I stopped being a Reading Specialist this year and am a 4th grade teacher!! With one month down, I am loving it. However, I will admit that being a classroom teacher is HARD. All September, I have felt like I’m on a rollercoaster while juggling balls at the same time!!
On the last Friday of September, we had our first Writing Workshop Publishing Party. We are now authors of Personal Narratives!! Here’s a few pictures:
First, I had all their writing folders so I called them over to specific places to sit. This strategic placement helped to keep all focused during our celebration. (I have a very chatty group of 4th graders – 27 kids, 15 boys and 12 girls.)
Our celebration started with a Cicle Greeting (Responsive Classroom move) where after shaking hands, we said: “I am an author who wrote a story about ___.” It does take time for 28 in a circle to greet. But this calmed us, got us focused on our writing, and helped us to stop and listen.
Then I asked each to take out their published piece and find one or two lines that they are proudest of writing. “We are not going to share the whole story aloud, just one or two lines we like the most. When you have the line, point to it and I’ll know you are ready.” Then I walked around, pushing all to get ready.
Next I explained we would being doing a Symphony Share. “Just like in a Symphony, the instruments play when they are ready, we are going to SHARE when we are ready. When you feel like sharing your one line, please do in your loud, presenting voice. Just like during our Grand Conversations, if two voices start at the same time, one wait and then go next.”
“Finally, let me teach you a cheer (that I learned from Kagan training). After a student shares, this is the cheer we will give them. With your finger, pretend to be pumping the spray nossle of the Fantastic Cleaner three times and say “ch-ch-ch” and then move your hand to look like it is wiping off the cleaner and say “FAN- TAST-IC”. This will be the cheer we give each classmate after they read aloud their favorite line from their published piece.”
And we began…AND IT WORKED!!! All happily shared a line or two. All listened respectfully. A few shy friends needed encouragement to share and 4 really shy friends allowed me or a visiting teacher to share their line for them. (This reminded me that sharing our writing is scary). Then I gave them free time to draw, read, or use their computer and I started hanging up their writing in the hallway to make it public.
Already in the hallway are paper-people we made to hold an I AM poem for Back to School Night. One student, Lotta, suggested that now the paper-person could hold our story! Great idea…so the personal narrative is on the paper-person, an illustration drawn by our talk buddy is hanging next to it (since our writing is so descriptive, it made a movie in our talk buddy’s mind and THEY could draw the illustration!) and a reflection – I worked on _____ when writing this first personal narrative in 4th grade.
As I reflected on the way home, I realized that these kids are only 9 going on 10. The school they are in has not been running Writing Workshop with them since Kindergarten. As 4th graders, this may have been their FIRST publishing party. Happlily I celebrate!!
I can’t wait to do an on-demand on Tuesday and start teaching Personal Narrative one more time in October. I know we can write even better. I know they are proud now of their work and ALL will be amazed at how much better they can write with more practice and guidance in October.