8:55 AM: students walk in, grab their Writer’s Workshop binder, settle into their seat, and look up at the board to scan the day’s agenda and learning objectives. At the top, TRY THIS is written in bold, blue letters, welcoming students with a prompt: We all have memorable “firsts”—my first day of 6th grade, my first airplane ride, my first school dance, my first heartbreak, my first puppy, my first big fib, my first crush—make a list of your “firsts”. Feel free to keep it in the form of a list, or if a strong memory is triggered, go with it; follow that energy; tell your story. Without another word of direction, students dive in: pencils gripped tightly, shoulders hunched over, heads leaning forward, some hands moving swiftly across the page, some eyes squinting in deep thought, a chuckle, a smile, scribbling from one line to the next, flipping the page, a nudge then a quick peek at the “first” written by the boy sitting next to him—followed up by the satisfying head bob and “niiiiice”. Enjoying what I see, a community of writers, I pull up a chair and join in. Soon I, along with my students, am swept up in the many fond (and occasional wish-I-could-forget-that-time) memories of “firsts”—and students see that I am a writer too. (more…)
Archive for March, 2009
The stack of state-writing-test booklets stare at me from the corner of my desk, flaunting their power. I scowl back.
Picking up the top one to glance over prompts and format, I freeze when my eyes catch the scoring chart: 6 boxes, a numerical judgment of the student’s mastery in each of the six writing traits—ideas, voice, word choice, organization, sentence fluency, and conventions. But wait, what is this in fine print? Voice and word choice do not count?! Conventions are counted twice? No. There has to be some sort of mistake. What exactly are we expecting from our young writers? What message does this send them? No voice… No word choice… Says who? (more…)