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Ann-- I found your questions about reflective writing interesting. The
project you describe makes perfect sense to me, as far as I understand
One part I was not clear on was this. (Maybe more points, you straighten
out my mis-perceptions):
1. The students spend time in community organizations helping out by
doing the writing that occurs in those organizations.
2. The students write reflective journals or papers, or perhaps both?
To get closer to understanding what you are doing to be able to respond
to your questions (we really ought to get some of the writing experts
that are on, or were on xmca to help!) I am curious about how what
you do contrasts with what I do, that has some similarities.
In my situation, students spend time in community organizations where
they implement a specially designed activity for the afterschool hours
that mixes play and school-oriented learning in social interaction
with same age, younger, and older folks. Their "older peers" are the
college students, but there are kindergarteners to 6th graders there.
The students do the reading/writing that comes up routinely in the situation.
They read instructions of games, write hints and letters to a benevolent
figurehead who writes back, they go on the internet and do homework
assignments or try to find out about their favorite band, or...... etc.
Then, they write a "clinical fieldnote" (I model these on Luria's writing
about his patients but you could call them "cognitive ethnographies" so
long as emotions are allowed in) with three parts: The overall scene
they encountered, a narrative about what they did with whom in as much
detail as they can remember afterward, and a reflection. At the end
of the quarter, they write two papers. the first is a reflection on the
whole experience based on reading their fieldnotes from first to last
and the second is an "academic" account of some phenomenon they
encountered at the community site --- a case study of a kid, gender variations
in all sort of things, age differences, differences according to the
particular activity (narrowly defined) that kids engage in (mancala,
Where in the World is Carmen San Diego, the arts and crafts area, homework
In this system, reflection is a scripted part of the adtivity. We encourage
students to reflect both on the connection between their academic reading
(Dewey, Smagorinsky, Guitterez, Vygotsky, etc.) and their experiences
at the site and on the interactions they encounter twice weekly.
As a consequence, there are several kinds of writing, some of them deliberately
reflective by "fiat," some more narrowly instrumental.
How does this differ from what your students are asked to write about? Do they
go from writing in situ to reflective writing ABOUT THAT WRITING or ABOUT
THEIR EXPERIENCE or....?
If we can establish the structure of where writing figures into the activities
your students and mine engage in, perhaps we can approach the questions you
ask more likely to be on the "same page" (so to "speak.").
Thanks for the references I have not read!