The internet is a handy resource to everyone, especially the student who has a full educational schedule and a busy life outside of the academic arena. It is also helpful to professional educators and parents of students. However, along with all of the valid resources on the internet there is an equal amount of invalid material. The users of the internet need to be able to evaluate a website and determine the accuracy of a site. Kim’s Korner for Teacher Talk is a website that was developed by educator, Kim Steele and even though it states that it is for everyone of all ages, (Steele) the target audience is parents, students, and other teachers. Through this website, it will be explained how a website should be evaluated for its validity.
Kim’s Korner for Teacher Talk has a page that is the writing process and a timeline that she uses with her students to make sure that they are on task. She understands that “Writing is a process, not merely a product.” (OWL) Her students accumulate points for each step of the process and they have a time frame in which they must complete their work. The objective for creating the timeline is to keep her students focused and to make sure that writing is not difficult and overwhelming. By dividing the assignment into stages, a student will realize quickly if there is a problem with the topic chosen for the writing assignment.
The sample timeline offers nine steps during the writing process. Understanding process helps us recognize where a student writer is in his or her process and offer help appropriate to that phase. (Trupe). Kim states that the website is for all ages, but it seems to be geared toward elementary students because of the graphics that she uses. With some tweaking, the timeline could be used for any educational level. The first thing one would want to do if he/she were using this with older students is to remove the graphics, and perhaps using diction that is more academic.
The timeline that is designed by Kim is geared to allow students to have a time frame in which steps in the writing process are due and when the final draft is due. To many students this would be beneficial. The student who procrastinates can obviously understand that he/she cannot delay the assignment until the night before the final draft is due. It would also assure the teacher that all of the steps are used by the student. Many times students will delay doing their assignment and they will rush through it at the last minute. This often times leads to poor quality work. If the teacher uses the timeline, he/she will be assured that this will not happen.
Good writing habits do not just happen. They must be practiced like a sport or musical instrument. The longer one practices, the better he/she becomes at the task. If the teacher uses this timeline for a long period of time, the student will eventually internalize the writing process so that in later on when the student is no longer in the class of the teacher using it, he/she will automatically go through the steps of the writing process. This is a useful tool for the teacher to share his/her own writing experiences. He/She should be able to discuss how he/she has benefited from using the writing process. A child believes a teacher has no life beyond the classroom. A teacher is the face in the front of the room, the person who hands out assignments and issues grades. Where she came from, or how she got there, doesn’t register. (Hallman)
Another positive aspect of the timeline is that the teacher is involved in each step. He/She should be checking the assignment at each due date which will guarantee that the students are accurate in what they are doing for the assignment. If there are problems, the teacher can intervene early on instead of catching the problem at the very end. If a conversational tone is used with the student, then h/she will not feel threatened or intimidated.
How can teachers view writing assessment as a conversation? First, pay attention to what goes on in your mind as you read students’ writing, and articulate those reactions; give each student your experience of reading her or his paper. As students respond to your reactions, you might find that your interpretation and suggestions change. Be open to each writer’s purposes, experiences, and personality, using everything you know about that person and yourself as a reader. (Wilson)
This would be frustrating to a student who had put a lot of time into an assignment that was not acceptable. The student would then loose points for the daily assignments as well as many points on the final draft. That would lead to failure and frustration for the student. However, the timeline would alert the teacher to the problem while it was a small one instead of a huge one.
The timeline includes a two brainstorming sessions which is a positive aspect for the students. The first brainstorming session would allow for the student to choose a topic. Many times this is the hardest step. Almost everyone has at one time or another stared at a blank piece of paper or computer screen for a long time because he/she is utterly clueless about which topic to choose. The first brainstorming session would insure that this did not happen to the students. The second session of brainstorming would aid the students in narrowing their topic. There are many times that students will choose a topic that is too broad. When a topic is broad, it would take enough information to fill a book to cover it. Instead, this second brainstorming session, with the help of graphic organizers, would alleviate the problem.
Once the first draft is written, there is an opportunity for revising for coherence, writing a second draft, and editing for usage and mechanics. These steps might seem time consuming, but in the long run they are beneficial. Students’ final drafts will be much better if these steps are followed. Peer revision for coherence is used after the first draft is written. The process of student self-assessment through rubrics can be enhanced with peer assessment and teacher feedback, of course. (Andrade). This step allows another student to read the assignment for clarity. Using peers for this evaluation is actually better than a teacher because the peer is the targeted audience therefore, less biased. The student can then understand where there is no clarity and he/she then revises the assignment by writing the second draft. The paper then goes through peer editing to check for usage and mechanic problems with the paper. This is done separately from the first peer conference so that the student can concentrate on one area at a time and so that the writer is not overwhelmed with the number of mistakes found on the paper. The student should also use self-assessment during the peer revision and editing steps. Even though the peer is useful in giving objective criticism, the peer is also a student like the writer.
During self-assessment, students reflect on the quality of their work, judge the degree to which it reflects explicitly stated goals or criteria, and revise. Self-assessment is formative — students assess works in progress to find ways to improve their performance. Self-evaluation, in contrast, is summative — it involves students giving themselves a grade (Andrade)
Even though the writing process designed and used by Kim is beneficial for most students, there are some that it would hinder success. While it would greatly help a student with an attention deficit disorder because the student would not be focused on one aspect of the writing process for a long time, it could be overwhelming to a student who has other learning disabilities. When a student has a learning disability in written expression sees the amount of time that he/she will be working on a task that is a disability to him/her, then the student is likely to give up before he/she even starts the assignment. It would also frustrate that student to see that so many points were allotted to an assignment that is already difficult for him/her. Embarrassment is another problem when it comes to peer revision and editing. For a student with no learning disability, the chance that his/her paper is not totally full of mistakes is not a problem. However, the student with a problem in written expression would see peer revision and editing in a totally different light. Not only would the embarrassment frustrate the student, but the time constraints could be a horrible blow. The only way that the writing process timeline could work with this student would be if the due dates were revised for that student.
After closely analyzing the website Kim’s Korner for Teacher Talk, the conclusion is that the website is a positive one and the information presented would be of great benefit for most teachers. However, the students with learning disabilities in written expression should be taken into account. If the teacher forgets about these students and does not make major adjustments to the writing process timeline, these students will be doomed for failure.