Independence is happiness.
Susan B. Anthony
It was early fall, and I was observing Carly Ullmer lead her seventh graders as they learned writing response routines they would be using all year long. Carly was giving a minilesson on how to access the work of classmates in Google Drive, and the assignment during literacy workshop was to quietly type a paragraph or two of their writing into a document and then test out the different features for collaborating online. “After you finish typing in your text you can start reading your independent choice book,” Carly explained. “My cue that it’s time for us to move on to something else will be when I look up and see almost all of you are reading silently.”
One of the most prized goals in classrooms is independence — helping students acquire the skills to monitor their own work, as well as the initiative to organize and complete it on their own without prompting from the teacher. As I listened to Carly, I was struck by her language. She wasn’t saying, “Watch me.” Carly was saying, “I’ll watch you. Just do your work, and I’ll take my cues from you when it’s time to move on.” She could have said, “Look for my silent signal sometime in the next 10 minutes for our transition” or something else that cued her students to continuously monitor their teacher. Instead, Carly kept the students focused on their reading and writing.
How often do you say “Watch me”? How often do you say “I’ll watch you”? Shifting language and cues from students focusing on you to you focusing on students is a subtle way to build independence among readers and writers more quickly.
This week we present multiple perspectives on student independence. Plus more as always — enjoy!
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Here are two essays from the archives on student independence in literacy workshops.
Aimee Buckner writes about the corrosive effects of students always connecting their independent reading to book levels in Independent Reading by the Numbers Is Not Text Complexity:
Debbie Miller advocates for Inviting Students to Organize Books and Materials:
Katharine Hale writes on her blog about the value of An iPad Contract for helping students handle and share devices appropriately:
Pernille Ripp questions how much behavior charts help children monitor themselves:
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Katie Doherty Czerwinski helps students make choices for independent reading in Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover: Teaching Book Previewing Skills to Middle School Students:
Katherine Sokolowski is discouraged when she observes that some students are off-task during literacy workshops. She decides a reflection sheet will be a useful weekly scaffold to support independent monitoring of behavior in Classroom Management and Student Responsibility:
In this week’s video, Bitsy Parks analyzes Kaenon’s reading in another installment of our running records series:
Mary Helen Gensch concludes her series on crafting your own minilessons with tips on organizing and storing your plans:
In an encore video, Franki Sibberson is Helping Students Develop Independent Previewing Skills:
That’s all for this week!