Yesterday I didn’t confer with any students during writer’s workshop. Yesterday I grabbed a new notebook, a beautiful azure leather notebook given to me by a student. Yesterday I sat down on the carpet and I decided to write with my students.
I’ve teaching poetry forms and I’m really trying to stay AWAY from some of the “kid” forms of poems. I haven’t shown anything that rhymes. No concrete poems. I like those forms but I know my fifth grade writers won’t grow as writers unless they struggle a little. So, I’ve been using styles and poems from Nancy Atwell’s Naming the World book. I don’t ask kids to spend the whole period writing in a specific style. Each day I present a few poems, we draw conclusions about what the parameters of the style might be and then we have a go. Some students find that they need to “break” the rules to make their poem great which I both discourage and encourage. By that I mean that I tell them to try it both ways and then compare. I’m a very tricky lady.
Yesterday I decided to join my students while they wrote. I decided to step away from “teacher” and just be a fellow writer. I spent the first five minutes staring into space. I couldn’t think of one thing to write. A good reminder that students need time to think. I spontaneously turned to my neighbor and asked her what she thought of my idea, a pantoum about Katniss. She thought the class would like that. A good reminder that children need to talk before they write. I wrote furiously pausing to frown in the air. My other neighbor asked me what’s wrong. “Nothing,” I said. “I’m thinking.” A good reminder for them that it’s okay to struggle and think through something. That the words don’t always just appear before you! When I finished I bothered the same neighbor because I just HAD to share what I wrote. A good reminder that children need to share their work, get feedback, and feel honored.
Yesterday I took some time to walk in my students shoes so that I could remind myself how challenging and rewarding writer’s workshop can be.