Leaves blew across the street as I made my way to the front door of the school. I pushed the button and gave the secretary my name and destination. The season of autumn is in the air, but the children in the fourth grade classroom had only the story they were writing in their heads today. They had been working on their fiction pieces for several days and were ready to think about how the theme of a story helped them to plan the plot.
In the past they had worked on an overview of the story, so they knew where they were going. They were also working on a story as a class. They knew they had to be true to the theme of the story and let it lead them as they planned. They knew they could not just throw in a theme at the end.
As I conferenced with them today, I noticed that they either didn't know how to plan or they just wanted to get right to the story. I think this is common at any grade level. Everyone was working on some type of story. There was fantasy, realistic fiction and historical fiction. They had worked on sketching out the scenes, but still were struggling with the overall plan.
As teachers, it is hard for us to remember that these young authors are just approximating the skills they will eventually master. It is hard for us to remember that planning is a difficult thing to master. These nine and ten year olds just want to get to the good parts...fighting or loving, they want ACTION. What's to plan with that?
So, as teachers, we have to model, model, model for them. We think we taught the skill well. We think they have already heard it over and over and over. But, actually, we have to keep on going over it again and again. They will get it and it will come naturally, but for now, we have to praise their approximations!