I thought about this tweet for quite some time. Kylene's words stuck with me. She's right. Kids can't be expected to write if they've never seen models of good writing. As she mentioned, a great way to share writing with students is through sharing well written stories. I wholeheartedly agree with her! Our students must be exposed to great stories through their own reading, read alouds, and during mini lessons. However, we need to add on to this important idea. Not only should we share stories through use of mentor texts, read alouds, and other published models, but also we should share models of good writing through our own writing notebooks.
In the past, I shared my own writing with students here and there. Yet, I didn't consistently make a point of doing it to demonstrate how authors actually write until last school year in my own fifth grade classroom. My school was fortunate to be a Teachers College Writing Project School. A major benefit of being a Project School is having the privilege of working directly with Teachers College staff developers in our classrooms.
Our upper grade staff developer, Alyssa Levy, became an influential role model for me as a teacher of writing. Alyssa consistently modeled using her own writing notebook in lessons with my students. I noticed how Alyssa not only told students how to write, but she actually showed them step by step through thinking aloud and then writing in front of them with her writing notebook and a document camera. She modeled what she knew needed to happen for my students. My grade level team, principal, and students all became better writers in part directly due to Alyssa's demonstration of her own thinking and writing.
Now, as a literacy coach myself, I am taking what I learned from Alyssa to help the teachers and students in my schools. By using my own writing to teach writing, I'm not just telling teachers and students what needs to happen, but I'm showing them in a step by step, intentional manner. The only tools needed to do this are my own thinking made visible to students (thinking aloud and oral rehearsal), my personal writing notebook, a document camera that projects my real-time writing, and a captive audience of student writers.
By showing students rather than telling them, we are making learning to write like an author a very real and accessible reality. All of our students can be writers. We have the power to make it happen. The images below illustrate how I've used my own writing to teach writing. Thank you Alyssa Levy of Teachers College- your modeling and expertise has reached many students and teachers- more than you know!
|My writing notebook. I made it alongside my students.|
|My students' writing notebooks! I wish you |
could see the huge smiles on all of their faces.
I now model writing for students and teachers as a direct result of someone modeling it for me. When we model how to do something rather than just tell how to do it, we make our teaching sticky- that is, we make it stick for students, we make it last (just as a side note- I learned the term "make teaching sticky" from another Teachers college staff developer!). Best of all, the writing I've created in front of students this year and last can be used for years to come with future students. Thank you so much to Alyssa Levy and everyone else at the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project for making the teaching of writing visible. My own writing notebook is now my most trusted and valuable teaching tool.
Happy writing, friends!