Imagining the Possibilities: Improving the Teaching of Writing through Teacher-Led Inquiry by Jessica Singer Early

After reading this week’s article, there were a lot of new ideas that were brought to my attention about new methods of teaching writing. Jessica Singer Early who is an Associate Professor of English Education at Arizona State University brings to our attention the idea of “Teacher-Led Inquiry”. There is an obvious change in writing that goes beyond the classroom. This generation of students are different from one another and have a more diverse voice than ever. These students are in a classroom where the diversity is higher and are not being taught to their level. Instead, they are the ones being forced to learn standard and common core tests in order to develop their writing. I have always believed there is a better way of teaching writing in the classroom for students who have various forms of learning.

Early continues on to say, “We must find ways to give students opportunities to learn and adapt to different genres of writing, especially those that may have an impact on their later lives” (pg 12). School has given students the impression that there should only be one way of teaching and one way of learning. From my personal experience, the subject of math is a good example. Growing up, my ability to break down math in order to understand it, was a skill I did not have. I never had a teacher who was able to adjust the lesson in order to accommodate the way I learned. My senior year of high school, I failed the math section of the HSPA, which was the New Jersey state test I needed to pass in order to graduate. My teacher who taught the students who failed the math section taught the overall subject of the math but was able to individually teach us how to solve problems so we could understand. Each one of us grasped the material differently. The same rules apply to what Early is speaking about in this article. There needs to be an opportunity for students to learn based on their individual selves.

Another point that was made in the article was giving students a greater purpose for writing that will eventually go beyond the classroom. When a student has a particular audience to write for that they can also relate to, their writing develops. “Initially, we talked about how this kind of writing invites students to identify a real audience beyond the classroom teacher, to have empathy and understanding for that audience, and to attempt to reach the audience through appropriate content, purpose, and conventions (Gallagher, 2011). By doing this, students will have the teachings of writing that can connect to real-world situations that go beyond the classroom.

However, not everything falls on the student. The teacher, who is the main subject of this article, has to be able to recraft the teaching methods in the classroom. The example of Debra, an eighth-grade English teacher, was given in this article. She decided to create an after-school writing group for middle school students in order to support their writing that will go beyond the classroom. This is an important part of the article because Debra decided to take matters into her own hands and created a safe space for these kids. Safe spaces are used today for kids to be able to be themselves and feel as if they can make a difference.

If encouraged the correct way, they can make a difference. “By expanding the curriculum to include college-and career-ready writing opportunities, these teachers gave students opportunities to examine and explore how diverse forms of writing function in the world, who deems these forms of writing important, and why and to whom these genres matter in academic, professional, and civic settings (Early, pg 14). It was the teachers who gave these students the opportunity to develop their writing beyond the classroom. Developed writing does fall on the shoulders of the teacher, but if we have more teachers who are willing to change writing teachings, then the teacher inquiry will work out for the better.