Conversation 5

What themes emerged within and between the conversations that occurred today?  What gaps have become apparent through these conversations?  What implications for writing curricula and assessment practices might be drawn from these conversations?

4 thoughts on “Conversation 5

  1. Some themes:

    -We’re all working hard on this, and want to communicate with each other/see continuity from k-PSE.

    -Thinking and writing to learn.

    Some gaps:

    -A gap between reading and writing (or thinking and talking about reading and
    writing, respectively.)

    -A gap between what students know what to do and what we wish they knew
    what to do.

    Next steps:

    -More of this.

    -Thinking about solutions that tie together writing education at all levels (from k-Ph.D) and sharing what we’ve learned with colleagues etc.

    -Assessment reform?

    -Connecting with industry. Advocating for literacy and writing.

    -Recording what happened today, sharing it with each other, wider audience etc.
    Bottom line: doing something with the material (reflective assignment!)

  2. Themes:
    We’re here on a Saturday, and that says a lot!
    There should be community and continuity between levels and contexts.
    Writing to learn: it’s a tool that’s useful in different disciplines, and thus a shared responsibility for all educators

    – Enormous differences in skill level (in first year uni context) (We should perhaps teach EAL English to our English-speaking students!)
    – We need to talk about students as readers, as well as students as writers, because the two are related–good writing can come from good reading/being well read
    – It’s good to hear about what happens in other spaces. Are the basics of writing a common ground that we share?
    – We need to communicate to students that poor writing skills are not simply veiling their otherwise brilliant thoughts, but help them to see that good ideas and good writing go hand-in-hand
    – David showed Beaufort’s Transfer-Oriented Construct knowledge and the importance of metacognition
    – importance of audience
    – the gap between what students know how to do, and what we wish they knew how to do

    Next Steps:
    – more of this
    – what solutions and changes need to be made so that we can work as a community across the board
    – we need to get teachers in all contexts to teach writing, not just English classes
    -it’s not just reading and writing but literacy and critical thinking that we’re teaching with writing
    – we need to share with colleagues what we discussed today
    – assessments are going the wrong direction: multiple choice is a bad decision
    – how do we influence public perceptions of writing in this province?

    – Assignment: write a reflective piece about this experience, and maybe we can make a larger, collaborative statement book(let) that could more powerfully express our ideas!

  3. Themes:

    – We are all trying very hard – the fact that we are here on a Saturday says a lot.
    – There needs to be a unity and plan from K to College.
    – Thinking to learn is important and that writing to learn is important across all disciplines and is a shared responsibility.


    – Differences in skill levels that students come in with.
    – Good reading helps with good writing.
    – Where is the common ground among the different levels? Could it be basics about writing?
    – There is a myth that students do not have anything worthwhile to write.
    – The way we frame an argument depending on the discipline we are in.
    – There is a gap between what students know and what we wish they knew how to do.

    Next Steps:

    – More Alberta Writes Conferences.
    – Let’s look at solutions as to what needs to be done so that we can achieve our objectives to deal with gaps.
    – All teachers teach reading and writing across all subjects (English teachers do not know expectations across all the disciplines).
    – It’s not just reading and writing that is being taught, but literacy and interpretation of what is being read and written.
    – Sharing with other staff members.
    – Assessment methods (multiple choice) is going in wrong direction in some disciplines (e.g., Math).

    – Pulling in elementary schools to see what is happening and figuring out what needs to be done.
    – Pulling in industry people to see what is happening and figuring out what needs to be done.
    – Work with Ministry to see which people might be interested in this subject because we are getting the same people to come to the Alberta Writes conferences.

  4. Final group discussion

    – Everyone is trying very hard. Here on a Saturday (!) means community building
    – Everyone believes that there should be contact between different levels of education
    – Writing to learn, it is a shared responsibility common to all disciplines

    – Enormous differences in skill level that first year university students have – across Canada and the world – we should be teaching ESL to everybody because no-one can spell regardless of their background!
    – Reading – reading informs students as writers – good writing comes from good reading, well-read students do better than those drilled in grammar
    – It is important to find common ground between all levels of teaching – part of the common ground should be communication about basics of writing – how we express things is what we express – the myth of great ideas but poor articulation must be deconstructed
    – list of ten myths about student writing – including the one that students have nothing important to say
    – what are the basics of writing? Expert writers draw on a range of knowledge domains – shaping texts for contexts – discourse community knowledge is essential and contextualizes assignments, eg what is a paper? No universal definition. To help students make sense of discourse communities we have to provide them with a better foundation for translating genres. Emphasis on process knowledge and toolbox, developing a bank of strategies to draw from – not just content – students need to be able to unpack the implications of different audiences and purposes. It is possible to begin this at a very early age – eg – creating a zoo assignment – what are the things we need to know when we create texts for different audiences?
    – There is a gap between what students know how to do and what we expect them to know how to do.

    Next steps:
    – More of this
    – Creating action points – what do we need to do so that we can work together as a community?
    – Expecting that all teachers teach reading and writing in some form – changing curriculum
    – It’s not just reading and writing that we’re teaching, but also literacy – how to unpack content
    – Share this information with staff members and colleagues
    – Curriculum has changed assessments in the sciences to be only multiple choice – wrong direction
    – How can we control public perceptions of writing, especially in Alberta?
    – Pull elementary teachers and different disciplines into the conversation
    – What does writing look like in the workplace, how can we involve industry?
    – Channeling this information into a document that can be used for recommendations

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