You know the student who always rushes through assignments? You know, that kid… the one who sacrifices quality to finish his/her work? Well, I thought one of my students was rushing through their writing (which was all about elaborating using ‘prompts to push our thinking about reading’) when I saw that child’s hand waving at me as I delivered my Mid-Workshop Interruption. I was a bit perturbed since I thought the child wasn’t listening to my mid-workshop teaching point. So I said, “Go back to your writing.” I went on and conferred with two other students.
By our working snack time, this young writer reappeared, insistent on me reading the two pages written in their writer’s notebook. I had more kids I planned on conferring with, but decided that I should stop being a brat and start reading what was before me. AND I AM SO GLAD I DID for this was gold!!!! Before me sat two pages of elaborated writing, using prompts to grow thinking, and personal connections based-off of the short text the child had read. My response: “If you decide to use this story as the one you examine for your literary essay, then you can pretty much put this right into it… these are like two body paragraphs. This is amazing work!”
I realized my compliment needed to be followed-up with something to teach, albeit on the fly, which was to add one to two more sentences to the end of each “entry” that tied it back to the text. (If this child did this, then there will be the concluding sentences to the body paragraphs in their literary essay.)
What this student taught me today is that sometimes you have to have a little patience. Also, even kids who sacrifice quality to finish their work quickly will AMAZE you sometimes. And isn’t that what we want as teachers… to be amazed?
NOTA BENE: I used “their” instead of him/her or s/he since I wanted this post to remain genderless in case any of my students read it. I don’t want them to know who I’m writing about.
I am a literacy consultant who has spent the past dozen years working with teachers to improve the teaching of writing in their classrooms. While I work with teachers and students in grades K-6, I'm a former fourth and fifth-grade teacher so I have a passion for working with upper elementary students.
I'm the author of Craft Moves (Stenhouse Publishers, 2016) and the co-author of Jump Into Writing (Zaner-Bloser, 2021), Welcome to Writing Workshop (Stenhouse Publishers, 2019), and Day By Day (Stenhouse, 2010).