Ghost Writers

ghost-writer

“to write (something, such as a book) for someone else using that person’s name” Merriam-Webster Dictionary

In one of my earlier posts, I mentioned that I was going to ask my students to ghostwrite for me, and a bit of how and why I would do that. From last week on they have started working on the process of writing my story based on the questions they had already asked in the interview game. I had told them that a ghost-writer is hired to tell someone else’s story because he/she has the technical skills. So after having the interview game that took about over an hour to complete (each group having 16 slips of paper, going back and forth to self-correct their questions and finally getting their questions answered – you can read more about it here.), I introduced the idea of having them writing about my time in Egypt. This post is more about reorganizing my thoughts around on what I did than reflecting on the students reaction to the activity itself.
  1. Interviewing a student (model stage): In this stage I recorded the interview and used the audio text as listening material to raise the awareness on language patterns when asking questions. Another thing I wanted to do but I haven’t done yet is to retell their stories (from each interview and create a poster).
  2. Ss interviewing me (game stage).
  3. Ss using the questions/answers to write a text about me focusing on using past tenses in narratives (authoring stage).

Some groups have already finished their texts (Monday groups for example), but I am aware that it is not the final piece yet. As it is a collaborative piece and the process matters, tomorrow they will have a chance to review what they have written and edit it again. I wish I had more time to work on it with them. This bimester is very short (Only about 3 more weeks of actual class :0… time flies) and I’m thinking to turn around the course syllabus next year and start with narratives right in the beginning of the year, and also more with short stories. Especially after connecting to David Mearns and being nudged by Tony Gurr constantly to review how I was approaching these classes – from my point of view or from the learners. Because of that, we need the space to question and be questioned not only about what we are doing but also what we think we know.

Language focus:

    • Making questions about past events;
    • Writing personal narratives;
    • Differentiating present tenses and past tenses in narratives;
  • Improving verb tenses usage and understanding through practice;

The focus was on asking questions, but there is so much that I need to learn myself about narratives and storytelling. And as I read my Ss texts, I thought how much affectiveness was in or lacking from their texts and ideas started rolling in my head as to how to bring more of this into the lessons. But unfortunally it will have to be next year as this year is practically over.

Resources:

  • For recording the interview an audio recorder (I used my mobile phone!) and KMP player (software) to play the file on my computer/extra speakers because I used the file straight away after the interview. I just had to send the file through bluetooth. It took secs.
  • For the Interview game, plenty of colorful slips of paper. (The number of slips per group depends of how much time you want to focus on the game part. I provided 16 per group, but it could be as many as 8. It also depends on how fast you can cope to answer the questions. As it is a competition, be careful not to focus on a group only, be fair and give equal chances. But they basically finish at the same time.. almost! Depends of whom brings the last slip of paper and if the question is correct enough to be answered straight away.)
  • As the writing process was in basically two sessions (a week apart), I created a powerpoint game (experimenting again) as a warm-up. It also served a fun pronunciation game as they tried to guess the sounds of the words they had either heard the week before and not paid attention to or never really learned.
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7 thoughts on “Ghost Writers

    • Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Glad you think it is interesting.
      One thing I would consider, due to time constraint I couldn’t work on process writing is to take more time to explore this idea and work on the process of writing from the beginning (which I did give them some guidelines on how to get started) to the end (the importance of brainstorming their own ideas first, then trying to putting it together, reading again/editing/reviewing, writing the final piece). I would also work more on narratives and storytelling. Use more stories in the classroom. Let it come to life and students absorve language through it.

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  1. I really like your thoughts on collaborative writing (in this post, and the previous one). In general, what sort of group size do you find is the most productive?

    Also, Rose, I love this whole blog!! (Actually, the first thing it did was inspire me to find out more about Paulo Freire!)

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    • Graham ever so much for your feedback on my blog. Paulo Freire has contributed a lot to my teacher-self as I am today. No doubt about it. In one of my recent posts you will find a link to his book online in English – celebrating his 30 years of legacy.

      I am tempted to say that there isn’t a group ideal size and it all depends on the people that are put together. There are so many reasons why a group work can go right or wrong. In some of my class experiments I found that the rules and points they will get (in the game stage) helps everyone to concentrate on the task. During the authoring stage the fact that it was going to be marked based on participation, creative and the text itself helped most of them to stay on the task. But there was a pair in particular that things didn’t go really fine. Funny though because in the game stage they were really active and engaging. In this case my assumption is that writing questions wasn’t as difficult for this particular students as writing a text. They chose to work with each other, but this configuration wasn’t beneficial for none of them. So, next time they need to work with someone else that can either scaffold (in the case of the girl) or push (in the case of the boy). But what I can say though that if you want collaboration 2 to 3 would be ideal. 4 in a group might be ok, but the shier one will always have less chance to participate because others will dominate it naturally. Unless of course we use an strategy that give each person a role in the group. I don’t usually do that because my groups range from 1-10 learners so I prefer to group them in 2 or 3s. I wonder how others group students. Thanks for asking and making me reflect on this particular point. Much appreciated.

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      • Thanks, Rose! As always, some great ‘points to ponder’, thank you!

        (By the way, I love the way you seem to ‘write as you think’ on this blog – it’s great to watch your thinking process in action (hope that makes sense!!).)

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        • Thanks Graham. It does make sense. Actually I hadn’t known how to describe it until you mentioned that. I think that is just what I do. I transcribe my thoughts without really thinking of adhering to a particular genre. As it is a journal I wanted to write loosely and a non-prescriptive way. 🙂 Something more around the line of encouraging reflection.

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  2. Pingback: Have fun: What does that suppose to mean? | ROSE BARD – Teaching Journal

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