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A Good Enough Gift

“A pen is better than glasses as a tool for seeing.”

–Lucy Calkins, Keynote Address, July Writing Institute, 6/27/11

I walked into the Levien Gymnasium yesterday morning and was greeted warmly by Tisha, of the Thinking Aloud Blog, who I had never met in person ’til yesterday.  We chatted for a few minutes prior to Lucy Calkins’s Keynote Address and made plans to meet up again on Friday (see the bottom of this post if you’d like to meet up with us).  The title of her keynote was A Good Enough Gift.  Here are a few of the many things I took away from her inspiring keynote address:

  • Lucy said, “A pen is better than glasses as a tool for seeing.”

    • She encouraged the teachers present in Levien to use their pen to capture who students are, as people, at the beginning of the school year.  Then, share the portraits you create with the child at the end of the school year.

      • I will blog more about this idea in July.

  • Kids are hiding (e.g., behind the pencil sharpener, writing voiceless pieces) at the beginning of the school year.  We must try to find something evocative when we read children’s writing.  Something that wakes us up and makes us say Zowee!  Then, we should try to linger around those evocative bits of life.

  • Remember to pay attention, be astonished, and tell about it.

  • You can read someone’s writing aloud like it’s gold.  This can be an enormous gift to the writer who can hear their words in a different way.  To be specific, Lucy stated, “If you read writing beautifully, you bring it to life.”

What kinds of gifts do you give your students by honoring them as writers?  Please take a moment to leave a comment on this post.  Pat yourself on the back by sharing what you do to make your students feel special as writers.

Are you attending the July Writing Institute?  Care to meet up with Tisha and I for coffee on Friday morning, 7/1?  We’ll be at the Everett Library Cafe at 8:15 a.m. on Friday.  (Just go into Zankel and make a right.  The cafe is on the ground floor before you enter the library.)

Stacey Shubitz View All

Literacy Consultant. Author. Former 4th and 5th Grade Classroom Teacher.

7 thoughts on “A Good Enough Gift Leave a comment

  1. The Reading and Writing Institutes have been some of my most formative experiences as a teacher. I’m so jealous of all the people who got to attend this year and wish there was a place where the attendees’ blogs could be listed together, for all of who weren’t lucky enough to attend in 2011!


  2. Some of my favorite classroom moments come from finding something a student writer did well in his/her draft and requesting permission to share it with the class (sometimes as a formal minilesson, other times just as a little nugget of inspiration). I love the reaction when I beg to share a student’s writing. It is not only a way to show my admiration, but when it gets shared, there is always instant peer admiration for that student writer as well.


  3. Thank you for the post! I wondered if I could get updates from anyone who was lucky enough to be there at the TCRWP institutes this year. I am stuck here in Indiana (budget cuts, economy) this year, so I am not able to meet you on Friday. BUT…I will be with you in spirit!

    Have a great time! Learn lots! Keep the rested of us “posted!”


  4. I know my students always love it when I choose their writing piece to read aloud during our share time! Thanks for posting notes from the conference. I really wanted to go again this year, but decided to go to the Reading Workshop conference next week! Which advanced section are you participating in this year? –jee young


    • Hi Jee,
      Sorry to miss you this year.
      I’m taking two primary elementary classes. One is with Carl Anderson about strategic writing conferences and goal setting. The other is with Kristi Mraz and is about charts and toolkits. I’ll be blogging more about the institute in July.
      Hope you enjoy the Reading Institute.


  5. Ah, Lucky you! I was there last year, and loved every moment of the Summer Institute! As usual, Lucy gets it right: the best way to honor a student’s writing is to read it aloud, savoring every word.


  6. On some days, when a student had brought some piece to a final draft, we took time in class to read aloud those pieces. I was usually the reader, & later in the year, I would read without revealing the author, & let students guess who was the writer. It’s great to hear you tell of this reading aloud as a gift to students, for I know that my class loved it, & the writer was always so proud to hear his or her words. After, comments & questions were given to the writer as well-a special moment!


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