Free entries are so difficult for me. You would think they'd be so easy because you can write about whatever comes to your mind, but there's just so much that comes to my mind when it comes to the field of literacy that I don't know where to begin. My first thought, though, goes back to the Kucer & Rhodes's (1986) article and the two different strategies that they suggested to use when writing. I'm one of those "writer's block" kind of girls and it just comes so easily to me. I've been staring at this blank page for a day just wondering what to write, because I'm at a loss for words. I decided to look back at the strategies, and focus on my views on those, and how I think I could use them in my classroom.
When I first read about the card strategy I thought it was a pretty cool idea. I got the main idea of it from the detailed description of it, but Kucer & Rhodes (1986) suggested only giving three to four index cards to start out with. I didn't think that was a sufficient amount, especially since you need more "meat" in your paragraph to make it a good one. Anyway, I kept my mind open and continued reading. After I figured out what it was and how it worked I thought it was a really awesome strategy that a lot of students, especially students that struggle with writing could benefit from. My topic for my genre piece project is planning my wedding and I had no idea where to begin. I know what I did but to actually WRITE about it was a completely different story. I was so excited when we actually did the card strategy in class on Wednesday! I went through eighteen cards (just ask Lindsey M, she was a trooper). After doing the activity I realized that 3-4 cards is definitely not enough for students, but handing them a huge amount of index cards could be really intimidating for them, so I'd probably give them about six or seven to start out with. Then once we started writing (I chose one of my genres as a blog entry) I went to town! I couldn't stop writing, I knew exactly what my topics were, what I should be writing about, and my creativity flowed from there. I was really proud of my writing and I think it's going to show when it's published. I think students will really enjoy this activity and being able to receive other students' inputs on the order of events and doing the same to their peers I think is a really cool idea. It gives them a fresh perspective on their writing. Lindsey actually helped me realize that some of my elements should go in a different order, it just made better sense.
The second strategy, the puzzle strategy, is a little different. The students are given a text, something totally different than what they've read. A completely new piece of text to them (which I think is a great idea so that students don't know exactly what's going on). Kucer & Rhodes (1986) state that, "...The text should have some structural similarities to others they have read, the concepts should be easily understood, and the text should not be too lengthy." (192) In other words, don't give them a four page text that they will look at and think it's in a completely different language. Until they get used to the puzzle strategy, as teachers, we need to stick to text structures that the students are used to working with and are used to reading. Don't throw them a curve ball! Then the text is cut into different parts and the students will put the parts together in the order that they think they belong. Cutting in the middle of paragraphs is too confusing, so I thought it was really good advice when Kucer & Rhodes (1986) said that we should cut the parts in a "natural order." (192) This is a small group assignment which I think is great. Once everyone is finished they will compare their answers with each other or they could compare it with the original text.
Personally, if I had to choose one of the two strategies to use in my classroom it would be the CARD STRATEGY! It just seems so much more useful and it is really fun to do. It also creates peer interactions and it get students involved in each others' writing. I think it's such a good brainstorming activity and any age group would enjoy it.