Wednesday, March 10, 2010


I think I am luckier than most of my fellow cohort members in that I spend lots of time with students in very small groups or one-on-one. When I work with students on writing, we sit right next to each other, side-by-side, and I hope that I am talking with them instead of to them. I liked so much about Carl Anderson's chapter about conversations in writing, and it affirmed a lot of what I think I do. But he re-framed some of my thinking in ways that I hope will make my conversations with student writers more effective, more valuable for my students themselves.

After spending the last many months writing as a grown-up, for my own intents and purposes, I have started talking with my students more "writer to writer" as Anderson suggests. It's a subtle but exciting shift. I refer to them as writers, to myself as a writer, and I'm hoping that label subconsciously embeds itself into how my students think about themselves. This is something I didn't do before. I talked about the writing, about the assignment, but not so much about writers. What writers do.

Anderson quotes Lucy Calkins: "our decisions must be guided by what might help the writer rather than what might help this writing." For too many years it feels like I've been tied to the assignments and the rubrics (darn rubrics!) that my students bring from their classrooms, and we figure out how to make the writing meet classroom expectations. But then there would be another assignment, and another rubric, and it felt like I was spinning my wheels getting kids through assignments but not actually developing their skills as writers. Now that I'm writing more on my own, it's easier for me to think about how to help my students as writers, instead of how to plow through yet another Me Book assignment. My next step is to think a bit more purposefully about those conversations, or as Anderson says "confer with lines of thinking in mind." A little forethought goes a long way.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, you are lucky to have that one-on-one time with students. And you are using it well as evidenced by your deep reflective thinking. It's really your students who are lucky to be working and learning from you!

    BTW, has there been any talk about renaming that assignment to the Me Encyclopedia?