Saturday, March 31, 2012

Read at the Beach!

Read at the Beach is an annual March is Reading Month tradition for 1st graders at my school. Of course the end of March is usually too cold to really go to the beach, so we turn our cafeteria into the beach with a little imagination, some beachy props, and great calypso music by our own technology director, Jeff Grossenbacher. (Also of Two Dudes in Flip Flops and Island Breeze fame!) Jeff gets us started with a reading of The Jolly Mon by Jimmy Buffett and his daughter, Savannah Jane.

Then, the kids are off to "read at the beach"!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Writing Process

A few years ago, Su Palmer was assistant superintendent of curriculum for my district. She introduced me to writing workshop, "draft books", writing demonstrations,  Dancing With the Pen, Smith and Elley's (1997) How Children Learn to WriteEffective Literacy Practice. I couldn't get enough. As I began to develop my understandings, I made significant changes in my teaching practice and watched my students grow as writers.

After serving as superintendent in a K-8 school for a few years, Su is now teaching at the college level. She visited my classroom last week to observe my students during our literacy block to get a feel for the realities of the classroom.

She reminded me of two key components of effective writing instruction:
1) make the writing process explicit
2) follow the writing process all the way through to publishing

And, she reminded me of the value of collegial conversations.

My students have been doing lots of pre-writing, drafting, revising, and some editing all year. But, somehow in our busyness, publishing had taken a back seat. The reality is, it's not easy to squeeze in publishing without making it a priority. So, to help make the writing process visible and explicit, we made this chart as a class and have it posted in a prominent place. And, I've started publishing student writing--my goal is to confer with at least 3-4 students each day until each student has one published piece over the next 2 weeks.