Slice of Life: Thoughts About Writing

sols_6

For the past six days, I’ve worked with an amazing group of teachers making revisions to our writing curriculum. The dedication and passion these men and women brought to this work made my job of facilitating much easier. I feel good about what we accomplished and know that these teachers all feel prepared to launch the writing workshop in their classrooms next week.

We still have so much work to do, but thanks to the Units of Study developed by Lucy Calkins and her colleagues at the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, we have a good grasp of the process and new expectations. Everyone is excited for school to start so we can begin working with students and help them become capable, confident writers.

Teachers often ask me about the purpose of the writer’s notebook. They are uncomfortable with the idea of letting kids write about a self-selected topic. They want to know what they’re supposed to do with this writing. Do they grade it? Does it have to become a story or some other kind of a polished piece. I always explain that no, this writing is not graded. It doesn’t necessarily have to become something else.

Because of these questions and the discomfort some of them have with writing itself, I began our work days by giving the teachers time to write. Some days I offered a photograph or piece of art; some days I shared one of Corbett Harrison’s Sacred Writing Time slides. It was interesting to watch how the teachers reacted to the prompts and how they worked. (I did write, also.) But the real revelations came when the teachers shared their writing.

Everyone had approached the task from a different angle, an angle that was meaningful to them. Some were surprised by the direction their writing took. Others were grateful for the opportunity to sit quietly and be reflective after a hectic morning trying to get to school by eight o’clock. We talked about the importance of giving our students choices about their writing and about the importance of feeling comfortable enough to share our work. We all agreed that going through this process ourselves would help us as we guide our students in the weeks to come.

The most valuable insight for me came from what I wrote this morning. Harrison’s slides always include whatever “National” day it is. Today happened to be National Radio Day. This made me remember a record album of old time radio programs that my mother used to listen to when I was little. Like links in a chain, this thought led to other ideas, which led me to an insight about a character in a story I’ve been writing this summer. This cascade of memories reminded me of one of my favorite scenes from Ratatouille, when Anton Ego takes his first bite of the dish Remy and Colette have lovingly prepared for him.

Why wouldn’t we want our students to have this same kind of opportunity to see where their writing takes them? Who knows what they might discover about themselves?

Thank you, as always, to Stacey and Ruth at Two Writing Teachers for hosting the Slice of Life Challenge.

Advertisements

10 thoughts on “Slice of Life: Thoughts About Writing

  1. Catherine,

    I loved hearing how writers approached the same task differently. Those same writers should understand that no two pieces of writing hung up on the school walls should be the same! TCRWP has changed my life as both a teacher and a writer.

    You will have a fabulous year!

    Like

  2. I loved this:
    ” We talked about the importance of giving our students choices about their writing and about the importance of feeling comfortable enough to share our work. We all agreed that going through this process ourselves would help us as we guide our students in the weeks to come.”
    I believe that it more teachers tried the writing process themselves, they would understand the value it brings to their teaching practices as well. We cannot be teachers of writing unless we are writers ourselves!

    Like

  3. Hi Catherine,
    We “chatted” on here a year ago. I used to be in Lakeville in the summers for years at Camp SLoane. I tried to join the Poetry #TCRWP chat the other night but I am new to Twitter and had myself “locked” so none of my comments were seen. Can you tell me how to find the chat at storify or in the archives? I don’t know how else to ask and hope you don’t mind pointing me in the direction.
    Best,
    Janet F.

    Like

    • Hi, Janet,
      I don’t think the chat is archived. I did a search for #tcrwp and didn’t find anything other than the tweets themselves. As far as being “locked,” that has never happened to me, but you might want to check your settings. If you have “Tweet Privacy” checked, that may be causing your problem. If you continue to have a problem, maybe the “help” section will have an answer. I don’t think this was very helpful, sorry!
      Catherine

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s