Question: Will using TV’s X Factor feedback system help student writers improve their writing?
Answer: “Although the incorporation of X Factor led to heightened students involvement and significant changes in classroom interactional patterns, its overall effect on opportunities for student learning was mixed.” 40.
Setting: “A brief reference to popular culture led to momentary disruption of the norms, roles, and discourse customary in Ms. Leigh’s (all teacher and student names are pseudonyms) Year 5 classroom. This event took place in a January literacy lesson, in the middle of a unit on writing short stories about a storm. Prior to his lesson the students wrote first drafts of ‘timed stories’ (written under conditions of limited time to simulate the national tests), which Ms. Leigh assessed, providing students with their assessment levels and targets for improvement. The students then re-drafted their stories. In the lesson we discuss here, they shared their targets, after which one student, Harry, read out loud his first draft. Ms. Leigh then announced, ‘We’re going to be your judges now. So we’re going to have X Factor. We’re going to decide marks out of 10 for how much Harry has improved in the second version of his story.’ ” 40.
Comment: I think the flaw in using this form of popular culture to judge student writing is in students judging students’ performance, Judging by students is difficult to control. Students can be cruel in their remarks. Sounds good on the surface and the idea of using X Factor led to students’ enthusiasm at first, but fraught with problems in maintaining a positive attitude. Especially difficult with Simon Cowell as the outstanding model of curmudgeonly criticism vivid to students. I find the same problem with creative writing workshops in which peers judge peers’ writing. Does a negative reaction encourage writers or help them learn? You expect criticism from a teacher. Negative criticism is hard to take from another student. I don’t like the idea of students judging other students’ work. RayS.
Title: “Promises and Problems of Teaching with Popular Culture: A Linguistic Ethnographic Analysis of Discourse Genre Mixing in a Literacy Lesson.” A Lefstein and J Snell. Reading Research Quarterly (January/ February/ March 2011), 40 – 79.