She’s a Writer

Many students really love to write. Whether it’s series, how to’s, or any book that can get some laughs from others, this holds both rigor and joy for the developing writer. Having a personal belief that you are a writer among writers naturally builds a strong community. Teachers can make a big impact on the lives of their students because part of writing instruction is learning how. Why? One message rises to the top for us, “Your words matter to me, you can make a difference here.”

Both students and teachers need to believe that their actions will make a positive impact through writing. By honoring students’ voices, without being heavy handed with what they actually write, it really teaches them how to think critically and thoroughly. For young writers it’s not so much the content that they write, it’s the habits they are growing. But when we tell them what or how to get ideas down on the page, we take away the discovery of learning who you are as a writer, known as writing identity. Cultivating a writing identity for students is really job #1 for teachers.

We’ve been doing all this work and then we saw this tweet from our colleagues, @trustingreaders:

We did just love the side-by-side comparison of defining what writing growth means for teachers and students. To us, their tweet speaks to the undergirding of the power of personal belief, leading to greater agency. It got us thinking about how these beliefs can be transferred to shared intentions. There are natural links from student to teacher here. The list for what writing growth means for students becomes a list of potential goals. Where do you want to grow as a writer?  If a student wants to set a goal for “increasing volume” that would link up to a teacher’s goal to confer on “learning about the student’s writing identity.”  Strengthening a writer’s identity stems from the volume of writing a student produces. The more they write, the more we learn about who they are – one goal fuels the other. This is a way to follow the student’s lead into learning:
This is our thinking merged with Jen & Hannah’s. It makes sense since trust and agency go together. You have to trust your students to take ownership over their writing to get their voices out into the world.

We are taking a closer look on how to boost teacher confidence for conferring. One way to do this is by doing a Writing Running Record. This is an instructional technique we learned from our other friends at Teachers College, @TCRWP. Take a copy of student writing and look for patterns in this way – what stands out is the instructional goal to boost the process. As you can see, our student here is into development big time:

The word “you”  is woven throughout because we are creating a narrative for the student, “You are the kind of writer who uses dialogue.” This is extremely validating for her as a writer, and that really matters! It matters as much (maybe more so) as adding quotation marks, or fixing up endings. Also embedded within the feedback is the option for choice, “If you decide to do this…” is a very deliberate word choice because ultimately it is her choice.  If we said, “Go back and add quotation marks.” she would be doing that for us and our wishes rather than for her personal development as a writer, this is another way to get to a shared intention. Agency grows from access, language, and choice.  She was provided:  

Access: Space to grow writing identity within the writing process 

Language: Feedback that is given through an asset lens.  

Choice: An opportunity to decide what next steps may be

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