More thoughts on Atwell’s Afterward

I think Suzanne has raised some great points about the student – teacher relationship in her post on Atwell’s afterward.  I took away so much from this conclusion to the Beers text, including:

  • We must embrace technology in our classrooms, and we must NOT be nervous about our “lack” of understanding.  Our kids will know how to use the computer software and internet applications, and they will teach other as they go.  We simply need to create the opportunity for them to build multimodal projects into their syllabus. 
  • Atwell writes on pedagogy, “These are methods that ask and allow teens to read a lot and feel pleasure, to write a lot and feel satisfied, and to talk a lot and feel significant.”  I understand that personal preference in the classroom is a MUST when teaching kids how to feel pleasure, feel satisfied, and feel significant.  They need to help decide what they want to read and write.  This is their literacy journey, not mine!
  • Atwell writes, “Teachers of adolescents must read, must write, and must teach from our literate experiences and literary passions.”  As teachers, we must share the “personal” side of ourselves with our students.  This is the side that shows what we are reading outside of school for pleasure.  Atwell also reminds me that I can never stop reading for pleasure, stop studying the new developments in my field, or stop writing about the things I read.  I am very much a student on a literary journey, too, just like my students.
  • We must continually rethink our answer to the question about writing, “Why would anyone want to do it?”  This is the question we answer for our students, and this is our teachable moment.  We cannot expect our students to write about the things that we love to write about, or to write in the same style that we write, but we must challenge ourselves to share as many different kinds of writing as possible with our students.  As students learn to write and write well, we must show them all forms of text, including pictures, graphic novels, icons, nonfiction essays and articles, short stories, poetry, novels…the list goes on.  This is how students find their talent and their voice in writing.  We are resonsible for giving them the exposure they need.

 Most importantly, Atwell concludes her afterward with, “Teachers need to figure out how to structure our teaching so that it’s possible to know, and reach, individual kids.”  At the end of this semester in 541, I have learned through Atwell and many others that I have a duty to know my students’ interests and talents.  These interests and talents will fuel their learning experiences, and they are my springboard for our year together in the ELA classroom. Learning is individualized, and I will not assume that the great old texts that I love are the same texts that my students love and want to study, too.  I will try very hard to set a path for each of my students to set out on, which is filled with texts they care about and want to read, and which is also filled with experiences that make our projects feel important and meaningful. 



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