Saturday, February 8, 2014

Tools that Writers have for Independence

As a coach of writing, I am in a lot of classrooms. I hear a lot of great statements and I see amazing teaching moves. One of my personal goals as a writing coach is to help teachers develop independence and repertoire for their students. When students become more independent, they become more confident, take more risks, produce more volume, and...write better. Student independence also frees up teachers to teach more! Last week, I saw an amazing lesson and have a new favorite line.

I was in one of our district's fourth-grade classrooms and the teacher we giving a lesson to the students about all of the tools that they have as writers that help them to be independent. Although this lesson was part of her Information Writing Unit, the chart could be created in ANY writing unit, and the take-aways for students should transfer to ALL writing units. Together, they created a chart that I shared with and then taught with one one of her colleagues.

The orange is tough to read, but the tools that they have are: checklists (from the Teachers College new Units of Study), charts (made together with the students in support of the unit), mentor texts, dictionaries and thesauruses, writers' notebooks, each other, and their imaginations.

When I watched the lesson, I heard one of my favorite lines from a teacher, EVER, and I don't think that she was even aware of the importance of the line when she said it.

"Everything in this classroom is made by you or for you."

Because of the truth of this statement, the class was able to generate the list of tools as an inquiry lesson. 

Her colleague's classroom, also, is full of charts and student work, so when we taught the lesson, the students were able to think of ideas for writing tools. We spontaneously made this a Family Feud game--I covered the answers with slips of posterboard and we revealed them as each team took turns guessing. We had not originally had imagination on our list (duh!), and we gave a bonus point for such an amazing response!

Did we miss anything? Independence is so important!

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