Monday, December 06, 2010

Day by Day: An Interview with Ruth Ayers and Stacey Shubitz

Last month we reviewed the great new professional book by Ruth Ayers and Stacey Shubitz called DAY BY DAY:  REFINING WRITING WORKSHOP THROUGH 180 DAYS OF REFLECTIVE PRACTICE. We love the book and hope you've had a chance to pick up a copy. (They seemed to be flying off the shelf at the Stenhouse booth at NCTE!)  If you haven't at a chance to look at it, you can browse the entire book online at Stenhouse.  Today, we are the first stop on Ruth and Stacey's blog tour! If you want to follow them around for the week, they will be visiting several blogs to talk about their new book throughout the week.

December 7-Raising Readers and Writers
December 8-Write Brained Teacher
December 9-Once Upon a Teacher

Franki interviewed Stacey about the new book, their blog and writing.

Franki:  Tell us a little bit about how you got your idea for Day by Day.

Stacey:  Day by Day is an outgrowth of our blog.  When Ruth and I were approached about writing a book for Stenhouse we envisioned a book that focused on reflective practice, within the context of the writing workshop.  We thought a text like this would be useful to teachers who were trying to get in the habit of being more intentional about their teaching. 

Franki:  What do you hope teachers get out of the book?

Stacey:  There are a few things I hope teachers get out of this book.  First, I hope teachers who’ve been teaching writing workshop without reflecting on their practice daily will begin to make time for reflective practice.  As someone who initially scoffed at the idea of reflecting on my teaching (when I was obtaining my first master’s degree), I’ve come to realize that setting aside time for reflection is what can make one’s teaching much more responsive.  Each of the 180 discussions in the book include a challenge for teachers, as well as two or more reflective practice questions.  Therefore, we’ve made it easy for teachers to get started with their reflective practice journey.

Additionally, we share our triumphs and our shortcomings throughout the text.  I hope our candidness will help teachers develop an awareness that not every minilesson or conference will be perfect, but that they can learn and grow from their successes and challenges by reflecting on them daily. 

Finally, for those teachers who teach writing workshop in isolation, I hope they find this book to be like a compassionate colleague they can turn to at the end of a day.  No one should ever feel as though they’re teaching alone. 

Franki:  Your blog Two Writing Teachers follows your belief about the importance of daily reflection in teaching. Can you talk about how your blog has changed your teaching?

Stacey:  Ruth and I started Two Writing Teachers when I was transitioning to teaching a new grade (from fifth to fourth) in a new state (from New York to Rhode Island).  Blogging about my teaching -- the good, the bad, and the ugly – on a daily basis helped me to become more thoughtful about how I approached the teaching of writing.  Additionally, receiving comments from other bloggers pushed my thinking and allowed me to consider new perspectives and approaches to use with my students.

Franki:  What are the things that you love most about writing workshop?

Stacey:  I love watching the way writing workshop helps children find and develop their voice.  Writing workshop shows students that they have poignant stories to tell and important messages to share with others.  In addition, I enjoy witnessing the transformation of non-writers into confident communicators within the context of a writing workshop. 

Franki:  What are your biggest challenges in writing workshop?

Stacey:  The greatest challenge I’ve had teaching writing, in a workshop setting, has been around conferring.  I never felt as though I was getting to enough kids.  Even when I’d make it to five students during independent writing time, I always questioned if it was enough… if I met with the right kids on a given day… if I met with someone too frequently…  Reflecting on my teaching helped me to work through those internal struggles; I became more confident about my decisions (i.e., who I conferred with on a given day or in a given week) once I thought about them, after-hours, more deeply.

Franki:  Which resources do you go to as you reflect on your practice in writing workshop?

Stacey: There are a few books I turn to again and again when I need to be inspired about the teaching of writing.  I find myself turning back to Assessing Writers and How’s It Going, both by Carl Anderson, when I want to think more deeply about my conferring.  When I taught full-time, I always found myself paging through Georgia Heard’s The Revision Toolbox, when I wanted to present my students with new revision techniques.  Finally, Choice Words by Peter H. Johnston always reminds me to be mindful of the language I use when I work with 

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous1:29 PM

    Thanks for hosting the first stop of our blog tour!



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