Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Progress...Moving Across a Continuum

Though I tend to feel overwhelmed by the amount of work that comes from teaching young writers, I am encouraged by the progress I have made so far this year.  I have monitored student progress using my expectation checklist and next step chart.  I have already begun publishing student work and half of my students have completed their first book.  Book boxes are in full swing and ready to house the newly published work. 
The kids tried out "'Work on Writing," today and we were able to accomplish independent writing, small group writing, writing choices, and publishing all happening simultaneously.  It was a breath of fresh air and I hope things continue to go in this direction as I felt I was able to make actual suggestions to learners today and carry out some effective conferences.  Our work on writing chart is complete and students demonstrated some clear understanding with a need for more practice to gain some stamina, but overall, good progress. 
I now just wish I had more support to give to my struggling learners who need so much encouragement and guidance.  It is so heartbreaking to run out of time or steam on their part, noticing the need for a break in the action of writing when you know you really just need 5 more minutes.  I hope to begin to dig a little deeper into the students understanding.  I am excited to break into "the beginning writer continuum" I wrote about back in August.  There are a few students I feel this will really assist in developing a plan and hopefully get my teaching very specific to their need.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Jeff Anderson is...The Write Guy!

I just met Jeff Anderson Tuesday and I can say with confidence that he is not just "the write guy," he is the right guy to teach me when it comes to grammar and mechanics. After reading the first half of his book, Everyday Editing and perusing his lesson ideas I am in love with his routine for teaching.

I am a question kind of teacher. I ask questions all the time of my students, because I don't ever want to just tell them something they already know and I also want to know what misconceptions they have about their learning. The first question Jeff asks when teaching a grammar lesson is, "what do you notice?" He calls this an "invitation to notice." Everyone loves being invited to do something, it is less threatening and choice is involved in the outcome. He uses this idea of inviting as a way to create a relationship with his learners and create a safe environment. Once students have shared what they notice in his example sentence, a "mentor sentence," he validates their idea and extends their learning. He challenges them to do the work, he does not tell them why a comma is where it is or other editing marks. The following day he asks students to imitate the sentence. When he was teaching teachers, at the conference I attended, he had us notice and imitate a serial comma. Jeff asked that we imitate the sentence using our own adjectives and ideas but with the same pattern. This activity led me to write a poem later because it conjured up images and got me, as a writer, going! I was amazed that just by imitating a sentence I was unable to get the ideas to stop running my brain. The following day he celebrates students success with the activity and students are able to share.

Jeff's book goes in to much more detail on further ideas and invitations to write. I love this concept and was never so excited about grammar and editing in my life. I wish I knew this information when I was in college, maybe my ideas would have been clearer instead of constantly needing to figure out why mistakes were mistakes. Jeff sees mistakes as an opportunity for learning, not good exercise for a red pen (or any color pen for that matter). A mark on your paper is a mark, disrupting the work of the writer instead of teaching the writer.