As we nudge our writers toward independence, we create multiple opportunities to for them to self-assess and to assess with a partner. Using checklists and criteria lists, students read their writing, determine what they are already doing and what they need to do more, and set goals for themselves. Often, our writing workshop will begin with students finding a spot in their writing that they want to work on– to make more powerful. After the minilesson, they go to that spot and try out different writing craft moves from mentor authors in it. Throughout our narrative writing unit, we have set, checked, and revisited writing goals many times. Now, as we move toward our last week of narrative writing with publishing and our writing celebration, we are dedicating more time to reading with our long-term writing partners and revisiting goals. Students ask themselves, “Am I trying this in my own writing?” and then show their partners where they are trying it. This week, students are selecting their own mentor authors, finding beloved narrative stories and closely reading through them, mining them for powerful parts. In each part, they ask, “What is powerful?” “Why is it powerful?” and “How does the author do it?” Yesterday, Michael selected Ezra Jack Keats’s The Snowy Day. He found the page where Keats writes, “Crunch, crunch, crunch. His feet sank into the snow,” and put a sticky on it. He shared, “I’m making a connection with this part. I remember when I walked in the snow, my feet made a ‘crunch, crunch, crunch’ sound. It reminds me of when I walked in the snow.” On his sticky note, Michael wrote, “Makes me feel like I’m there,” and “sound words.” Then he found the spot in his own writing he wanted to make powerful–the part where his dad let him get candy from the candy store, a special treat. “I want my readers to feel like I feel–excited.” And so he added sound words: “In the store, you could hear children saying, ‘Yum,’ ‘Mmmm.'”
We will have our first big writing celebration next week to share all of our author’s stories. Stay tuned for more specific details later this week.