Trying it Out

I have spent many hours in workshop training and institutes. I have loved all that I have learned; however, as a reading specialist who does a lot of intervention, I haven’t always had much control of whole classroom workshops. It has been a good year so far as I have co-taught reading and writing workshop in a 4th grade classroom. This is a class with a high ELL population and eight special needs students. It has been a challenge to develop a reading community.

Today was a day where lots of learning converged as I introduced this 4th grade class to the idea of making double-page spreads in their Readers Notebooks as a way to capture their thinking. I modeled what I might include on a notebook page for our current read aloud The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo. Then I invited them to get the book they are currently reading and think about what they might include on their notebook pages.

After a few minutes of settling with materials, the room became silent except for the tiny click of marker lids coming off and on. As I walked around the room, I noticed some notebooks with intricate drawings and caricatures, similar to the graphic novels many of them choose to read. I saw another student write a full page of his thinking. Another carefully illustrated a favorite scene. This was their first time with this experience and they ran with it!

When I prompted that they would have about 2 more minutes, the groans were significant. They begged for at least 5 more minutes. I was so impressed by the level of engagement, the perseverance, the thinking, and the creativity students showed when given the opportunity to express themselves. Why had I waited so long?

I asked them at the end to show me with their thumbs if they would like to make more notebook pages in the future. It was all thumbs up and even a few gave two thumbs up.

I must thank Sally Donnelly for modeling this for me through her own notebook work and for giving me encouragement to try on so many occasions.