Wednesday, September 16, 2015

AR1: "Teach Writing as a Process, Not a Product"

In the traditional classroom, importance is often placed on the product a student creates. While some attention may be paid to the process, the bulk of the grade, the discussion, and the significance is invested in the final product. However, Donald Murray disagrees with this practice in "Teach Writing as a Process, Not a Product;" he believes the importance lies in the process of writing. What have your experiences been with the idea of process versus product? Reflect on your impressions of this article and what you can take away from it. Be detailed.


Remember to include the following in your COMPLETE PARAGRAPH response:

  • Your impressions of the article (likes/dislikes/agree/disagree)
  • How does it connect to writing centers at large?
  • How can it be applied to the MHS Writing Center?

21 comments:

  1. I try to write all my papers as a process instead of getting everything down on paper at once. This doesn't always happen because it can be difficult to really think through every piece of a paper. Prewriting is my least favorite part of the process because I feel like it is too tedious. In the piece, Murray writes "Prewriting usually takes about 85% of the writer's time." As I stated, this seems like too much effort for me, so I really do prefer to skip this step of the process, even if it is part of the whole. Writing is my favorite part of the process because all my ideas finally get put into words and finally make sense. Rewriting is fine, and needs to be done, but I try to avoid entirely tearing apart my paper. From this article, I will hopefully be more pressed to actually prewrite and do that step more thoroughly. In Writing Center work, if we can remember to advise our clients with this, they will be able to see their workload decrease and have some stress eased. Looking at a paper in its individual steps can really cut down on what the writer sees as a huge assignment they have to complete.
    Overall, I liked the article and agree with the author and his thoughts. I hope that we can use this method in the MHS Writing Center to help those who come in for consultations.

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  2. In this article Murray talks about how writing is a process not a product. Though I do think that that is true that is not always the case in school. Teachers tend to give students very little time on papers forcing them to rush. Even though some students need more time there is none given. this makes the prewriting process very difficult for many students. Most students procrastinate and write their papers the day before and just skip all the prewriting in general, but even if the student allows themselves enough time to do the prewriting processes they do not properly know how to do so. For many students they do not do more than the teacher says to do. Most teachers do not require prewriting, so they skip that and move on to the paper not knowing much about what they are going to write. All of this is very true for myself. I get very frustrated and give up on the prewriting process. I think that it is a waste of time and energy. This article connects to the writing center by hinting to us that we should be the ones to teach the importance of prewriting to other. I also think that this prewriting process could be part of the writing center if a consultant comes in with no ideas about what to write or if all the idea do not come together. All in all, prewriting is something that should be taught more for the benefits of students and their papers.

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  4. Almost every English teacher, be it at a high school, elementary, or middle school, is taught to teach us the way Murray describes, as a product, not a process to learn and express and live by. The point of writing shouldn't be to finish a five paragraph essay in a certain number of days that meets a number of certain requirements, and is graded on a number of different aspects, it should be a form of expression and a language to be used by those who want and in the way they want to use it. Murray implies that, like a writing center, teachers should create better writers, better linguists, instead of better writing and text. In this article Murray states, "Prewriting usually takes about 85% of the writer's time." While this is something that I strongly agree with, almost every teacher I've ever had has told students to focus on making a draft and revising that draft, instead of bettering their own understanding of a topic and how to fit that topic into their writing and how to be a better writer in general. In our own writing center, this is something that I strongly believe should be a large part of our mission statement, teaching writing as a process-creating better writers-instead of as a product.

