Choice Literacy hosted workshops recently at a resort where the motto is “Consider It Done.” This was the tagline heard whenever a staff member introduced herself, as in “Hello, I’m Jean, consider it done.” If a request was made at the front desk, guests heard, “I’m Jeremy, consider it done, how can I help you?” At dinner one night we were laughing over “consider it done” as we tallied up all the fairly reasonable requests made that day that were denied — for coffee early in the morning, or a corkscrew delivered in the evening, or a thirty-minute extension of the checkout time. Staff members were in the awkward and comical position of saying “Consider it done, but we can’t do that” quite often throughout the day.
We finally figured out the problem. “Consider It Done” sets up unrealistic expectations. Demanding guests can make ridiculous requests, and a promise of satisfaction before the request is even made often leads to disappointment or anger. What’s the alternative? Someone mentioned a favorite fast food restaurant, where any compliment about service receives the response, “It was my pleasure.” That murmured “It was my pleasure” makes customers feel appreciated, building goodwill and repeat visits.
In schools, the “Consider It Done” equivalent is the promise made by a politician far removed from classrooms who guarantees reading success rates of 100% by the fourth grade in their state or district, or the principal who gives parents who complain free rein to move their children into specific classrooms. Sometimes there are realistic reasons why requests can’t be granted, and targets can’t be met.
Teachers can promise we will work harder than we ever had before, and we can express delight when children and parents are satisfied with our efforts. But there is no “done” in helping kids become lifelong readers and writers, and there will be plenty of disappointments along the way. This is especially true when working with reluctant writers, who may have developed a hard shell of resentment and discouragement from failures in previous years. This week we’re featuring resources with strategies for reaching those reluctant writers. Plus more as always — enjoy!
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We’re featuring two articles from the archives with practical suggestions for reaching reluctant writers.
Heather Rader uses “wows and wonders” to frame her work with elementary students in Coaching Reluctant Writers:
The Read Around: Raising Writers from Linda Christensen can be an effective strategy for helping reluctant high school writers:
In Motivating Reluctant Writers with Journals, Laura Wasserman presents practical and fun suggestions gleaned from working with students who range from autistic and writing far below grade level, to gifted and bored:
Many teachers have had success with the Storybird site for reluctant writers. This site helps writers of all ages create interesting illustrated stories:
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Formative assessments are always a priority in classrooms. Cathy Mere explains how she uses a classroom wall display and conversations to highlight strong writing and help her first graders learn to assess improvements in their work:
Katie Baydo-Reed has to try, try, and try again to get high quality writing and thinking in The Apple Doesn’t Fall from the Tree: Nurturing Critical Thinking and Choice with Middle School Writers:
Principal Jennifer Schwanke finds herself on a mad dash to buy a baked potato for a struggling reader, and this is the moment that crystallizes for her everything that is wrong with most reading rewards (especially those involving food):
This week’s video is a new Book Matchmaker from Franki Sibberson, highlighting New Read Aloud Versions of Old Favorites for children in the primary grades:
We’re continuing our month-long series on teaching conventions. In this week’s installment, Heather Rader and a team of fourth-grade teachers align their goals for convention instruction with the Common Core:
Looking for more booklists at Choice Literacy? You can view dozens of booklists at the Booklists link in the Popular Topics area of the site, with suggestions for everything from mentor texts for teaching argumentative writing in the Common Core to “cool” books for struggling older readers:
That’s all for this week!