Monday, April 19, 2010

Hidden Gems and the LA Review

 "An inclusive, collaborative approach to developing a planned writing curriculum is of prime importance".  I wholeheartedly agree with this statement from the Engel and Streich article.  I was also impressed that each teacher was involved in creating the curriculum and was therefore in support of the new curriculum (though some were hesitant at first).  I loved the idea that each teacher brought his/her favorite writing activity to the group who then decided which genre it fit best with and then created mini-lessons and found accompanying literature.    

 This article made me think of 2 things: 1) the amount of creativity hidden in our district and 2) the upcoming language arts review.  I sometimes get frustrated that there are so many hidden gems in our district – actually so many hidden in my very school!  One of the fun parts about teaching is the ability to tweak lessons so both my students and I find them interesting and motivating.  I have particular lessons that I have put more energy into crafting.  Can you image how wonderful my 4th grade classroom would be if I not only had my favorite lessons but if I also had those lessons from each 4th grade teacher in the district!?!  
We are also approaching a language arts review.  I hope that our review committee does not turn into a group of “star teachers” (who are excited about making improvements) that makes changes that others have a hard time supporting.  I’m not sure exactly what the plan for this review is but I would love to see a collaborative and inclusive approach.   To help strengthen our writing instruction we ALL need to share our ideas, be flexible but also be held accountable.  I look forward to helping in the LA review!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Not assessment, but a most interesting observation

This morning I was in the 1/2 day Kindergarten for Writer's Workshop. The students had been writing little three page booklets for several weeks (one day a week). The teacher had encouraged their own ideas, invented spelling, and the other supports for initial writers. Today's lesson was on revision.

Revision! for Kindergarteners? The teacher modeled rereading her pieces and choosing one to make better--ready to publish. The topic was going outside to see the class tree in spring, which they had done on Tuesday. The first page example was one where she had omitted a pronoun--I or we in her sentence. The students read the sample on the smartboard and told her what was missing. They also had discussion as to whether it should be I or we; she showed that her picture had several stick figures, so agreed that we was the better choice. They also recognized that the sentence needed a period. The second page was "I saw stuf." What did we see? she asked. The picture showed ground and a bare-limbed tree. The children suggested a flower and leaves on the tree and a bird. She added both the picture and the words. Wow! Was I impressed!

Then I saw the children take out their folders, read through their own pieces, and begin to work. I was working with one of my ELL students trying to get oral language (he doesn't have sound/symbol correspondence yet). I prompted, tell me more, which he did. He doesn't have letter sounds yet, but even he tried to do more and revise.

This lesson gave me a little hope that the writing process is not dead or discarded.