Tuesday, April 8, 2008

the calm over writing workshop

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Yesterday for about an hour I quietly watched 17 third graders writing and sharing during workshop. It was our first day back together after a three week break. I didn't have high expectations because we were so out of routine. I was going to be happy if they could find their pencils, notebook, word book, and folder. I was going to be thrilled if they gathered those goods within five minutes. I couldn't even remember what our last workshop before break looked like. I expected to have to make desk to desk stops to support writers getting started. Today's workshop focus: visit your notebooks for ideas and pieces of ideas you started. If something inspires you, plan and write the beginning of this next great piece.

Well. Within 4 minutes, the class had their tools. Within the next few minutes they were writing. Second looks all around to be sure writers were on task. Third looks, ready to nudge relunctant writers. None needed. Seen and Heard: rereading, bookmarking, highlighting, coloring, adding to writing hearts, quiet whispering about an idea for a story series titled "A Visit to...", advice offered student to student in quiet whispers accompanied by a smile, story mapping to plan a story (worked on this before break to deconstruct fiction we were reading), a wonderful lead: "It was a hot, sunny day in July. The waves were shining. It was a perfect beach day," lists of new ideas generated by the old idea, "my birthday," a travel piece begun about Disneyworld (I could have used this a few years ago), calm.

I sensed we would need extra time for sharing. There would be much to talk about. Selfishly I couldn't wait to hear the comments. After 45 minutes we came to the meeting area in a circle. The prompt: "Reflect on your writing today. What made you feel successful or what made you feel pretty good about your writing." A response: "Can we pass?" Mental, unseen sigh with a smile. "Yes, but still take a moment to think about how you were successful today." Seen and Heard during share: story maps detailed with characters, setting, several plots, "I forgot I had some of the ideas I had in my notebook," that great lead about the beach, how the idea for a series of stories came up- "I have so much to write about and I thought a theme would be a good way to do it." "I like the funny stories like Junie B. Jones so I wanted to try something like that (spontaneous mentor texting), "I liked having the time to create my characters today," "Can I read my beginning?", "I passed earlier, can I still share?", "I liked writing today."Me, too.


BK said...

So it doesn't seem so strange if your young students reflecting in such a sophisticated way, that my student teacher should be able to do the same, don't you think?
What a great day back. No rust there.

NCavillones said...

Awesome! Every teacher lives for a moment like that!

Kevin said...

I love that none of them needed the "nudge" and there is something so wonderful about watching young writers write, isn't there?

Stacey from Two Writing Teachers said...

I love the enthusiasm in your classroom today. How come you had three weeks off for spring break? Did I read that right?

Blink said...

Bk:I hope your student teacher finds his/her way to reflection. Such an important part of teaching and adjusting instruction.
ncavillones: You said it!!! I was on a cloud the rest of the afternoon. Serendipity!
Kevin:I love, love, love, kid watching. Don't do it enough.
Stacey TWW: Thanks for the enthus compliment. We are a year round school with one to two weeks between quarters for optional school "intersessions." Our 2 week break coincided with spring break. Love my intersession breaks.

Thanks all!

Karen said...

I love that the routines you so patiently put into place earlier in the year are paying huge dividends, even after a 3 week break! What a huge gift you've given your students!

pati said...

Fun to read about your life of teaching young people to enjoy writing. It appears that you are doing a really great job!!