Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Power of Writer's Workshop

Today's Post comes from a classroom in my hometown. As a retired teacher/coach, I get to visit this classroom and hang out with some amazing young writers. I am so thankful for this little peek into the minds of some very special kiddos!

Last fall I began coming to this 4th grade class during their writer's workshop. I would listen to the mini-lesson and then talk to the kids about their writing. I would pull up beside them and simply say, "What's happening with you today?" They would always open up and share their thoughts and plans for the day's writing. That is most of them would. There was one boy that just didn't seem to be that interested in the writing project or even the lesson. He was sort of in his own world, doing his own thing. I talked to him several times over the months, but didn't get much information about him as a writer or even him as a person.

The beauty of being able to visit off and on in a class is the ability to see how the children are growing not just as writers, but as learners. The class takes on a personality of its own. I am amazed at the "talk" that goes on in that room. (I will share that in another blog). But today, I want to share the growth of Timmy, the little boy who was in his own world.

Several weeks ago, I talked to him about his current project. He was trying to write a persuasive piece  but didn't have a topic. We talked about it. I was amazed when he came up with a list of things in the world that he wanted to change. One of those things was the eco system.  Wow! Talk about powerful. He knew all about it!  I sent him off to write.

Today I watched Timmy during my time in the room. During the mini lesson, he was focused. He seemed to be taking everything the teacher was saying and soaking it in. During writing time, he used to sit and play with his pencil, eraser or any thing he could find. Today, he was again focused on his writing project.
During the sharing time, the students were doing a Whip Share. They would go around the sharing circle and share how they had revised their piece. Timmy didn't share, but he intently listened to his peers as they talked about their process.

Timmy has made tremendous progress this year. He sees himself as a writer and has found his voice. This community of writers has allowed him to share his thoughts and find a save place to grow. Have I mentioned that I LOVE this class? Next month they will be taking the annual state test to check their progress.  Will Timmy shine? Probably not. Will Timmy show what he knows? Probably not. Has Timmy progressed this year? You bet, by leaps and bounds. Some things just can't be measured with a pencil and paper! Some things have to be measured with life.  Oh, the piece on the eco system...well, see for yourself!

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