Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Internal Debate


I am finding myself questioning a few things this year because I am in a new grade level. As some of you know, I looped with my kindergarten students this year and am teaching first grade. For the first time! I feel a little bit like a first year teacher.

So, the debate begins. In kindergarten writing workshop we focus a lot on drawing and talking at the beginning of the year. I am finding my students have easily gotten back into the swing of this routine. It has been a great process to observe. I am also finding that they are spending a great deal of time drawing their picture instead of getting their words on the page.

I am such an advocate of planning and taking time to do this with drawing and talking. However, I am feeling this need to put a bit of a limit on the planning if it goes much past fifteen minutes. If I thought it was successful for everyone I might feel differently, but their results are not necessarily their best work.

Before Workshop Today

I am planning on setting a timer today for students to pause in the planning process after fifteen minutes to try and write their thoughts. I want to see if they are able to do this, therefore not necessarily needing all the drawing as plan time. The illustrations could be enhanced after the writing. I hope to update as the workshop begins and ends today!

After Workshop Today

Well, I am happier with the results of pushing the writing over the planning. I set the timer for fifteen minutes explaining this was their plan time. Several students used the entire fifteen minutes. I only required five minutes of writing, but most wrote for longer than five minutes. Many students were able to transition easily.  They just needed the push and the structure.  A sizeable handful chose to write  a small moment as well. This was exciting to me as we have been talking about small moments in writing and stories for a over a week now.
We continued our writing workshop for forty minutes and the students seemed to more easily pace themselves. I hope to only need the timer for a short time until they more independently regulate their planning vs. writing time. Overall, a successful day in workshop.


Stacey said...

I love the headings you used in your slice today. It really allowed me to understand where you were in each part of the process.

elsie said...

Sometimes students need to be nudged out of their comfort zone and pushed to spread their wings a little more. Do you do a no walk/no talk time? That could be the signal for starting to use words rather than pictures. I am so impressed that your kids are already spending forty minutes in writing workshop. Amazing!

Tara @ A Teaching Life said...

"The push and the structure": so much of getting writing workshop to be a productive time is accomplished through that. Awesome that your kiddos wrote for 40 minutes!

Nanc said...

I really think they are ready for it this way....and you really know it because you are having the joy of a looping experience. Way to go....I love the idea of having them go back and add more details to their drawing the next day....which leads into adding more details with their words also. xo

Robin said...

It is so fantastic to be able to follow the journey of your class from the babies who first entered your kindergarten classroom, to the first grade newbies and onward. I can't wait to see what the year hold for them and also your thinking as you make your way through a new grade level.

Amy Rudd said...

I think you made the right choices for your class-"great noticing" to determine what was right for them. Enjoy looping with your kiddos. I think it's neat to have that experience.

Ramona said...

Wow! I wish my 6th graders could write for 40 minutes! Thanks for giving us this snapshot of your thinking. Love the before and after workshop reflections. It will be a fun year for you to watch your students' growth and do some growing as a teacher too.

Maureen said...

Sounds as if you set high expectations for your first graders and they rose right to them! How awesome!

LInda Baie said...

Seems as if your thoughtful planning worked, Betsy! I love the stamina your class exhibited. Maybe the timer will help to set the habit, then a more relaxed push is all that will be needed. Thanks for showing a good plan!

Christy Rush-Levine said...

This is such a great reminder to not shy away from nudging our students. After the fact, it is so clear that if you hadn't nudged them, they wouldn't have grown. Though I completely identify with your initial hesitation--I am worried about imposing my process on my students in any way that might end up inhibiting their process. In this case, it appears it was a push your students needed. I guess we just don't know until we try!