Celebrate with Ruth Ayres Writes …. because we need to celebrate moments in our lives every chance we get.
Looking back on my teaching life, something I am doing more and more of these days, I count myself lucky to have had the chance to fashion Room 202 into a sort of teaching lab for new ideas. We took Kylene Beers and Bob Probst’s ideas for the “3 Big Questions” and nonfiction signposts for a test run, and we tried out their Book-Head-Heart reading strategy as well; when Katherine Bomer wrote her brilliant book on essaying, my sixth graders dived right into their own journeys of thought; my reading workshop would not be what it is without Vicki Vinton and Dorothy Barnhouse whose student-centered thinking keeps me honest, or Linda Reif whose practices anchor so much of our work. In lieu of colleagues in my building to work with, it’s been these teaching greats who have been my virtual collaborators, the ones who’ve kept my teaching life intellectually interesting and rich.
So, I was thrilled when Karen Caine asked if she could try out some writing workshop ideas in Room 202. Karen’s book on persuasive writing has been the foundation of our persuasive writing unit for many years, and I was excited to learn more about her idea for writing clubs.
Karen worked her magic with my eager kiddos, introducing the idea that we would be writing about our persuasive topic research in a different way; rather than going straight for the 5 paragraph format they’ve been used to writing since third grade, we would reach into our narrative writing toolkits and try to aim for emotion and personal investment.
It was such a pleasure to listen in on Karen’s mini-lesson and her back and forth with my kiddos. They could not wait to get to work, and I could not wait to read what they were able to come up with. A few days later, once drafts were completed, Karen returned to explain what writing clubs could be and how we could use them to improve our writing, which I tried to chart in the moment: