Here is what I usually do: I get back from a workshop very excited and on fire about whatever I learned. I stick my notes on a pile with very good intentions to review them later. A few months go by. I find the notes, and try to read them and can make absolutely NO sense of them. To break the cycle, I want to share a few notes I took from the Penny Kittle workshop I went to on Wednesday.
My friend and co-teacher, Kirsten, and I sat side by side and listened as Penny Kittle described a writing classroom we dream about. Both of us had been victims of the dreaded “Teach to the Test” teaching method when it came to writing (and reading). It was the only way we knew to get our kids ready for the standardized test that required them to write a composition over a vague topic. I can’t count the number of times we looked at each other knowingly as Penny described an ineffective writing classroom that sounded a lot like ours, or wrote notes furiously to each other as we were given hope for a better way. At lunch we talked a mile a minute about all that we want to do in our classrooms this year, and I was encouraged as I realized a very important thing: I wouldn’t be alone as I revolutionized my Language Arts classroom.
Random Notes and Thoughts:
- Penny started out the workshop by asking us how many pages/week high school students should be reading in order to be prepared for college. The answer? 300+pgs/week. Huh.
- “The fingerprints of our teaching are all over the work our students produce.” Lucy Calkins
- Conditions that Create Writers:
- Mentors: Colaboration/talking
- Room to be creative: music, videos, non traditional publication
- Create “Interest Notebooks” where different kids can write about a certain topic (ie: Superheroes, Religion, Sports, Favorite Books ect…)
- She even talked about sharing these notebooks between grade levels and with the public (Told the story of a teacher who would leave theirs at a local coffee shop and community members could write in them)
- When we’re writing everyday, kids start thinking like writers. They start seeing topics all over their lives.
- Quick Write (QW) Three rules:
- Write quickly
- Write the entire time (build stamina)
- Break the rules
- Mentor texts: 1 writer: Several Texts. Several writers: 1 genre
- Thoughts on Organizers:
- Formulas create dependent Thinkers.
- Don’t focus on product–>Focus on writers
- Completing vs. Creating.
- Final Thoughts:
- Kids need to read what matters to THEM.
- Give kids writing experiences that matter to them
- Get kids to share their thinking as well as their writing
- The power of ONE YEAR. One year with you as their teacher can make all the difference.