05 Mar Slice of Life: I Almost Missed the Writer
I knew I had to have copy of the student’s writing…
not because it was beautiful
not because it showed growth
not to use as a mentor text
as a reminder…
the writer always comes first.
Last week I was assessing student writing with a group of kindergarten teachers. We were using Calkins’ Pathway for narrative writing to discuss what we noticed about these students as writers. We were not scoring the writing just considering the new crafts they were trying and areas we might teach next to support them.
Even without scoring, I experienced a moment when I almost missed the writer. We came across this piece of writing:
At first, I noticed it was not exactly a narrative with a beginning, middle and end. Did something happen? Is the writer in the story? Are we in the moment? These questions were running through my mind, but then I listened to the reader within me.
As her reader…
I love the seesaw quality of her writing
I love the rhythm of her words
I love the use of repetition
I love her word choice
I love the feeling she left me with
This writer is more than a number, more than one assessment, more than one moment in time.
Am I worried about her as a writer?
I am worried I almost missed the beauty of her writing.
I think exemplars; rubrics and continuums that help us understand what to look for in a student’s writing are extremely helpful. I think these tools help us develop a common language so we can really discuss our students’ writing and work together to plan next steps for them instructionally. It helps us take a step back and see what our students have learned and what they are ripe to learn next. We need to make sure that it does not narrow our focus and cause us to miss something beautiful because it does not fit the continuum. We can appreciate both what the writer does well and what the writer is ready to learn next.
I want to first and foremost be a reader for the writer and authentically respond to the writing. It is the response, the connection, which will help us teach them and inspire them to be writers.
I had to have it… it is beautiful and, for me as her reader, it has layers of meaning.
Thank you to Stacey, Tara, Dana, Betsy, Anna, Beth, Kathleen, and Deb for this space for us to share our stories each day in March. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts and consider joining this community.