The Weather, and The Charts, Are ChangingPosted: September 26, 2011
Hello again! It is a rainy Sunday here on the East Coast, and storms often bring with them some sort of change. Before the rain the trees were green, after the rain we began to see the change to yellow and brown. It is also fortunate because if there wasn’t the rain we wouldn’t appreciate the sun, and vice versa. And with the benefits of change in mind, lets think a bit about charts.
This week’s post is really about the way charts grow and change over time in a classroom. Charting will never be static, it is not something that can be done ahead of time and then sit for a year on the wall. Charts, like all living documents, need to be created with your classroom community and grow as you teach more, or as classroom needs change. Below is a series of photos from a first grade classroom that records how the writing process chart grew and changed over the first few days of school. These photos come from the incredible Tricia Newhart, who teaches in Orinda, California. A word about Tricia- when we close our eyes and imagine the ideal “workshop classroom”, Tricia’s room comes to mind. Her responsiveness to children, knowledge about reading and writing, and her absolute fearlessness and bravery in trying new things makes her an inspiration to all!
Here is Tricia’s writing process chart at the very beginning of school. You will notice that she has photos up of children actually doing each part of the chart. Like concrete samples, photos are a great way to capture complex ideas in an accessible way. It also makes the chart tailor-made to each classroom and much more engaging to children. We all tend to look more closely at things when we have been ‘tagged’ in the picture!
At this point, each child has his or her name on a post it, so that they can mark which step of the writing process each child is on. This is a great technique for any chart. Children can put their names on post-its for strategies they want to try, or as Tricia did, to keep track of where they are in a multi-step process.
Here we have that very idea in action!
Here you can see the chart in its final stage stage. Now that children are close to revising, Tricia has added some student work with the actual revisions highlighted in yellow and annotated with sentence strips. If you have been looking close, you will see that the bulk of children moved from planning into the sketching and writing. Tricia is well aware of where they are and taught the next thing that MOST children would need.
Slowly building the chart as needed makes each part more accessible and memorable for children. It also keeps students from getting overloaded from day one. Tricia painted the big picture of the process on day one, but introduced parts more specifically (using post-its to make a plan, ways to revise) as the children needed it.
And one last lovely idea from Tricia:
Here Tricia gives some space for children to put story ideas that pop into their heads during the day. Children can go back to access this during writer’s workshop. Again, the interactive nature of Tricia’s room shows the amount of independence she expects of children and the honor she gives to their thinking and writing.
Enjoy the week ahead as you begin to wind down some old units this week and look to start some new ones. We hope you will carry some of this with you into your planning with colleagues!
Until next time, happy charting!