Learning a Lot #sol21 7/31

During the month of March I will be writing every day in the company of my fellow slicers in our writing community annual Slice of Life Story Challenge with Two Writing Teachers. This is Day #7.

Learning A Lot #sol21

March 7, 2021

The last two weeks I’ve learned a lot from my reading and discussion with authors. I’ve learned about the finer points of card games and tag, what important buildings I should put on my bucket list, gymnastics and ice skating, and preparing for Christmas. I have been taught about bald eagles and Snoopy, sharks and the fine points of taking up running. Yes, I’ve learned a great deal and my teachers, those authors were all in the first grade.

The benefit of our hybrid class size is that a mentor can leisurely slide among ten writers, conferring as she goes. The writers can turn to talk to each other, reading bits of their writing or listening to others read. So questions in mind, workshop in progress, I set out to learn from our teacher/writers in first grade.

First up, my young author friend was writing about important buildings. I thought I would be asking the questions, but he asked, how many windows are in the white house? I can’t remember exactly what it looks like. In the past I might have googled the White House and showed him a picture. Today, I say, hmmm, let’s think. I remember that it has a lot of windows in rows. What else can we remember? A porch with a cover over it. My young writer friend starts envisioning. Columns ? he says. Then he’s off. That little friend is a reader and a ‘go-er’. He’s been read to a lot and taken many places. He writes books before breakfast and shares with me some ideas for new books along with his past books on sharks and monsters. He’s teaching me today… in so many ways.

My next author is teaching about playing cards. I’m done he says. You know what I say, I reply. This writer and several nearby writers look up and smile, anticipating my words. I don’t disappoint. In my best teacher voice, with my biggest smile, I say…When you’re done, you’ve just begun. Let’s hear it and think like editors. He begins reading and on page two he reads and then you shuffle the cards. Shuffle? I say. Why? At that moment, magic! My author friend begins to explain the purpose of shuffling is to mix up the cards. Nodding on my part. Then his pencil connects with his page and he’s off.

On and on I go, captivated by authors, learning about skating, kayaking, Christmas, tag, running. My only tool, questions. You can go faster if you put your hands out flat. When you close them up, it slows you down. They write and write and write. My writer’s tools are only their booklets, pens, and pencils. They pause as they write. I can hear them asking themselves questions, checking the heading they have written in their planning. They aren’t looking up facts, they are confident in what they know about their subjects. The room is full of joy and the sound of rustling paper.

I learned a great deal.

8 thoughts on “Learning a Lot #sol21 7/31

  1. Thanks for sharing this inspiring slice. There’s so much to learn from your experience. What I took from it is allowing students to think for themselves, believing in them and showing them they are the experts. The way you called the authors and writers, just makes them that and the questioning that allows them to elaborate, after all they are the experts. Thank you for the reminders. I will read this again and work with my fourth graders in the same way.

  2. I love the way you’ve woven the moments of interactions into this piece, all with so much emphasis on what they teach you. It’s always good to have a reminder for me, of not what I’m going to teach, but what I’m going to learn. Thanks for this.

  3. They aren’t looking up facts, they are confident in what they know about their subjects.

    This is my favorite part of writing in the primary grades. They know it all. You captured the joy of writing and learning from kids.

  4. My favorite nuggets from this slice:
    “When you’re done, you’ve just begun. Let’s hear it and think like editors.”
    That stance you pinpoint of being “captivated by authors… My only tools, questions”

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