Eye Opener

Like many teachers I have my students keep copies of all their writing throughout the year in a portfolio (well really a file folder, but we call it a portfolio). This last week I told students to go through their portfolios and put everything in dated order and get all “drafts” of the same piece together. Understand I really did want them to get things in order … I plan to do that every few weeks … but somehow it hasn’t happened since January. However, my unstated goal was to have them notice writing they did early in the year  and note how far they have come since then.

Students quickly got to work. Some found floor space and spread the year’s work out to organize it visually, others grabbed the inch+ pile of paper (and we do most of our work now as paperless as possible – next year we should use much less paper now that students are comfortable composing on their laptops) and shuffled the pages. It took all of about 2 minutes before a student asked if they could re-edit a piece from October. As the minutes went by more and more students were laughing at work they had done just a few months ago. Papers were continually being pushed in front of me by astonished students that were easily finding errors that eluded them before.

Today I had them go through their computer files and find posts that haven’t been published for one reason or another. We didn’t have much time today, but the idea is with the support of peer editing they are going to publish as many as they can. They were really excited about doing this, and about 6 posts were submitted in the 20 minutes we had to work today.

In addition I found out today that just since the first of the year about nine of my students that have never had internet at home have had it installed. When we started our laptop program last year 5 students had home internet connections so now we are up to 18! (out of 28 students) We talked about blogging over the summer and I’m going to revisit that with them next week before school is out.

We were planning on finishing our blog video, some Voicethreads and an iPod project that we HAVE to finish before the end of the year, but a flurry of benchmark tests, reading, math and spelling evaluations put an end to those aspirations. This is very controversial in my school district right now, we’ll see what comes of it.

Learning is messy!

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3 thoughts on “Eye Opener

  1. I keep a writers notebook and I catch myself sometimes looking back at my past work. I love to go back make corrections or add new ideas and comments to each page. Also when I start teaching I think that writer’s notebooks are important it is a place for that child to place their thoughts and opinion on subjects without fear of rejection. I never thought about having them go back and read it to see the progress they have made. Its a natural thing for me to go back and read, but the students need a time set apart every month or so for them to go back and read their past works. Plus it will help them spark new ideas of what they can write or maybe add to a piece. The only thing I am unsure of is peer review I feel these are personal works and any bad critism can scare the child. If you are going to do peer response I might make it to be positive response, NO NEGATIVE! We do not want our students to become afriad to write; we want to encourage it.

  2. Lindsay: When we do peer editing we look for spelling, punctuation and grammar mistakes. But then the “student editor” leaves a positive comment about the story or word usage or anything else they liked about the piece. We also spend time discussing that we do this to help each other … NOT to pick on others. We even roll play it.