a little unit planning

Tomorrow is our last day before a two week break.  Upon returning, I’ll be working in 3 classrooms, all focusing on nonfiction writing (2 on research & 1 on persuasion).  I love this shift in focus in many writing workshops that happens after break.

What’s on my mind, though, is vertical alignment.  I’ve now worked at every level — K through high school — teaching nonfiction writing.  Wow — I’ve realized what a rare experience that truly is.  I find at every level kids struggling through the process.  I find kids who don’t know how to find legitimate facts.  I find kids who have narrative pages filled with voice who become dull and boring when they write nonfiction.

One of the reasons why this is happening is because as teachers we know how to teach narrative.  It is the reason the US ranks top when it comes to scores on reading and writing narrative (according to Ellin Keene).  And our curriculum is fairly well-aligned when it comes to narrative — we build upon each other.

This is where we need to go when it comes to nonfiction reading and writing.  The place to begin is conversation.  Talking around lunch tables and copy machines and inservice meetings about the nonfiction teaching we do.  Then curriculum can begin to be aligned so that we are building on the teaching that comes  before us and trust in the teaching that comes after us to complete the instruction.

Going into the turn of the year, I am once again reminded of the importance of trusting and depending on our colleagues.