I'm baaaaaaack.

Hoarding All the Glitter Since 2001.

29 January 2013

Trees die, writing improves.

I got a scholarship to go to a Teachers College Reading and Writing Project institute last summer.  I've been using (not to the letter, but fairly closely - rigid curricula doesn't create flexible learning) the Readers Workshop model for a few years, but hadn't been doing so much Writers Workshop.  Sure, I'd seen various books on how to do it, but found them opaque; Kindergarten isn't like any other grade and too many available books compressed K-2 into "early primary".

Anyway, this year I am using (again, with significant adjustment for my style, my students, and so on) more of a Writers Workshop model.  I'm pretty happy with the results so far; the kids write more and they seem more confident at it.  Part of the model is that they have largely endless quantities of paper.  Generally I give them a three or four page booklet.  They plan out what they want to write by touching each page and saying it (HINT: THIS TAKES SEVEN THOUSAND MINILESSONS, NOT THREE OR SO) to themselves before they sketch and write.  During revisions, they can add more pages if they need to.

The plus side?  Like I said, they write more.  Their writing is organized, too; some kids even use transition words on their own.  Some kids also are independently picking up story language or mimicking their leveled readers in their structure.  And as I get better at teaching writing this way, I'm sure the student results will be even better.

(Downsides?  They're taking longer this year to space words well, but it does seem to be shaking out now.  I'm also having to do lots of small groups and conferencing around spelling expectations - at this point, initial-letter-only spelling is not what want to see.  Still, this does seem to be working itself out and I'm trying to have faith in the process.)

But what I do find alarming is the sheer quantity of tree we're going through for writing.  When the kids revise, having the space on the page for adding more detail is great, but not everything gets revised.  It's also useful for editing, but again: not every piece gets edited.  Since the kids have a lot of choice about what they revise and what they don't, we have paper waste.

We are back-to-backing, of course.  I thought about trimming the size (half-sizing sheets and making little booklets), but this year I have a number of kids who are not developmentally ready to write that small (nor do I want to have this as an available choice/accommodation for a number of reasons).

I haven't been able to come up with anything though.  I suppose it's time for some websearching; I can't be the first teacher to fret over this.

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