Today I’m celebrating the growth I see in my students. We have only a few weeks left together and it seems to be culminating in a beautiful way.
Every year at this time, we focus on Colonial America. Stidents have visited a colonial village and witnessed reenactments, watched videos, read, talked and researched a specific area of interest. This is all in preparation for next week, when our 5th grade students take our school back in time to colonial days. They set up “booths” to teach youngers about life back in time. I have done this work for the past 11 years, and each year brings different students and a slightly different me to the project. This year for the first time, they blogged their learning.
When we started blogging at the beginning of the year, there were lots of bumps. Learning the technology and overcoming problems was how I spent a lot of my conferring time. I worried was it worth it? Was it hurting writing?
Eight months later, I am celebrating students ability to navigate technology and use it as a writing tool. There are still technology bumps. Students still make mistakes and lose text. But they have learned how to fix, how to recover. Students have taught each other how to crop pictures, how to integrate the pictures with the text, and how to insert picture captions. They figured it out and kept writing. Now I confer with students on writing not technology. The last time they did this type of informational writing, every step was a struggle. This time it flew: note taking to research to flash draft to published product on our blog.
This year we started using the Units of Study from TCRWP. I knew they were good, but oh so overwhelming for the students (and me). Understanding the checklists and using mentor text took time. We’d focus on one aspect of the checklist at a time and ignore others. So much of my teaching centered around understanding the mentor text and the checklist. I worried, were they getting it.
Eight months later, I’m celebrating my students’ capacity to use mentor texts and check lists independently. When I ask, how might you use the mentor text to improve your writing? Students know what I mean. When I ask them, show me how the mentor text has helped you. They can say specifically what they did and what parts of the mentor text helped them.
Learning takes time. And it takes a bit of belief in the fact that the baby steps we are taking forward, and sometimes backward, will add up to be enough Along the road we worry: will we make it. Today, I am celebrating. In so many ways, we have made it. Students are have grown in independence as readers and writers. They may not all be at that spot that says “YES.” Some may be “STARTING TO” but all have grown along the continuum. All are moving and they all are ready for to take the next step.