- Chapter 8 Small Group Instruction: High Value, High Reward
- Chapter 9 Share Sessions: Engaging All Writers to Support a Thriving Community
- Chapter 10 Strategic Instruction in Grammar, Conventions, and Spelling
Toward Student Ownership
The first time I was brave enough to throw the goal setting aspect of writing growth to my first graders, I was stunned by the results. We had spent much time growing a writing identity, but really needed to dig in to develop our writing. Having noticed that the greatest shifts came from conferences in which writers were able to articulate what they wanted to do next instead of my suggesting next steps, I decided to try to have each student set their own goal for writing. I wasn't sure how it would go, but I was pleasantly surprised as students selected their goals. Nearly every student selected a goal I would have chosen as well, but now they owned it. The biggest challenge seemed to be kids that were too hard on themselves, not reflections that were shallow.
These chapters really moved us from establishing writing identities, past building strong writing communities, toward giving students ownership of their writing and next steps. I appreciated the many ways Lynne and Stacey shared ideas for putting students in the driver's seat.
Three Big Ideas
- Consider small groups to develop peer writing connections and learner agency. There are a variety of ways to adjust support in small group instruction. Small group instruction can often provide a link from whole group instruction to independence, support students who need to make gains, and as the authors remind provide opportunities for enrichment. The authors discuss ways to let students have more ownership in writing by choosing small group support they need, creating interest groups, and providing opportunities for collaboration among other possibilities.
- Learner agency can be grown through the end of workshop share. While the mini lesson sets the tone for the work writers will do, the share helps to bring things together. Dorfman and Shubitz remind, "Having a share session at the end of every writing workshop provides closure to writers and often gives them something to think about as they ponder the work they'll do the following day." I love this image of the share as not only a way to look back, but also to help writers to see down the path toward new possibility. The possibilities shared by the authors for different ways to share in our communities pushed me to think not only about the many types of shares we might lead, but also to consider ways the share can help writers to see the value in their work, dig a little deeper, and maintain ownership.
- Revision and editing happen throughout the writing process. The writing process isn't linear, yet we often think of revision and editing as something that happens at the end of this process. In many ways, this makes it cumbersome for young writers. I appreciated the idea to think more about ways to help writers make revision and editing decisions as they work through the process.
Two Questions to Ponder
- Should editing conversations be part of peer conferences? The authors share their belief that editing conversations should be between the teacher and the student. They make some good points about the challenges that come from peer edits, yet I have known writing pairs who rely on each other for this work and do so with some success. I want to think more about this.
- How do we help young writers to see their fingerprint and then push toward next steps? Maybe fingerprint isn't the right word here as fingerprint never changes, but what I would hope is that writers learn their style. In knowing their fingerprint they begin to see the strengths in their writing, but also push toward continual growth. Once students have a strong sense of their writing identity, how do we help them to find (and own) their stretch as writers?
One Next Step
- Think more about a writer's "fingerprint." Stacey and Lynne used the word "fingerprint" often to describe what authors often rely on "to build content, speak with a unique voice, and organize their writing." I think of it as the craft moves that are characteristic of a writer. This would be a great way to talk with students about an author's style, look more closely at mentors, and transition to the varying styles within our writing community. I'd like to spend some time with a few authors working this process.
Want to read more reflections? Please stop by our MeWe #cyberPD community. Also, please join us for our Twitter chat with the authors of Welcome to Writing Workshop on Tuesday, July 23rd at 8:30 EST.