Day 23 – March SOLSC #sol17
I’ve always had my students partnered up during Reading Workshop, but have just recently partnered my kiddos for writing. I’m not sure why I never really had them in established partnerships for writing. But, after reading some posts about writing partnerships on the Two Writing teachers blog, my eyes were opened, and I decided to commit to forming writing partnerships with my first graders.
I started out by partnering them up with others whom I thought they would work well with, and not distract each other. They met with partners, shared their writing, coached each other, but they never really seemed excited to meet. Today, during morning choice time, I really watched them. I focused my attention on who they were playing with, the ways they were interacting and talking, and started to rethink my decisions about the current partnerships.
While I sat there kid watching, I started to jot notes and group different kids together based on who they play with. I was partnering good friends together. Was this a crazy idea? Were they just going to fool around? Or were they going to have great conversations about their stories? Were they going to help each other if they got stuck? Then I thought about myself as a writer. There’s been plenty of days during this challenge where I’ve gotten stuck and didn’t know what to write. And what did I do? I read other posts on the blog or I asked my daughter for ideas. I essentially looked for a coach or partner to help me through my difficulty. I wanted to give these new partnerships a try.
So, I introduced them by gathering the kids in a circle on the rug. I asked “Why have writing partners? What can having a writing partner help us with?” Immediately chatter filled with room:
“You can tell your ideas to them.”
“You can borrow ideas from your partner’s story if you’re stuck.”
“You can borrow ideas for your own story from your partner’s writing.”
“You can ask your partner for help.”
“You can read your story to your partner.”
“You can help your partner write words.”
“Ok boys and girls, well today I’m going to do something that I’ve never done before. I watched you this morning and looked closely at who you play with and how you work together. I made some new writing partners…and you’re going to be with someone you were playing with this morning.”
They all turned at looked at each other and oh, the smiles. There was gasping and cheering and smiling. I just couldn’t help but notice the ear to ear smiles. Of course, before unveiling these new partnerships, I had to have the chat about the responsibilities of writing partners and that if they stop doing their writing jobs, then I will have to switch partners around again. They nodded their heads in agreement and said “we can do it!” (so much enthusiasm).
I took out the list of partnerships – “Ready?!?!” As I read through the list, their faces lit up as they made eye contact with their new writing partner. Before I could even get the last names out of my mouth, they were up and almost ran to get their folders. Off they went to a meeting spot – some on the rug or floor, others at tables. I gave them the freedom to choose how they were going to work with their partners today.
Instead of pulling strategy groups or conferring, I just watched, noticed, and jotted. The excitement in the classroom was incredible. I have never seen my kids so motivated and enthusiastic about writing. Yes, they get excited for mentor texts, moan when writing time is over, and many proclaim their love. But, today was different. The energy in the room was extraordinary . Their voices were a little louder, but there were animated conversations, story planning, and drafting – a wonderful Writing Workshop. Writing partnerships will be a permanent part of our Writing Workshop.
Thank you to the team of writers at Two Writing Teachers for created this amazing writing community!