It’s so much bigger…

Today Sam went to day one of a five day Lego Camp. I went a little early to pick him up, just so I could observe a little bit. I was impressed by the instructor. She used specific language when talking to the group.  She said, “Okay engineers, please come to a place to pause your work and bring your model to the team meeting area. Most of us probably aren’t finished, but let’s share what we have accomplished and our thinking.”

The twelve campers, all in grades 1 – 3 brought their creations to the meeting area. When they were together, they took turns sharing their designs. The instructor facilitated the discussion. At the end, she brought their attention to a chart they started earlier in the day. It said:

Engineers:

Collaborate

Problem Solve

Then she said, “Let’s add to our list. Engineers also communicate.” She added it to the chart.

I was struck by the similarities to writing workshop. I shouldn’t have been. After all, good teaching is good teaching. The instructor was specific in her language, talking as one engineer to a group of other engineers. She got behind their designs, encouraging them to continue and pointing out things they were doing, as if they were intentional about it all. “That’s a good use of a pulley,” she said. “Engineers often think about conserving energy,” she responded. “It’s important to listen to one another. That’s how we grow ideas,” she said.

The things they were talking about were specific to the work of engineers. However, it was also the kinds of things we learn in writing workshop — collaboration, problem solving, and communication. It was a moment when I was reminded our work is so much bigger than teaching kids how to write. Writing workshop teaches skills that are necessary to success in the work force.