Saturday, September 28, 2013

1 month down, 9 to go!

I already am thinking about how next year, my September will be SO much better. But I also am going to pat myself on the back for the job I did do this September. As I reflect today, I'll describe it as being on a rollercoaster ride while juggling many balls. And I know this metaphor will continue and probably will get even more complex with more and more balls to juggle. But I am staying on the ride. WHY? Because I now have 27 new friends who I know I can help. And luckily, I still have 9 months to do all I can to help them reach their 9-10 year-old potential and to learn the life long skills of kindness and respect for others and the importance of reading to know how to live and writing to change the world (Thank you Lucy and the TCRWP for helping me to name WHY I teach!)

As my class filed out on Friday, I said something to each of them...Amr, have a great weekend. Will you be playing soccer? Salma, take care of your dad this weekend (he just had ankle surgery). Richard, good luck at Japanese school tomorrow...I smiled thinking that I know these kids now. I am in their 4th grade life and I need to do all I can to help them reach their full potential at this moment in time.

Then I gathered up all the data files I have so far and packed them up to bring home and study over the weekend. A month is over and I need to be sure that I am teaching them specifically and not just overseeing them follow routines. In reading, they listen to my mini-lesson, they sit and read, then share at the end of workshop with a talk buddy. But NOW, I need to be sure that I have the plan for what I need to do each day to confer or guide during Reading Workshop. I have lots to plan this weekend. Thank goodness teachers get Saturday and Sunday off from being at school!!

Friday afternoon went great. We had our first Writing Workshop Publishing Party. We are now authors of Perosnal Narratives!! Here's a few pictures:

First, I had all their writing folders so I called them over to specific places to sit. This strategic placement helped to keep all focused during our celebration. Then we did a Cicle Greeting (Responsive Classroom move) where after shaking hands, we said: "I am an author who wrote a story about ___." It does take time for 28 in a circle to greet. But this calmed us, got us focused on our writing, and helped us to stop and listen.  Then I asked each to take out their published piece and find one or two lines that they are proudest of writing. "We are not going to share the whole story aloud, just one or two lines we like the most. When you have the line, point to it and I'll know you are ready." Then I walked around, pushing all to get ready. "Just like in a Symphony, the instruments play when they are ready, we are going to SHARE when we are ready. When you feel like sharing your one line, please do in your loud, presenitng voice. Just like during our Grand Conversations, if two voices start at the same time, one wait and then go next. Finally, let me teach you a cheer. After a student shares, this is the cheer we will give them. With your finger, pretend to be pumping the spray nossle of the Fantastic Cleaner three times and say "ch-ch-ch" and then move your hand to look like it is wiping off the cleaner and say "FAN- TAST-IC". This will be the cheer we give each classmate after they read aloud their favorite line from their published piece."

And we began...AND IT WORKED!!! All happily shared a line or two. All listened respectfully. A few shier friends needed encouragement to share and 4 really shy friends allowed me to share their line for them. (This reminded me that sharing our writing is scary). Then I gave them free time to draw, read, or use their computer and I started hanging up their writing in the hallway to make it public.

Already in the hallway are paper-people we made to hold an I AM poem for back to School Night. One student, Lotta, suggested that now the paper-person could hold our story! Great the personal narrative is on t he paper-person, an illustration drawn by our talk buddy is hanging next to it (since our writing is so descriptive, it made a movie in our talk buddy's mind and THEY could draw the illustration!) and a reflection - I worked on _____ when writing this first personal narrative in 4th grade.

As I reflected on the way home, I realized that these kids are only 9 going on 10. The school they are in has not been running Writing Workshop with them since Kindergarten. As 4th graders, this was their FIRST publishing party. Happlily I celebrate!! I can't wait to do an on-demand on Tuesday and start teaching Personal Narrative one more time in October. I know we can write even better. I know they are proud now of thier work and ALL will be amazed at how much better they can write with more practice and guidance in October.

Now I need to get busy. I need to TEACH not just routines in October!!

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