Celebrate: Being in the Midst

This week I was in the midst of learning. It wasn’t always pretty, but it was always interesting.

I started off with our TCRWP staff developer Cynthia Satterlee. Grade level teams examined read alouds through the lens of text band complexity. Repurposing of our beloved books for strategy reading groups is so smart.

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On Wednesday, our Writer’s Workshop had visitors.  Principals from our area’s elementary, middle and high schools walked through our schools’ upper-grade workshops. They were there to see how it goes. Imagine students are called down to the carpet for the lesson and ten adults walk in.

Students listened. Thought. Tried. (It wasn’t easy.) Then they went to work.

The adults left, and more came in.

Students wrote, weren’t sure. Tried.

I conferred.

More adults.

This week I celebrate my colleagues who look and listen beyond their schools.

This week I celebrate the writers in my room who thought, wrote, revised, and persevered through uncertainty.

My students are passionate about read aloud. Every day they whoop when it’s time to read and beg for more at the end.

 Friday left my students thinking and then gasping with recognition of what these lines meant:

“Son, I’m glad you didn’t lose that pistol of yours.’Cause if you end up buying your horse back from Mr. Bishop, it’ll be with lead and not gold.”

I heard:


“Wait.. that means…”

“Bullets are made with … lead.”

“He’s gonna have to shoot him!”

So I asked, “Would shooting Mr. Bishop be ok? Is it fair? After all, he did buy the horse.”

That got them talking and writing.

On the heels of that, I pulled out some quotes from the text to see what student could make of them. Millions of thanks to my brilliant friend and master teacher Tara Smith for this idea. This work was an incredible opportunity for students to think about the text and for me to watch them think. Students partnered up. I asked them to consider what each of these quotes might say about our main character.

This pair worked diligently and wrote what each quote meant in a retell-like fashion.

I asked them to push themselves further to say what each quote says about Joseph. Look how they grew their thinking:

What they wrote tells me so much about where they are in their reading process. In the past, I would have beat myself up over those who weren’t seeing what I wanted them to see. This time. I looked and thought, ok, that’s where they are, now.  

My talkative, full-of-life after lunch crowd took to this work. They focused all of their social energy on the task of making meaning.

In spite of moments of uncertainty and trouble that make up every week, the week ended with an overall good feeling. It was noticeable, And it wasn’t because kids got everything I tried to teach them. It was because they tried and tried. And I walked out understanding a little more about who and where they are.

Thank you, Ruth, for Saturday Celebrations. Thank you for the opportunity to look back and take it all in. Read more celebrations here.