In the piece, ""I'll speak in proper slang": Language ideologies in a daily editing activity," the authors conducted research in a classroom where the educator worked with her learners daily to edit a sentence that she had written on the board. Learners are supposed to read the sentence and then work to make the necessary changes to the sentence in order to make it grammatically correct. As a learner, I feared the activity, as a teacher I hated the activity, and as a administrator I despise the activity.
As a learner, nothing would rush fear through my veins faster than watching my teacher writing one of those incorrect sentences on the board when I came into class. I immediately started getting anxious and plotting out how I would respond should she "randomly" call on me. If I had been able to I would have bought a lottery ticket because I was the most lucky "random" student in her class. From my stand point, I was never good at being able to guess what she wanted me to say.
As an educator, I did use this model of instruction when I first started, everyone was doing it after all, but I quickly discovered my students pretty sophisticated scheme. I would write the sentence on the board and then would ask what needed to be fixed and seemingly on cue every time the first respondent would yell out, "It needs a capital letter!" The second respondent would then shout out, "It needs a punctuation mark!" And then nothing... no more answers shouted out, no one raising their hand nothing. The silence was deafening really. After way too many days of sentence editing I finally realized that they didn't know what to say, they were just guessing. In fact, weren't my students acting exactly as I had done all those years ago. While I did not know the research behind what I was experiencing, that is when I abandoned the daily sentences in hopes of finding something better.
As an administrator, I am more aware of the research and other practices that would better support the same goals as I had for my learners with the sentences, so I find myself becoming frustrated when educators are doing the same old same old with no evidence to show me that it is being successful. When questioned, the educator in the article explained that the reason she was using a particular resource was because she was more comfortable with it. Not that it was better. Not that it aligned to her goals. But rather, she chose to use the resource that she was comfortable with. Too often I am finding educators making decisions without being able to articulate their goals and that is frustrating to me.
Ok, enough of my soapbox...
I did find the article to be quite interesting and one thing I want to further think about is how we are communicating our expectations to learners for a given task. While we currently live in a day and age where we are bound, to some degree, to the standards, what are things we can do within the classroom to not only value the identity of each learner, and also be more intentional about articulating the kind of language necessary in context.