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.

Categories: Slice of Life Challenge | Tags: | 12 Comments

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12 thoughts on “Yesterday

  1. I love this! My slice today was about joining in the struggle of writing the same assignment I gave my kids.

    When I’m in “writing mode” I do so many of these things. My husband laughed at me the other day. We were sitting on the couch, watching something mindless. I stared off into space for a while. He looked concerned – puzzled. “You okay?” He asked. “Yep, I’m writing”.

  2. What a great post about not only teaching, but modeling. We do need todo what we expect our students to do. Seeing us as writers gives them a window into the world of writing. It also provides us with an opportunity to walk in their shoes. Thanks for sharing! Our 5th graders will be working on poetry in April and I’m going to consider Nancy Atwell’s Naming the World book then.

    • Yes I really recommend it! It lifts the quality of their work beyond the usual silly rhyming poems. Which are great too, but they have to be challenged.

  3. What a good model you are for your students to see this. Plus you get reminded what students need. Sounds like a great learning day for all in your class. So will you be sharing your poem?

  4. Poetry is one of my favorite thing to teach. Try taking your writing outside with your students and going on a poetry walk. It is refreshing and inspiring.

  5. I love when we join our students and walk in their shoes for a bit. This Slice of Life challenge has been a lot like that for me. It’s reminded me of the importance of sharing our work with peers and receiving postive comments which can be very encouraging. I also write with my students during Quiet Ten, which is 10 minutes of quiet writing time, no one talks, everyone writes (including me). Yesterday, I heard one student say, “I love quiet 10.” That was the best. I’m sure your students enjoyed having you write along with them too.

  6. Love that Atwell book (love Atwell, in general – in my next life I want to BE Atwell). You shared a powerful modeling experience, Katie – you walked in your students’ shoes and what a thrill that must have been for them. Bravo brave teacher lady…now, where the poem?!

  7. er…where’s the poem…sheesh, and I tell my kids to check their work!

  8. How wonderful that you spent the day writing poetry amongst your students.

    BTW: It’s great that you’re not getting sucked into the traditional poetry forms for kids. They don’t need that at the beginning. Love to hear when other people know that too.

  9. I love this post. What a great model for your kids! When I do this two things happen. !) My kids write better. 2) i teach better because I remember how hard writing is.

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