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.