No way to go back

What happens once our students write for real audiences outside of their classrooms?  What happens when they see the power of authentic and personal writing?

In her post questioning the merits of the SAT, student Nicole plaintively writes,

I just feel that the “writing” test isn’t a test to see if we are capable of writing a good essay, but a test to see who can write a 5-paragraph essay with perfect grammar with an example involving either Helen Keller or Thomas Edison in 25 minutes.

As she continues, it is very clear that she has had authentic writing experiences, and cannot “go back” to accepting anything less:

“The writing is definitely rushed, the ideas are constipated, and I don’t even believe in what I’m writing. Then, in what way would my reader, or grader, connect to me and believe in me if I don’t even believe what I say?(italics mine)”

Nicole cares what her readers think, and there’s no going back to not caring, or to drab, schooly writing.  Now what?  What happens when our students start expecting more?   Are we ready to meet them?

3 thoughts on “No way to go back

  1. A powerful question Carolyn. Who knows if we are ready to respond? I do actually teach my students to “give NYS what they want” during the test. They realize, even in 5th grade, that working for a test is bogus. But, for now, if we want to continue to enjoy blogging, podcasting, webconferencing, simulation activities, math games, etc., then we must do well on the test so the state will leave us alone to “play”.

  2. Lisa,

    Though it seems faulty to me to have to teach students to “play the testing game” I suppose that there are games we all “have to” play in life. But still, I don’ t like it. We should write well because we have something to say. Nicole is very right…

    She goes on to say in her post: “I feel like a branded cow. I’m not Nicole Kim, a girl living in Korea that likes to write, read, play, and enjoy life: I’m a four digit number.”

    Not something I’m guessing we want students to feel like–I don’t want them to feel like just a cog in the system, instead of an individual.

    I realize sometimes we all have to work on demand, or work under a deadline, and maybe that’s the way to approach these tests with students. But her question about authentic writing still resonates with me–how can writing you produce for a test really have much authentic meaning?

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