10 Minutes a Day the Cure for Writing Ills?

A Washington Post writer, Jay Mathews, argues that students should spend their week writing a single essay and the teacher should give each one ten minutes’ of personal face-to-face feedback. He supports his argument with anecdotes of folks who say they have done it and that it works well.

My first thought on this was, how much time are we talking? One of my friends is a high school English teacher. She has 180 students. If all of them did this, she would need 30 hours a week, which IS less than she has in class, without any time for transition, to do this. And, because of the nature of the experience, she would need some privacy with the student, which means that for 30 of her 36 class hours she would need to be out of class. Who watches the class while the feedback is going on? Every class would need an experienced aide who could keep the class on focus.

Of course, that might simply be because I am a contrarian.

I agree that feedback is very helpful. To do this in my fyc classes would require me to spend 6 hours a week outside of class with my students. (I have 40.) That assumes they would show up for these meetings….

However, it does give me an interesting idea for flipping an fyc course.

What if the explanations of assignments and small, simple steps were done at home, via podcasts and homework? Then, in class, the focus would be on the writing experience. But it would assume that within each class someone would come in with a full draft already prepared to discuss with them and I still wouldn’t be able to finish it in a week’s time of class.

However, the one-on-one editing advice, is an interesting place to start thinking about flipping an fyc course. Would it work? I don’t know. But it might be worth experimenting with, even if it is on a single paper.

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