In the linked video this teacher shares a personal story of her father building up his endurance in order to bike 50 miles. This feat is accomplished through small goals, constant reflection, and a drive to get better. Students are then encouraged to study and reflect on their narrative writing and former checklists in order to set new goals and establish work for practice in writing.
A common goal of teachers is to be better teachers of writing. Many districts have purchased Units of Study for Opinion, Information, and Narrative Writing by Lucy Calkins and colleagues as an added resource, but, in all honesty, teachers feel overwhelmed by these detailed units. What if we take the advice from the teacher in this video and set small goals, practicing the work we expect our students to do, and constantly reflect on our practices?
On the blog "Two Writing Teachers" Elizabeth Moore (one of the Unit's writers) recently posted tips for reading a unit of study. She discussed teacher autonomy within teaching the intended lessons and building the unit to meet your students' needs. Her most powerful idea includes choosing a lens or focus with which to read the units. This will change from year to year as you reflect on your lessons and improve. She also suggests and models the use of post-it notes to plan out the components of each lesson (connection, teaching point, active engagement, and link). The post can be accessed at this link:
Let's end this post with some inspiration! We expect our students to do hard work, and we also must muddle through seemingly difficult work. Stay positive, take risks, accept mistakes as learning opportunities, celebrate success, set goals, and believe in a growth mindset! Everything gets easier with time and a collaborative group of colleagues. Remember, failure with negative connotations is not an option, because any attempt to improve instruction is a positive learning experience!
There are several teachers on Twitter looking to connect and form a professional learning community as they utilize these writing units. Check out the following hashtags to tweet out your plea for help or to find followers to stalk;): #tcrwp #kinderchat #1stchat #2ndchat #3rdchat #4thchat #5thchat.