Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Brainstorm #1 - SLOG

Class log = slog! (As in weblog = blog)
Alternate: clog?

In the never ending teacher quest of authentic writing experiences, such as journaling, let's try to simulate blogging in the (7th and 8th grade English language arts) classroom - slogging.

Students keep their slogs (composition notebook) in the classroom at all times. During slog time, they have choices to write (usually individual choice of topic, sometimes teacher directed), to give their slogs to others to read, comment on classmate's slog (if permission given by slog writer to comment, no anonymous comments allowed). I am administrator and moderator - I may inspect slogs at any time. I also participate in slogs, including writing my own slog, allow comments, comment on other slogs, etc.

After reading through dictionary definitions of slog, I think the idea of "plodding through" is a good metaphor for how many people (of all ages) regard writing. I prefer the idea of my students breezing through instead of plodding, of course... but that's just the goal of slogging! I admit I had to read dictionary definitions of "slog" to be sure of the original/common meanings (yeah, they really pay me to teach English!), but that just means my students won't know what slog means until I tell them.

Being a shoe fanatic - I kinda like "clog" ; ) even if it's not as catchy as "slog".

RUBRIC! Need a grading rubric. I'll think about that later and update here. YOUR comments welcome here.

I don't know what to call this list of "experts" who inspire ideas such as slog - "Credits"? You get the idea, right?
Nancy Atwell (aka Writing Workshop guru, author of In the Middle)
Carol A. Tomlinson (Differentiated Instruction guru)
Howard Gardiner (Multiple Intelligence Theory).

(updated - 7/25)


awomansblog said...

I love this idea and I hope I’m not beginning to be a pest on your blog but I really love this slog term you’ve coined. How creative you are!

When I was a kid my friend showed me her little calendar book, which had little entries in it every day about our exciting excursions (trips to the penny candy store, rolling down the Hatches hill, etc.) It was my first introduction to journaling.

So we started doing it together and wrote a few lines every single day and then we would read them to each other later. Then a few years later (sometime in the early 70s) she showed me her stenographer’s notebook in which she did free-writing. Her grandmother introduced it to her. Journaling wasn’t big in my neck of the woods then but it was basically what you’re describing: a slog. We started doing it together. At the end of each day we would write what we did. Simple as that.

I think your idea about a daily slog is great. Absolutely great. Slogging has been my lifeblood although I didn’t know it was called slogging (*wink*). I absolutely love it! (And just writing so much last night and today about writing is inspiring me to finish that term paper. It is strange how assignments, though, can seem so ominous; guess that’s where writer’s block fits in or something…).

roller coaster teacher said...

Yeah, I think it's a catchy term! Writing and teaching/inspiring writing is such a preoccupation of mine. I think about struggling writers of all ages, me included, all the time. My students need highly structured writing tasks as well as personal writing tasks because ultimately I want them to think of themselves as writers, no matter what they choose to do in life beyond school.

One book called ART AND FEAR (I'll add a book list to sidebar soon) addresses this fear in all of us - thinking we are too ordinary to be writers, when in fact being ordinary makes us the ideal writers.

Anyway, you're awesome to read and comment here! I'm so glad you found a personal application of the late night brainstorms! Gotta love blogging, eh?

awomansblog said...

I love the initiative you take to help them think of themselves as writers, no matter what else they do in life. I never thought of myself as a writer even though I wrote all the time when I was a kid and never wanted to “grow up to be a writer” and still don’t know if I want to do that. But I still write because I must.

As Rainer Maria Rilke said in Letters to a Young Poet (paraphrase): you’re a writer if you must write.

Then we have to figure out how to keep the lights on. I have worked as a reporter and editor to keep the lights on (Rilke would disapprove) but I don’t think I want to continue in that vein.

Writing has been so helpful to me in so many other ways and it’s not always though the best way to make a living. (Journalists and/or writers are notoriously poor, except for the 0.05%).

This topic is very timely for me as I go through yet another phase of life being a person with a need to write. What it all means I still haven’t figure it out yet but I guess I just keep going with this and with other things that are more lucrative.

But to give your students the joy and reflection that comes from writing is so important. And through it too to examine your own literary aspirations is as important. A friend said to me the other day: writing is not an easy job.

I just laughed (she’s a visual artist and writer too but she supports herself with a *real* job too.) !

I don’t know any writers who have not struggled through this dilemma…how to keep our joy and inspiration alive and how also to keep the heat on.

Your students sound pretty damn lucky.

roller coaster teacher said...


What does LUCK have to do with anything?! Just kidding ;)

Writing was always pretty easy and natural for me. I didn't realize most people fear writing until I was a working adult and saw perfectly competent professional colleagues quake before business writing tasks such as reports, letters, etc.

You and I know writing isn't just about fulfilling business needs - it's fundamental. Have you ever been part of a writing group or writing workshop?

Signing off!

jenamoured said...

rubric: i would probably leave mechanics off, but definitely put 'clarity of expression' on. 'creativity' is welcome here, especially, because in a 'blog (slog!)' format, students have so much room to explore some writing formations, especially when the teacher hasn't given the prompt. i would definitely somehow grade people on their responses to others' slogs in terms of 'higher thinking' questioning and reasoning in the responses.

does any of that make sense?!

anyway, i'm trying to do some class blogging myself, but as my district is really into technology, i'm going to use an actual blog with moderated comments. at times, students will be expected to respond to blogs that i post, at other times, students will be 'guest bloggers' and their classmates will respond.

helpful that i tried to help form a rubric for your project, as i think that rubric will probably serve me well when grading mine.

roller coaster teacher said...

jenamoured - thanks for the rubric ideas! I like both "clarity" and "creativity", and I do plan to create a grading rubric/system for comments/responses. I'll post more in a few weeks as I do more work on this whole plan. Thanks so much for visiting, reading, and responding to the post! Good luck on your class blog work.