Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Those LIttle Things Do Mean A Lot!

Two Writing Teachers host Slice of Life Tuesdays

When Ruth Ayres, of Two Writing Teachers wrote in her personal blog, Discover, Play, Build of a search for the little things that teachers do to make a difference, I was intrigued, and wrote one response.  I continue to be interested in the search for more.  As I contemplate those little things, I find many, ones that I remember from my own classroom, and those I am beginning to observe as I visit classrooms.  Perhaps I will write still another post about these little things, because I believe that teachers everywhere have created wonderful teaching moments, specific and personal to them that enhance their work in literacy.  Perhaps someone will read an idea and use it with his or her own students?
 When there are small challenges to meet some certain needs of students, teachers so often devise little things that help.  One challenge I remember was to help students to slow down when reading or writing or working on a project. What a challenge it was to explain, or show, all the layers of a task in order to do it better!  Numerous direct lessons and time to practice is often the key, however, so often, students want to be done, for the teacher to say, “that’s enough”.  Another way to view it is to improve students’ metacognition, defined as their awareness or analysis of one's own learning or thinking processes, according to the online Merriam – Webster dictionary.  One year I began using the phrase SO FAR with the students. “What has happened SO FAR in your writing, reading, project”?  I began to write the words on the white board at the beginning of the day and during morning meeting, when making plans for work time, I reminded students to ask themselves questions like, “SO FAR, what have I done in my writers notebook, what do I need to do, when will I do it?” or “SO FAR, where am I in my book, what has happened, what do I believe will happen next?”  
The discussions of SO FAR continued, and while there were still instances of students turning in what seemed like hurried assignments, improvement in first drafts and talk about books also occurred.  It seems that the two little words made a difference in my students’ learning and attention to that learning.  


14 comments:

  1. I like the idea of asking "So far..." I'll need to remember this today as my creative writing students begin sharing their next draft. Results haven't been the best the last few weeks. Hopefully, this will help them realize that they need to continue!

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  2. Such small words, but such a big impact on thinking. They will resonate in my mind today as I confer with teachers on guided reading practices. Thanks for the thoughts.

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  3. I love the idea of "so far." I too, am collecting 'little things' and I have been inspired by Ruth's Book Stacks posts as well. Once you notice, you can't stop noticing!

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  4. "So far" are really powerful words. You know they'll carry those little words forward with them in their educational journey, don't you?

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  5. These are great words to stay engaged in the process. I'm already thinking of my own "so fars."
    ps, thanks for all the wonderful responses on my mom's blog (otterlanding)

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  6. Wonderful idea. Our language is so powerful.

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  7. Neat post! I love the idea that such little words can make a big difference! It's great that you realized that "so far" can lead to a focus on process instead of "results"!

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  8. What a great line to use when conferring with kids! Easy to remember and gets the kids to think about their writing. :)

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  9. What I like about the "so far" line is it is non-threatening. It gives them an out, "I may not be done yet," there could be more to say or maybe not, but it is on their terms. Love it!

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  10. "So far..." Love it. I think there is real power in that phrase; in fact, it's one I think I'll be using for the work I do and the work I do alongside teachers the rest of the week. Thanks for the reminder.

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  11. Thanks for your thoughtful comment on my post from yesterday! It was very powerful to hear your perspective in light of your personal connection. I am so grateful to your dad - and your family - for his service.

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  12. "So far" helps lighten the load of having to complete something during a certain amount of time. Yes, I am so far in my writing, also, and it's okay--the journey will continue inspite of myself.

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  13. You know, you are SO right! "So far" - we are always only "done" with writing "so far." I am definitely going to change my "Hmm..let's see what we can do..." to this little phrase.

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