Week 6: Mini-portfolios

This week we seem to be settling into a bit of a routine.  When the students enter class, they write for a few minutes on some open-ended prompt I have written on the board.  Something like “I imagine…” or “I don’t know” or “What I wish my parents understood about me is…”  While I don’t necessarily feel this writing has much to do with making them better writers, it does provide a purpose to quiet down and do something right away, which for me at this point in my career as seventh-grade teacher is of high value.  I had thought of replacing it wih some other activity like Daily Oral Language, until a girl sat down on Tuesday, pulled out her pencil and asked, “What are we writing about today?” and I realized that I had established some reguarity, finally.  I’m not going to mess with that.

On Fridays we have two half hour class periods, and the kids go home at 12:45, so the staff can collaborate in the afternoon.  They are usually pretty keyed up because it’s Friday, so I am finding it necessary to plan activities that are not the same as the rest of the week.  Not wanting to lose the momentum of the daily writing, I decided to have them do mini-portfolios this week.  I handed back all their pieces from the past two weeks, and asked them to read through them, choose their favorite and write me a reflective paragraph, saying why they had chosen that particular one.

Something I learned from reading their reflections is that we now need to talk about what makes good writing.  This little piece from Chue will show you what I mean:

“These 2 weeks I have written 6 pieces.  The one I like best is “this weekend I was surprise…”(sic).  I think it is my best piece of writing because I like hunting and like to hear gunshot.  every morning I eat an sandwich or an biscuit with eggs for breakfast.”

Okay…and your point is, exactly?  Peter is the only one who actually referred to his writing:

“These 2 weeks I have written # pieces.  the one I like best is “this weekend.”  I think it is my best piece of writing because it had more complete sentence.”

Yeah.  Not a punctuation expert, is he?  But he looked at his way of writing where no one else did.  So, this week we will talk about what makes writing good.  It might actually lead to some possiblity of growth.  All in all I liked the activity and they seemed to as well, so I think we’ll do it every couple of weeks.  I’ll save the writing so we can determine if anything changes over the course of the year.  And with this, my inquiry has begun!

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