The last four weeks I have literally and figuratively been ‘back to school’. It started with the writing and researching. Two of my best friends who recently retired with me last May, embarked on a writing journey together, designing units for kindergarten through 5th grade. For the most part we have integrated Social Studies with writing opinion. There has been a method to our writing frenzy. We believe that Social Studies and content writing needs to become a part of our Literacy block for two very important reasons:
50/50 LITERATURE AND INFORMATIONAL TEXT
We have felt like explorers running on terrain, not established before in our district. I guess bits of it have been brewing for many years. I taught on a team in Middle School in the ‘hay day’ of teaming. We all taught a block of Social Studies, English and our main subject. Mine was Literature, my friend Debbie taught Science and our Math colleague, who defected to administration, after three years of working with ‘designing’ women. We believed in integration and spent endless hours discussing how to build writing skills into all the subject areas. Our culminating team project every year was Science Fair. We all took part. We, loved those years of collaboration.
Fast forward twenty years, retirement, ache of missing school and this opportunity arrives, and in essence we are creating similar units for our teachers. Last week we started presenting them. There has been some bumps, but for the most part, I am in awe of the process. We are living writing process together. Over and over we research, write, revise (in the flow) and now it is ready to go out to all. It still is not in the last form, because we have invited those using the unit to give feedback and we will make changes accordingly.
Why does it work with my writing friends? This is what we all believe. I was reading this quote and it dawned on me. All three of us believe the following about learning.
In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Virtually all great people have had these qualities. -Carol Dweck
I believe that a growth mindset is absolutely a quality that every educator needs to own. Our project together is reinforcing this to all of us. It is a labor or love and heart and we are also very humbled by teachers who have this mindset and are willing to ‘give it a go’.