Hands down the best part of my new job as Literacy Coach this year so far has been having the opportunity to go into the 12 Language Arts classrooms in the 5th-8th grade at our middle school. Having the opportunity to see how 12 different teachers run, manage, and teach is a daily gift. My mind gets so full of ideas after coaching sessions because it becomes apparent that each teacher interprets information and transfers that information into the practices of their classroom in a unique way. I also get the opportunity to see 12 times the amount of lessons in the Reading and Writing Workshop than I would get to see otherwise.
I wanted to share a specific lesson that I was a part of in an 8th grade classroom recently. The teacher in this classroom had his students outside during Writing Workshop on the first day of this lesson, facing and looking at the same outside scene in front of them. He asked his students to pay attention to their five senses, use careful word choice, and write a descriptive piece of writing based on the setting around them.
During the following class period during the writing workshop portion, he asked students to go through their piece of writing and underline five of their favorite sentences that they were most proud of, as a writer. From there, he partnered students up and asked them to write a shared poem. Students took their favorite lines from their writing and alternated them to blend their voices together into one final piece of writing. The final products were amazing because each student seemed to take a slightly different spin on the exact same outside scene, and blending those two voices together into one piece created a final product full of voice and different perspectives. I even had the opportunity, as a writer, to try this out with a student in the classroom. I can honestly say that I enjoyed the writing experience so much. It made me excited to write, and the student who I worked with and I were so proud of our final product.
Although this was a pretty informal Writing Workshop activity, the classroom teacher was so pleased with the final products, and the students were so excited about them that he decided to have the students make a final copy of the poem and display the students' writing in the hallway. I went outside and took pictures of the outside scene they were looking at while writing to display along with the blended poems. A picture showing a piece of the final product is below. This is a great Writing Workshop activity to help students form connections with other students as writers.