Wednesday, February 06, 2008

How Far Kids Fly

A student teacher that I worked with for a few months at the first of the year, moved into a 2nd grade class in December. After watching our grade level team attempt to implement a strong Writers' Workshop, she went on, with the support of her new mentor, to implement a wonderful Writing Workshop with her class of eager second graders. Her students recently celebrated the publication of their very first pieces. I went into their room today and admired their work. Their little books were lovingly illustrated and proudly displayed.

I'm going to be very honest here. I was stunned. I have very little experience with such young writers and learners. It is unbelievable to me how far kids move in three short years. These little seven-year-olds will be big ten-year-olds soon, VERY SOON, and I've been teaching in the same building long enough now that I can be sure---they will make HUGE leaps between now and then. They had very cute little stories, but they are still learning lots and lots of basic skills. (Of course this is true, I just never realized how MANY things they learn between second and fifth grade.)

The next time I see an eleven or twelve year old who is struggling, I'm going to remember these proud second graders and I'm going to have lots and lots of faith in the power of strong instruction over time. I've loosened up quite a bit recently about all my precious ideals. Reading and Writing Workshop models work really well for me, as a teacher. Many of the students that come to me haven't ever been taught how to *be* writers in a workshop setting. But, they've been taught lots of other important skills and it's not that hard to build from where they're at. Although, right now, I am cautiously excited about the enthusiasm that this student teacher and her second grade writers are stirring up among many of the teachers throughout our lower grades.

How have cross-grade and whole school conversations broadened or deepened your understanding of reading or writing development? How much growth will I experience, as a writer and as a teacher, between now and the time I get these precious second graders as older grade students?


Anonymous said...

Hi there Amy. Now, I have to admit, every time I bring home the 2nd grade writings to read and plan conferences, I'm disheartened. But, a comment by one of the first grade student teachers made me feel a bit better about the stance of my second graders. She was shocked that by this time of the year, the first graders should be reading non-sense words without breaking apart the sounds; not /f/o/g/ fog...but just fog. Which, apparently, they are not even CLOSE to doing. So, the second graders HAVE come a long way from first grade. And, they only did FREE journal writing before I implemented the program.
So, I get deflated...but then, I see progress. For instance even since the publishing party, students are better at listening for whole sentences, using the word wall and other text for spelling clues, etc.
So, I suppose in my student's defense...we're working on it.

AMY S. said...

hello friend. i absolutely believe you---i bet they're making tons of progress and that they are motivated and growing. i wish i had more experience with younger kids so i'd be able to recognize the many dimensions of growth at that level. Keep it up!