Saturday, August 3, 2013

Writing... Spy on Yourself

About a month ago I had the opportunity to attend a Reading Institute at Columbia Teachers College.  Over the course of the week, staff developers frequently said, "Spy on yourself as a reader...".  In doing this, we can find teaching points or 'tips' for our students.  I believe it also helps us, as readers, become more metacognitive in our reading and teaching, and we can pass that along to our students.

So, the other day, while preparing for my first blog post, I did a few things and I felt a few things.  This, being a new 'genre' of writing for me, felt exciting and terrifying at the same time.  To help ease my emotions, I went to some blogs that I enjoyed reading, as well as researched some new blog authors.  I went to Pinterest and searched educational blogs.  I studied.  I looked at everything from how frequently people posted, to the titles of their blogs, to the topics written about, to the format, to the pictures, and so on.  I also made lists. I listed various blog titles I could use (these varied from non-original  to catchy play-on-word phrases with Lang-Literacy).  I listed topics that I thought I had a lot to say about in the realm of literacy, as well, asking myself, What could I blab  on and on about...

As I composed and as I clicked 'publish' on my first post, I kept thinking, I hope I'm doing this right... But, publish I did.  I had done my research after all, so this was the next step. 

I went to Twitter to share my blog.  I yearned for an audience, like most people who write.  In my twitter post, as I introduced my link, I confessed, 'hope I'm doing this right' and pondering, 'Maybe this is how our students feel when writing in a new genre!'

Immediately, I began to reflect on this thought... how our students feel when writing in a new genre.  I know in my district this year, students will likely be trying their hand in new writing genres as we implement the 13-14 Writing Units of Study.  I retraced my steps... I SPIED on myself as a writer...
  1. Named the new genre
  2. Found examples of people who were successful within the genre my mentor texts
  3. Studied those mentors with a specific questions in mind (author craft, structure...)
  4. Make lists (prewrite my ideas... make a map...write fast and furious)
  5. Select an idea and try it out... (draft in the genre...'notebook entries'-for those who have worked with me in WW before) **I had my mentor texts available 'next to me'... open in a tab while I tried this out**
  6. Read over (multiple times- reading my writing aloud to myself... If my husband was around, I would have read it aloud to him, too! As I read through, adding parts and taking parts out.) - Revise and Edit
  7. Publish and Share (having an audience...)
  8. Look forward to feedback
As I reflect on these steps-the writing process- and on the feelings I had throughout, my mind continued back to our kids.  Are we honoring the many emotions one feels when trying something new - when trying a new genre... knowing the work composed will someday be shared?  Are we teaching students how to really work through the writing process?  That it isn't a check list; but, rather an in-and-out, back-and-forth process?  Teaching students there are many ways to prewrite, study mentor texts, and draft?  Are we modeling this behavior? Finding mentors for our writers? Have you ever spied on yourself as a writer?

I think, most importantly, are we enthusiastic about the writing genres we introduce to our students?  Helping them feel excited to try-out and explore new things?  Are we making it okay in our classrooms to make mistakes and understand that the first time we try something, we can't expect it to be perfect?  What helped me feel brave and comfortable enough to publish/post, is that I had felt prepared. 
Are we offering authentic writing experiences for our students?
Are we preparing our kids for real-world writing?
I'd love to hear your experiences "spying" on yourself as writers! Please share!
:) Sarah

1 comment:

  1. Great post... I admire your efforts to start a blog and share your thoughts and experiences!!