Calling All Lesson Plans: Validating Electronic Arenas With Pedagogy
A common complaint among many student teachers is that far too much university classroom time is devoted to general teaching concepts and not enough effort is aimed at providing applicable lesson plans. This general instructional commentary is comparable to the body of published theory that addresses computers and writing. In Computers and the Teaching of Writing in American Higher Education, 1979 - 1994: A History, Hawisher et. al. briefly outlines “an agenda” that calls for teachers and scholars to develop an educational understanding of how computers can and should be integrated into the teaching of writing. The issue of teacher training is likewise an issue for this age of rapidly developing technology, networks, and information management. My essay outlines these concerns and suggests the most effective way to attract “traditional” writing instructors to this field is by detailing the use of successful lesson plans and connecting practical application to “accepted” composition theory. Included is an example of what I am suggesting: a lesson plan based on James Moffett’s theory of the Universe of Discourse facilitated, in part, by a computer network. I present an instructional strategy that draws on improvisation (drama in the classroom) and an electronic bulletin board as a basis for modeling effective writing. By drawing on a shared classroom experience and utilizing the efficiency of a networked environment, students contribute modes of writing (recording, reporting, and generalizing) that, when combined together, fashion an essay. Each student must use their own writing, combine it with writing that is posted from a peer, and integrate at least one sentence that is generated by the class as a whole. Students post their constructed modes of writing to the BBS for all to read and for the instructor to select among as models for revision and learning. The instructor’s role is primarily as a critic, she selects essays for classroom discussion and as models for the teaching of writing. She may decide to ask students to revise this model, to make it better. As a graduate student and first year teaching associate, I’ve used this technique in a freshman composition course. We used the improvisation and BBS as a platform for learning alternate ways to construct a narrative essay. A large portion of the success of this plan resided in the fact that students are immersed in their individual essays while, as a class, they also bear the task of constructing various collage essays from a shared pool of writing. This idea can be extended by drawing from the original improvisation and BBS posts to refashion their rhetoric and construct new genres. In essence, students contribute to a classroom model that parallels their individual essay assignment. My goal is to model a new essay format, one that offers a lesson plan and explains its relevance to the field of writing instruction as well as the computers and writing movement.
Author: Jim McCarthy
Target Audience: Not Applicable
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