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  5. In the Article, “Teach Writing as a Process, Not Product”, the author Donald M. Murray spoke passionately about how students are now being taught how to do something step by step, and not receiving any learning room, or space to figure things out on their own. This is seen when the author writes, “conscientious, doggedly responsible, repetitive autopsying doesn’t give birth to live writing. The product doesn’t improve, and so, blaming the student- who else?- we pass him along to the next teacher, who is trained, too often, the same way we were” (Murray 3). This connects into writing center by showing us, as consultants, that students have too often been told the same things over and over again, but are not receiving the outcome they desire. Whether it be not understanding or just not applying it properly, the student is coming to the writing center to help them improve the writers. As talked about before, the writing center’s job is to improve the writer, not the writing. By doing this, the writer learns about what he or she was doing instead of just getting their paper back with red marks but no comments for them to fix. To apply this to writing center, or any classroom at that, Murray says that in order to motivate a student in going through the process at least once, if not multiple times is, “First by shutting up. When you are talking he isn’t writing. And you don’t learn a process by talking about it, but by doing it” (6). This implies that in order to motivate students to go through the process of drafting, writing and revising over and over again, they need to be able to recognize what their doing wrong, and know that they need to go through the process to fix it.
    This article was something that I overall enjoyed. While short, the article gets the point across without leaving me bored in the end. Also as a consultant, it leaves the ten implications that all teachers can follow, which could also be regarding us. The author made it obvious that he was passionate with the topic, and it was made obvious in his voice. While somewhat repetitive towards the end, it gave different ways for teachers to stop teaching their students to look at the end piece, but instead the process. Overall, this piece was something that I enjoyed reading.

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  6. I agree with Murray's idea that most teach writing as a product and not a process. In result, I too believe this to be the case in more than one way in my life. The way it affects me the most is as a high school student, i mostly am taught to follow the rules of a five paragraph essays, having to continuously doing the same thing over and over again. Always constructing boring and pointless pieces that do not help my writing process as a whole. In addition, this concept that Murray talks about effects not only me like i explained, but also the writing centers as well. Furthermore, most consultants goal in the Writing Centers all over is just like Murray's idea of "teach writing as a process not product”. For instance, when Murray writes "Instead of teaching finished writing, we should teach unfinished writing, and glory in its unfinishedness". This quote shows the importance of prewriting or writing your first draft, and the justice of doing so. In either case, both the Writing Centers and Murray's article both focus on trying to make people better writers, focusing on writing as a whole. Furthermore, as well as the WCs focus on this, there is the Mattawan High school WC that uses the idea of teaching writing as a process. Also, in addition to this process, the article states, “the writing process itself can be divided into three stages: prewriting, writing, and rewriting”. I also believe that, like this quote the writing center also uses a strategy like this. Furthermore, there are also several other strategies in the article the MHS WC uses as well.

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  7. I truly agree with what author Donald M. Murray is explaining through his article, "Teach Writing as a Process, Not Product". It was obvious he was very passionate about this topic. He explains that writing is often viewed as a rigid formation of paragraphs that have been perfected to its limit, and not as a fluid action that takes time to write and is full of mistakes that we can learn from. A writer's vocabulary shouldn't be contained to textbook words; they should be able to express themselves freely through words that work for them. A picture-perfect piece of writing isn't composed in a first draft. A writer must prewrite, write, and rewrite. These are just a few examples of the intelligence Murray provides in his writing, and I believe this information can help writers be more open-minded when it comes to writing. In the past, I've had difficulty beginning to write. In my head, I pictured writing as developing a perfect piece from the very beginning, and the thought of this was daunting. As I am a perfectionist, overcoming this was difficult, but eventually I understood that a piece was not expected to be perfect the first time and I viewed writing more as a process.
    The suggestions given in the article would be very beneficial to writing centers all over the world. The implications defined are excellent strategies we all can use to develope a better relationship with a writer, which in turn will help them improve their writing. In relation to the Mattawan Writing Center, we can use the tactics provided in the article in order to become better consultants. It gives advice such as to have patience and to listen to a writer. He also explains, " We have to respect the student, not for his product, not for the paper we call literature by giving it a grade, but for the search for truth in which he is engaged" (Murray 3). If we keep this in mind while in a consultation, our overall impact on a student will drastically improve.

