Wednesday, October 31, 2012

End of the Unit---Now What?

I received an email from a teacher I work with that said, "I wondered if you had any ideas about publishing mini lesson statements. The deadline is Wednesday at the end of class, so tomorrow is a busy day of finishing up work."

Then today after leaving her class she said, "I wonder why reflection is so difficult for the students."

Ending a unit of study is a difficult time. As the students are finishing up their work, making copies, checking with the rubrics to be sure they have everything they need, rereading for clarity, it is tough to know just how we can help them be better writers! We don't want to overwhelm them. We don't want to just let them go either.  How can we give them the support they still need?

For the day before the deadline, we decided to go with punctuation. We knew that could be a big issue, but it could also be something that would make their pieces better. We had to remember that we were teaching the writer, not the Lucy Calkins always tells us! So this is what we came up with:
It says: "Writers look at punctuation to be sure it tells the reader how to read their piece. It's about controlling the actions of the reader." The YouTube video is of a robot being controlled by the man in the picture. He appears to have no contact with the robot, but when he moves, the robot's about control. 

The teacher also used a t-chart to give the purpose of punctuation and the class worked as groups to come up with the punctuation marks used for that purpose. This is what it looked like:
As the students finished their pieces or recopied to publish their books, they made sure their punctuation was telling their reader how to read the text.

Next, they filled out a reflection form. One of the questions was: "Choose the best (or your favorite) subsection or chapter you wrote.  What did you do to help that reader (from #2) learn about your topic in that section? (Be specific by naming the section title in quotes and use the words of writing to describe what you did.)"
It was so interesting to listen to the children explain this answer as I conferenced with them. Sydney said the reason she liked the chapter she wrote was: " Now the reader knows how to talk like Miamis."  Then there was Dante who told me he had a great way to end his book. He was going to write: "Guess I'm done, I'm out of paper!"

For the answer to the question...Why don't students like to reflect on their work?  Well, do teachers like to reflect? Even though it is the most important part of learning, we don't reflect as much as we should!  Kind of like Jacob said yesterday, "Mrs. N., you are making my brain hurt!"

Guess I'll go reflect on that!

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