There have been a lot of interesting suggestions of how we should spend the rest of our semester. The overriding consensus, it seems, is that we need to spend our time figuring out a combination of three things that are interrelated. The first is knowing and figuring out the Michigan Content Standards (AKA GLECs), figuring out exactly how a year long syllabus would work, and also trying out our own assignments for goals of understanding what works and how this will help students learn. Matt Phelps also very convincingly proposed watching a movie about how a teacher handled a group of misfits and then turning them into good writers. We have all given great reasons for what we want to learn, and together this may all work.

The winner of the, “What should we learn sweepstakes”, is a combination of learning the standards of Michigan and conducting a year long syllabus. I personally think that is a great way to finish the year. A lot of us, including myself, will be student assisting and student teaching next year, and I think learning this bit of information will enhance our learning and comprehension of some basic things teachers have to deal with every single day. As Sara Kiel and Stephen Foutz allude to, this is how teachers will be assessed and keeps their jobs. If we as teachers do not follow the standards we will not have a job. It would be great to learn this task in class without being evaluated by administrators, principals, and other teachers. While many of us have talked about standards and the importance of them, I think Rebekka Olson gives a good example of what we should do as a class. She says we should spend time getting to know the general standards, do a workshop for a syllabus, turn in a draft to look at, and then turn it in and write about the process for the exam. Knowing the content standards does coincide with conducting a year long syllabus.

However, I would suspect that writing a yearlong syllabus during the end of the semester seems like a heavy heavy responsibility. Just from prior experience of writing a two-week unit plan, it takes TIME. Luckily, I took a lot of time in the couple weeks prior to work on it, but just for a two week plan it takes a lot of time, effort, research, and thinking just to get a good presentable draft. Melissa Anderson has a good idea of tapping into our teacher’s knowledge about this type of experience. I am sure that planning an entire years worth of instruction takes weeks of planning. I’m not sure if we could really do that. What I think we should do is spend a day tapping into the teacher’s knowledge and have her give us mentor texts and instruction of how one would begin to think and fill out a one year and discuss as a class how that would work. I am all for trying one out for ourselves and turning it in, but I am not sure how long that would take. Therefore discussing how it is done and keying in on the instructor’s knowledge is a good bet for what this class is trying to accomplish.

Another important topic mentioned is the need to learn how to assess papers as well as trying out activities on our own. Dan Slane brought up some interesting points about the need for assessment. One important aspect of this profession is our busy work grading the assignments we give. If we do not take into account the work that is needed and the strategies to correct papers, we may be in a longer couple years than expected. He also gives a great reason for doing this, “need to understand assessment as a form of instruction instead of a fruititive act by the teacher after instruction ends”. This is a very interesting concept to think about and to incorporate in our classrooms. If we can do as Dan suggests and look at case studies to show that assessment is not just a final thing and something that happens throughout the entire process, the students should be in better shape. We can get at this by perhaps grading our own writing for practice in grading papers, and looking at studies showing how to continually assess students without it being something done at the end.

In class it was discussed that we should try out some assignments in class. Melanie Rabine thinks that doing this will help in deciding what assignments work and which will not. It gives us a chance to play teacher and make us prepared for what could work and what could not.

Finally Matt Phelps idea to watch “Freedom Writers” is a good idea that was backed up tremendously with great persuasion. Remember WWSD and that she is a TWO time Academy Award winner. Also there’s that guy from Grey’s Anatomy, who my girlfriend just referenced as, “McDreamy”. So it must be a good movie. This could be an entertaining way to end the semester while also keeping in mind the issues at hand as we become teachers of writing.

In conclusion this is my syllabus (I’m still not exactly sure how to make them so here is something really general) for the last four class periods marked “TBD” on the ENG 310 syllabus.

4/6 -Tap into Dr. Ellis’ knowledge of how to conduct a yearlong syllabus

-Look at the GLECs

4/8 -Discuss the GLECs as a class, and take different parts of the standards and discuss how they can be achieved

-Assign a project where we have to do a certain number of lesson plans to achieve a certain number of standards (DUE exam day)

-Read some case studies about assessment and the things Dan Slane talked about

4/13 -Discuss the readings in class

-Grade some student papers, and classmates papers while trying to key in on how they contribute to the standards of the state

4/15 -Look through our old lesson plans and do some selected activities in class
4/20 -Continue doing selected activities and discuss how they work

-Begin Freedom Writers

4/22 Watch Freedom Writers