Greetings everyone! I hope that you are having a great time in your classroom and are starting to look forward to some relaxing summer days! In this blog post I want to share some good news, as well as let you know the new focus my blog will take.
First, the good news. Heinemann has accepted my book proposal on creating self-directed writers in the Writing Workshop. I couldn’t be happier! Not only am I thrilled to be writing a new book, but I am also thrilled that with all that is happening in the world of education, Heinemann understands (just as I do and I’m sure that you do) that Common Core Standards will not be reached unless we have kids who are self-directed. Not only do they understand this, but they also want to bring this message to the world by publishing a book about it. Yippee!!!
I will be writing and revising this book throughout the summer and the fall. I want it to be filled with stories from teachers’ classrooms so if you do try things around the topic of self-directed writing, let me know because your story and/or your classroom might very well end up being in the book.
Because I’m going to be working on this new book project, my blog is going to take on a different structure, at least for now. Whenever I am writing a new book, I become very reflective on what supports I need in my day-to-day writing and the possible implications this might have for the students that I work with.
Because of this, I’m going to use my blog to share what I am noticing about my own writing process and what this might mean for kids.
I would love for you to join me in this thinking! You can join me by writing yourself, and/or trying some of the ideas out in your classrooms and then letting me know what you discover.
So, here is today’s thought. I have been giving myself lots of different types of writing deadlines and goals. For example, I have long-range deadlines. I know that in the month of June my goal is to have two chapters that I can send to my editor to read. What I have found though is having this long-range deadline is not enough. I have also started to give myself daily goals that I know will help me reach my deadline (i.e. Write the first five pages of Chapter 2 today or Reread the last ten pages of Chapter 3) At the end of each writing session, I look back at my goal to see if I reached it. Sometimes I reach it and then I just keep moving forward. For a variety of reasons, sometimes I don’t reach it. It may be because a particular part of a chapter was more challenging than I realized and/or a chapter or a part of a chapter took on a surprising and/or interesting new direction. Perhaps I didn’t get enough sleep the night before and I just couldn’t concentrate. Even though I make short-term goals I don’t always expect to meet them, but making them and then revising them when necessary is what is vital. It’s been interesting for me to watch how my daily goals grow and change and eventually support me in reaching my deadline.
What might this mean for kids? I don’t think I do enough these days with daily/weekly goals. I always emphasize how important it is for kids to know the deadline for their writing piece, but I don’t think I do as much to involve them in what they need to do on a daily or weekly basis to get there so that they are ready to publish.
This year, I was in a second grade classroom and at the end of her minilesson she said to her kids, “Before you start working today fill out your goal sheet.” I watched the student fill it out by writing things such as ‘Revise the beginning of my story, Edit my draft, Work on a new story etc) At the end of the independent writing time she said, “Now check back to the goal that you made today and see if you met it. Write a quick note on what you have to do tomorrow based upon what happened today. Don’t forget that our publishing party is in two weeks.”
Some kids conquered the goal they made and some kids didn’t for a variety of interesting and often valid reasons. Regardless of that, they made their plans for the next day keeping the long-range deadline in mind. I need to do more of THIS in my work because I do believe that writers need to be more involved in making goals for their daily work in order to bring a piece to completion.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this. I think the idea of deadlines has implications not just for upper grades, but for lower grades as well. Of course it would look different in the Kindergarten classroom than it would look in the Fifth Grade classroom, but I would love to hear what teachers from all grade levels think about when it comes to both long-range deadlines and short terms goals.
Until next time,