My first session was with one of my favorite Teachers College developers, Shanna Schwartz. She lead a session on developing struggling writers in K-2 that has had an immediate impact on my writing classroom. This was by far the most exciting, “tweet-worthy” session during my day, but it was also incredibly useful. Shanna started off by sharing a personal story about her children and their own writing. She then went on to talk about the various portions of the brain and human thought required to write. When we say we are struggling with math or reading, people usually look to pinpoint that struggle and move forward. In writing we need to do the same, only it can be very tricky, because writing difficulties include so many different components. If a kid is struggling with any one portion of what it takes to write, they will be a “struggling writer”.
The most important thing we can do, is to listen to what our writers say is the problem, then watch them with their writing. If we can begin to identify what KIND of problem it is, then we can work to address it. Not only are we able to identify the problem for ourselves, but we are able to help kids identify what they need on their own.
This session has immediately helped a few of my writers because they have taken some of these ideas and developed them into their own solution. One solution she shared was giving kids that are distracted easily, “an office”, because many professional writers prefer to have that quiet place. I now have four kids that have their own offices, complete with old headphones to keep from being distraction. Three of them found ways to create their own space after seeing one kid get his own space.
Another great take-away was simply to celebrate with the kids who are “done.” What did you finish? Really? That is GREAT! Now let’s see if we can do another! Instead of allowing struggling writers to say “I’m done” simply celebrate that small success with them, then move them forward.
There were so many great moments from this session (many of which you can find in the archives of the #TCRWP because everything I tweeted out was retweeted and favorited more times than you would believe!
Thanks Shanna for a session full of AMAZING ideas.