Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Write On!

I mentioned in passing that my teammate and I have started mixin' and matchin' our kids for science and writing. In the past we've attempted something similar where she taught science and I taught social studies and we would just switch our entire classes.

Hated it!

It always felt out of sorts to have an entirely different class of kids in front of me. This time we have split our classes in half and mixed them together for those two subjects.

LOVE it!

Teaching writing is my absolute favorite. She loathes it.

Teaching science makes my head spin. She loves it.

Mixing our kids together has been fantabulous! While we've tried to align our procedures and routines this year, it is helpful to also have 50% of the kids in front of you knowing where the highlighters are, where the paper is, etc. I also love that there is a change in chemistry in the classroom.

We have a direction we are hoping to go in and this was our way of dipping our toe in the water. I so want to dive in.

More to come on that at another time.

For now I want to share with you something I came up with and started doing this year that has knocked my socks off. I call it "writing tours."

I have the kids leave their work at their seat, take their pencil in hand and go on a tour of the tables reading the work of others. This gives them a chance to move around and be inspired by their peers. It also motivates them because they know those same peers are going to be reading their work. It also creates a feeling of teamwork because while they are doing their own work, they are also collaborating.

The reason they have the pencil is because they play a role in providing feedback to the writer.

Last week I had them each compose three possible topic sentences for a descriptive paragraph about something they love. While on the writing tour the class put one checkmark next to the sentence they liked the best out of the three. Afterwards I asked, "does anyone want to share a sentence that the fans went crazy for and those who voted can tell you why they selected it."

Yesterday we divided a paper in 1/2 and labeled one side as compliment and the other as advice. We did talk about advice being constructive criticism and not a cruel remark. We also discussed how a compliment should be specific.
I was blown away by their maturity and the usefulness of their comments. It's a bit like peer editing, but allows for the feedback from many. The students then used those pieces of advice to make revisions.


Ladybug Teacher said...

Hi! I just wanted to say I've been a longtime follower...even before I learned how to follow on Blogger! Thanks for all of your wonderful ideas and inspiration. I always look forward to reading your blog. :)

Jacqulyn said...

I love this idea! I did something similar (but just compliments) as a writing celebration earlier this year- the kids loved doing it, and they did a great job! I really, really like the idea of having them do this while still working on a piece- I'll definitely try this out! On a side note, your friends in the Philly area are about to get slammed by snow again...and we have 0 (yes, that's a ZERO) built-in snow days. Happy writing! :-)

Katie King said...

Love your writing tours idea. I think I will try it out... next non-snow day!!