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Let ‘Em Work It Out!

So today I was in a second grade classroom.  After the focus lesson, I sent them back to do some important work on envisioning their story and making a plan.  Students are all of the place as far as their personal writing processes and their work toward writing a personal narrative.  Therefore, there were many, many possibilities of writing work during workshop today.

After the focus lesson, there was a brief amount of time for students to get started on their work.  The music was on and quiet writing time had officially began.  I looked up from my notebook to see an array of hands popping up and then starting to wiggle.

And it is at this point that a decision had to be made.  Sometimes I go to the hands.  Sometimes I check in publicly with each student.  Sometimes I ignore them. Today I said:  “Decide what you should do today as a writer.  If you don’t know, make your best guess.”  A few hands remain.  So I added, “For real, guys.  You’re writers.  You’re smart.  Make a decision.  Get what you need and get to work.”  Hands down.  A few picked up another storyboard.  The comfortable feel of tenacious work settled over the room.

I realized then that my decision was not flippant.  It was not a cop-out.  It was based on best practice, trust, and respect.  It’s important that we are brave in our workshops and give students time to work out their own issues.  Having a quiet writing time between the lesson and the start of conferring gives students the opportunity to initiate their own writing work.  It gives you, the teacher, a minute to gather your thoughts.  Then in a few minutes (read less-than-five), begin conferring.  I enjoy the atmosphere in workshops where teachers take a few minutes to allow students to settle in and get started before beginning their conferring rounds.

Ruth Ayres View All

Unhurried. Finding the magic in the middle of living. Capturing a life of ridiculous grace + raw stories.

4 thoughts on “Let ‘Em Work It Out! Leave a comment

  1. Hi Guys!
    I’m turning to you for some advice because I think you’re both amazing at what you do! 🙂 Thank you for all of your wonderful posts- you’ve helped me tremendously!

    I have a student in my class who is on the spectrum and is extremely reluctant to writing. He doesn’t think anything is important or worth writing about. It’s extremely difficult even getting him to write a few sentences because he is so defiant. My next step is getting him to try writing on the computer. Maybe posting a picture or sentence starter? I’m opposed to prompts & sentence starters to begin with, but I feel like I should try- however, I’m not sure that it will help.

    I’m sure you can tell that I’m not sure where to turn next. Do you have any suggestions as to what I can try? Have you ever encountered a situation like this?

    Thanks for all of your help and what you do here for us teachers! 🙂


  2. Honestly, giving the kids time to write before I conference with me is one of the only things that seems to go right right now in workshop.

    Okay, it’s not that bad…I’m just frustrated (i.e. read my blog).


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