All posts by Ricki Everett

Formulaic Writing

The idea of formulaic writing has always been something that I am on the fence about if I am being honest. As a student, having a structured formula was an aspect of writing that I relied on. Not in the sense that I could not write without it. I just felt more comfortable having a guide, especially when I was younger. I struggled with organizing my thoughts. I always had so much to say and it was sometimes confusing because there was no structure. Once I learned how to create structured pieces that is when my writing improved. I would not have learned that without the help of writing formulas that my teacher introduced.

As a teacher and just as an adult in general I can see how formulaic writing is not beneficial to students. It could turn into something they rely on. Even in my own classroom I have students everyday that question how long a writing assignment should be or how many sentences in a paragraph. It has gotten to the point where I do not even answer anymore. I tell them to write as much as they feel they need to answer the prompt correctly. Part of me completely understands where they are coming from though. They live in a world where they are not learning to be more knowledgeable, they are learning to make the grade. So how could you really blame them? Personally, I cant be the teacher that pounds into her kids head that making the grade is the most important thing. So I try to keep their creative juices flowing with small quickwrites that they do not have requirements for. But this makes me think, can we actually get away from formulaic writing? Is that even possible? Is it beneficial? And if not then what else do we do ?

On Students’ Rights to Their Own Texts

This piece is probably the one I can relate to the most. As a student, I think my writing was affected by this. Then I was constantly trying to write for the teachers mind and not my own. I also struggled and stressed over making things super perfect for these reason. If I had control over my writing I probably would have a solid voice and would have grown a lot more.

Honestly, teachers are absolutely bias, which is not always purposeful. I like to think I try really hard to be objective just for the sake of letting my students think, feel and grow. This makes me think about all the students I have the claim they ” don`t know what to write”. Maybe its not that they don`t know how to write but simply don`t know how to think for themselves enough to get started.

The question is… is this something we can even change and if so how? Is it rooted too deep?

Writing in Voice

I was actually excited to read this piece. I thought this was going to be some sort of guide on how to discover and develop ones voice as a writer. I was a little disappointed to find out that was not the case. Personally, I was never really sure if I had a distinct writing voice. I never saw my writing as something that stood out or gave light to who I was as a person, but maybe that is something for the reader to decide and not me. Elbows piece goes on to discuss the arguments around writing in voice and how it is not exactly talked about as much anymore.

What I found interesting and useful was the “Reasons for Attending to Voice in Texts” section. It made me think about my students in my own classroom. Elbow says, “With practice, people can learn to write prose that ‘has a voice’ or ‘sounds like a person’, and , interestingly, when they do, their language-or when we hear a difficult text read aloud well- we don`t have to work so hard to understand the meaning”(176). My students always ask for me to do the class reading aloud or sometimes to even listen to an audio of what are we reading that day. I thought they preferred this because they just wanted to be lazy, but maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s genuinely easier for some of them to grasp the meaning by hearing a voice read it aloud.

The Danger of a Single Story

After watching Chimanada Ngoni Adichie speak I immediately thought about how limiting having a single story lens can be. I thought about how common this actually is and how maybe if we all took a little time to get to know each other more the world would be so different.

I think this is why representation and exposure is important especially with young children. Like Adichie mentioned, when she was younger she did not connect with the people she wrote about. Simply because she did not read about people that looked like her. Being represented, especially to children allows a sense of belonging and although being introduced to people who are on common ground is important so is being exposed to people who may not live a similar life.

What stuck out to me was when Adichie mentioned that her mother would always tell her how their house boy was poor and because she heard that so much she just was surprised when she found that one of his family members created a beautiful piece. He was made up of many stories. That got me to thinking about my own life and how I may be perceived one way because of one aspect of my self that I choose to show, but I have so many other experiences that make up who I am. Now that I think about it not many people get all my “stories”. It forced me to think about all the things I didn’t see in others and maybe what they didn’t see in me.

Writing Comments on Students’ Papers

This reading was by far the most interesting and useful to me. Not only did I relate from a student standpoint but also as a teacher. Reading this reminded me of how I use to think of my writing in middle and high school. I vividly remember being so anxious waiting for the teacher to return my piece with corrections. My insecurity with my writing developed at this stage in my life and evolved into me wiring what I thought my teacher wanted to hear and not what I wanted to actually write. Even now I have more of a “cookie cutter” writing style and still struggle writing pieces that do not have many boundaries. I also often remember not really understanding the comments that were left on my essays. They always seemed so negative to me that I would not ask for clarification. I would go home and try my best to switch a couple words around and then submit my final draft. I could have learned so much more if I actually experienced a proper revision process.

