Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Still at a Crossroads

My journey in a nutshell, a big one I guess ;)
Back in September I picked up a book, Talking, Drawing, Writing by Horn and Giacobbe, that forced me to question many of my prior teaching methods and really look at what is important for the youngest writer.
I started the year with my old way, and two weeks in completely shifted.
I was loving the change, it felt good and I was seeing good results.
A few weeks ago I thought my students would be okay going from a drawing notebook of blank pages to their old marble covered draft books. It was okay for a few days, but I began to see students slip back to things they did the first two weeks of school. It was as though the form of their writing took a dive and I somehow lost my way too. I tried to rationalize, a change in materials could create a slip, but this was a slide that I was not expecting. Another reality, someone is going to ask to see my student's draft books at some point. If I don't have them, whatever I do have needs to be of value. I am striving for a miracle.
Had I continued with the plans and wisdom of Horn and Giacobbe I would have moved to booklets and not a journal. But here I sit, confused.
Since I really need to move on from this place, I am asking for help from those of you out there that may have tried both ways with young writers--booklets or journals?? Which do you prefer? In the past, I have been encouraged to use journals (draft books). I feel like this has mostly been due to the convenience of keeping everything in one place. However, I am struggling with this...a lot. Should teaching really ever be dictated by convenience? Is there a better way to utilize the journal--writer's notebook for ideas instead of the place they draft pieces? I really want to try the booklets that I am reading about in Talking, Drawing, Writing,  but feel a little apprehensive that it might flop, I won't be organized enough--or won't train the kids well enough. I know it will be a lot of management and I worry that my teaching of writing will be put on pause while I get everyone on track with paper, staplers, booklets, lines, no lines, etc. Then on the flip side of all that, I really think the booklets might push my writers to naturally expand and add details. I foresee a lot of good and  hope to have a happy update soon! I think by the New Year I will have a plan in action; something to look forward to!


elsie said...

This is something I just brought up to the kindergarten teachers I worked with yesterday and wrote about in my slice. Seems like serendipity! Lucy Calkins and Katie Wood Ray both advocate for books. They also have the books pre-assembled. They can always be taken apart to add more pages. I have the Horn book to read over Christmas break, so I am looking forward to see how that ties to my other experts.

Linda B said...

You changed to Horn & Giacobbe because there was something in their book that spoke to you. I just accessed part of it in Google books, & got a glimpse of what they're suggesting. I think if you continue with your original goal of switching to doing what they are describing & keep working at it, YOU will get better at facilitating it, then the students will. Be patient with yourself & the students; it really does take time to learn new things!

Diana Martin said...

I agree with Elsie! Making books is awesome. That being said, I've also seen amazing KG work when teachers use the blank journal/writer's notebooks to start the year, especially when the teacher has her own and models her own writing and thinking. I also agree with Linda! You have dig in there and try things out.

Mommy K said...

I do use booklets with my kiddos (per Lucy Calkins' model). They love it. However, I do have some kids that don't choose booklets and would rather on a single sheet of lined paper because they're not my drawers. We store our stories in folders and clean them out after we publish a story-about once a month. This is the first year I have given the kids a choice between lined paper and booklets-we make our own at school. I do agree-you have to try a few things to see what you think! Hard, because if you're like me, you'd like it organized NOW! Good luck-

Anonymous said...

Booklets seem to be a natural way of stretching out the details for our youngest writers. I watch as they tell a story across the pages even before they start drawing and writing. My granddaughters love this.

Anonymous said...

What grade do you teach? I have second graders and am studying illustrations right now and having them just glue their plans into their notebooks and had I to do it all over again, would not introduce writer's notebooks until February or March...depending on where the class is.

Thanks for the comment on my blog earlier. Feel free to drop me any comments about what you decide.