Tuesday, February 23, 2010

That Workshop Book - Reflection #2

Writing workshop went well today in kindergarten. Our recent schedule has been slightly hectic with winter weather and I was eager and ready to get back to a workshop routine. As we were revisiting our work, we needed to ask ourselves some questions. What was I writing during writing workshop? Did I want to continue with that piece? If I'm starting a new piece is it just one idea that would go in my Drawing and Writing Notebook or does it have many parts and I could start a writing a book?

The students did a great job thinking through these questions to start our workshop and as they worked I felt a hum with a focus. In That Workshop Book, Samantha Bennett uses the word debrief to conclude a workshop. Here's how she helps the reader visualize a workshop debrief, "teaching can look like sharing student thinking and work, synthesizing student thinking, labeling patterns from the work time, making connections from the mini lesson, setting the stage for the next day..." When I met with my study group we all found the word debrief an interesting choice of words, different than sharing which is more commonly used. I think debrief adds another layer to the conclusion of a workshop. While carefully picking apart Samantha Bennett's words, as a teacher I need to help get the thoughts from a conference out to the entire class. I need to the writing to our mini lesson that started the workshop and allow this thinking to guide our work when we are together today.

With young students I've wanted to have every child celebrate their work daily as a writer. It would be very long and hard to justify each child sitting in my rocking chair to share their piece. So, we sit in a circle and hold our page at our waist outwards. I ask the students to find a friend's writing to start with and when I count backwards from 3 to 1, at 1 we will look at each piece around our circle. I had previously began to ask a couple of students to talk and tell us about their writing based on my observations and reasons to celebrate.

I had two great conferences today. E finished a book about Star Wars, actually playing a video game. He did a nice job planning out his first book with a beginning, middle, and end. M was writing his first book about his vacation and thought he was done after two pages. We talked about what happened next on his vacation to learn there was a sunset and he wanted to use the colors of orange, blue, and black. I could completely see his next step. During our debrief today, we did our everyone shows their work in a circle. I wondered how my young students could articulate or remember our conference conversation and our focus in their writing. The two boys couldn't remember to be quite honest but began shaking their heads as I helped us share our work together with the entire class. Then M showed everyone the rest of his thinking for his book by touching and pointing as he used oral language to tell the rest of his story. I think with practice, modeling, and guidance we can elevate our workshop debrief together.

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