From a teaching standpoint I see a lot that I can improve on with my own students. I completely agree with the claim that sometimes comments can be cryptic and/or vague. Bean`s also makes a point of mentioning how comments can be worded differently to sound more inviting and how mentioning the positive is useful. He also mentions something that really stuck with me. In the text he says, “Revising doesn’t mean just editing; it means “re-visioning”-rethinking, re-conceptualizing, “seeing again” (Beans 321). This is a significant way to explain and revise to students. It is them taking in the information they are trying to convey and making sure this is the best way to convey those thoughts. This made me think about how conferencing with my students would be beneficial. This way I can really see what they are thinking and they can feel like I am coming from a helpful space instead of one derived from criticism. He also mentions the difference between stylistic problems and grammar errors. That is something I have not thought about. A lot of students need assistance with stylistic issues and not necessarily grammar problems.

Overall, I found this reading helpful and an easy yet interesting read. I like readings where I can walk away and feel like I can use what I have read in my everyday life and this was definitely one of them.

Rhetoric and Composition

I actually found this reading to be interesting and somewhat intriguing. I never really considered how the writing courses we take now came to be. It actually makes sense that writing and teaching writing has evolved so much over time. I think even with all the branches of writing we are exposed to and have courses for now we can still expand more.

In the “Studies of Composing Process” Lauer talks about pre writing and how at one point that was never considered or taught as part of the writing process. That’s honestly amazed me. I cannot imagine writing actual pieces without some sort of brainstorming or think and jot. Also, the pre writing experience is so different for everyone there is no way to conform everyone to a certain pre writing style.

I noticed the idea of keeping the writing process and teaching writing in a specific way as a common concept throughout this reading. These profound scholars were constantly putting limitation on the way to write. The only way it evolved was other scholars to daring to suggest and study something different. I don’t think that writing can be restrictive. It only makes sense that with time it will expand even more than it already has.

Another thought I had while reading was about how writing is taught in school. In the text it says, “Here scholars argued that the reigning conception of genre was text-based:students learned only that formal features of genres like letters, resumes, and book reports” (Lauer 116). I think even now we need to normalize writing socially. Students should be able to do both. Maybe there wouldn’t be such a sigma around Language Arts and English if students learned to write in both a social /relatable way but also formal. This also made me think about the textbooks we use in school. Lauer mentions that as well. I know personally I hate the textbook I have to use in my class. It’s not the content within the book but the issue of only giving one way to do something. Students respond to different things and not everyone thinks, processes and learns the same.

An introduction

My name is Ricki Everett. I am a daughter, a sister, a friend, a teacher and most recently a student…again. I am extremely anxious about starting my first semester of graduate school. I have never really been good with change but lately I have been trying to make a conscious effort to relax and take everything in stride, easier said than done of course. I have also recently been interested in reintroducing myself to hobbies I had when I was younger. Last weekend I took a dance class for the first time in 10 years and this weekend I am going to a boxing class. I was always really athletic growing up and honestly enjoyed doing so many things that I have not made time for in a while. One thing I did realize while being in a brand new dance class is how shy I actually am. I felt so uncomfortable. I had to remind myself that being uncomfortable because something is new again is not a bad thing to feel. It is not something I have to avoid or run from, but rather accept and invite in. That is what I am now telling myself about my higher education journey as well.

I am the oldest of 4 girls and feel as though that statement reflects my personality in the most honest way. If you were to ask my sisters what kind of person I was they would definitely say I am serious, strong, structured, private and maybe even a bit bossy. That would not exactly be a lie. My grandma always says “Bossy parents make bossy kids” and although she meant it as more of a dig to my mom; I have to admit the shoe fits. What my family probably do not realize is how much I love them and how responsible for them I feel. A lot of what I do is to make my mom proud and I am constantly ensuring that the choices I make reflect those of a good role model for my sisters. The hard exterior I give off is nothing more than a girl that strives to be the best she can be for the people she loves, which I can admit does not make me the most warm and fuzzy person.(Its a work in progress lol)

I wholeheartedly think my personality is what led me to teaching. I really cannot see myself doing anything else. I feel like when I tell people I am a teacher they immediately assume I am warm and fuzzy and spend my days singing nursery rhymes. In reality, I am gearing up everyday to take on the scariest enemy of them all… middle school kids. Whats interesting about me is the oddest things warm my heart and make me love what I do. Yes, I find the cute and fuzzy moments adorable but what really tugs at my heart strings is having the student the everyone has labeled as “bad” or “a waste of time” and I look at them and see nothing but someone who needs someone that cares about them. I love the growth I see in them and building relationships in the most unexpected ways. I am always the teacher, leader or counselor that gravitated towards the kids that were “more difficult” and in turn I am labeled crazy for preferring that child. But its something about them that I cannot help but see all the potential in the world. It takes an intelligent child and big personality to be the most difficult in a classroom.

I wanted to be a part of this master program to match my skills with my heart, be someone that my family can be proud of, and most importantly prove to myself that I can do anything I put my mind to . I have been so nervous about teaching full time, going back to school, and integrating that all in my “very much still 24 years old” social life. I often forget that I have accomplished difficult things before. I have overcome obstacles before and I do not need to be intimidated by anything.