It’s time to celebrate this week with others on Ruth Ayers’ weekly link up. Find other celebration posts here.
Prepare to be jealous.
In addition to keynotes from Carl Anderson, Lucy Calkins, Mary Erhenworth, Naomi Shihab Nye and Sarah Weeks, I attended daily break out sessions on Writing about Reading with Ali Marron and Using Children’s Literature as Mentor Text with Shana Frazin.
The learning was monumental. Ideas intermingled and cross-pollinated. This was not simply a Writing Institute; it was a Literacy Institute.
First: It is a beautiful thing to help students find their voice when writing about reading. Too often this work translates into an accountability tool, destroying the good intentions of teachers and potential book love. By offering students some latitude and ownership in their writing about reading process, we send the message of agency and trust.
Second: As with any learning, models matter. Offering freedom to develop a personal style, we all benefit from seeing many models teacher’s and students’. Imagine your first week of school creating a gallery of possible ways to write about reading.
Third: Audience matters. When we have an audience, our engagement goes sky hight. Everyone wants to come to the party with something valuable to share. The work is purposeful just because someone else is depending on you.
Fourth: Tools, strategies and scaffolds are necessary but, scaffolds should be training wheels. When we introduce a scaffold, the plan to take it away should be an integral part of the plan.
Fifth: Examining children’s literature as a mentor text build reading and writing muscles! We looked at several texts from a structural point of view. This work is thought-provoking as a reader and a writer. Look at the many possible ways teachers mapped out the structure of Eve Bunting’s Yard Sale.
After that work, we added a layer of thought: How the theme was revealed through the lens of structure. The first example might be an upper elementary analysis followed by a middle school interpretation.
This brilliant work speaks to working collaboratively and thinking deeply about a text.
Imagine how this could be used as a way to inspire narrative writing structures or as a way to analyze Bunting’s use of theme in a literary essay.
To paraphrase Shana, I was so happy these beautiful teachers came to school this week.