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Reflections on MEAP Writing
Strategies for Students to Use to Organize Their Writing
During the MEAP writing task, we thought:
I got stuck and had to write about the first thing that came to mind (like I tell my students)
I didn't read the whole thing -- only the theme -- and then realized that there are more to the directions and had to make it fit
I read the choices that they gave me and I wrote about things that came to mind (myself, a sorority sister, my student) and then picked the most touching story
I identified the persuasive, descriptive, and experiential writing and I picked the descriptive prompt
I was instantly looking for an "award winning" idea
I came up with three different scenarios to see which one would go over best
Picked out keywords and pulled out what jumped into my mind, my eyes wandered to others' papers.
Troy distracted me! My eleventh graders only have 30 minutes.
Liz mentioned food!
Focused on the prompt -- what is"valuable" and how do I come up with something from someone else besides me?
Took into account my life as a seventh grader and I was lazy: did a web and then figured out what to write that was the easiest
I had trouble being an adult teacher and going back to seventh grade: focused on safe and simple things
I worried about my topic sentence, variety of sentence starters, worried about all the things that I don't normally worry about when I write on my own -- I don't write the same way that I teach my students to write
Wanted to pick a different topic, but didn't have time to do so; no time for revising and checking grammar, spelling, etc.
I tried to pick the winning essay and then realized that I was not on topic, but wanted to continue with it
Doing exactly what I wrote about -- wondering if I was doing it "right"
I was wishing that I would have made a plan/outline
I had a hard time turning off my mind and trying to focus in on what was asked
I had a moment of "aha" -- thinking about the formula that we taught our kids and whether or not it worked
We decided that they needed to take the theme and break it into a five paragraph essay and state clearly what they would write about, write about what happened, connect it to a text, throw in a simile, and wrap it up at the end
To try to get them to write and pull something into a cohesive whole is really difficult
Where is the "break point" on the "formula" writing that they do in high school and then must do other kinds of writing in college?
We embrace the sonnet as a type of writing with structure -- can we figure out how to be elegant within the format of the five paragraph essay?
Our HS students need to write more than a paragraph, but we don't want to give them specific lengths or sentences/paragraphs
We obviously need structure; when I thought like a seventh grader, I was writing notes -- they will develop a topic with their notes -- how can we use this in our writing classrooms?
Part of working with them is getting them to use writing in other ways
We use the five paragraph essay in my classroom because it helps students who don't write actually write more and then those that go on and on move into more structured forms
During the MME writing task, we thought:
Couldn't decide how I wanted to answer it (what role would I take?) -- can I use the prompt to give me an example; also I was wavering on the position
I went on prior knowledge and all kinds of thoughts came into my head from non-college bound students' perspectives
It took me awhile to figure out exactly what the prompt was asking me to write
It is really hard for the kids to calm down and write when it is an emotional topic and they hate writing/school/everything
When I looked at this as a writer, I liked it better than the MEAP style -- it is more concrete and I know what is expected of me
It was much easier to organize my thoughts and on this one I was able to just go based on the style of the prompt
I am assuming that these might be good ideas to write about because they would go to task with passion
It was really hard for me to get into it at first -- do I use the facts that they provided or my own opinions?
But, if they are that emotionally attached to it, then they will lose focus and how do they bring it back
Who is my audience? What is my thesis? I dropped right into the five paragraph form and then switched to a pro/con structure
For this one, I was unfocused (before lunch) and I think that we need to acknowledge what kids need in testing situations
I thought that the paragraph that explained it was helpful, but this is different on the MME than in the early grade MEAP
When I read it, I didn't want to take either one of the positions, but I know that I have to take one or the other
I don't like this prompt, because it already gives you the answers and you don't have to come up with your own because; this says "support my because" and we need to come up with it on our own
Students are often asked to perform where they should be and not where they are, and we are asked to teach the impossible
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