Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Ah... So True!

At the All Write conference I purchased the book About the Authors by Kate Wood Ray with Lisa B. Cleaveland. I read it pretty much in one day because it already contained much information that I already know. One of the things that I found to be so powerful was in chapter one when Katie is describing what writer's workshop is and why it is important. She says, "...if students have writing time every day, but that time is highly directed by someone else, then they have no need to think like writers outside of that time." I got to thinking about my own writer's workshop, my kids have choice, I simply give them a class generated list they can use if they get "stuck." I also wonder if that is the reason why they hated the All About unit? Could it be that it was too much about the creating of a book and not so much about their choice? Hmmm.....

She goes on to say, "... they don't see themselves as people who need ideas for writing. When someone tells students exactly how everything should be written, they have no reason to notice and ideas for their writing" Why would they need ideas when they come to school, someone opens their brains and tells them what to say, write, feel, prompting them always! So many classrooms are functioning in this capacity. Sad.....

Finally, (and bear with me, it is long) my favorite part of this section says this:

We are moved when we realize our decisions in the classroom teach students to think of themselves as particular kinds of people. But we realize that all teaching does this. If we told students what to do all day long, we'd be teaching them to think of themselves as people who should wait to be told what to do. So we embrace the people we ask them to become, people who make books, and we teach and teach into this essential identity."

Ah... so true!

Now the work of teaching teachers this way. I think there is a group of teachers out there who still believe that teaching is about dumping information in and spitting outcomes out. If we read work by Katie Wood Ray, Debbie Miller, and Piaget we begin to understand that teaching is about guiding, showing through example, and the chance for discovery. If we can begin to establish classrooms in this way then we will begin to see results.


Sarah said...

Sarah~ Thanks for the referral. Yes, I am familiar with the joint blog. Yesterday, I started a short story and created sections in my virtual binder for writing. I am traveling ALONE all next week. I think its going to be a great time to write!


Kathy Douglas said...

Sarah~ I have the video that goes with the book. Remind me and I will get it to you, but I think it is at the office. Your blog ideas: the reason I want you at the in-service. You need to share with others, okay?

Sarah said...

Sarah ~ I loved this post. It is so much about helping children to open their minds to their own potential. Making this happen with 24 other children in the room can be a management challenge to say the least. As I enter my 14th year of teaching I realize this teaching learning journey will continue to be a mystery until the day I retire. I haven't accepted this yet though. I continue to struggle against the paradigm of the the teaching learning model of the 20th century. Is this because I was indoctrinated into this system as a child? I spent 18 years in this model as a student. Teachers presented education in one way, to one type of learner. How long is it going to take me to break this model, my career?