This afternoon I had planned on giving the kids a solid 45 minutes to work on their Heroes essays. They are progressing nicely, and I know a few kids really need some time to catch up. With my Tier 3 kids leaving for interventions in the afternoon (and needing tons of extra help as it is), some have fallen a little behind. But just as I was passing out their work packets, I had a flashback to Methods of Language Arts class and remembered one of the tips from writing guru Regie Routman's Writing Essentials: When you teach writing, CELEBRATE WRITING!
I decided to take the first 10 minutes of my writing time to invite a few students to share either their introduction or first body paragraph with the class. We discussed expectations for when students are sharing work and talked about how it takes courage to share your writing. Then, all my fifth graders sat quietly on the carpet while the sharer got to sit in my special chair. My sharing students read a paragraph of their writing and we applauded. Then, the sharer decided whether or not he or she wanted feedback--they all did :-). I was so proud of them. My fifth grade "audience" raised their hands to offer 1 cheer & 1 suggestion. Then we applauded again to thank the sharer for sharing his or her work and the audience for listening and giving feedback. No one talked during the sharing, which for my group is a feat in itself. Tons of kids wanted to share, and I promised them that by the time we finished the essays, everyone would have an opportunity. It made me so happy to see how well they listened and how eager they were to share.
My fifth grade class of tough kids who are always on each others' nerves and who can't sit quietly hardly ever did such a great job with this today that it almost made up for the fact that I had to call the principal TWICE today to escort my little trouble maker out of the room. Thank you Regie Routman for reminding me how important it is for kids to not just turn in work and have it returned with a grade on it, but to celebrate both their own work and the work of their peers. I teach for moments like this.