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  8. In this article "Teach Writing as a Process Not a Product" Donald M. Murray states that writing is more of a process rather than a product. Murray talks creativity about how students have to follow certain rules in the art of writing. He believes writers should feel free to write in the way that works for them. I agree with Murray more or less. As an unsure writer, I have had experiences in my formal papers where I have followed the rubric as much as I could and asked for guidance, but still felt that my writing was not what it should be, and not what I hoped to see. Following all the rules put me in writer's block many times. However, the quote "There are no rules, no absolutes, just alternatives. What works one time may not another. All writing is experimental." is a great example of how writing works, it's not possible to force someone into writing, it's more of a way to guide them. In Murray's process, he writes "Prewriting usually takes 85% of the writer's time." However, in my writing, I usually jump right in with many ideas and do minimal prewriting. My process works for me and may be different for many other amazing writers
    Overall, from this article I took away that the process of writing is not by talking about it, but doing it. It's only the final product that counts. Finally, in this article I liked the Implications, all of them have tidbits explaining how writing is a unique process for every person. Using these, the writing center can grow in many ways, helping not just in the consulting, but also in everyone's personal writing.

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  9. I agree with Murry when he said teachers only teach the product of writing and not the actual process. Yet the one thing students actually need to work on is the process. Throughout both high school college and so on you will have to write long essays on topics that don't matter to you whatsoever, and you will have to turn in reports that you did the night before it was due.Yet as teacher's they should give students the oppurtunity to learn how to properly pre-write, write, and re-write papers successfully. My personal experiences have always been learning about what your paper should look like in the end. Instead like Murry is saying, teachers should be showing the process of making the paper like that. I believe that almost everything said in this article was true in a sense. This intertwines with writing centers as a whole because it is a change that we could help make. Whenever a student comes in with help during a pre-writing or during the writing stage, writing center consultants can show the steps to a great paper. Our personal writing center also be a big help in our school district. If we created a presentation on the process of writing in a whole and presented to english classes around the school, we could get the word out. The presentations on the writing process would not only help the students but also the teachers.By hearing the presentation teachers may re-think their teaches practices. All in all this article is a true representation of the way writing is taught in schools today, although it is brought to attention still nothing has changed.

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  10. Donald M. Murray calls upon all English teachers to go above and beyond their lesson plan by treating writing as an evolving process, rather than the usual product. In his article, "Teach Writing as a Process Not Product," Murray believes that English teachers inspect essays and other writings like goods ready to be packed, shipped, and sold. This, Murray states, can replace a writer's energy and enthusiasm with frustration and annoyance. I can personally agree with Murray's argument; I have always felt that teachers take my essays apart like a car, leaving only the engine and the wheels. I believe that if more teachers regarded writing as a process, my metaphorical car might not totally vanish, just tweaked one piece at a time. Murray states what he thinks the teacher's true role in the writing process should be, "We have to be quiet, to listen, to respond. We are not the initiator or the motivator; we are the reader, the recipient" (5). He is also optimistic that this change in teaching writing is simple and will not heavily tax the common English teacher, "None of these implications require a special schedule, exotic training, extensive new materials or gadgetry, new classrooms, or an increase in federal, state, or local funds" (6). I also enjoyed how Murray created his own process for teachers on how to teach the writing process. The guy is all about processes! Murray's article applies heavily to writing centers; consultants should, after all, regard writings as an unwrapping process. Those working in centers should take what Murray says to heart when working with clients. Consultants act as the medium between peer and teacher, assisting writers "... not for what they have produced, but what they may produce..." (6). Donald M. Murray's "Teach Writing as a Process Not Product" is an important read for teachers to expand their perspective on writing and consultants ready to help those writers. This article will undoubtedly be helpful for Mattawan High School's Writing Center and their future consultations.

