Friday, March 24, 2017


I have a paper that was due on Tuesday. I still haven't turned it in. I'm wondering if I will get any credit. I'm sad about that. But I have learned a lot about writing from this paper.

1) I haven't turned it in because the topic is huge. We had to choose a topic related to English Learners (EL's) and assessment, and read two articles about that topic, preferably with opposing points of view. Then we had to summarize and critique the articles, then connect them to the other articles we have read in the class. And do it in 2200 words. I have written and written and written for the last ten days, trying to include all of the different components. I thought I was almost done, until I did a word count. I had 3800 words. I'm down to 2700, but I haven't done a good job connecting to previous readings. I still need to work on that a little more, then probably cut another thousand words. That's a lot of words.

2) I haven't turned it in because I'm grappling with the topic. My topic is translanguaging. Do you know what that is? It has to do with the makeup of the bilingual brain. In the past, people used to think that the two languages were basically in two separate brains, that could be turned on or off, depending on the linguistic demands. Switching back and forth between the two languages in one conversation or one piece of writing was called code switching. Code switching was strictly frowned upon. Now, linguists believe that Emerging Bilinguals (EB's) move continuously back and forth between the two languages. Current research suggests that it's ok for students to use both languages, and that there are, in fact, circumstances where that can enhance the language of the L2. I read two articles, one about university students studying to be teachers in Costa Rica, who constantly use translanguaging in their own lives, but don't want kids to do it in their classrooms.  The other article is by two professors from CU. Their research looked at the Colorado Basic Literacy Act, now called the READ Act. Kids were placed on reading contracts based on the assessment of one of their two languages. The researchers think that this results in many misdiagnoses of primary grade readers. The topic is really interesting. My understandings are still developing. I need to talk about them. I want to talk about them. But the professor doesn't want exploratory thinking. He wants polished finished thinking and I'm not there yet.

3) I haven't turned it in because I can't get the hang of the voice. It's a research paper. Written in third person. I hardly ever write in that voice. I don't like it. And I'm having trouble doing it well. And I end up with way too many words. And sometimes it feels like it doesn't make sense.

4) I haven't turned it in because the professor is super nit picky about APA style. The last paper we wrote, I was really proud of. We had to analyze an assessment. I did mine about a new reading assessment my state is doing. It was ten pages and I worked really hard on it. I thought I had done a great job and was really proud of my work. He wrote one comment on it, and marked about a million places where I had forgotten a period or somehow incorrectly used the APA style. Now I'm super neurotic about making mistakes with the APA style.

5) I haven't turned it in because I don't think the professor likes my writing or thinking. And it's giving me writer's block. And I'm really tired. And it's hard to write well when you are tired.

As I have been struggling this week, I have been thinking about our kids, who have been taking PARCC for the last two weeks. We expected them to read difficult texts and write in a really academic voice. And get the thing typed. And not make mistakes. In a relatively short time. And then it's months and months before they hear how they did. And there is no specific feedback.

Given those conditions, and the high possibility of failure, I'm not sure I'd be willing to try all that hard.

1 comment:

Chris said...

Carol, what an interesting topic! I feel your strain and pain through this slice. I think the writer's block from feeling like your professor doesn't like your writing is so intense! My last class had a teacher with high expectations. I lost steam at the end of the class because I knew I was falling short.

Hang in there! You can do it! *Waves pom poms*