Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Thinking about the Thinking Process

I have spent almost two months reading education blogs, and I have been so impressed with the quality of ideas and collaboration that exists in the teacher online community. Education blogs allow teachers to connect and collaborate across the country and across the world in meaningful and supportive ways. (This will have to make another entry.) Anyway, all this research really got me thinking about what I wanted the topic of my first entry to be about. Well my thought process landed me on thinking about the writing thinking process.

I actually went to a workshop last fall that talked about helping struggling writers. The instructor shared something that really stayed with me. She said that as teachers we often focus so much on the product that we forget to emphasize the process. I think there is so much truth in that statement, especially because teachers have so much pressure to think about test scores and grades. The thing is: how do students know how to arrive at a perfect product if they don’t understand the process? With writing, it is easy to say “write about this topic or these are steps of the writing process.” Yet, how do we get kids to understand the thought process behind each part of the writing process? And is there only one way to write? We all learn differently, think differently, and write differently. We will all, obviously, think about writing differently, too. A big part of successfully teaching writing, I believe, has to come from reflection and modeling. We need to understand how we as people, not just teachers, think and write. I have to do a lot of research and reading. I need to see a big picture before I can narrow down. I also make lists and lists about lists. When I find inspiration for an idea, it often spawns tons of ideas. From my lists and reading, I write my thoughts out in a note-like format.

After I have thoroughly explored my ideas in my head and taken notes on them, then I can begin thinking about organization. I met someone when I was working on my Master’s that could do all her research and then just sit down and make a detailed outline. From her detailed outline, she could crank out a twenty page paper like it was nothing. I wish my brain worked like that, but I often have so many ideas that go in so many directions I get overwhelmed. This is why I will often have lots of notes on individual sources or ideas. After reading my notes, usually the organization will come to me.

My brain thinks in lists not in outlines. Have you ever stopped to wonder about how you think and how you write? I intend to create resources to share to help students evaluate their own thought process. Self-reflection should always be part of the learning process. To help our struggling writers, we need to consider what the various struggles are to find solutions. Where do they get lost in the writing process? I look forward to joining this amazing network of individuals passionate about education, learning, and collaborating and exploring my own learning and writing process through the experience.

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