I'm a big fan of Writer's Workshop, and have been using it in my classroom for close to 20 years. I've been to several workshops and trainings on Writer's Workshop, but the best by far was given by Mary Ellen Giacobbe, one of the authors of this book. It was a series of training sessions, focused on developing writing skills in the second graders in my school district (where Mary Ellen once taught). She had sessions with the classroom teachers, then we got to watch her in classrooms, teaching writing and conferencing with children. Afterward, we'd go back and the teachers would talk about what we saw back in the classroom. Some of us were even lucky enough to have Mary Ellen model a writing lesson in our own classrooms!
I learned so much from Mary Ellen, but the best part of her trainings was watching her conference with the children. She could get amazing stories out of the children. She knows just what to ask them, and inspires them to want to go back to their stories and make amazing additions and changes. After a conference with Mary Ellen Giacobbe, the children are happy and confident and motivated to write more stories!
After these experiences, I'm thrilled to be taking part of this book study!
My reflections on the first chapter:
Chapter 1 reminds us that we all have stories to tell, even the youngest children.
When many of these children come to school, storytelling is all they CAN do.
As they tell their stories, teachers learn about the children.
As children tell their stories to an active audience, they are learning writing skills.
As adults ask clarifying questions, they are helping the children learn to order, clarify, and revise their stories. The children are learning to add specific details when they answer questions about the stories they tell.
They need modeling to show how to put these stories together into a book.
The more I learn about teaching writing, more more I realize that the children have to be able to tell a story long before they can write it down.
If a child can't speak a sentence, they will not be able to write it.
I need to remind myself frequently that the children need to talk as a pre-step to writing. I often have the children practice telling their stories before they start to write. In fact, sometimes I'll tell them to say their story to 3 people before they sit down to write. They always enjoy that, but each time they tell the story, the details become more clear, and flow more smoothly. By the time they sit down to write their story, you can hear a pin drop!
When I taught younger children, I had the children telling their stories for several days before we brought out the paper, pencils, and crayons. It really has to come first!
Now that Common Core is here, it's becoming more and more important to have the oral language step come before the written language step. All those standards in the Speaking and Listening strand are directly connected to the standards in the Writing strand. There are good reasons for that!
Click HERE to see the Common Core State Standards for Literacy.
I'll be linking up with Teaching With Grace and those who have shared ideas on Chapter 1: Storytelling.
Be sure to watch for my thoughts on Chapter 2: The Drawing and Writing Book.