As I confer with each writer, I feel my eyes filling with tears. I show each student their writing from the first day of school and watch as their less cherubic and more mature faces brighten. “That’s really my first writing in first grade?” “I didn’t even use the whole page.” “I can’t read it.” and “That doesn’t look like my writing now.” were typical comments.
The closing of writing workshop is a delicate process. I want each writer to feel all the growth they have made over the year and to feel inspired to keep writing. With this end in mind, we begin closing writing workshop on the first day of school.
Write From the Start:
On day one, each writer is given a green piece of paper. The green paper is only allowed in our classroom for this purpose. Colored paper selection allows me to keep the first piece separate from all the other paper in our classroom. When the writer declares “I am done!” I accept the writing and without judgment, I hang it on our “Writer’s Wall.” Here the page lives until the final days of first grade. Throughout the year, we visit our previous writing, and we reflect on our growth as we add a newer writing sample. The next writing benchmark is on pink, and later yellow. Each time we reflect on the most recent page before, and we set new goals as writers.
This week we began our final days of writing workshop. We welcomed the days with celebration and new ideas as our friend Kathryn introduced us to a Writer’s Binder.
As Kathryn shared her notebook, I could see ideas sparking across the room. The next day, our room began to fill with notebooks from home. Kids were printing blog posts and soon they were grabbing writing workshop folders to hunt for their best writing. I sat back, and I watched as writers raced to add final words, periods, and one last illustration to make a favorite story worthy of going in the binder.
I saw the pride the students had in their binders, and I knew what I had to do. After school, I pulled down the green, yellow and pink writing from the wall, three-hole punched the margin and added the work to the student’s binders. Over the next few workshops, I sat beside each writer. We marveled at the story from the first day of school, then the story on yellow, and then pink. Finally, we read a few of the best stories the students deemed worthy of the binder. We marveled at all they had learned and the writer they had become.
Being a writer requires taking risks and inviting others in to read your words and thoughts. These students learned so much about themselves as writers and being a member of a writing community. They are brave writers. I am glad these writers sat beside me; they taught me so much, and they made me a more courageous writer and teacher.
To read more about closing writing workshop read Beth Moore’s post If Your School Year Were a Book: Endings. Beth writes beautifully, expressing the importance of taking the time to honor and close the year gracefully.
I wish I could share all their writing with you, but I am limited to what they have published here on KidBlog. I do hope you’ll stop by and read their posts.