Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Reflections: Part 2 My Experience As A Writer

Part II: My Experience As A Writer
For the 2nd part of your blog response you will complete your reflection paper of your WRG texts online. Here are the questions you need to address in your blog response:

1. Describe how you felt getting feedback on your own writing/giving feedback to others in a WRG.

2.. Describe times during the process of writing that you struggled. What did you do to try to resolve the problem?

3. Describe a suggestion from a peer that you used and why OR Describe a suggestion from a peer that you didn’t use and why?

4. Where will I go from here? Will I publish it? Share it? Expand it? Toss it? File it?


  1. 1. The process of giving feedback isn't always easy - at my school we go by the mantra that it needs to be kind, specific, and helpful. I think for kids, and even adults, weaving these three things into a solid form of feedback can be a difficult thing. Getting feedback from my peers in this class really helped me to develop my writing, but more so I think it helped in developing my ability to give feedback. Especially working in a group, it was helpful to hear others' opinions and then to build off of their ideas. I think the feedback process is that much more meaningful when you have more sets of eyes and more constructive feedback.

    2. I struggled the most in the actual writing. Since I chose to write about my father, I was really focused on trying to portray my dad in his purest form while trying to weave in humor, love, and pride. It wasn't easy, and sometimes I just had to step back and take a break. Other times I would call my dad to just talk to him (he doesn't know I'm writing this) to try to get the essence of him from his voice other than my memories. I found it really difficult to do him justice in a piece of writing, since he is something I love so much.

    3. Probably the most important suggestions I got from my peers were in how to develop the "flow" of my piece. Since I'm so close to the piece, I put things in certain places because it made sense to me...but having others read it, they often suggested I think you should mention this before this, or I need help seeing the transition between this and this. Since I'm writing from my memory, I can easily visualize these things. But feedback from my peers really showed me how to make these memories more vivid for those who didn't experience them. Loni, Eleni, and Qi provided great feedback and a safe feeling to share something that is so close to me. Thanks girls :)

    4. Ideally, I think this is something that I could really flush out and continue writing. I could see it possibly being a chapter in a larger memoir, or even an entire memoir about my dad because he's that darn interesting :) I'd love to publish it someday...but right now my primary goal is to make it good enough that I'd feel comfortable sharing it with my dad. I've written a children's book that I want to get published, but writing such a different genre has been quite an experience. My dream is to just publish SOME sort of book someday!

  2. 1. I enjoyed receiving feedback from my WRG peers because they helped me see my writing from different perspectives. They offered suggestions and insights that I would have never thought of beforehand. In addition, giving constructive criticism to my group members when I could, which was hardly often because they wrote some amazing pieces of writing, was very fulfilling for me. I enjoy helping others improve their writing when I can because I know how much I appreciate it when someone helps me improve my writing.

    2. I struggled the most with content. For the last two writing pieces, I really struggled with how much personal information to share. I wasn't sure how much was too much or how little was too little. It was an interesting experience weaving my personal memories and experiences into creative writing pieces.

    3. The most valuable suggestions I received from my peers were word choice suggestions. They prompted me to re-think my word choices for stronger, more vivid words. I really appreciated how they gently challenged me to improve my writing skills with their suggestions.

    4. I think that I will store some of my writing for later use and continue to expand on my last WRG piece. I think I want to share it eventually with a family member who it is dedicated to. But I think I need to work on it more before I can share it with her.

  3. Alecia WallingfordMarch 4, 2011 at 8:21 AM

    3. A paragraph in my first WRG draft was as follows:

    "January 13th 2010 I gave up. I surrendered to Ed, I could no longer live my life with him in it."

    Because I was writing from experience, I was not aware of how vague this tiny paragraph was to a reader. My peers suggested I add more detail to better explain to the reader what had made my experience with Ed so terrible and difficult. At first, I was a little hesitant, as I didn't want to provide too much graphic detail (I didn't want to gross the reader out). After much thought and revision, I was able to create a perfect paragraph. I was able to revise the paragraph to display my specific struggles, while keeping out the gruesome details. The final product was as follows:

    "January 13th 2010 I gave up. I surrendered to Ed, I could no longer live my life with him in it. Cheeks swollen; eyes blood shot, teeth beginning to decay. Both body and mind too weak to sustain friendships, work and life itself. He had turned me into a person I no longer recognized. "

    I found the feedback I received from my peers extremely helpful. This paragraph revision made my piece that much more intense and meaningful. Yay!

