In the midst of this storm I am trying to maintain my blog schedule. Which is sort of nuts, as power outages are imminent. They are actually calling for a potential blizzard in my part of the woods too. Unbelievable. But I also got out of the habit of blogging on a regular basis, and have started to experience a touch of guilt.
I wasn't super pleased with my Writer's Workshop last year. It was my first year with a school that was truly devoted to the Lucy Calkins model, and then I had been out of the loop for a couple of years anyway, and arg! It just didn't go well. But I have to say, I've been enjoying myself immensely this year.
For one, I utilized a bit of Daily 5 management magic and developed this Writer's Workshop I-chart.
We created this as a class- the students telling me what they felt belonged where. I used the eye symbol for "what it should look like", the ear for "what it should sound like", and the heart for "what it should feel like". Overall, I'm pleased with it. The students have a copy in their writing folders, but also, since I have it on a flip chart for my promethean board, I can often just have it projected on my wall during writing workshop time unless we have an additional skill that needs highlighting. I just don't like cluttering my walls with charts.
We've also done the Calkins' lesson on "When you think you're done". Now, the kids at my school have had Calkins' style workshops since Kindergarten- so as soon as I begin this phrase, they instantly chime in with the ending. Only thing is, they don't always know WHAT TO DO when they think they're done. So we made a chart to help us along. I did some guiding on this one, but they really took ahold of the ideas and were able to own their options for when they think they are done. I also make sure that when I "finish" my sample writing, I go through the chart and they help me decide what else I could do. Very rarely have they told me to start a new piece. They generally find something else I could do to my work. And therefore I see them apply that to their own writing as well.
We have also done a lesson on what we should write about when we have no idea. Somewhere out here in blog land I found a heart map lesson that broke it down into what to put in your map to get started- and now of course, I can't find it. So if you know where this post came from, or know it's you, please let me know so I can add a link to your page. But this is what I did with it- This page is also printed out for the kids and kept in their writing folders. I flash it up on the promethean board whenever somebody says they don't know what to write about. And, we've said the phrase so often, the kids automatically tell the person who shouts out that they don't know to "go look in your heart!" Granted, some kids have detailed hearts, and others did not want to be bothered with the exercise. Mostly boys, why we create such men afraid of emotion I don't know, but at least they have the list of what they could pick, and that sometimes helps them think of something to write about.
And to end for today, here's the example heart I made about myself during the lesson. I had big plans of actually transferring it to paper and making it more colorful, but I never got around to it. I suppose I still can. I might revisit this lesson again with them actually to see if some of those boys are willing to be risk-takers and show their sensitive side now. Or maybe we should just naturally update our hearts once a quarter. Hrmmmmmm, something to consider.
You're welcome to use any of my charts. If you've got a promethean board, I don't even mind e-mailing you the flip chart file. Just shoot me an e-mail.
Stay safe in this storm everybody!