Saturday, February 2, 2008

The Power of Choice

After Christmas I launched a unit of study in writing. The unit was for All-About books. Immediately upon returning from break I noticed that my students enthusiasm for writing had diminished. Previously I posted about their behavior in the classroom and my return to the beginning of the year basics. Something was missing...
Daily I had a different student say, "Mrs. Amick, I wish that we could write like we used to."
I started pulling eye teeth just to get my kiddos writing their pieces. Even my wonderful facilitator Kathy came in to check us out.
The truth be told: they hated it! I hated it, it wasn't for us...now.
I called and collaborated with my friend Jen and we discussed these questions:
Why is is not working?
Do they not understand?
If you quit the unit will you come back to it?
Are you making the task of writing dreaded?
How will you stop the unit, what words will you use?
I decided, because I have the power to choose for my pumpkins what is best for them, that we would stop the unit and go back to the way we used to write. I told my pumpkins that sometimes writers put things in a drawer to gain more information about their topic, or character. We decided to put this unit away for a little bit, but we all decided that we needed to come back to it later. I told them to get their favorite story starter ready because they were just going to write narratives for a while. My pumpkins, my little first graders, those sweet cherubs of mine...cheered! Literally, I heard clapping, "yea!" and then silence as they set off to gather materials, and find their spots. It was the best writing day we had had since break. We gathered for sharing at the end and than we discussed why they needed to go back to this type of writing. One little boy shared I think what they were all feeling. He said, "You know over break I thought about all the things that I could write about and I just didn't have the chance. Now I can say what I wanted to say." The power of writing was felt in that room but so was the power of choice that I feel I have as a teacher of writing. What my students need is what should drive my instruction. I am just glad that I have a collaborating friend, and the vision to see when change needs to occur.
Guess what? Behaviorally my students for the rest of the week, AWESOME! Go figure!

3 comments:

Cathy said...

yay!!!!!! I love it when it comes all together and they are excited and it shows.

Jen Barney said...

I am glad that you went back and knew that it was best for your kiddos! Don't you love that we can do that for our treasures... pull them back to what is best for them, yet they are the ones who tell us that is what they need! That is true learning.

katied said...

I am glad for you and your kids. The power of choice, listening to yourself and your kids...good for you! Your kids are lucky to have you.