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When Clare and Tammy share that Tweet during last night’s TWT Twitter chat, I thought immediately about two of my “writers in action”, and how important it has been do just that…observe, figure out, move gently, and help them find their way.
Writer #1 is an exuberant kid, bursting with thoughts and observations to share…until it’s time to write. Then, he sits, hunched over his notebook or laptop, quiet and still. There is a bit of writing, some tapping on the keyboards, some glancing around and requests for bathroom visits or sharpening and re-sharpening of pencils. He has trouble holding his pencil, trouble keyboarding, and trouble staying focused. During our first conferences of the school year, he’s say things like:”my hand hurts”, “my head hearts”, and on one memorable occasion, “my heart hurts.” I didn’t have to wonder why he’d made that last statement, because by then I already knew: he had so much to say, but he had learned that saying it in writing was heartbreakingly difficult.
Our learning goal for the year was to find a way to make it not so. Bit by bit, small step by small step, we are getting there. I didn’t need complicated assessment tools to figure out how to help my kiddo – I just needed to watch him, understand him, and recognize that our journey would be a slow one – but that we’d find a way to get there.
Writer #2 is painfully shy. She has a difficult time raising her hand, and her voice. She is always the last one to volunteer an opinion, join into an activity, make her presence known. But, when it’s time to write, she’s all in. Her entire body seems to embrace her notebook, as she sets to work. There is a firmness to the way she holds her pencil, and a purposeful determination to the way she makes it move, page after page after page. Writing empowers her and gives her confidence; through it she finds, at last, her voice.
Our learning goal for the year has been to lift that voice from the page – to make our classroom ring with the sounds of those ideas spoken aloud. It hasn’t been easy for either of us; I am sometimes impatient and she is sometimes reluctant. But, I can tell from watching her when she is ready…and then I pounce: please share, I ask, please tell us what you are thinking. And then she does.
Watching writers in action… thank you Tammy and Clare for connecting to what I was thinking…