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  11. The article "Teach Writing as a Process Not Product" by Donald M. Murray impresses upon the importance of individualized writing, particularly in the common classroom. Regardless of the favored structural format required by most English teachers, Murray disapproves of such conserved style, and believes that students ought to write according to personal preference. "When you give him an assignment," Murray states in his article, " you tell him what to say and how to say it, and thereby cheat your student of the opportunity to learn the process of discovery we call writing". Though I agree with Murray's perception on a creative level, and recognize its strategy echoed somewhat in the MHS writing center, I do not believe that the idea of so-called "discovery" is reflected in the standard English curriculum. Armed with red pen and heavy criticism, the process of customary analysis is only secondhand to teachers, as well as students. In light of due dates and pressurized time, the final product of an essay is what is most highly valued by instructors, and in turn, motivates students in the belief that the actual process of writing remains far less significant. Incorporating Murray's ideas into the MHS Writing Center would certainly broaden the boundaries of freewriting, and I believe they would also instill a deeper sense of self-confidence within students seeking consultation. You are most comfortable when you are writing according to your own style, and I would encourage students to do precisely that, while still prioritizing the content and structure required of the paper. Overall, I am in agreement with Murray's "Teaching Writing as a Process Not Product", and I enjoyed its unpopular, yet enlightening message concerning future students of writing centers.

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  12. Personally, I have two main experiences with writing. Each of which could be placed under one of the two categories Murray speaks about in “Teaching Writing as a Process, Not a Product”. In my personal writing, it’s a process, a slow and learning experience. I enjoy spending weeks writing ten to twenty page summaries about my characters. World building is also a major part of prewriting and it can take months to make a world that seems real to someone other than myself. Fiction is as much about planning the details as it is about getting the words on the paper.
    On the other hand, for the majority of my schooling career my english teachers have made writing like they were teaching a product. I choose to assume that is because they were preparing us for the ACT essay, which we were repeatedly reminded was to be written in a certain format and then that format was drilled into us. They showed us examples and suddenly, we couldn’t think of anything but the examples when we wrote our papers. Come turn in day, it was a pile of essays so similar and repetitive that it should have been boring. Each due date was looming, and we always feared what the teacher would say about our papers, because the grade mattered more than what we'd written about. There was little creativity and sparse personal touches to anything I’ve written for school in the past four years.
    In his article, Murray states, “Mechanics come last. It is important to the writer, once he has discovered what he has to say, that nothing get between him and his reader. He must break only those tra- ditions of written communication which would obscure his meaning”(5). Every teacher I’ve had so far focuses on the mechanics, the number of paragraphs, the way my counter argument is placed perfectly, how bad my grammar can get or the font size I’m using. It needs to be more about content, the understanding of the topic and being able to put it on paper in words that a reader will understand.
    However, in writing center and AP literature over the past few days, I’ve spent more time brainstorming, rewriting and expressing the meaning behind my words than I have before. My college essays may be narratives, which makes them easier to write, but they’ve been read and considered and talked about to show me how they were interpreted by the reader. That’s my most beneficial experience in high school with the writing process and I hope it continues throughout the year.

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  13. Personally, I have had many English teachers that meet Murray’s product over process teaching style.Teachers so obsessed with formats and techniques that they’ve forgotten writing is supposed to be more than words on paper for a teacher to grade.I found this essay refreshing. In high school,the once creative expression that was writing has been morphed by the repetitive five paragraph formats and dictated by highly specific rubrics into something many people dread. Murray describes what the process of writing should be when he states, “The writer, as he writes, is making ethical decisions. He doesn’t test his words by a rule book, but by life. He uses language to reveal the truth to himself so that he can tell it to others.” The reason I found this article so refreshing is because it reminds the reader and English teachers alike what writing is meant to be. I won’t blame English teachers for what high school writing has become;but, I will challenge them to be more than rubrics and formats.
    As for this essay pertaining to Writing Center, I think consultants can learn a lot from Murray’s writing on process over product. As consultants, our job is to improve the writer’s skill not necessarily the paper they’ve given us. When it comes to helping students with their writing, I especially liked when Murray stated, “we have to respect the student, not for his product, not for the paper we call literature by giving it a grade, but for the search for truth in which he is engaged.” It takes guts to ask for help. When a student comes to the center, they are acknowledging that they can improve and that they need help doing that. When consulting, I will remember Murray’s advice to helping writers. We are there to help. We are not there to tell them what to write or destroy their paper and give them the job of picking up the pieces. We are to respect the student, be patient, help develop,and to listen. We can criticize and mark their paper as much as we want. But, at the end of the day, “the teacher supports but does not direct this expedition to the student’s own truth.”

