Note: These are my reflections on various professional development programs I have attended. The purpose is not to sell the program. If you have any questions or comments regarding my reflection, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A few weeks ago, I sat down with two of my co-workers at Country Day School in Costa Rica and participated in a webinar given by Jill Pavich of EdPioneer on Argumentative Writing.
I know about EdPioneer because I used to work with Jill in Boca Raton, Florida. She was my mentor in my first year of teaching and has become a great friend. Yet, that is not why I decided to join the webinar and invite my co-workers. I joined the webinar because I knew that whatever Jill had to share would be useful and there would be things that I could immediately put into my classroom. And let me tell you, she delivered 100%.
In the hour and a half that we participated in the webinar, we looked at the 7 mistakes we make when teaching argumentative writing. We looked at ways on how to fix the mistakes. And we also shared how we do things within our classrooms around the globe. AROUND THE GLOBE! There were people participating not just from the US, and Costa Rica, but also India!
I got some neat ideas such as using onion ring, fold the line, and change my view to help students to dialogue about their topics before writing. This was one of my big takeaways: slow down the process of writing, allow students to talk it out, and allow them to work on something that they are familiar with instead of forcing the argument.
When we force the argument, which often happens in preparation for standardized testing, the students struggle to find an understanding of the topic, and instead, they force things to work. This is the same reason that I am careful when giving word counts or page limits on writing pieces. If they force the topic to fit the word count, the writing becomes weaker.
The discussion that we had helped me to re-format my upcoming final assessment for A Long Way Gone to include my choice in their writing prompts.
At the end of the webinar, Jill shared her new course called Make Writing Real. Her website states that “Make Writing Real is an online learning experience for heart-centered high school teachers looking to level-up traditional writing instruction to meet the increasingly unique needs of today’s digitally-minded learners.” I am so excited to dive into this program as I prepare for planning my final quarter of the year and making plans for next year! I also love that as I work through the course, I will be able to collaborate with other English teachers from around the world!