Sunday, May 3, 2009

About the Authors

by Katie Wood Ray with Lisa B. Cleveland. I heard about this book when it was published in 2004 while seeing Katie Wood Ray speak at a conference. I wanted to read it then but it didn't apply to my current teaching position. I am so glad I started my kdg. professional reading journey with this title! Section One supports teachers thinking about setting up and organizing a writing workshop. I felt as I was reading this, I was returning to the work I did earlier in my career and thinking based on the early work of Donald Graves. To quote the authors from the first chapter...

"Over time and with experience, we have to come to believe that it is the energy of making stuff in a daily writing workshop that drives all our teaching with our youngest writers. From the very first day of workshop we fold up the paper, staple it together so it looks like a book, and then say to the five and six year olds in front of us, "Come on everybody, let's make books!" It's this making of something that matters so much to them and drives their work across the year."

We know when the work is meaningful and purposeful there will be more engagement and more engagement leads to greater learning. Section Two guides teachers in thinking about minilessons, instruction with units of study, assessment, and writing conferences. All of the components that outline a workshop model for teaching. In this section, I found lots of valuable information but the following were things I underlined and may have stretched my thinking a bit more.

- "...assessment is important because it helps us maintain a celebratory attitude about our teaching.

-...we're supposed to teach the writer, not the writing.

-Our goal is that our conferences will leave children with energy for the work they're doing and that the teaching will also be leading children toward independence."

I highly suggest reading Sections One and Two to help your understanding and how to use Section Three with greater success. Section Three is a valuable resource to the teacher of writing. It's a collection of suggested units of study for our youngest writers. Studies that make sense to children. For example, the kinds of things writers make and how we'll make them in this room, how to read like writers, and how to make illustrations work better with written text are a few you will find.

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