“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”
I trudged back into my classroom after dropping my class off at special area. Each dragging step made a rhythm in my mind, “I hate writing, I hate writing, I HATE writing.” My students had left me in a sour mood because after describing a four square and showing them how to evolve from a four square to a five paragraph essay, meeting with pairs that when asked, “Do ya get it?” their heads eagerly nodded YES!, and proofreading 20 plus essays, I sat with my seventh young writer who had smooshed all the work together and given me… writing garbage.
Don’t you hate the days when they drive you to eat a cookie! After my 23 little angels came bounding back into the room, I looked at them with fiery eyes and said, “You have forced me to eat a cookie!” Their writing had to evolve from a 2nd grade piece to a 4th grade piece. This meant the dreaded five paragraph essay that no fourth grader initially grasps. Up until this point they have used a four square to create a one paragraph essay. Now, for the first time in fourth grade they had to take the same tool and create a five paragraph essay. (I Should have used iBrainstorm for our 4-Square).
Every year I have to remind myself that it took God seven days to create the world, so some of my students writing days are going to cause me to eat a cookie and others are going to make me glow with pride. Sometimes times we have to let things work themselves out, and they will. Now for the positive lessons I have learned after torturing myself with teaching how to write a persuasive 5 paragraph essay…
1) Collaboration with our students and allowing students to collaborate is key. Below is a few moments in my room that I nearly missed. A gem really. Two students collaborated on how to edit a writing while I worked one-on-one with another child. They didn’t even need me until the end of their conversation.
2) Teaching Effective Leads is POWERFUL. Look through your classroom library. What books hook you in immediately? Maybe it is the visual imagery in Jane Yolen’s Owl Moon. Do you prefer to stir the reader’s emotions like Avi in Crispin: The Cross of Lead. I read some of my favorite leads to my students and we discussed how leads can be effective. Zoey’s lead below is my favorite. Also, her use of Doodle Buddy created a perfect illustration for her text. Someone buy this child a kitten!
3) Sometimes you can just trust them. After reviewing some of my students final copies I realized that they are able to do what we encourage and push them to do. Students’ voice and personality shone through these writings, so much so that I have very little doubt that my students wouldn’t meet state standards.
4) Using apps makes everything look more professional. We used the Strip Design App to type up our final copies and our Doodle Buddy app to effectively illustrate what the writings were about.
As long as we believe in our students and give them the necessary support, there is no boundary that we can not push beyond. There is no technology that we can not learn and use to innovate our classrooms. Classrooms are only bound by the leadership in charge of them. Isn’t it time to break rank and trust our students and ourselves?