Friday, September 19, 2014

4 weeks into the school year!!

My goal is to write weekly but I have a good excuse for missing last week. My Anne was getting ready to leave for a year job as a teaching assistant in a French ES and much of the weekend was spent helping her (which now I can type that she has successfully arrived in Chambery, France!!). Then I worked late Mon-Wednesday to leave lesson plans so I could join Brian on his conference trip La Jolla, CA. So now, as I relax in a truly beautiful spot in the world, I have time to reflect on my first 4 weeks of teaching as a 5th grade writing teacher.

I know I love my situation this year, but why? I saw a graphic of ingredients for great teaching and it included 3 things: knowing content, engagement with students and ___ ( blanking on 3rd part of graph right now?). But I do know that I am confident every day because I know and love teaching writing. And being in a school that follows a responsive classroom management approach gives me the structure to have kids engaged. They are happy after we play a game or do morning meeting. I love my situation because I feel successful at it. Sure, it isn't all perfect but I feel safe to teach and learn with my students and staff while sharing a content I've become good at teaching!!

I'm proud of my 5th grade writers. Last Thursday, our 13th day of school, we held our first publishing party. Three of the days were on-demand assessment days and 10 were days the kids got to go through the writing process (immerse, generate, draft, revise, edit and publish). During a Symphony Share, all read aloud their favorite part, some the lead, some the heart, some the ending. All participated and together we celebrated with a candy treat and watching a film clip. Then I hung all the work in the hallway and Friday we reflected. All in 11 days!!

I think the nature of Writing Workshop makes my job so great. It is a defined process that requires time to work at it. But through planning I decide and share the tips I think they could use in their writing, teach the mini-lesson and then confer. We keep moving through the process and we know the publishing date from the start. The process is concrete and through my lessons involving mentor text I try to make it visible and doable. And after 4 weeks of teaching 80 students, I feel it is working.

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