Writing for Inclusive Learning
According to the Teaching and Learning Hub of the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, an Inclusive Learning Environment includes "Providing opportunities for all members of a group to engage in the learning process." For Stretch Writing, this process can focus on offering students opportunities. to practice meta-cognition as inextricably woven from the processes and products of writing.
Each of the following activities involves metacognition-- thinking about thinking and reflecting on writing. This reflective practice allows for inclusive learning by inviting students to understand and apply what they already know, and to stretch themselves as writers by identifying, describing, and questioning specific challenges.
Reflective writing is often saved for the end of a writing project, or even the end of a semester. In contrast, these activities can be offered more frequently, so that reflection plays a more active and significant role in the writing process. As they consider their progress with writing, students can begin to test and reach beyond the constraints that may have limited writing in the past. Frequent reflection allows students to become more aware of their strengths, and this awareness offers possibilities for students to learn and grow as writers.
Additionally, each of these activities offers anonymous participation so that instructors can gain a sense of the class as a whole. Discrete assignments may offer specific information about individual students. Yet anonymous participation offers us a snapshot of common challenges and successes. As the class becomes aware of community strengths, students and the instructor can work together to address areas for improvement.
The presentation begins with Stephen Brookfield's "Critical Incidents Questionaire," moves on to a team-building activity, and ends with an anonymous question and response session.
Please take about five minutes to respond to the questions below about this weekend’s class. Don't put your name on the form - your responses are anonymous. If nothing comes to mind for any of the questions just leave the space blank. At the next class we will share the group's responses with all of you. Thanks for taking the time to do this.
What you write will help us make the class more responsive to your concerns.
At what moment in class this weekend did you feel most engaged with what was happening?
At what moment in class this weekend were you most distanced from what was happening?
What action that anyone (teacher or student) took this weekend did you find most affirming or helpful?
What action that anyone took this weekend did you find most puzzling or confusing?
What about the class this weekend surprised you the most? (This could be about your own reactions to what went on, something that someone did, or anything else that occurs).
TEAM BUILDING: What do we already know about writing? How do we apply our knowledge to our current writing project?
- Invite students to write what they already know about writing on post-it notes.
- Ask students to divide the post-it notes into separate categories for each major section of an essay: Introduction, Body, Conclusion. Include an additional category for Other (general knowledge).
- Leave the room while students organize and complete the two beginning steps.
- Return to the room when students notify you that they have finished these tasks.
- Discuss with students the processes they used to complete this activity.
- Conclude the discussion by discussing the application of their knowledge to their current writing project.
What we Already Know About Writing
Detail from Conclusion: Refer Back to Thesis
File Card End Notes
- Leave about 15 minutes toward the end of class to invite students to share their impressions of the class with you.
- Pass out file cards, and invide students to write anonymously.
- On one side of the file card, invite students to write their take away from today's class.
- On the other side of the file card, invite students to write down one question that they have about the course or the current writing project.
- Share the take aways.
- Respond to the questions.