Dear Dr. Jones,
Overall I think the class is going really well. It's been very informative and I've really enjoyed it. I've learned so much about not only handwritten writing but digital writing as well, which is a new concept for me. Before this class I had thought of reading and writing as two different subjects. They are graded separately so, I never really considered them interrelated in that they feed off of one another. I believe that having good reading strategies accelerates writing strategies. Being able to understand parts of a text help a student when they are writing. They know that they should be writing from top to bottom, left to right, and they know how paragraphs are formed. Eckoff (1983) states that "...children may learn structures from their reading and use them in their writing." (607) I find that that is especially true when they are studying a specific type of text over a long period of time.
I feel as though when I'm writing I'm doing it almost unconsciously. I just write to get it done and don't really think about it. During class though I am forced to think about it, which I think is a great thing. It gives me ideas and engages me wholly in the writing process. When we do specific writing activities not only does it engage me and make me think about what I'm doing (which makes me a better writer), it gives me strategies that I can use in my classroom. I know that out of the list that you mentioned: to question, to reconsider, to imagine, to discover, to clarify, to refine, to synthesize, the only one I can really see myself doing is refining. I go back to make sure that all of my grammar is correct and that all of the conventions are okay before I turn it in. It's not to say that I don't take my writing seriously or that I don't spend a lot of time when I'm writing papers for presentations, but I don't go through the stages of the writing process and honestly, I never have. I think that it's been a great help thus far and I think it's really going to help as I start my midterm in my theory class! One major reading/writing habit that I have to change would be my prewriting stage. I don't spend any time prewriting, I just go right into writing. I would really like to spend more time figuring out exactly what I'd like to write and jot some ideas down and get an idea of where my writing is going instead of staring at a blank page for hours until I finally come up with something. I actually write my piece on paper and then type it (which I know a lot of people think is an extra step) but it really helps me to figure out my mistakes when I'm transferring from paper to screen.
I feel like a lot of the instructional strategies I've learned come from Tompkins (2012) and the article by Towle (2000) on the reading process. From Tompkins (2012) I've learned that I need to model the skills in the writing process for students until they become familiar with them. I can't just model it once and expect them to understand and automatically know what they're doing. It takes time, so I need to be patient. With reading workshop, I've learned that that also takes time and that it should be a routine. It has many components that students are actively engaged in, so I need to make sure that students are involved in the learning activities and are able to work together and that I can use one-on-one instruction effectively.
The only struggle I'm really having is just being so overwhelmed at this point with the amount of "stuff" I have going on. It's not just in this class but in my life as well. Trying to juggle three classes with huge projects, moving into an apartment as well as preparing to get married is a HUGE amount of stress on me. I've not been myself lately and I'm hoping that once I'm married (on October 13) and the wedding planning is OVER that my stress level will go down and that I will be back to normal and back on track. You're doing a great job as a professor and I really enjoy this class.