Thursday, 15 September 2016

Adding More Purpose to Learning

The following reflection is based on:
Assaf, L. C. & Johnson, J. (2014). A call for action: Engaging in purposeful, real-world writing. Voices from the Middle, 21(3), 24-33. 

Recovery of Meaning
Assaf and Johnson discussed the importance of not only teaching students how to write, but also why they should write. The article describes a unit which was created by Johnson, aimed to teach students how to write petition letters and create multimedia products used to publish their message. Over the course of ten days, Johnson used "complex mentor texts", inquiry-based instruction, and a variety of writing activities in order to engage students. Through the use of complex mentor texts, the students were inspired by other students who had actually made a difference. Once the students' chose their topics, they were successful in "illustrating their personal commitment and passion toward their topics. I created a deeper meaning from this article. Not only is it important to allow students the freedom to write what they choose, but I believe it is important to give students that same freedom no matter which subject they are learning. Allowing students to engage in real-life and relatable topics, they will automatically become more engaged. 

Reconstruction of Meaning
This article simply reinforced the opinions I already had towards assigning writing tasks to students. I remember when I was an elementary/secondary student and I had to write about a topic which was chosen by the teacher. These assignments were usually pretty boring and as a result were fairly difficult to complete. Similar as to what was mentioned in the article, I'm sure my classmates and I all produced similar work, due to the very clear instructions and examples which were given by the teacher. With this in mind, I will be sure to give my students as much creative freedom as I can, regardless of what the assignment/lesson is. 

Reflection of Meaning
As I mentioned earlier, the true nature of this article relates to the importance of allowing students to engage in topics which they can relate to. Similar to when teaching drama, the teacher's role should be to provide guidelines and expectations, but then to let the student's take it from there. In addition, units such as the one created by Johnson allow for many cross-curricular activities to take place. I truly believe that we need to change our approach for teaching students. I believe that classes should be split into subject only for learning fundamentals, but when it comes to assignments or more engaging lessons, this should be entirely cross-curricular. If we are teaching students about persuasive writing, there is no reason as to why there couldn't be aspects from drama, visual arts, media - and the depending on the topic - math or science as well. I think this article outlines the approach all teachers should be taking when teaching any class. 


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