“I essentially write for myself.”
The unit, Launching the Writing Workshop, is where the students really start to explore their own lives. This unit is crucial in developing an understanding that good habits are instrumental for good writing experiences. The student writers of 4B1 learn that writing is a social endeavor. The students quickly realize that writing is sacred in this classroom. They learn that living in the moment and remembering specific instances from their own life matters. It is a time for me to learn about each writer through one-to-one conversation, engagement and assessment.
What Big Ideas have I gained?
This year, I realized that my minilessons be crafted so that each session lasts less than twelve minutes. I learned to relax during the process and trust the curriculum and my ability to deliver the content. I realized that I am part of this community of writers and that I need to write along with the children. I remembered that well-timed and specific compliments go a long way in developing a confident writer. I learned to better communicate and refrain from universal truths while speaking. I realized that the students need me to speak less and investigate more.
What new questions did I have?
I wondered if I could find the time during the day where students could find me regularly writing in my journal. I wondered if I could create a class where students optimize their time. I wondered if I could create a community that specifically support each other and live to help each other out.
What feelings did I experience?
Each year and this year in particular, I feel a rush of adrenaline when teaching this unit. It is my favorite unit in that I see the most dramatic improvements in productivity and independence. Each day, I had a story for my wife about a particular moment with a writer. This pleased us both no end.
What actions do I plan to take for next year?
Each year, the students arrive in my classroom better prepared and better versed in the writing workshop approach. It is my duty to improve my craft each year. I plan to improve my craft by reading books and listening to podcasts from Katie Wood Ray, Ralph Fletcher, and the late Donald Graves. I plan to improve my conversation skills. I plan to find a way that allows the students to share their work with fellow student writers from around the world. I plan to seek help from my colleagues and celebrate our continued success. I plan to create a template for using SKYPE in the classroom to communicate with published writers and illustrators.