Friday, 19 December 2008

The Writing Process Breakththrough

My staff has been having a continuing conversation about writing since the beginning of this school year. It has been such a wonderful, deep-growing conversation. It has become organic. There has been so much I have learned from the teaching of my colleagues Now, each of our staff meetings has an element of teaching in it because we get so fired up watching each other teach.

Lately, we have been talking a lot about the complexities presented when trying to teach children about revising their writing. As adults, most of us have access to a computer. Word processing is so seamless in this environment. But, with a lined-paper-notebook-and-pencil environment, there isn't as much flexibility. After our most recent meeting, the staff came up with some concrete ideas to help children create more structure for revision. This last week I really concentrated my modeling energy on the benefits of skipping lines and using an asterisk like a footnote to a section added in later pages. Then after students wrote, I very quickly scanned their writing and drew an asterisk in a place I where I thought there could be more description. I went to a new page and wrote the title of the story at the top with the asterisk. Then after they told me what they were going to add they went back to writing it. Finally, they came back to me again and I reread the whole piece including the new details through to the end. I made overheads of two samples to show the kids. This was my next lesson - showing them how other children changed their writing.

I need to constantly remind myself about "The gradual release model" Regie Routman talks about in all of her books suggesting students move from dependent to guided to practice to independent with new learning. I also need to remember, as a second grade teacher, my children may only be able to reasonably perform in the dependent and guided categories while they are with me. As older elementary students they may be able to practice and work independently. This is why it is so critical we connect as teachers across grade levels to communicate about the explicit lessons we are offering students so the next teachers in the link can continue the work.

Here I am on a snow day. The ultimate teacher geek! Who does this - reflecting about teaching on the first day of Christmas vacation? I must be totally certifiable!

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