This week, I’ve worked with my district’s literacy coach to help me out with a few things in my classroom. I initially reached out because I was struggling with classroom management in a couple of classes, so we took a look at mini-lesson strategies to help with that. I realized that I was feeling a little unstructured with many days full of writing for students, and that having true mini-lessons really do help them focus.
Yesterday, my “mini-lesson” was more of a directional one, but I gave students the task of writing their goal for the day on a post-it note, and keeping it on their desk. Then, I had them sign up for one of four categories on the board, with the caveat that they could move their name at any time. The categories were 1) work alone (AKA don’t bug me), 2) conclusions, 3) planning, and 4) individual conference (the catch-all). This was our last day of writing in class, so my students were pretty self-aware at this point if they needed help (though a few needed some nudging).
These focused strategies were both suggested by my literacy coach, and they worked really well to help students stay focused and to remind them what they should be working on. I am still a little afraid of small group instruction (luckily I got to see a great model of that from my coach, too!), and I am getting more comfortable with stepping back and letting my students take the reins.
I am so proud of the writing they’ve done, and I think they are too. At the beginning of this unit, I told them that this would probably be one of the hardest writing assignments they’ve ever done. I could tell they finally recognized this when a student (who usually slacks off a little) came into class today proudly sharing how much work he had put into his writing.
That’s all I can ask for.
(On a side note, my 1st period class was very independent – but they worked hard the who class! See Exhibit A:)