This blog is a portfolio to showcase the work of the Casa Thomas Jefferson‘s Teacher Development Course (TDC) students, produced in the first two months of their second TDC semester, in the 32-hour Writing Module.
The nine students and student-teachers in the class of 1/2012 worked on a series of essays, ranging from narrative, process analysis, comparison and argumentative. In a process-oriented format, they developed their working e-portfolios (usually called process portfolios), which later became their final course e-portfolios (showcase portfolios). Then we put together our class showcase portfolio, for which they selected what they considered to be their best pieces and were given the option to keep their essays anonymous or sign them. Interestingly, the chosen essays represent a nice balance among the types of essays worked on during the semester. Some students chose to showcase their narratives of their experiences learning English, while others selected more objective essays, such as the process analysis and the argumentative ones. The comparison essay was produced collaboratively and the steps taken are described in the introductory part of the post.
The topics developed by the student-teachers revolved around teaching and learning English, and all resulted from extensive work on the characteristics of effective essays. Students analyzed authentic models in each proposed genre and engaged in different activities to plan and generate ideas: debating, outlining, free writing, to name a few. They also gave feedback on each others’ drafts, by way of a variety of tools, such as checklists, open-ended questions, writer-generated questions and face-to-face conferences. They worked hard to incorporate different types of cohesive devices to improve the flow of the text, as you will see in their texts.
The course followed a blended format, with classes once a week and online activities on MOODLE that were designed to expand the classroom discussions, generate interaction, and stimulate deeper reflection. Students’ feedback about the blended format was very positive, as shown in two of the selected essays – the argumentative ones. After a hot debate in class, their task was to explain why they thought the blended format should or should not be implemented for the TDC Writing Module. Though they had never taken an online course or used a learning management system such as MOODLE, all students reported to have enjoyed and benefited from the blended format.
We had a wonderful time writing about learning and teaching English in the two-month course and I’m sure that student-teachers learned not only how to write more effective essays but also to give relevant feedback to their present or prospective students.
We hope you enjoy reading the essays that the students chose to showcase here and that you can take some time to give feedback on them. After all, the greatest joy of writing is when you do it for a real audience and can get authentic feedback.
Isabela Villas Boas – Course Instructor