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  14. In Murray’s words, “You are not teaching a product, you are teaching a process” (pg 6). Murray’s idea of writing as a process versus a product resonated with me because it is extremely relevant to the writing center. As consultants, we must learn to teach our students to work through their writing instead of summing up their ability in a single analyzation and criticism of the piece. It is our job to lead the writer through the stages of writing, which Murray describes as “prewriting, writing, and rewriting” (pg 4). When going over a student’s work, we must learn to identify which stage of the process the piece is currently at, and guide the student through the rest of the process. Murray’s methods work well for the writing center compared to the teaching of writing as a product, which focuses singularly on the specific piece of writing rather than the writer’s skills in the art of language as a whole. Personally, I found Murray’s guidance useful for myself as a consultant as he discussed teaching writing by listening to the student and encouraging him or her in his language, or writing. I will use this theory as a consultant so that I will be able to step back and listen to the author go through the process instead of writing his product for him. This will prompt the transformation of students into wordsmiths, having the mindset that writing is an art or a craft, rather than an obstacle that needs to be overcome and corrected before a due date. Overall, I specifically enjoyed this piece because Murray’s ideas provided a pleasant contrast to the general or traditional method of teaching writing throughout our high school careers. I thought his comparison of the writing stages to rehearsals of a concert pianist was very effective and useful for consultants and students alike. I especially liked how it focused on improving the art of writing instead of the specific piece our students come in with, careful to portray writing as a creative form of communication that is desirable to master rather than an assignment coming from a teacher holding a thick red pen behind her back.

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  15. I definitely agree with this article. Even at the writing center, most students come in for us to look at their papers a day or so before the deadline. Because of that, we have no time to go through the process with them, leaving us stuck with the product. Sometimes, we can cause them to have a breakthrough in revising or editing, but we rarely can affect their pre-writing or drafting. This is largely because, at least at our writing center, most students come in at lunch time, meaning, realistically, the average amount of time a student will have is twenty minutes, which leaves hardly enough time to run through their paper. Because of that, our focus is almost entirely on the paper itself, not the steps the writer took to get there. Of course, most English classes put little emphasis into the actual process; all the teacher gives the student is an outdated template that often hurts the student more then it helps. In fact, a page limit would be more effective than a fixed amount of paragraphs. Honestly, this is what the five paragraph essay is; an introduction to your essay, three paragraphs of analyzing even though your subject may not exceed one or two without sounding forced, and a conclusion in which you are told to restate the thesis yet not restate it. None of these essays sound natural regardless of how hard the writer tries; each one is the same repetitive structure with no individual mark. If we put into practice what Murray is preaching, the quality of these essays and uniqueness would increase dramatically.

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  16. Murray, in this article, drives home the difference between writing and rewriting. I agree that there is a great chasm between these two steps in the writing process, but they obviously need each other to work. Without Writing, the rewriting cannot be done. Without rewriting, the writing will be bland and unprofessional. I completely agree with this article, with the chasm and how the product is only a part of the process. We, as a writing center, and writing centers in general, take care of the process. Most English classes focus primarily on the product, which is why writing centers are so important. We offer the advice and help on the process, allowing our clients the much needed advice they often do not acquire in the classroom. Murray's article empasises what we do, and what we can do to improve our client's work

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  17. I definitely agree with all aspects of this article. Many times, consultants struggle to develope a piece of writing by the client because we are unaware of the structure and idea in which it was written. If we were able to work with clients has they develope their work, then we might be able to help make a more efficient product through each consultation. Through the many stages of writing, many can become consumed with the piece as a whole. I believe this has come from an early advancement into the writing world. It is true that from a young age students are taught to follow the rubric and every basic step into creating their paper. However, Murray gives an enlightning message on how students should voice themselves throughout the writing and have the power of life shine through every word. This article certainly applies to all writing centers, especially to Mattawan's, because it would definitely help improve our strategies and overall outcome.

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