It’s been awhile since I’ve written here, and quite a bit has changed in my world since July when I wrote my last post. Truth be told, I think it’s changed because I’ve changed. I’ve been thinking (obsessing) about the teaching of writing all year, as I’ve continued working with secondary teachers. And I’ve been, as I told my teaching partner the other day, wanting to “start a blog.”
Then I realized, “Wait. I already have one.” Except my dilemma was this: I’m not teaching summer school anymore. But here’s the deal. When I really thought about it, I realized that everything I’ve done this year has been an outgrowth of many of the lessons I learned this summer. So while my back-to-the-classroom stint lasted a mere twelve days, it has impacted me much much more than you’d expect.
In the past six months or so, I’ve become even more fascinated with the teaching of writing in high school. I think this is why–
a) I really saw glimmers of possibility this summer as some of my reluctant writers found their voices.
b) After spending some time at Teachers College this fall (and getting stuck in Superstorm Sandy–with lots of time to think) and seeing the success of our district’s Writing Workshop Middle School Study Group, I am more than slightly obsessed with creating a similar feeling of community in high school around the teaching of writing.
I’ve also been listening to and learning from a lot of high school teachers this year. Here’s what they are saying–
“Nicole, I hear what you’re saying about writing instruction, but…”
1. Where do I find texts to use in my class as models?
2. How do I make writing instruction in my class different from and appropriately more rigorous than what is happening in middle school?
3. How will this help me with the transition to Common Core?
4. What about getting kids ready for college (or, rather, any sort of life beyond high school?)
5. What does it look like? Just show me!
Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t claim to have the answers.
My goal here is to share some of my thinking–based on many of the conversations I’ve been fortunate to have with my thoughtful colleagues this year. I’ll be offering some ideas to perhaps start addressing some of the big questions that are emerging in the teaching of writing in high school, especially with the transition to the Common Core State Standards gaining momentum and intensity. (Full disclosure: these thoughts often hit me when I’m either a) geeking out with fellow edu-nerds or b) in the shower.)
More importantly, though, I am also hoping to hear your thoughts about some of these ideas. We all get smarter when we explore issues together and work collaboratively to solve problems. And when we get smarter, so do our kids.
So, welcome. Again.