When you step inside room 409, you become a participant in a learning community where young minds are busy creating, sharing, and problem solving. You will see a teacher who is guiding, questioning and encouraging. She is observing, documenting, and researching to provide the best instruction to grow these young learners. The teacher you see in this classroom is Me! I teach all subjects- reading, writing, math, science, social studies, and all aspects of being part of a learning community to seventeen six year olds. It is a heterogeneous group. There are nine boys and eight girls. Seventy-five percent of my students are White and twenty-five percent are Hispanic or of mixed race. More than half of my students come from disadvantaged homes. All of my students are “readers” but the level of proficiency varies from mid-kindergarten level through second grade. All of my students are beginning writers but they have grown tremendously since the beginning of the year! I am so proud of their progress.
If you were to visit during a writing discussion, you would hear children sharing stories about their lives. You would hear their peers asking questions to clarify details of the experience. You would then see children eager to get those details down on paper. Later, you would be able to hear students share what they have written. More peers would comment on the writing and then editing of writing could occur. This process has evolved over time in our classroom community. Shared writing has grown into a respectful discussion that is profitable to all members.
Now that my first graders are able to take ownership of a piece of writing, I would like to provide feedback through conferencing on a regular basis. One of my goals for the year is to help my students grow as writers by teaching them to revise and edit their work. This past semester, in my classes from ASU, I was fortunate to study quality writing instruction and learn more able writing conferences. I realize that my students have put forth a great deal of effort to produce writing. I know that my comments will make a profound effect on how they see themselves as writers, therefore I want to give my students the time they deserve and the best possible feedback.
We do have challenges when trying to achieve our goal. My students and I have limited time for writing together and even less time for conferencing. If you strolled through room 409 in the morning you would see students engaged in phonics instruction though the Letterland program. If you lingered you would see students working their way through Daily Five rotations devoted to all types of literacy development. Students would work through an independent writing station during Daily Five but this would not be a time for writing instruction or conferencing.
Our first graders have a packed busy day. Most of our day is already allocated by our school wide schedule. If you continued with us you would enjoy lunch, enrichment classes, intervention time, and a large math block. All of this skill development is important but with the current schedule I’m struggling as a teacher to find quality time with each student.
I would like to build on my skills as a writing teacher and develop a writing workshop time in my classroom. My wish is that if you came into our classroom you would see a mini-lesson, a time for students to write independently, and a time for students to share. In addition, you would see me having quality writing conferences with students. I’m excited to start reading this new book by Lucy Calkins, Amanda Hartman and Zoe White. I can’t wait to see if I can develop “The Art of Conferring with Young Writers”!