Sunday, October 16, 2016

Kids' Words Matter

Principal ponderings...

Last Tuesday, we all gathered in the Black Box Theater, wondering what a full day of discussion about Writer's Workshop would be like.  I could not have predicted what happened over the next six hours together.  Patti Wright, a consultant from Teachers College, opened her mouth and we were all glued to our seats, hanging on her every word.  You could hear a pin drop in that space.  

If you know me, you know that I love talking about reading and writing.  I was having a hard time typing fast enough to keep track of the nuggets of writing wisdom that our presenter was sharing.  First of all, I loved that she began with the focus of thinking about "why write."  In my head, I was screaming YES when she explained that writing was the most important thing we can teach our kids.  And I was nodding along in agreement when she said, "When you are teaching kids informational writing, you are teaching them how to think."  She pretty much already had me at "hello, let's talk about writing", but she sealed the deal with this truth...

"The most important reason we are teaching kids to write...We want them to know that their words matter.  Writing helps all of us make sense of our world."

That's it, she had me.  I was hooked.  It took everything in me to not jump up, shout amen, and hug every teacher in the room.  Ok, maybe the hugging part is a stretch, but I really did want to stand up and cheer.  Our kids' words matter.  That is what we need to always remember.  Not their standardized test scores.  Not what they can and cannot do on the rubric.  They have important stuff to say.  They have beautifully honest stories to share with anyone who is willing to take the time to listen.  They have valid points to make.  They have opinions and they can't be afraid to share them.  It is crucial as we go on this writing instruction journey this year...we must always go back to the why.  Why write?

Students' words matter.  

If you remember nothing else, just keep repeating that line over and over in your head.  Your students' have so much to say.  And you have the awesome job of helping them speak through their writing. Our presenter reminded us that we need to be coaches, not fixers.  That is so hard!  As educators, we naturally want to fix things.  But we need to be strong and remember that our most important job is to coach our students to be writers.  We shouldn't fix the writing.  We should give students tips about being writers.  We shouldn't expect perfection from our students.  We should value the struggle they will go through as they become writers.

I have included some images of student writing in this post.  They are images that I came across when I did a quick Google search for student writing.  And here is a writing image that I only needed to walk down the hallway in school to find.  This is a letter one of our students wrote to another student.  Yes, our kids' words matter.

Will you remember the why as you are planning the what and the how in your writing instruction?

Kids'. Words. Matter.

Currently reading:
Did you know that our very own Kristan Rodriguez and Katie Novak recently wrote a book?!  Yes, in their spare time they wrote Universally Designed Leadership.  This year, admin in the district are taking a UDL in leadership course during some of our school leadership meeting times and we are reading this book and doing assignments that go along with the book.
I was very excited to get a new book in the mail last week...I know, you are shocked that I bought yet another book!  I can't wait to come around to 3rd grade classrooms to read this one: Frankencrayon!  It's written by the same author who wrote Red: A Crayon's Story.
We are slightly obsessed with dinosaurs in our house, and I have read this lift the flap book several times this week! 

Events this week:
Monday - Student Council applications due from 4th graders, School Council Meeting @ 3:30 in the office conference room
Wednesday - Liz at Prescott for the morning to interview interim superintendent candidates, CPI Training for some staff, 3rd grade traveling to Plimoth Plantation, Grade 2 chorus practice @ 2:30 in the music room, Staff meeting @ 3:30 - Karen G will be leading part of this meeting to talk about math
Thursday - Liz at Prescott for a full day of curriculum work and district data analysis, National Day on Writing!
Friday - Sustainability Committee meeting at FR - 7:30-8:30, Liz out of district at MESPA all day

Great things I noticed last week:

  • I am still smiling when I think about our professional development from Tuesday with Teachers College.  A huge thank you to Grace and Sharon for writing the grant for GDEF and bringing the consultant to us!  So many awesome takeaways from that day! 
  • I was very proud of this 1st grader who came to the office to show me her writing that she had worked on. 
  • I popped in during a book buddy read aloud with Mrs. Mills' class and Mrs. Benkley's class.
  • Did you notice our new curtains in the staff room?!  It's the little things that count.  A huge thank you to our resident seamstress, Nancy Robinson! 
  • We had our first Literacy-o-lantern project come in!  Can't wait to see what other creations our students come up with!
  • In case you missed it, we had a special guest serving lunch to 2nd and 3rd graders on Thursday!  Our cafeteria staff work incredibly hard and often don't get the recognition they deserve.  Feeding 500 kiddos in a span of a few hours is no easy task! 
Check it out:
October 20 is National Day on Writing!  Check out this post for some ideas on how to celebrate writing even more on this day:
Be sure and tweet using the hashtag #WhyIWrite!
And here's how many others participated in this day last year:
Check out this quick video clip of others' reasons for writing:

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