Saturday, November 02, 2013

Saturday Celebration


Ruth, you inspire us in so many ways!

This week, I started 15 Minute Friday writing with my class. We logged into our Kidblog, opened a new post, set the timer for 15 minutes, and WROTE.

Here's the first celebration: when I said go, the only sound I heard was the clicking of keys on keyboards. You know that feeling of tension in the room when someone is frustrated? There was none of that. EVERYONE wrote. Here's mine:

I can’t get the look on C’s face out of my mind. He was frustrated and confused in math, and rather than helping him, I just said, “Hmm…you’ll have to keep thinking about that,” and walked away from him. It killed me to do that. And if I would have looked back, I’m sure he would have been shooting daggers into my back.
However, after working ten more minutes, I broke into a wide smile when I heard him say softly to himself, “Oh! I get it!”

Thats what it’s all about for me.  That lightbulb moment. That obvious memorable moment when learning happens.

Because here’s what I believe: I believe in the power of learning. I believe that intelligence can grow. I don’t believe that we are born with all the smarts we’re ever going to have.  Learning sometimes hurts. It’s like growing out of a favorite pair of shoes or jeans. You wear them and they get tighter and tighter. Your toes hurt and you’re uncomfortable. Your bare ankles show. But…ahh…when you get your new shoes or jeans, they feel so good. They fit. Same thing with new thinking. The old thoughts are tight, but when that new learning or understanding comes along…ahh…it fits. It feels so right.

STOP

The first thing I celebrate about this new routine in our classroom is that my writing will live right there alongside theirs. I have been using my own writing in minilessons more and more often, and I am putting that writing in posts on Kidblog to create an archive of minilessons and anchor texts. 

Next celebration: I just finished reading through all of their posts and comments, and let me just say that mine aren't the only anchor texts on the blog! Wow! What a great way for them to read quick examples of each other's writing and learn from each other!

Celebration #3: They were so surprised at how much they wrote in 15 minutes (me, too!) and where their ideas went once they got started. Many think they have the seed for an idea they'll want to pursue in writing workshop!

And finally: It is going to be so powerful to have these weekly bits of writing to use for formative assessment, conferencing, minilessons, and small group work in writing workshop!

Thank you, Ruth, for your 5 Minutes on Friday writing, which inspired this new RICH-ual in my classroom!

Check out all of the Saturday Celebrations at Ruth Ayres Writes.

22 comments:

  1. We LOVE this sentence: Thats what it’s all about for me. That lightbulb moment. That obvious memorable moment when learning happens. Can we quote you?? That sentence is what it is all about and formative assessment - you watching your students in the moment - is what it needs to be all about. Thank you for sharing this powerful piece!
    Clare and Tammy

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    1. I'd be HONORED to be quoted by you two ladies!

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  2. I love this idea! I am inspired to start my own Friday ritual with my seventh grade class. Thanks for sharing! I also love the idea of putting your mini-lesson writing on the blog for students to reference. I may also borrow that idea. What a great celebration!

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  3. Love that you are writing on Kidblog with your students - what a terrific idea!

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  4. Love this idea! My freshmen blog every Monday. I think we just found a new challenge for this week!

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  5. The wonderful thing, first, is that you started, and the 2nd one is that they realized that 15 minutes is enough time to really produce something-something of value. Just think of all those 15 minute writes you'll have at the end of the year! Wonderful to hear your thinking, Mary Lee.

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  6. I love this! My sixth graders and I are blogging (just starting out) and I am going to try this with my students. Thank you so much for sharing this.

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  7. I love the 15 minute Friday! We do have a classroom blog and they love it! My problem would be because I teach 4th graders and keyboarding is not a skill they have mastered, we would not get much typed in 15 minutes! Would definitely have to be handwritten, but I love the idea!

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    1. Why not do this as a way for them to develop keyboard fluency with a purpose, rather than waiting for fluency before they use the skill?

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  8. I didn't read your celebration before I wrote my own. One of my celebrations is also 5 Minute Friday inspired by Ruth. I think that may be really 15 minutes might be better for students, and I love the idea that you blog instead of using the journal. I like that in the celebration you included your actual 15 minute piece.

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    1. Great minds, eh? I'm heading over to read yours now!

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  9. So much to celebrate! But the most powerful is how many classrooms are going to be impacted by your post. Sounds like more writing will be happening everywhere! That's cause for celebration!

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  10. Having my students blog was a goal this year, and I haven't gotten to it yet. That makes me anxious, but I know it's still possible to tackle it - there is a lot of time left. Thanks for your inspiration!

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  11. This sounds wonderful, Mary Lee. I'm thinking of the documentation stuff that Vicki Vinton has been writing about lately. Are you thinking of this as a step in that direction? You've inspired me!

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    1. Yes, Steve. I'm trying to be really thoughtful about the kinds of evidence I am gathering about student progress. I either want it to be quick and unobtrusive (but rich with information...tricky to manage that!) or as authentic as possible.

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    2. I love the idea of 15 minute Friday. And I love that you do it with them. I think our middle school kids would really love this too. I'm going to show this post to our 5th-8th grade teachers.

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    3. Mary Lee, you have a lot of access to tech, right? And you're trying a BYOD experiment. Maybe you are already trying this...but I wonder if you could pose a bi-weekly documentation challenge for the kids. Maybe give them a prompt like this: "Focus on documenting times you are persistent in your learning", or, something Common Core-y like this: "Document times you used what you knew from other books to help you understand the book you are reading." If you had a shared Evernote or Dropbox folder with each child, they could upload, then late in the project, sort, winnow, and reflect using some reflection prompts? This is something I'd like to do, but we don't have enough tech right now. It would require several lessons up front, and perhaps some modeling (like in writing workshop), and maybe even a "genre study" using materials from Harvard U's Project Zero, Documenting Student Work website? I'm really intrigued.

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    4. Wow.
      Hmm...
      The wheels are turning, turning, turning.
      I just went over and looked at the Project Zero website. Lo and Behold, part of the Making Learning Visible group is Wickliffe Alternative Elem. right here in the Columbus metro area! I've been there and heard them speak. If I could start over again, I'd go teach there in a hot minute!
      Yes, yes, and yes. Our two new iPad minis (wrote a grant) will be here this week. Perfect timing. Now I'm off to do some planning and thinking about how to build a layer of documentation into my lessons...Thank you, Steve, for complicating my life in such rich and interesting ways!!!

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    5. Hmm...now you have me thinking, too. A grant...I think there is some time left to get a tech grant in for late in the year. Wouldn't this be fun (and challenging) to try?

      Take it slowly, though, so it is something to savor, rather than stress...is that even possible? :)

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  12. My students are blogging, too, so I am going to grab this idea and run back to my classroom with it. Thanks! Not only de we celebrate what is happening, but we spread ideas and inspiration. Thanks!

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  13. What an exciting endeavor. I love that you are writing alongside them.

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  14. When I taught middle school, using my own writing was very powerful. It gave the students the sense that I was right there with them - living life and seeing the world, and taking risks. It sounds like you are very engaged in your teaching - keep it up!

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