Friday was a Teacher College staff developer day at our school. These days are a gift. For a full day, I get a thought partner who helps us think about ways to keep growing. We get to cycle through three grade levels, learn some new strategies, and get access to the project’s latest thinking. These days always fill my bucket.
Today, our focus in grades kindergarten through second was on writing. We were exploring various components of balanced literacy, thinking about ways to continue to grow our writers. In kindergarten, we decided to focus on shared writing as a tool for immersion into a new unit of study. Next week, our kindergarten classes will launch their persuasive writing unit, where they learn that they can use their words to change the world! It’s pretty powerful and fun!
Our kindergarten team identified idea generating as the area that is often most tricky for kids. So, Lisa, our staff developer modeled using shared writing to help the kids brainstorm. They were on fire with ideas for problems they see in their classroom, outside their classroom, and at recess. As soon as the brainstorming was over, the group of teachers moved to another kindergarten class to mirror the same work with a small group of students. As the teachers worked, brainstorming problems, I quickly revised our plan for the rest of the session, so that Lisa could model another shared writing piece.
I ran back to our first classroom to grab the chart paper I had left behind. I was amazed at what I saw when I came through the door. Most of the class was huddled around the easel, where we had left the chart we had just made. They were using post-its to add even more ideas for problems to the chart. They just couldn’t stop. I snapped a few pictures to share with the rest of the group and then hurried back.
As teachers finished up their small groups, generating topics, we informed them of our next plan. While the rest of the class went outside for recess, we were going to keep two volunteer writers in to write a song using one of the brainstormed ideas. This is something they learn to do in their writing unit. Two eager little writers willingly stayed in. They began by choosing a problem they wanted to write about and then thinking about solutions. After talking out ideas and sketching their plans, they hummed the tune to Happy Birthday To You. Then, one line at a time, they drafted the song below, all about convincing others to stop pushing friends at recess. At one point, all the teachers and these two lovely children were all happily singing the words to their new song.
The two new songwriters bounced outside to recess, feeling so proud. As we debriefed all the work that just happened, a kindergarten teacher, new this year to the grade said, “I just can’t believe that this is my job.”
It is pretty amazing.