We are in the home stretch of the school year – five weeks to go before “freedom day”, which is what my kids have taken to calling the last day of school. In the meantime, we are neck deep in all the “stuff” of our curricular year: doing projects and learning about the Civil War, finishing up book clubs and making summer reading plans, and writing for our multi genre project.
I know my kids have grown because the classroom now seems very small, they just take up more physical space than my little room can sometimes handle, no matter how creatively I keep moving the furniture around.
I know my kids have grown because their conversations are deeper, their questions braver, and their wonderings more inspiring.
But, in the last two days, as our multigenre writing project goes into full swing, I can see how my kids have grown by the way they approach their work and take charge of the writing process we have worked so hard to name and practice all year long. In place of mini lessons and mentor text work, planned and designed largely by me, their writing teacher, my students are planning the shape and direction of their own writing.
We borrowed Ralph Fletcher’s idea for Exploratory Notebooks to sketch ideas, form writing plans, collect information and bits of quick writes. This had worked so well for our nonfiction writing unit, that my students were excited to go this route again. These personalized notebooks were a great way to brainstorm topic ideas, settle on genres, and decide on time frames to get this all done by June 20th. (the day we invite parents and share our work):
I was so proud to see how my kids took charge of their calendars, and were able to articulate how long they thought it would take to research, draft,and write their four writing pieces. Here is Alex’s game plan, thought out entirely by Alex:
For the past two days, as I sat with my two blocks of writing workshop kiddos debriefing them about their topics and plans, I was so impressed with the way they were able to articulate what their individual writing processes would entail: the steps they would need to take, the time they would need for each stage, the way they would juggle this multi step process of research and writing, and how they could multi task:
Student after student came to the conference desk ready to rock their multi genre writing project. They loved their “big” topic, and were both focused and excited about the way each individual piece of writing would fit together and contribute to this topic:
My kiddos blew me away with their sense of purpose and also their confidence, their quiet, “Hey, I got this.”
Today, we got to work. We hauled in our cart of ancient laptops, brought in our smart phones to do some smart research, found comfortable places to work, and went at it:
My kids have grown…they own their learning. They are on their way, and I am beginning to miss them already.