10 Minutes – SOL 24

10 minutes.

I haven’t quite been here in awhile — where I thankfully remember my SOL post for the day a few minutes before the deadline.  Last year, I think this is where I was everyday, battling the last moments before deadline.  Today, it’s the 24th.. so I’ve gone 24 days in without hitting the panic button.

Today, though, I don’t quite feel panicky.  I know my little post will come out fine.  Not because I trust in my posting ability.. but because I’ve had a good today in Process.

We analyzed a mentor text for structure — came in as we read as soon as we came in through the door, shared our focus findings with friends, went over them in whole-group, compared structure of this piece with yesterday’s — and finally found a key detail  that lead the reader into introspect.  Could we do the same?

Time to talk with our partners and mine for ideas that lead to this type of thinking for the reader — inferencing, wowzer details that lead one to pause and reflect.

Jot down notes.  Check our community chart on Google Classrom, modify our claim and author’s purpose — check our feedback from peers to tweak our ideas.

What a day.


Committing to Maddness – SOL23 Day

So, it slipped out of my mouth today:  we’ll be publishing our Editorials on a blog, where they’ll be viewable to the public.

Huge endeavor — I spent 5 nights in a row copying/pasting/uploading/linking everything and the kitchen sink some 3-4 years ago to accomplish this for my students.  I trembled when I thought about people outside our little classroom seeing our stuff.  I was worried about the quality of my kids’ writing.  What would readers perceive about my teaching?

I don’t know how I got over it… I think I was in denial about the blog existing beyond our classroom.  I saw in on computer screens in my classroom, sure, but those computers weren’t hooked up to the internet — No!  Yeah… I had a little server that housed this little bit of awesomeness and no one would ever, ever see my student’s work and no one would ever, ever criticize me as a teacher..

There’s been an imperceptible and gradual release of those fears — and that coincided as I implemented Workshop as the staple of my teaching practice.

I’ve been in the trenches with them, writing and thinking beside them.. through struggles and celebrating, big and small.  Workshop helped me experience this first hand with them.  Why on earth would I want to keep the hard work of my students hidden?

The kids are excited.  My hesitation is in figuring out how to move the burden from me — loading all the posts and creating this classroom blog full of entries of every student — to them, because I really want to boost that agency. Let them create, design their blog and put everything up themselves.

But that’s the nature of progress as a writer, as a creator.  Every year it gets better.

Perfect Workshop – SOL Day 20

Day back after Spring Break.

Note to self:  Remember today.  Take the positive that swirled around you today:

  • silent writing for 15 solid minutes for Writing Time, despite having to pull curriculum
  • talk – before an entry, after an entry – after productive search through their Notebooks for ideas

Then the kicker:  one student saying to another:  “You didn’t write over the Break?  What do you mean you didn’t write?!  How could you not write?”

Don’t forget — rest throughout the week so you can be as calm and thoughtful as you were today, enjoying that swirl of good conversation in the classroom.

Remember it turned out better than you could have ever expected..  because of the agency you give them.  That classroom is ready to run on it’s own.

Let it go.  And above all, write so you can keep teaching your kids.  🙂

Writing Partner. SOL Day 3

Slice Image

Our counselor came and stood by one of our classroom bookcases today.  Once again, I missed someone standing there.  I was reminding my writers of the importance of voice as they quick draft tomorrow:  how they use their Writer’s Notebooks as tool for thinking, their planning materials a bridge to support that thinking to their lined paper.

Tomorrow, we’ll omit our WNB and rely solely on our “map” to fuel our writing.  We’ll draft in one sitting, aiming for retaining our voice and cohesion in our piece.

She stood there for quite awhile.  Then I quickly wrapped up and got them going on their prep.

“We have a schedule change.”

She showed me the name.

I took a double-take and thought for a moment.  Then shut my eyes and visible shrank where I stood.

“Oh, no.. Can she keep this and move this here?” I asked, pointing to my student’s schedule.  The urgency in my voice communicating why she had to stay in my 5th period class.

“Mmm.. I’m so sorry, we’ve got to.”

“But she has a Writing Partner..they work together..”

Our counselor is the sweetest, sweetest, most professional woman.  (All our Admin is great.)  I knew it was impossible to describe the meaning behind that phrase Writing Partner in that 30-second conversation.

Even as adults, we have difficulty sharing our writing, because what we say on the page is intimately connected to our thoughts.  Our writing is us.  So when we finally have the confidence to let someone see what we’re all about, wow — what a cause for celebration.

My student had just reached the top of that mountain.  It took us months and months to implement Writing Workshop with baby-step procedures for my lively, talkative 6th Graders.  We had to navigate curriculum and standards, negotiate and tease TEKS from our Writer’s Notebook work, all while trying to give our Writing Workshop a pulse.

I’m talking real Writing Workshop — where you mini lesson for 10, get out of the way so the kids can work.  This afternoon, I actually had a student who told me, “Teach, you’re going on 8 minutes now” — because I have repeatedly told them, I’m here to facilitate.  I’m here to teach you how to manage your own time as writers.  I’m here to introduce you to an almost infinite plethora of writing and thinking strategies, where you, the writer, in charge of your own destiny and the destiny of the words crafted on your page, get to decide.

It’s like almost the perfect role-playing game, writing is. Better than video games, if you can believe it!

So, here we are rocking the Writing Workshop, we’re finishing our planning this day — and tomorrow my student drafts alone.  In a room with kids I’m sure she knows.. but without her writing partner.

At the start of Writing Workshop, one would pick up their Writer’s Notebooks and half-sheets (I try to keep paperwork brief) and walk over to the other’s desk — and without a word, they would silently scope the room for a quiet spot, to whisper, share, think and write together.

My heart broke when I heard she was being moved.  It was totally, totally unexpected.  But it would glorious.

It was a good wound to feel, to know that I had helped something grow between my students in their Writing Community.  They figured out and knew that it’s possible to connect over ideas.  That it was possible to share yourself.

Which is something we all struggle with, I think.  Even as adults.

Tomorrow, I’ll begin again.  .. after I work on figuring out how to keep these two connected.

To connect is life’s work.