I am inspired to try so many of these ideas in the classroom. In my case, not knowing what grade I will be teaching does hinder me a bit, but most can be altered to fit almost any age. For example, an assessment idea I loved was having students design their own test question and answer it. This is such an excellent way to encourage effective writing across curriculum and empower students to take control of their learning (thinking!)
While I've used the "turn and talk" tool a lot, I haven't used it much in the writing workshop. Perhaps in fifth grade, where I taught this year, it was easy to overlook, but I will definitely think more about it now, matter where I end up.
I now have good reason to believe time in the classroom would be well spent teaching students how to tell stories well. I'm fascinated by the far reaching effects this might have in student achievement.
Keeping a teacher reflection notebook is a great idea and I really want to do this. The reality is it will probably be something I continually feel I don't do enough of.
The idea of "public conversations." I love it. I tried it recently and was pleased with how this "scaffolded" other learners to make their own writing better. The whole idea of the different shapes "shared demonstration" can take is interesting to me. Again, models can never be underestimated.
These chapters took me awhile to read because I reread and reread, took notes, thought and thought and thought some more. I need to have students talk more before they write. I do a lesson where I read a book and then I ask students is they have had similar experiences. They all want to start talking at once so I have them turn and talk to a partner and tell their story. Then I hand them a writer's notebook. We talk about why we use it, etc. Students always have stories to tell and when they tell those stories this is a good opportunity to listen and have them jot down some part of the story in their notebook so they don't forget and write about it later.
Also, I think it is a great idea to celebrate the writer in all our students. Have them write and praise them for what they do well. Too often we do focus on all the things that are wrong with the piece instead of all that is right.
I agree with both of you. I really need to have my students talk more too. I do the "turn and talk" routine very often, but I don't think I allow them enough time to share their entire story. I think I was so focused on teaching the minilesson and conferring with individual students that I lost focus that we are writing our stories for a reader so we can tell our stories. I wanted to make sure that I hit all the points that Lucy Calkins told me to hit. So, I will be more focused on storytelling next year.
We will also do more drawing next year as a springboard for ideas. I LOVED Janet's teaching demonstration! It completely changed my thoughts about writing in 4th grade. Since I used to teach 2nd grade and the kids drew pictures with many details before they wrote, I decided that they shouldn't do that anymore when I moved up to teach 4th grade. Why did I think the drawing should end? I don't know (especially since I used to be a graphic designer, and I love to draw). My best guess is that I thought that they should just be able to sit down and write their thoughts because they spend too much time on their drawings. Some kids didn't get to the writing for a few days. Next year, I will emphasize the power of "sketching" before we write. That way they can think through their stories with quick drawings but not spend too much time on the non-essential part of coloring and making it look pretty. Thanks for bringing back Art into my classroom, Janet!
Also, waiting a day before revising was a Teaching Tip that struck me as obvious because that is how I generally write. However, I do not allow my students the same choice to do that. If they finish their draft, I say, "When you think you're done, you've just begun" (like Lucy Calkins taught me). If they were to the revising stage, I pushed them to do that. They seemed annoyed and just wanted to be done. In turn, they generally finished their stories too soon without really revising too much. That will change next year too. I will encourage more free writing when they finish a draft so they can give themselves a break before they tackle the revising part.
I like the idea of a Reading Journal that is not graded. I will have to do a lot of modeling of what to include, but I think that could be a very powerful tool. However, I would not expect anything more out of my students than I would expect of myself as I read.
I learned many things about ELL students. I was always told to allow ELL students to write in their own language. I will still encourage that, but now I will also encourage them to storytell more often and listen to their peers. I will also allow many drawings so they can get across their ideas. Of course, I will allow them to also use Google Translate to learn English vocabulary as they tell their stories.
Annette Kelly is a 4th grade teacher at Beagle Elementary in Grand Ledge, MI.Lori Van Hoesen finished her internship at Willow Ridge Elementary in Grand Ledge, MI.Mary Wever is a 4th grade teacher at Red Cedar Elementary in East Lansing, MI.