Revised: How does a good student write?

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I was tasked with the assignment to ask 5 people how they think a “good student” writes. I asked this question outright, but each of my roommates needed some type of clarification as to what I wanted for an answer. I tried to assure them that there was no right or wrong answer, I just wanted to see what they said. I think this task is important, especially because of the way we hold ourselves back because of the way we or others label us “good” or “bad” students or writers. Here are my findings:

Sarah

Sarah was washing the dishes.

“Sarah, describe how a good student writes”.

She responded that it helps to read a lot, and also practice often to get better. Good, strong vocabulary.

“Do you mean things, like, sentence structure?”

Sure.

“Well, that type of thing, too”.

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Maya, Maddie, Colleen

Maddie, Maya, and Colleen were huddled over their homework in a bedroom. I was going to ask them individually, but decided to just open up the question to the group as a whole. Maddie was at a blank, and needed time to think about it. Maya and Colleen both answered that a good student writes in a neat and organized way. Maya originally thought the question was aimed around note-taking. When I asked her, ‘how do you know a good paper when you see one?’ she added that it’s done thoughtful and concisely. Maddie finally responded that a good student will engage the reader in their writing.

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Gill

Gill was in her room. She said factually, organized, and concise.

“I’m a bad writer, so anything I wouldn’t do.”IMG_2763.JPG

I noticed that everyone was frazzled by this question. I had to clarify or narrow the question (create a constraint, I suppose) for each person to feel comfortable to give me an answer. It seems that everyone used themselves and other students as a focus point for what makes good and bad writing. Gill, a math major, was particularly hard on herself!

I find it interesting that most of the answers have to do with form, and not content. Organized, neat, and concise.

I liked how Sarah answered the question; she told me how good students seem to become good writers. The OGFWT talks a little about this in the Common Misconceptions of Writing Instruction. Is reading and then writing about great literary works a good way to teach writing? My mom always tells me that if I want to write, I need to read first. I can understand how reading good writing by great writers can serve as an example of what to do, ourselves. Not only in form, but also in content.

I think my own answer would be somewhat like Maddie’s: To engage the reader. This is a big part of it. I also believe that a good student will answer the question in their writing, whatever that question may be, asked or not. I think clarity is important, and all my roommates said. A good student writes to answer the question, or maybe prove a point, in the most clear and concise way possible, while engaging the reade

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City Year #MakeBetterHappen

As I continue to examine how community writing is supported in urban contexts, I cannot believe I didn’t think to include to City Year. City Year is a program run through AmeriCorps, which gets involved in high-poverty communities to give support in schools. I recently learned about City Year and thought it would be an interesting opportunity to look into post-graduation.

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City Year recognizes the problem of a gap between what schools are designed to do and what students actually need. There are many external factors in under-privledged communities that are stopping students from reaching their full potential. While most schools in America are designed to provide extra support to only 15% of students, 50% or more students in these high-poverty communities need that much support, either academically, socially, or emotionally. This makes for HUGE dropout rates.

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AmeriCorps members are placed in the classrooms of these schools that are the most at-risk, and provide help to the teachers. They also help create a positive and encouraging atmosphere within the school, as well as lead tutoring sessions and after school activities.

The positive impact is shown through the results: Screen Shot 2016-04-29 at 4.05.29 PM.png

I would love to look further into specific methods for improving literacy within these classrooms. This is a perfect example of helping to improve literacy in some very at-risk, high-poverty communities. I am very interested in becoming a City Year member in my future!

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