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A Student-Centered Approach: a semester of new ideas

An overview of a semester spent devoted to decentering techniques in a writing classroom.

Jennifer Klein

on 10 May 2010

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Transcript of A Student-Centered Approach: a semester of new ideas

A De-centered Writing Classroom Collaboration
used mainly as a way to foster whole class discussion
groups would be given discussion topics and then bring ideas back whole class
works as a way to encourage students to lead discussion rather than the teacher
moderate success: often not enough time in a 50 minute class to really let this play out Goals:
increased awareness of audience and community
increased critical thinking
awareness of role of the university and education in students' lives Writing Without Grading
"The point of a contract is to focus less on trying to measure degrees of quality of writing and instead to emphasize activities and behaviors that will lead to learning" (Elbow)
The hope is that students will experiment more with their writing if they are not writing to the teacher and the expectation of a certain grade.
This does not mean that students do not receive feedback on their drafts. They receive the same as with traditional grading.
Success? I loved not giving grades, but I'm not sure about the students. They didn't object too much in an overt manner, but I fear this is becuase I still retained too much authority in the classroom. I don't think most of them liked it, even if they thought at first that they would.
Main fear of students was that I was somehow keeping their grade a secret.
Student Written Evaluation
two-fold: gives students empowerment, also gives me a tool and data for my research
I'm also truly interested to know what worked and didn't work, in the opinion of the students.
method: brainstormed in groups, then as a class discussed and voted on questions to include
I stole this idea from Ira Shor.
high success: students took to the project eagerly and seemed to like designing the evaluation tool for the class and me Negotiation
modeled after Ira Shor's "When Students Have Power"
moderate success: difficult to hand important decisions over to students
Ira Shor
Peter Elbow So . . .
negotation and collaboration both need continued development and perseverance, but dividends in student success seem high
grading policy needs close scrutiny; rationale holds strong but each semester of students has to be convinced and acclimated
student written evaluation seems to be successful and a worthwhile group and class project for the end of the semester
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