elaboration · literary essay · midworkshop interruption · patience · teacher of writing · writer's notebook · writing workshop

Amaze Me!

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.

4 thoughts on “Amaze Me!

  1. I find that reading posts like this energize and encourage me as a teacher. Seeing someone recognize their students’ learning and potential is so exciting. Thanks for sharing!


  2. This is great, and so mirrors experiences I’ve had with students and writing. I have 2 students who never listen to the instructions and just dive into the writing … and I am constantly challenged by them. I really like the way you worked through this teaching moment, and I’ll keep it in mind as we work on our essays tonight!


  3. For me, writing workshop complicates the way I label kids more than any other hour of our day. There are no “average kids” or “fast finishers” or “high performers”. Writing is way to complex of a process for such labels—I have 28 different “kinds” of writers to teach and learn from. Such good, fun work.

    Our publishing party for our literary essays is tomorrow! We’re going to have a gallery stroll in the library, breaking from the types of celebrations we’ve done throughout the rest of the year.


  4. Stacey,
    This is an amazing slice, even though it’s not classified this way. I wonder how many teachers look at the writing/learning process as you do. You are in the moment and watching and really able to be present with students in what you offer them and they you..
    Makes me feel good to read through this unofficial slice as I navigate to the official one.


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