We become what we repeatedly do.
Everyone knows when it is time to write in Emily Buttermore’s kindergarten classroom. The overhead lights are off and lamps are on. Strings of white lights soften dark corners. A virtual fire crackles on the Smartboard and music drifts throughout the room. It doesn’t take long for her students to settle into different places with their writing supplies.
A girl with braids looks at me and says, “Are you just going to sit there? It’s time to write.” She flops to her belly and opens her folder.
I watch her as she writes. It seems so easy for her. I used to think writers were born, but now I know that people learn to write. Writing is not a talent; it is a skill. I look around the room and am surprised to find everyone has slid into their writing work.
In the book The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg describes the process the brain goes through when acting on habit. He calls it the “habit loop”:
First, there is a cue, a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use. Then there is the routine, which can be physical or mental or emotional. Finally there is a reward, which helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future.
Mrs. Buttermore has created a cue to allow her students to habitually begin writing. It is so ingrained that her students expect anyone in the room to be working as writers. Many writers have cues—the triggers that allow them to move into their writing work.
But cues aren’t just for writers. How can this idea help develop the habits necessary for a seamless day for our students? What cues can you begin putting in place to help students slide into routines that will make the day predictable and routines seamless? Perhaps like in Mrs. Buttermore’s class there will be cues in the environment for writing, or perhaps you will use music, songs, gestures, and phrases to cue other routines for a day of learning.
This week we look at how to design and present author studies. Plus more as always—enjoy!
Lead Contributor, Choice Literacy
Gigi McAllister explains why she hosts optional lunchtime author studies, with practical tips on getting started.
Franki Sibberson realizes she needs to highlight nonfiction authors in new ways in her classroom library.
Author studies often involve comparing and contrasting styles, genres, and authors. Melissa Taylor has tips and resources for simple to elaborate compare and contrast lessons.
New members-only content is added each week to the Choice Literacy website. If you’re not yet a member,click here to explore membership options.
Christy Rush-Levine scaffolds her middle-school students’ understanding of craft moves by moving from short stories to novels when studying specific authors.
In this week’s video, Jen Court uses text sets from three authors to help second graders ferret out different elements of the authors’ styles.
Mark Levine shows how young adult literature is a potent tool to drive learning in his middle school social studies classroom.
In an encore video, Heather Rader shares how “About the Author” blurbs are a great way to bring closure to writing in workshops. Myia begins to construct her “About the Author” page with Heather’s assistance.
Lead Literacy now has a new home as the Leaders Lounge at Choice Literacy. We’ll be posting the new content updates here in the Leaders Lounge section of the Big Fresh newsletter.
Dana Murphy has wise words for any coach who wonders why some teachers aren’t welcoming them into their classrooms. Her honesty will help build your patience and trust in the early days of your relationships with teachers.
Jen Court debriefs with a second-grade teacher after leading her minilesson on author styles. This is a companion coaching video to this week’s featured Classic Classroom video.
Andrew Davis explains how our innate human drive for closure can be used as a potent tool for leading others.
There is a microscopically thin line between being brilliantly creative and acting like the most gigantic idiot on earth.
That’s all for this week!