My colleague and next-door-classroom-neighbor Leanna and I were eating and grading writer’s notebooks together at lunchtime today. I got to the second notebook in my stack and said, “She’s gotta be kidding me!”
“What?” Leana asked.
“She wrote me,” I stopped feeling something between annoyance and anger, “letters.”
I have this thing about writer’s notebooks not being about writing to someone or something else (i.e., “Dear Diary”). Therefore, at first glance, when I noticed that my student wrote started nearly every one of her notebook entries this past week with “Dear Ms. Shubitz,” I was a little agitated. However, after reading the first letter to me, I realized what she was up to.
The first notebook entry was signed “Peace,” and then her name. As I read each one, I noticed that it was signed in a similar way that Lonnie signs his letters to his sister in Peace, Locomotion, which is the present read aloud book in my class.
My student wasn’t just writing letters to me in her notebook, she was writing about her day, recounting it just as Lonnie does to Lili, his sister, who he knows will someday receive the letters. They contained the same wit and humor as Lonnie’s do in the book.
Leanna brought me back to reality. “What’d she do?”
I looked up, no longer perturbed. “She mentored herself after our read aloud book and she did it,” I paused, “really well.” And with that, a smile spread across my face.
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).