I am teaching from a published teachers text about author study. It is well organized and I like the scaffolding they seems to do as they compare books by one author. (Here is where I admit I was planning this weekend without my brain on.)
So I am following the lessons and preparing charts for this weeks work. I write out the steps for how to respond to literature. I am thinking the whole time “this seems a bit much for 3/4th graders to do in one lesson.” (Why didn’t I stop there and say yes it is to much? Oh, no I just kept planning and following the book.)
Today my brain goes on as I am teaching and I am thinking really! Really you are going to cover introduction, opinion and support, words to connect and a closing statement all in one lesson! What happened to your happy little mini lessons? Little being the key word here!
You know what happened kids eyes glazed over, I glazed over and we stopped dead in the water. We were sinking!
This is where It’s Monday! What are your reading? came to my rescue. I pulled up a book review I had written and we looked for the parts of a “formal” literature response. What was there? What was missing? Why would the parts be important to include? Why didn’t I include them?
My glazed over kids woke up – “you wrote that?” “whose web site is that?” “you didn’t give much support from the text I know I am reading that book – its great.” “I thought opinion was just about liking or not liking the book – now I get what you said – I could write my opinion about what the author wanted us to know.”
We finally left the circle to begin writing – a few were still lost but asking questions, several decided they had not been careful about reading and when back to re read, others felt they knew what they were doing and were busy writing, everyone was checking in to see if they were on the right track.
All I could say was yes, now we are all on the right track! We are working through a mentor text that meant something to both teacher and students. We were checking in with each other to see if things were making sense. We were writing from different view points and abilities. We were helping each other understand. It felt like we were a writing community of writers not a writing class.
You can’t beat real writing to teach writing! And it is important to trust your teaching instincts even when working through good teaching materials! [maybe a little more sleep on the weekend before planning would also have helped 🙂 ]