    4. I am so proud of the WRG pieces I have written in this class. For my first piece I wrote about my eating disorder, something I had struggled with for eight years of my life. I was so thankful to not only myself for finally seeking treatment, but also for all those that had helped me along the way, whether it be therapists, my family, the treatment staff or my close friends. I believe this writing piece is a testament to my recovery. Perhaps even a thank you to everyone who had helped me along the way. I sent my ED piece to my friends, my treatment staff and my family and it felt absolutely amazing. Everyone who had seen me struggle throughout those eight years began crying after they read this piece. Since then, I have been asked to share my piece and story with others who are struggling as I did. I will continue to share my writing and story with others to help them realize that recovery is truly possible.

    For my second WRG I decided to write a poem. This was difficult because the last time I had written a poem I was in the 6th grade and had written about dogs. I decided to write about my father and the struggles he experienced during his life. I initially wrote the poem for myself, vowing not to share it with my father. After finishing the piece however, I have changed my mind. I don't think my father realizes how proud of him I am and how much I feel for what he has gone through during his life. I want to be able to share my feelings of support with him. I have not yet shown him, but I intend to. And I know how much it will mean to him.

  4. Alecia Wallingford IIMarch 4, 2011 at 8:23 AM

    1. During the first WRG, I had a very hard time giving my peers feedback on their work. As crazy as this sounds, since I had never thought very highly of my writing, I didn't think it was my place to give any feedback. I actually didn't even know what to say. After the first WRG, I immediately went home and used my peers feedback to revise my wrg draft. I saw how much my work benefited from their feedback and was thrilled. It was then that I realized how important WRG's are (I have DREADED them in the past). Professor's/teacher's do not assign WRG/peer editing groups for other student's to laugh and criticize your work, they are assigned to strengthen a student's writing.

    I felt getting feedback from my WRG was much easier than giving feedback. During the first session, I was a bit sensitive when I received feedback on my work. I almost felt embarrassed. Those feelings quickly vanished however, after using their feedback for the revision of my draft. I quickly realized that their feedback was not criticism, but was meant to benefit my writing. By the time the second WRG rolled around, I was very eager to hear their suggestions on how to better my writing piece. Their feedback helped me create a stronger writing piece and I was/am truly thankful.

    2. For my first WRG draft I started by looking through quite a few writing pieces online. After much searching, I finally found one that I liked. The way the author wrote about her history and experience moved me and I wanted to create a writing piece that gave others that same feeling I had felt when I read hers. I knew exactly what I wanted to write about. I would write about my experience with my eating disorder. Though I knew what I wanted to write about, it took me a VERY long time to write, re-write, re-re-write and finish my first draft. I found it difficult at times to put my thoughts into writing. I wanted the reader to understand how much I had struggled (with my eating disorder), through my writing. This proved to be very difficult. At first, I sat at my desk for hours trying to create the perfect sentence. I was left frustrated and upset. I then however, began taking breaks and coming back to my writing at a later time to help clear my head. I found that coming back to my writing after a day or two, or even after a few hours allowed me to return to my work with fresh insight.

  5. 1.I thought that getting feedback would be embarrassing and hard to take, but everyone in the group was very nice and gave constructive feedback. They told me what they thought, with the focus on making my piece better, which made me feel like they cared about my writing. Giving feedback wasn’t too hard, mostly because of the incredible and beautiful pieces that my members wrote. One of the best things that came out of the WRG was I found out that we are all good writers and that we just don’t give ourselves the credit we deserve.

    2. I struggled with writing as soon as we got the assignment. Even after the clarifications on what we could write, I had no idea what I was going to do. I had too much writing freedom. I thought that if I picked out the mentor text first, then it would be easy. I picked up my favorite book, from my favorite author and picked out my mentor text. Even then I had no idea what to write. So what I had to do was just sit down and write what was on my mind. A story started to come out, although very rough, it was a story that I started to like and started to play with. At the end, it wasn’t as hard as I had first thought, it was actually fun.

    3. One suggestion that I got from Jae was to write my piece in Spanish. I had told my group that I couldn’t translate the sentiment of my mentor text and thus partially the sentiment of my piece. I didn’t take the suggestion because of time and because no one would really understand it but me. It was a great suggestion and I do think I will take it one day.

    4. I will expand it, I don’t know when, but I will expand it. I want to know what happens to my main character, does she fall in love? Does she travel? Does she live happily ever after? I know I have control over all of these actions, but until I have them on paper I won’t really know.

  6. This is Ilana -

    1. I think getting feedback on your writing puts you in a vulnerable position. I would start off feeling confident (before anyone read my work) and right before I passed my writing out, I felt like disclaimering it. I think it was very helpful to allow myself to get uncomfortable because that's how my students feel so it helped me reailize how brave they are and also what position I put them in.

