Publication Date

2000

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT)

Abstract

Establishing a community of learners in a language classroom produces a fertile environment in which to teach any and all language skills. Building community was the focus of the Writing Workshop that I designed and taught to large classes of high beginner to advanced immigrants, refugees, and international students in a college level ESL program. The activities I developed for the first weeks connect students to each other through creativity, music and art, authorize students to set their own goals, encourage them to examine their writing anxieties, and allow them to explore their identities as writers. By breaking down fears and fostering creativity within the community of learners, a safe classroom environment is created in which students can use and develop writing skills. Since the students are put in the role of creators, the ideas and content of the course come exclusively from them and their interests. As a result, a textbook selection is not necessary in my writing workshop. The students use themselves as material-their interest, ideas, experiences, joys, hurts, dreams, cultures, and holidays. Ownership produced investment and attachment, which are among the goals of this approach to teaching.

The second half of the course focuses on three rhetorical writing forms and developing editing skills while still using the students as content and their experiences as the material for the class. Students learn and practice Peer Editing and Feedback while writing a Descriptive Essay. Peer Editing gives students the opportunity to hone their own editing skills. Students concentrate on understanding Mistake Analysis and utilizing Teacher Feedback while writing and editing their Definition Essay. The Opinion Essay uses students’ opinions about social, political or cultural issues. Students learn the mechanics of using quotations in their work and finish the writing process by producing a final draft, which is published and stored in a portfolio, IN this Writing Workshop I make my students mutual member, peer teachers and contributing resources in a community of language learners and writers.

Disciplines

Curriculum and Instruction | First and Second Language Acquisition | Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education