The last few weeks I have felt back in the groove. Two of my best friends from my literacy days and I have been asked to collaborate on a writing project for our former district. We have integrated social studies units with a new ‘opinion writing’ unit. To put it mildly, we have been on fire in our collaborative writing sessions. We bring different strengths to the table, but one thing we are all are pretty good at is seeing the big picture and what we want the student learning outcomes to be. One of our main goals is to maximize our ‘shared reading’ time during our reading block to work with the non-fiction content. Our teachers are simply so strapped for time, integration is absolutely is necessary. We have created a product that hopefully they can replicate in their classrooms with other writing units.
We meshed quickly, even though we haven’t written together for a while. One of us, is extremely organized and gets us moving in 3 different directions. We go off looking at text or even videos that support the unit and then we come together to write. None of us do anything in long hand any longer unless we are working on a sentence that just isn’t coming together. All of us love to break it down into steps especially looking at it from a ‘new teacher perspective’. We believe it should look teacher friendly and have clarity. All three of us love to research and easily sit together, deciding what would work best with the students.
All three of us have had years teaching in the grade levels that we are writing for and have mentored teachers modeling in the classrooms during writing workshop. One thing we will never waver on is this: We believe in gradual release with our whole hearts. So in these units, teachers are asked to model, then guide in pairs and finally, students are asked to try on their own.
The writing process has been alive and present in this process. We revise whole pieces in the flow of writing. We go back, read individually, come together to continue to revise. Giving each other feedback is important, we often will pipe up, “that sounds funny”, or “they aren’t going to get that part”. And we revise, revise, revise..
Today we presented the unit to our literacy coaches, who will present it to grade level teams. In the midst, of our presentation we still kept revising!
I am joyful to work with the ‘girls’. I’ve loved planning and creating for so long that it just feels right. But the bottom line is this: we all still love our next generation, our learners who are learning how to brainstorm, draft along with using information from the text and to also, revise, revise, revise……….
This project reminded me again, of how important it is to teach our students how to collaborate. Three brains are always better than my little one.
“Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity, but in doing it.”