300-Level Foundations of American Education (Writing- Intensive)

USING "I-SEARCH" REPORTS IN EDUCATION


One of my main objectives in this class was to get students to think through ways in which to apply an educational philosophy to a practical teaching task. — Professor Robert Potter

The writing assignments helped me see myself as a teacher; they were practical. Through them I played the role of a teacher. — Student

COURSE GOALS

The pedagogical objective is to introduce students to national and international educational systems and the ideas and concepts which govern those systems. Students integrate personal experience with the ideas, concepts, and theories learned in class, through texts, through lectures, and through observation and participation in actual elementary and secondary classrooms. Through all these activities, students also improve their writing skills.

WRITING ACTIVITIES

1. PERSONAL RESPONSES: BI-WEEKLY I-SEARCH ESSAYS

Each student writes eight three-page bi-weekly I-Search reports over the semester. In I-Search papers, students address four main issues:

  1. their knowledge of the topic when first starting the paper,
  2. their reasons for writing the paper,
  3. the way in which they researched their topic, and
  4. what they discovered through the research.

Students also include documentation of sources at the end of the paper.

I learned how to incorporate into my writing my ideas, background knowledge, and beliefs with someone else's theories. --Student
Topics for these writing assignments range from "Why do you want to be a teacher?" to "Describe a very good or very bad teacher who has influenced you."

The essays are written in response to texts, class discussions, and personal educational experiences. Students are encouraged to respond to and integrate into their papers concepts gleaned from their reading and class discussions as well as personal experiences and ideas.

Students bring rough drafts to class, and members of small writing groups critique each others' papers. The instructor acts as visitor and coach while monitoring the group's activities to ensure that each group is productive and each student participates. Students revise their drafts, then turn in the revised drafts to the instructor, who provides further feedback, and returns the drafts to the students.

The small groups generated and helped clarify ideas; large groups pointed out main points. --Student
The instructor reviews and grades the final drafts, then selects weak and strong sections of student texts to discuss and critique in class, and points out sections which need more attention to spelling, grammar, sentence structure, and usage. The instructor also presents sections that are exceptionally well-written and are models of good writing.

PURPOSE: These I-Search papers present students with opportunities to synthesize several concepts of the course while addressing issues important to educators. The writing experiences provide students with the opportunity to discover what they value and what interests them as teachers. The writing assignments stimulate class discussions and serve as a springboard for further discussions on writing.

I review each paper carefully for writing errors as well as content. I often read in class from the papers as a way of stimulating discussion, but that also serves as a springboard for discussing the style of presentation as models of good writing. When the writing is poor enough to obscure meaning, I require students to rewrite papers with better organization, more attention to spelling and punctuation, etc. --Instructor
2. OBSERVATIONAL COMMENTARY

Students choose and attend a public meeting on education and are responsible for a three-page commentary on that event. This commentary is like the I-search papers, except that it entails students' observations on discussions of current issues in local education.

PURPOSE: The purpose of this assignment is to expose students to the local educational system to further develop their knowledge and understanding.

I learned that there are many ways to get concepts across to kids by presenting opportunities for them to internalize materials and lessons. --Student