Monday, March 27, 2017

CRWP Success Story: Tanya Neumiller

About Tanya Neumiller
Tanya Lunde Neumiller is currently teaching English 11 and Dual Credit Composition/English 12 in Kindred, ND.  Tanya has a degree in elementary education and secondary English and a master's degree in Secondary Studies.  Before teaching in Kindred, Tanya worked at the Department of Public Instruction.  Tanya's favorite professional authors are Kelly Gallagher and Penny Kittle. 


CRWP Success Story

    At this point I have focused on two aspects of the college-ready writing program.  First, I have my juniors writing and thinking about argumentation with two text sets, one on tuition-free college and the other on the issue of Colin Kaepernik not standing during the national anthem.
    For both texts sets, I followed the process suggested in the mini-unit on “Writing into the Day to Jumpstart Argument.”  Students read a different article each day and identified the main claim each author was making.  They then identified what they thought was the author’s most convincing evidence.  Each day they were required to record their own thoughts and opinions after reading the point of view introduced that day.  Finally, students were to put together their own argument with a main claim and utilizing at least one source that we’d read for evidence.  The essays were good in that they all had a main claim, but I felt the students overlooked some of the key evidence.  This then led me to turn to the resource provided by the course, Jennifer Fletcher’s Teaching Arguments: Rhetorical Comprehension, Critique, and Response.
    After reading Fletcher’s book, I felt that my students would benefit from “playing” The Believing Game and The Doubting Game, a technique developed by Peter Elbow.  I modeled how to do both, and had students complete the checklist that Fletcher provides as a resource.  After doing both, the students then wrote an argument essay explaining where they stood on the issue of contradiction (we read “The Olympic Contradiction” as Fletcher does in her book).  I also had the students write a response to playing The Believing Game and The Doubting Game.  I felt my students really gained a lot from this exercise.  Many wrote that they felt playing the believing game was harder for them, but at the same time it allowed them to look at all aspects of the author’s argument.  I asked them to use this process of reading for our next mini unit.
    We are now moving to the “Making Informal Arguments” text set.  While working through the various texts, we are also going to use Fletcher’s text to understand occasion and audience, the next chapters in her text.  We will also be using the resource provided in the “Making Informal Arguments” mini unit entitled “Moves Writers Make When They Organize an Opinion.”  I feel that this will allow the writers to experiment with the variety of ways they can set up the argument.
    One of the aspects that I have found most helpful in this program is when I used the formative assessment tool to review the student essays completed at the end of the “Writing into the Day” mini unit.  The tool was VERY effective in helping me identify the areas where students are struggling.  In addition, I thought it was especially beneficial to complete this assessment with a peer as we were able to do as part of our participation in the College-Ready Writers program.  I am looking forward to using the tool again when the students have completed this next mini-unit.  I know that I need to focus on effectively using evidence more, based on my first results, so that will also be a part of the next Mini Unit.