Sharing Writerly Thinking + Balance in All Things

Blog post on the power of peer models in writing teaching, students sharing their thinking, and balance in the writing classroom.
     Yes, this partially finished comic is by my son, Max.  When it left the house this morning, it was not a crumpled mess.  But, that is not the story here.  
      After breakfast, he excitedly whipped a notebook out of his backpack and showed me the beginning of a new comic.  "Look, Mom, you'll really like this new one."  (He likes to cover all the panels and reveal just one at a time, builds suspense (ha!), but really does show the pride he takes in his work and the enthusiasm he has for it.)  We briefly discussed the work.  Fast forward...
     After school today, as we walked in the front door, I asked him, "So, what did you decide to do next with your comic?"        
     "Oh, I haven't done anything yet.  I don't know where to go next.  You see, I've thought of three possibilities.  One: Derpy Dude and Mr. Dur punch each other so only one gets the cake.  Two: They both dive for the cake and go for it at the same time.  Three:  I go back to the showdown thing with the eyes."
     I don't know about you, but if I had this kid in my classroom, I'd have him show his work (yes, only partly finished) and share his thinking with the class.  This is a perfect example of how writers think ahead, plan their next moves, debate their options, and take their time to make decisions (possibly trying more than one idea--Hmmm, this is reminding me of the moves we see Stella make in her opinion piece and story for Oma).  I envision his classmates chiming in on where they think he might take the comic next.  I can feel the charge of energy between the writer and his writing cohorts.  It really can be this simple.  Using peer models is one powerful way teachers develop their communities of writers and how they build strategic knowledge and motivation.  If Max were in my class, I'd be sure to have him share his work and writerly thinking again as he moves forward.
     I think sometimes we make writing instruction harder than it needs to be.  Always remember balance in all things.  Relevant to this story:  students need balance between assigned topics and topic choice.  They need to have balance in their feedback; some from the teacher, much from their peers.  A balanced approach also allows time to learn from one another, not just from the 'sage on the stage' (which we know does not fit a 21st Century teaching model--something our students so desperately need us to adopt for the sake of their success).  You could even consider, in this case, a balance of opportunities to write--some in school, and encouragement and celebration of writing completed outside of school.  The more volume the better.  Writing volume matters as much as reading volume matters.  
     When I taught second grade, I constantly encouraged writing outside of class.  I did lessons with the target objective being, "My students will be motivated to write outside of class!  A lot!" We used our class's Author's Chair to establish a routine.  If students wrote outside of class, they could bring in their writing and place it on the chair, signaling me and their peers they had something they'd like to share.  We used extra minutes here and there as a class, and even small gatherings (with just two or three students), to give these writers some thoughtful listening and response.  Our writing classroom flourished with this being one reason why.
Blog post on the power of peer models in writing teaching, students sharing their thinking, and balance in the writing classroom.
(I found this old picture from one of my books (sadly, black and white) of our Author's Chair.  I purchased a plastic chair, spray painted it bright blue, then used cut-outs and stickers to decorate it, finishing with a coat of modge podge.  I still have it and will use it again someday when I have my own classroom again.)
     When I retrieved Max's comic from his backpack a few minutes ago to take the picture you see above, I was disappointed to see the matted mess of papers it was mangled within.  I pulled it out and smoothed it with my fingers.  What a joy it was this afternoon to hear his writerly thinking!  Yes, we celebrated, and now you, my friend, have this blog post to read.

As always, happy reading/writing/thinking!

1 comment

Back to Top