Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Transformation Station

Well, I am a changed woman! I don't know what I was thinking for the past couple of years? I have discovered GOLD, I tell you! Two of the most important things in my life have made themselves known:
1. The Power of Conferencing: I have had conferences. I have sat myself down next to a first grader and I have had a conversation. I get up, I walk to the next first grader and I think, "what the heck is the point in this?" I didn't like conferencing, I didn't want to do it and so a lot of times I just let them write. I don't know if it is all the reading I have done this summer, if it is listening to Carl Anderson, reading his book, or I finally have a hold on this workshop thing? I don't know what it is? I love it! I love sitting with a student, holding a conversation and making notes about what this person needs. I feel like even one week and a half into it I know these kiddos as writers. I love saying, "How's it going? What are you doing as a writer today?" Conferencing is an amazing tool.

2. Sharing: I hated sharing! Even over the summer I hated sharing. I thought it always had to be some orchestrated event that took a lifetime. It was painful. It was all about making sure people were listening, people were sitting still, people were blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Yuck!
I decided to make sharing not so formal. We gather in the living room, that is what my children are calling the community area currently, and someone shares something. It is not this big thought out ordeal. We praise, do a round of applause, and move on! During Reader's Workshop I simply ask, "Does anyone have anything they want to add about their reading today?" I am amazed that someone even has anything to say! I take notes about the books they are reading, the things they are learning. I hope it will help me pick leveled books for them. We'll see how that goes! It has been wonderful to hear what they have to say. I love sharing. Thank goodness I have discovered this tool.

So, my classroom has been transformation station. I have learned so much so quick. Thank goodness I have prior knowledge to help know that these are best practices. It makes it easier for implementation. Perhaps that is why some teachers who are knew or old struggle to implement writer's or reader's workshop. They don't have the prior knowledge base to make it happen. Huh?


Jen Barney said...

I also have found that it is FUN! It is fun to hear what they have to say! I can't wait to confer with my treasures! We have had several share moments with our ISTEP PREP writing, it is interesting to see what is going on in their noodle!!!

I am so happy for you!

Ruth Ayres said...

what a post, sarah! i love your insight into the changes in your teaching. it makes me want to take some time to reflect on the changes in my own teaching. that's what it's about -- constantly evolving! thanks for making me think.

Sarah said...

I am so pumped to meet my cuties tomorrow at our ice cream social. When I read your post, I thought, YES! We call the area we use the family room. That's just the kind of feeling you want them to have in the classroom, like we are at home. I love creating that culture at the beginning of the year. Its so empowering to get them talking about their learning in a non-threatening environment and giving over the reins to them. Honoring them and their work raises the expectations. Just today, I created a space for every child on one of three bulletin boards and posted a note with: Coming Soon ...Kate's Space. I hope to call these areas My Space. And I want parents and kids and other teachers to see it as just that, a space to publish their unique parts of who they are.

Cathy said...

Yay for you! It's always exciting to hear what the kids have to say...Have you read In the Company of Children? In the Conferring chapter, it talks about how conferring is more about listening than what we're going to say. I haven't started conferencing yet...but it's coming...Thanks for sharing your enthusiasm!