Thursday, October 29, 2015

Sommers and Final Project

Revision Strategies of Student Writers and Experienced Adult Writers, Nancy Sommers

What the Heck is Writing, Anyway?

The saying goes:  Think before you speak.  Why?  As the article notes, “Revision in speech is impossible.”  This reminded me of the google doc’s speech-to-text capability I mentioned in class last week.  Martha and I briefly discussed whether or not its use could be considered “writing,” based on the fact that words appear on the page.  Perhaps, so, we thought. However, it is impossible to revise those words on the screen without using the keyboard.  Interesting.  Perhaps it should could only be considered “drafting.”  Through this thinking, actual writing might be considered speech, that has been fully thought out.  This all had me thinking a peculiar thought: can something be considered writing if it’s not “written”?  I imagine, here, a boy practicing, in front of the mirror, many different ways in which to ask a girl out.  Writing? Speech? Maybe it depends on what actually comes out of his mouth when faced with the task.  What if he was reading his proposal from notecards?  Does that count? When you memorize a speech and present it, is that writing? What if you never actually wrote it down, but practiced many version of it over, and over again? A weird concept, but if digital media can push the envelope as to what constitutes writing....hey? Furthermore, is writing without editing or revising even writing???? Or, does the delay between brain and pen or keyboard make it writing enough? I'm not sure if I'm actually writing right now. haha

I think the tide has turned quite a bit since Sommers wrote this article.   Her research revealed that the “student” writers employed more of an editing approach to revision, opting for surface-level changes, while the “experienced” writers sought to “form and shape their argument” through revision.  I am confident that, if asked, my students would share an understanding of what it means to revise that is closely-aligned with the views of the more experienced writers.  In short, the experienced writers used the writing as a means to arrive at meaning, while the students “knew” what they want to say before they start to write.

Sommers’ final plea for student writers to “seek the dissonance of discovery, utilizing in their writing, as the experienced writers do, the very difference between writing and speech-- the possibility of revision,”  is no easy feat.  While my students may understand the true purpose of revision, putting it into practice is a whole different story.  

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Final Project thoughts
I think we’re all pretty set in what we’d each like to do for our vignette...part of the beauty of the idea was that we’d each get to explore what interested us most. And, while I agree that there should be some continuity and theme that ties it all together, I think we do have one, it’s just a matter of defining it more clearly for the world to understand.  “Writing” is a very broad topic, but I don’t think we’re too far all over the place to not have cohesion.  There are many aspects of writing that none of us is going near.  So, I’m thinking our name/theme should be something simple, personal, and be general, yet specific, in its connotation….   

Maybe:    Writing Matters  


Or:      Write From the Heart  

Image result for write from the heart


Perhaps when we roundtable each of our vignettes, something better will arise….In the meantime, I’ll sleep on it….lol. We could add a tagline to the titles to better explain the theme????

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