be used to raise student interest in writing. I also want to know how to grade various genres of writing (essays, thesis, research papers, fiction, poetry...etc). I want to learn how to offer constructive criticism without turning students off to writing.
- Learned that drafting is not the enemy, it’s actually a really useful tool and will be as well for my students. There is always room to improve and change.
- I learned all about the challenges of creating a rubric. I never thought it would be so difficult but actually putting out your expectations from your students isn’t easy. I think perhaps we went about the process a bit backward when we made the rubric as a class.
- I learned that it’s very hard for me to write well when I am really not in the mood to write, as was the case around the time that our first drafts of the narrative were due. My first draft…well, sucked. I had a lot on my mind and on my plate at the time, and I really didn’t invest much into that draft. However, I was TOTALLY in the mood right before the final was due, and I was actually able to hand something in that I was proud of. My students may feel the same way, and I will totally keep this in mind.
Ashley Ross
Not all students have a love for writing. It takes a lot to motivate students and that multiple ways of teaching of writing is required.
How do you assess writing when you're asking for creativity? When is it better to be subjective vs. objective (or vice versa?) How do I make writing interesting and applicable to the students' lives?
Especially with the narrative unit, it’s imperative that the students are focused on being creative. After creating and completing the rubric for this paper, it’s easier to understand and “judge,” if you will, the students’ work. One of my initial questions was, “is it better to be subjective or objective when grading students’ work?” and I’ve come to the understanding that it’s a combination of both. You can never have a perfect answer-key for an essay. But, with the help of a rubric, it can help guide us as teachers and put us on the right track of trying to grade as objectively as possible.
Erica Saidoo
I know it is a process and that you need to show students what you expect of them. Set high standards and help them find the resources to do well and to learn.
I want to be able to show students how to differentiate between formal and informal writing, when it is appropriate, how to write in different forms, etc. -how to not be subjective
  • Writing is a process that sometimes flows better with peer input.
  • Writing is personal when it is about a personal topic, but it doesn’t have to be uncomfortable, depending on the atmosphere.
  • Personal narratives can be formal, but are mostly informal.
  • They have guidelines and certain things that should be included which is how one can assess them, but personal narratives can take different forms and include other elements that make them creative and more personalized.
  • It is imperative students know what you will be assessing them on. Create a rubric that includes that information and allow them to help recreate one if necessary.
  • Personal narratives are a good way to get to know your students and possibly for them to get to know you.
  • Free write activities are pretty fun sometimes and can be helpful for reluctant writers.
Karly Scites
I can imagine that it would be really hard to try to teach writing. I think that as a teacher you need to make writing interesting and let the students have flexibilty. Student's need to be able to write about something they enjoy. I also think direction has to be clear. Direction has to be specific, but still leave room for creativity.
I would like to learn how to get and keep students interested in writting. I would like to know what types of writting appeal to studnets and why. How can a teacher make the experience more enjoyable. I would also like to know how to teach writing better to students who struggle with learning disabilities and have not recieved much help in the area of writing. I would like to learn how to chnage students previous concieved perceptions on writing.

Elizabeth Tezak
I know that it's difficult. You have to keep all of your students abilities in mind and foster an environment that makes each student comfortable. You must also keep in mind that some students may not feel comfortable sharing their writing and you need to keep that in mind when doing conducting peer reviews. Also, students may share things with you through their writing that may be difficult to hear and/or force you to have a conversation with them or may be mandated to report it.
Specific techniques for teaching certain genres of writing would be very helpful. A easy starting point. How to incorporate varying levels. How to foster creativity while also sticking to a prompt. How to be subjective? How to make it relevant to their lives? Grading fair v. grading equal?
I learned great free-writing strategies (seed writing, etc). I learned a lot more than I knew about the peer-review process. I learned a lot more than I wanted to know about creating rubrics. I learned that you have to make exceptions for some students who feel unable to share their writing, but also push them out of their box as well. I learned that it is extremely hard to find a piece of writing that was meaningful to me and that this says something about our school system and writing instruction within it.
Martha VanHorssen
not all students like to write
how do you motivate students to (want to) write?
To make writing fun or at least motivate students to write, it needs to be interesting.
Short, quick processes leading to the end result helps.
They still might have to write something but at least they have the tools to do so.
Allow for different outcomes and end products. Students can't ALWAYS make a movie, but it can be an option.
Peer review is insanely helpful when it's genuine.
Create a community and model the importance of helping each other become better writers.