I was amazed, disheartened, and ready to stop writing several years ago when I discovered and announced fairly publicly that my narrative writing skills were weak. Maybe lower than weak. Definitely NOT where I wanted them to be.
So what did I do?
I committed to writing more narratives. I tracked when I wrote narratives. I pulled out some rubrics. I studied some mentor texts. I wrote more. I did not avoid writing narratives even though I can candidly report that I still “don’t love writing narratives.” My writing slowly and painfully improved.
And then having made some gains, I set narrative writing aside.
Does that process sound familiar?
Make a goal. Set a criteria as a measuring point. Work towards the goal. Goal met!
Perhaps it’s the “hurry up and git’r done” nature of many goals. Perhaps it’s the idea of “taking your medicine quickly” to get it over with. At any rate, I fear that I have lost some of those skills in the lack of volume in my writing and, in particular in my narrative writing.
I’m going to continue to study my writing as I also consider my “OLW” for 2019. A couple words have fallen from the sky in front of me lately. They are on the list. But are they the “one“? I don’t yet know.
PROFESSIONAL Learning Matters!
Have you checked out this work from Regie Routman?
How do you become a more effective teacher?
Out of the 10 which are you focusing on?
I’m working on these:
- Work Toward a Culture of Collaborative Expertise
- Focus on whole-part-whole teaching and learning
But what do I know? This data is shocking . . .
This was looking at Middle School Writing Assignments in 2015.
How are they doing?
WE will have a state writing assessment this year. Will our students be prepared if this is their background? If 78% of middle school students’ work requires only short responses or a sentence or two? Another 14% required a paragraph . . . hmmm ……. 14 out of 100 had assignments that required the student to write a paragraph.
What doesn’t this data say?
The data does not tell us whether 100% of the students attempted the task.
The data does not tell us if 100% of the students completed the task.
The data does not tell us anything about the quality of the paragraphs submitted.
The data does not tell us anything about how the paragraph was scored.
I am not advocating that all students be required to write multiple paragraphs every day. But can we INSPIRE THEM to write more and CAN we ASPIRE to provide quality instruction that will encourage students to envision and craft stronger examples of personal writing?
But what about the 9% required to write more than one paragraph?
All four of the statements above apply if your change “paragraph” to “more than a single paragraph.”
Volume of writing does matter just as the volume of reading matters. Based on the data above, students are still probably NOT writing enough per class period, across the day or across each semester of the year.
Where should we begin?
What steps can we commit to for the long haul?
What goals will we agree on?
Where is our sense of urgency?
On Friday, I sat next to sketchnote extraordinaire, Paula Bourque. I did not know that she would be attending, but I had planned in advance to sketchnote and brought my Flairs knowing that I needed my markers in order to make progress.
Here’s my first page of notes from the day!
Add some graphics.
Use some color.
More ideas than white spaces.
Find one part I really like:
- Distraction Addiction and Use Notebooks to slow down thinking
- Writing Matters – Emotional Response
- Choices – We have to balance reading and writing
What are you learning that is new?
How is it going?
What is your goal?
Curious minds want to know! #OLW18
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.
For living in such a data-driven teaching environment, how often do we turn the data on ourselves or on the assignments we give? This fascinates me. I admire so much that you are always evaluating, setting goals, and working toward a better you. Do we ever stop learning?
My #OLW18 has served me well this year: Curious! And then of course, “Walking the Talk” has always been a priority for me! 🙂
I agree with Margaret, Fran. You have me wondering about MY goals. As a MS teacher, I also am still pondering your % chart of volume of writing. What would the chart look like for my kids? Am I equipping them with skills? Providing enough practice? I’m trying to learn ways to notetake while reading fiction and nonfiction. Love using my flairs!!
Merry Christmas, my inspiring blogging / twitter friend!
You’re submitting a proposal to NCTE. That’s a terrific goal. Asking questions is a part of your lifeblood! Learning is in your DNA, my friend!
I kn ow many people, at times myself included, who set goal, reach them, and then say, “Great! That’s it” instead of looking at where we’ve come, reevaluating our goals, and setting new ones. I think that we sometimes fail our students by not showing them that we are not finished once we reach a goal. That is but a stepping stone on the way to the next goal that we need to set for ourselves.
Exactly. Either multiple short term goals rhat build and/or long term goals. Our school years set some very short time frames that may not be helpful for builing quality goal-setting habits.
I LOVE how your posts always lead me to reflect on my own practice and lead to further inquiry. Thanks for the link to Regie’s blog post I will now consider my priorities through that lens.
Thanks, Erika! It was an interesting week and I was NOT quite ready to reflect on my #OLW for the year . . . close! Enjoy your holiday travels!