After RETHINKING RUBRICS IN WRITING ASSESSMENT, I went on to read Katie Wood Ray's amazing new book called STUDY DRIVEN: A FRAMEWORK FOR PLANNING UNITS IN THE WRITING WORKSHOP. LOVED IT TOO! Katie is always brilliant but this book was another one that was exactly what I needed. She reminds us that we are the professionals, the people in the classroom who know our students best. She helps us to see how to bring inquiry back to the writing workshop while still having rigor and making sure we teach what is required by our districts/states. So often, we are losing the authenticity of our reading and writing workshops. My favorite thinking was about kids needing vision. I have really been struggling with writing workshop for the last few years. Trying to figure out how to make it work but with more rigor. Like Katie, I have a bit of an uncomfortable feeling when I assign a certain genre. So, I avoid it. But, I think I am uncomfortable because of the way it has been done and what I am seeing come out (published) lately. But STUDY DRIVEN clearly shows how to have the energy that a workshop should have and keeping the kids empowered and balancing the process and the product.
Someone on the blog asked me to expand about my comment about RETHINKING RUBRICS when I said I was happy to see this book because: "I worry that lately we have had lots of books that tell us what to do. But, this book really gets us back to the professional roles that we have--really thinking about what matches our beliefs about students and learning--the conversations that seem to have become lost over the last few years." I guess I am saying that so much of what is being published lately is very scripted or very planned and the teacher decision making is taken out of it all. As a profession, we are losing faith in what we know, afraid to question things that seem to be "what we are supposed to be doing". I am excited about RETHINKING RUBRICS and STUDY DRIVEN because both of these books open up conversations that need to happen. I don't think it is important that we all agree on practice. But I think it is critical that we talk and process and are free to question so that we can make the best decisions for our students. It seems that with the standards and testing and No Child Left Behind...teachers have less of a say about what goes on in our classrooms. So, I am glad to see books like these two that are helping us (teachers) to rethink some practices that may not necessarily be the best for our students and to give us better options.