A quick classroom behavior update, and then I’m not going to talk about it any more this week:
- Monday: Not good
- Tuesday: Horrible
- Wednesday: Better, and in Class Meeting we were able to get all the way around the class sharing “How do you feel when it’s too loud to focus and work?” Responses ranged from feeling disrespected and hurt, to frustration and feeling like people don’t care, to the calmest, most respectful and responsible girl in class saying, “I just feel the anger rising up inside me until I’m about to burst.” What? I thought it was just me… It seemed like a possible turning point day, but only time will tell.
- Thursday: OK
- Friday: Not bad
We had our very best Reading minilessons this week. We finished reading The One and Only Ivan aloud. I’m still using Lucy Calkins most of the time, and her end-of-the-first-unit “He remembers…” celebration worked wonderfully. Students were quiet as they wrote their memories of Ivan, and good listeners as their classmates shared. It was emotional and important.
The next day, we continued the same “He remembers…” theme to reflect back on our reading lives so far this year. It didn’t have quite the attention or depth of our Ivan memories, but it was nice, nonetheless. I do love to talk with them about the power and responsibility they have to create their own reading lives.
Writing, unfortunately, hasn’t quite clicked yet. These students just don’t have the stamina, motivation, or desire, yet, to sustain their writing projects over time. It hasn’t helped that Writing is our loudest time, which means it is my most strained time managerially, which means I’ve had very, very little time for conferring. This week, I checked in with all twenty-eight students about where they are in their writing. I hoped to do it in one day–it took three. And it was so, so frustrating to hear things like:
“Well, I didn’t like that story, so I started over.”
“OK. That’s fine. Can I see your new character chart and story arc?”
“How is your writing coming? Are you nearing the end of your draft?”
“Well, I think I’ve got maybe two or three pages to go.”
“Well, what scene are you on? Where are you on your story arc?”
Gah! Have you been listening at all? We had an emergency minilesson about using what they are learning. At the beginning of the year, they wrote like third graders. If they are still writing that same way, then they are still writing like third graders! Time to start thinking and writing like fourth graders!
There is no real sense of pride in their work. They are much more interested in product, than process, but not in a sense of “I want to make this my best finished work,” but instead, “I want to make this finished.” Sigh.
So, writing has been pretty challenging, and as we move to within a month of conferences, I’m worried about the progress we’ve made and how I’m going to show it. My conferences are student-led, and some of these kids are…not close to being able to explain their progress as writers.
So, some good parts of the week, some real struggles. Some moments that we might look back on in four months and remember as a pivotal event…or an anomaly. We shall see.
I’m glad you’re with me.