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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Day 4 - A Moment

I had a moment today.  It was a moment (or two or four) of utter frustration. 

It was late morning and due to schedule changes we were going to have a short writer's workshop time today.  It wasn't really long enough to write much so I took this opportunity to introduce a new idea: writing to a prompt.

My kindergarten students were gathered at my feet.  We have just had a (brilliant) conversation about how boring "bed to bed" stories are, how we know that adding details makes our writing more interesting and how good we are getting at remembering to add details to our writing.

I told them: We are going to start a new story about our bowling trip!  A couple weeks ago we went on a field trip to the bowling alley and the kids had a ball!  I know they are going to write great stories about their experiences because they were so excited about the trip.  I told them today we were going to look at two stories.  One story I wrote only included one detail and was pretty boring, low-level type kindergarten writing.  The second story had four details and a strong ending.  We talked about why the second story was so much better.  They told me about the details: I talked about what it sounded like at the bowling alley, I talked about getting a strike, and I talked about how I felt surprised and excited when I got the strike. 

I just knew they were getting it!  They were all engaged, all participating, all seemed to be understanding my point today.

I gave them a minute to think about what they would write, to think about what details they thought they would included in their story, etc.  Then I went around the group and asked them to tell us what they were planning.

And that is when it happened.

First, I asked a struggling student what he was thinking about because I knew if he didn't go first, he would tell me everyone else's ideas and not his own.  He had a hard time but we were able to settle on him telling about getting a strike.  Good!  One detail is about all he is ready for right now.  I was satisfied.

Moving on, I asked a very capable student, and good writer, to tell us what she was planning for her story.  She said she was going to write about going bowling.  Of course, I nudged her for more.  She had nothing else.  She couldn't think of anything else to include in her story.  I told her to keep thinking and I would come back to her. 

Next, I chose another student who is also very capable and enjoys writing (and talking) because I knew he would have good ideas to contribute.  Nope!  He started talking about a completely different bowling trip.  I reminded him to think of the class trip; we were all going to write about our trip together this time.  (Remember, we are practicing writing to a prompt.)  He said he needed more time to think.

I asked the class as a whole if someone was willing to share their plan with the group.  Nothing.  Not a single child could tell me what they planned to write about.

FRUSTRATION!!!!!!  FRUSTRATION!!!!!!  FRUSTRATION!!!!!!  What just happened?  They were all engaged, understanding, participating not two minutes ago!

Deep breath. 

We ended up brainstorming some ideas together.  Again.  They shouted out all kinds of great things at me that they could include in their stories.  Then we started again.  I gave them time to think.  Then I had them tell me again what their plans were.  I wanted them to share as a whole group so that they could hear all the different ideas people had about the same topic.  This time it went much better.  They shared many of their plans and I could see that they were finally on their way.

By this time, we were almost out of time for the day.  I decided we better take advantage of the last few minutes to practice our stories one more time...I didn't want them to forget after all that hard work!  We moved into partners, sitting knee to knee, nose to nose.  We took turns telling the beginning, middle and end of our story and we listened carefully to make sure that our partners were including details in their plans.

This time, the sharing was a success!  We are ready to roll tomorrow and I know we will get some great writing...as long as they don't forget their plan before tomorrow!

I know there will be kids who forget by tomorrow, but I also know there will be many that remember and they will be able to nudge their friends just enough by sharing their own plans again.  Tomorrow will be a new writing day, and I hope, a less frustrating time!  


  1. UGH! Those moments can drain us. It sounds like you got them to come around and tomorrow will be a new day, fresh!

  2. Something new always takes a little extra effort, they will come around and be brimming with details before you know it.

  3. So hard to be hopeful, & to do it all again, Robin. I'm proud of you for taking a deep breath & keeping on. Sounds like success this time, & now you have the next slice because we want to know what happens!

  4. I hope everyone remembers their plans today. :)

    I know how frustrating it is when kids forget something they were just doing.