Sometimes as I sit back and watch my little ones I am caught in the moment of their curiosity and engagement, so much so that I miss what’s taking place right under my nose.
I had all these big plans for writing instruction this week, and I couldn’t wait to hit the floor running. My students, however, had just returned from a 4 day weekend,on Valentine’s Day none the less, and then we had 3 more days that were here and gone before I knew it!! Needless to say I was very disappointed that things did not go according to MY plans.
The joy of teaching in a primary grade is teaching in the moment, and while my original plan was not what happened, I still had room to rejoice in what did happen this week. I found that my students were still excited about the blank pages that had been so simply stapled together to create a book. I found more and more of my students engaged in the writing center wanting to create books just like their peers. They began to work together and share their stories in pairs or small groups, which maintained the high interest in this activity. My overall goal was achieved!! I had originally planned for them to begin sharing their books with their peers during large group time to spark interest in other students. This plan didn’t quiet work out with our hectic schedule and their engagement levels during large group.
The blessing in disguise came from how my students grew this week by just interacting with one another and freely exploring writing. No pressure, no help, just 4 year olds and their writing tools, in a preschool classroom writing and drawing just like the “big kids” do. I was blown away by the amount of books that were made. The more books they made the more I also saw their understanding of how books work, what authors do, and print concepts increase. They began using paper, scissors, tape, and staples to create their own books. As their curiosity gravitated toward what authors and illustrators do, creative energy began to explode in their own writing.
I was approached this week by a student that previously, I mistakenly said was one of my “lower” students. I don’t think that was the right term to use because this child is absolutely brilliant! This mistake was made because I was comparing her alphabet knowledge to that of her peers. This child is writing far better than any other child in my classroom! She is also now writing more than any other child in my classroom. She is constantly sitting with a letter strip trying to spell out words and write to create things for others. This leads me to what stopped me in my tracks this week. Hold on to your to hats because you’re about to be blown away as well. I was busy interacting with students in the art center and I felt a tap on my shoulder. This same child had pulled together her own paper and stapled it to create a book of her own. She then created beautifully colored pictures on every page. As a teacher focusing on writing for graduate work I immediately said “oh those are beautiful pictures lets go see if I can help you write about them”. So we flip through the pages and each time I try to get her to tell me what she wants to say about the pictures she just shrugs her shoulders. I tell her to think about it and I’ll be back. A few minutes later she comes to me and again shows me the pictures. I said “oh are you ready to write about those pictures? What do you want to say about them?”. Here comes the realization that I was missing something as her teacher…. she said “but Mrs. Brandi, not every book needs words. They can just be a picture book and still tell a story”!!! Wow!!!!!!! I was completely missing what was happening right under my nose! She was engaging in print and learning about the features of books and how the pictures tell a story! She was right she could absolutely tell a story using just pictures and she would have something brilliant to share with her peers! Each week as I dig in deeper with my students building their stamina for writing I find that they have something to teach me in return.
I am glad I just went with the flow this week and tossed my original plan out the window to follow their lead. After all aren’t plans made to be changed?