    2. I love writing and I love revising. Even when I don't feel that something is my best work, I like the process that I go through when I write because it's so personal. I think my point of struggle isn't during writing, but when I was looking for my first mentor text. I was reading through pages and pages of books I love trying to pick one little part. I guess the ideas can be hard to find sometimes, but also a fun process because I picked mentor text that I wouldn't have guessed I would use.

    3. The first piece I wrote was based off of a picture book called Dreams. There was one line where I talked about Jasmine lined streets. I got a lot of questions from the group about why that was in my writing. I realized that I hadn't explained the importance of Jasmine at all. My parents are from Tunisia and the men would roll up Jasmine flowers and put it behind their ears. Growing up in Maryland/DC area I never really saw Jasmine. I noticed it so much in San Diego because it symbolizes something to me. It makes me feel at home and reminds of a place I've never known all at the same time. So I added to my piece that expanded on the Jasmine which made what I wrote so much more meaningful to me.

    4. I think to teach writing you have to be a writer. I want to keep writing and challenging myself to write. If I am particularly inspired by a piece I've written or by a political issue that I want to have a voice on, I will seek to get published. For now I show my writing to the kids in my after school program. I do it to show that I love to write and to make myself vulnerable to them. One kid read what I wrote aloud and it actaully made me feel a little nervous. It again reinforced in me what we ask our students to do.

  7. 1. Though my group members are a supportive and amazing bunch of women, I felt extremely intimidated in our first WRG meeting. It had been a long time since I had to share my writing and receive immediate feedback from peers. I also felt awkward offering feedback to my group members on their writing. I rethought for days afterword what I had said to each member, hoping that I had not crossed the line, gave advice that was too weak or too strong, or came off sounding like a jack ass in general. By the second time around, the process was already much more comfortable and by the third time, I found myself eager to hear what my peers had to say. I feel like the feedback I received was truly helpful and improved my writing. It makes me consider seeking peer feedback on lesson planning more often.

    2. In the beginning I struggled with “surrendering” to a mentor text. I found myself implicitly trying NOT to follow the mentor style and I had to ask myself why I was doing this. I realized that in my educational history, following a mentor text was equivalent to a form of copying. I was encouraged to put my own twist on anything I did. It took in depth metacognitive processing to realize my prejudice against allowing a mentor text to affect my personal style. I really had to work through this process on the WRG #1. At first I sat down to write in the style of my mentor text but found at the end that all I could see was my own voice. I had not allowed my writing to be elevated by a mentor that I considered great. Eventually what I did was type out my mentor text line per line, dissecting the original author’s work for both style and format. I wrote my own sentence under each of the mentor’s, explicitly seeking opportunities to mimic not just the “feel” but the format. In the end, I was impressed at how this exercise stretched me as a writer and I was honestly impressed with how affected my writing could become from the mentor text.

    3. For the first WRG, I ended up sharing two alternatives of my writing with my group. One was what I had written “by feel” of the mentor and one was the one I had pieced out sentence by sentence. I really leaned on my group for guidance in mediating and merging these two pieces. It was very helpful having my groups’ copies of my text when I went to write my second draft because for example, Elizabeth had underlined specific sentences and phrases she really liked and Cindy made general notes in the margin as to where she felt my voice was more “authentic”. Elizabeth circled one word (“veracity”) and wrote a “?” to it. I checked it in the dictionary and realized that even though I am a native speaker of English, I was using the word completely in the wrong way (and had been, in fact, for my entire life)! I replaced “veracity” with “voraciousness” in the next draft and got great feedback from my group. I used to my groups’ notes purposely to decide to what to keep from each writing when I merged them and in the end felt like I came together with a much more well-rounded piece.

    4. I don’t aspire to publish, but I fully intend to play with mentor texts in my own classroom in the future. I think it is an excellent tool for English Language Leaners (ELLs) especially and can see myself using it to try to help break the “intermediate plateau” that often occurs with my students. I am a big fan of “putting myself out there” for my students, so I intend on offering my own work as an example. Specifically, I think I will show my students the Bill Bryson article from a travel magazine I chose for my WRG#1. I will talk about mimicking style and voice verses structural formatting and then show them the process that I went through “learning to be

