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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Writing Workshop in December

For more great Slice of Life stories, visit the Two Writing Teachers website, hosted by Ruth Ayers and Stacey Shubitz.

Yesterday I read Ruth's post about having much on your mind and no time to reflect.  The part that struck me was the reminder that you sometimes have to make space in your brain in order to reflect.  I have been monitoring my student's writing closely.  Having a student teacher has been great for reflection.  I've had to reflect on my teaching practices, beliefs and reasons for my beliefs in order to help best guide and coach her.  

It's challenging to give up the teaching of writing for me.  It was the last thing I gave over to my student teacher and it's the first thing that I will take back as she eases out.  I'm still very much a part of the writing workshop in my classroom but it is odd not being the one in charge during this time.  Of all the different parts of the day, this is the most difficult for me.  I have been frustrated at times with my students and how they are behaving.  They are a tough group and give my student teacher a run for her money most of the time; writing workshop is no exception. 

Out of my frustration came the need to really dive into their work and break it down for myself.  I have been monitoring all along.  I have been working to be sure I have conferenced with each student during the week, in addition to the work my student teacher is doing with them.  I've been watching and coaching her through her lessons.  However, I needed to lay out all the writing and see where we were as a whole.  

Here is what I found: student growth!  Let's take a look at B...

 This is B's writing in October.  If you look carefully, you can see a purple person with a whole lot of other "stuff" in the picture.  He didn't really know what he was drawing, but knew he needed to draw more.  There are no words or letters in this particular story.

 Here is B's writing in November.  The people are much more detailed but there is nothing to help tell the story in the illustration beyond the people.  There are no background details, no clues to help the reader.  He has begun to add writing to his stories...some of which we can even read!

 B's December writing shows even more progress!  He has included the people, some detail about what is happening (the cat that he was playing with) and a portion of the background has been added (the grass outside). B has begun to use initial sounds for his words ("I was watching" is the part you can see).

In just a short time this writer has changed quite a bit.   The other students are growing similarly - although there are varying levels.  Seeing the whole class together allowed me to reflect on how widely spread the skill levels are of the children in my classroom.

Here are a few more examples:

                        I gave mom a picture.                                    I bought groceries. (oral story)       
                                                     Me and my mom were going home.
                                                     It was my birthday.

I was both encouraged and discouraged as I looked through their writing.  I see glimmers of greatness in students.  I see students who have a long road ahead of them.  But I know we will get there.  We will continue to grow and learn together. 


  1. Robin,
    It's so great to see examples from someone else's room. Some weeks I feel like we've made so much progress and other weeks, I wonder if I have taught them much of anything. So I can relate to your feelings of encouragement and discouragement. We (you, me, the students) are making progress! Slowly but surely! I make tackle introducing booklets next week. EEK!

  2. It is difficult to see what's moving along until you lay it all out. This is great to see, love those young pictures! I like that one can see the changes, in writing too! Love the hair in that final drawing!

  3. Thanks for sharing your thinking about the writing process...and where you are with teaching your students-I have never attempted to be as intentional about teaching writing as I am this year...it's a journey with no end but our muscles grow stronger to help us along each day-
    I really enjoyed looking at their work samples!
    Also I have noticed other slicers posting about Ruth's space for reflecting-must read!

  4. They are growing, but sometimes it's hard to see when we look day to day. So much growth in the month to month changes! Thanks for sharing, I want to show my kindergarten teachers this.

  5. Those month by month student samples are awesome. How exciting. I know you will value where each student is and move them on their journey. Some of them just started in different spots and they are lucky to have such a reflective teacher to guide them.

  6. I definitely see growth. I know that in this day and age of speeding through everything, we are forced to document growth or progress in leaps and bounds. This is misguided and we need to see growth as much more than what's on the page. I know this isn't coming from you but we are influenced by our administrators and others around us. Take joy in the progress that is being made. Clearly it's there. The best thing you can do is continue to observe and take note of the growth these children are making. What a fun journey to be on!