  8. The first time I met with the other members of our writers’ group, I felt somewhat timid about sharing my writing. It was hard to resist making excuses and preliminary explanations. As I read what I had written and listened to the comments and suggestions, I became less connected with what I had written – in a good way. I began to perceive my writing as something standing on its own. I had created it, but once I let it go, it had its own life. Louise Rosenblatt’s transactional theory posits that each one of us interacts with literature as an individual. No piece of writing is ever truly the same to different readers, and once it is read by others, no piece of literature is ever truly the same as the writer envisioned it to be.
    My colleagues didn’t have a lot of suggestions for changes, other than some minor things here and there. I found their observations helpful. As I began revising, I was wishing that I had asked for more input. I would have felt more confident in the revision process with more feedback to guide me. I think that as a group, we were able to give each other ideas that were helpful. It was fun to see the results from our comments when everyone returned with their revisions.
    One of the observations that has stuck with me is that I have a tendency to repeat words. In my subsequent writing, I have been aware of this and have made an effort to vary my word choices (love the thesaurus). The positive comments were also helpful. It was nice to know that a certain line resonated with someone. I was less likely to cut it, if the line had met with a positive response.
    I struggled mostly with getting started on my writing. The ideas bubbled around in my head for several days before I wrote them down. It was good to have a deadline because it forced me to actually put something on paper. A lot of ideas that come to me never make it that far. I’m not sure if it’s a lack of confidence or laziness. Most of the time, I tell myself that I am just too busy to stop and write something down. When I do, it is a gratifying experience. After the first few words get onto the page, the rest flow more easily.
    What will I do with my pieces? I’ll probably toss my poems and file the rest. It’s hard to know what to do with my writing. There isn’t really a forum for sharing “non-professional” writing. I’m not sure what purpose it would serve to put it out there. Maybe my kids will find them someday when they are going through my files and appreciate the window into their mother’s thoughts!

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  10. 1.I felt very happy to share my works in WRG and getting feedbacks about the strengths and weakness about my writing. Having audiences makes me more motivated for the writing tasks. I always revise several times by myself before I read my work to my classmates. I felt safe and comfortable to read aloud and discuss about my writing. For me, giving instant feedback is not easy because sometimes I need more time to read writings in English and give constructive suggestions.

    2.I struggled with word choices during my writing process. I felt hard to make sentence rhyme and to find the exact words in English to express my idea. I used an advanced learners’ English-Chinese dictionary to find synonyms which could help sentences to rhyme and another Chinese-English dictionary to find the right words. I also received suggestions about word choices from my classmates in WRG to solve this problem.

    3.The original sentence is “At the age of curses haunting over the kingdom, a hope rose to take his chance to break the curse.”
    One suggestion about word choices is “‘A hope’ is confusing to me. Add specific detail of Kersh. What does he look like?”
    The revised sentence is “At the age of curses haunting over the kingdom, a green giant rose to take his chance to break the curse.”
    I used this suggestion because I think adding more description about the character will make this sentence less confusing.

    4.I think I will file my drafts first. In the future, I will probably show them to my students when I am teaching how to use mentor texts for writing. I will share them with my children in the future as well. If I have the opportunity, I will be happy to publish them.

  11. 1. Describe how you felt getting feedback on your own writing/giving feedback to others in a WRG.

    At first I have to admit it was a bit daunting. When you first introduced in class, what we were supposed to do each week with our writing I was nervous and a bit intimidated. Again, I am very critical of my work and didn't really consider myself a writer of any sort. Then when we got together in our groups, I began to acquire a sense of relief. My members were all very open, supportive and insightful. I felt comfortable with them all to receive constructive feedback. It was never a bad thing and most of what was said, helped me and gave me more ideas of how to work with my piece. Giving feedback was a little trickier, but I made sure to really re read each of my peers writing as well as dig deep into their work. I was able to point out things that were great within their work as well as asked questions in regard to something I didn't quite get. I think overall the transition from fear to comfort was to be expected.
    2.. Describe times during the process of writing that you struggled. What did you do to try to resolve the problem? Well the first WRG was a struggle for me. I had no idea what to use as my mentor text. I didn't know if we really did have all of that freedom in regard to what we wrote about. It was just hard since it was the first time doing something of that sort with writing. After getting in groups and listening to others it of course became easier. I think the main struggle for me was getting just one idea down. I was torn between multiple things. Then once I decided it was a matter of what or how to structure it..where to start?!

    3. Describe a suggestion from a peer that you used and why OR Describe a suggestion from a peer that you didn’t use and why?
    One piece of advice I really considered was with my last writing. It was a descriptive writing that really focused on the writers feelings and own experiences. In the last paragraph of my writing, kind of the climax of the story, I included a sentence that steered away from the voice and tone I had going thus far. I hadn't realized that I did that, however the reason I included that particular sentence was that I wanted to show the reader how significant that particular place was. So what I did, is took my peers advice and omitted it from the paragraph. Instead, I reworded it to fit the voice of the rest of the work.

    4. Where will I go from here? Will I publish it? Share it? Expand it? Toss it? I m not one to really feel overly satisfied with my work, but this particular piece surprised me. I had ideas and feelings and went with it. So with this particular piece I will be sharing it in class. Perhaps I will add to it and turn it into a short story..who knows:)