I had some great conversations with Grade 5 writers today. They were keen to share their writer’s notebooks and the various pieces that were forming across the pages of their notebooks. One girl informed me she was writing about her memories of the toys she had when she was younger. She opened her notebook and turned to a page which had the somewhat impressive title emblazoned across the top, - ‘The Headless Barbie.’ I then spoke with a boy writing a persuasive piece about the perils of smoking. The title was a very direct one, - ‘Smoking Should Be Banned.’ A third encounter revealed that the writer was working on a graphic novel concerning a boy who was part robot. No title yet, but the author informed me that he was not worried. The title would come to him as he wrote. I liked that fact that he was confident and relaxed about this anticipated development. He knew that the important thing was that he had an idea and was pursuing it. The title would happen in good time.
Three different writers, three different projects underway, but in each situation the writer displayed a sense of ownership and direction. This was a differentiated classroom. The teacher was not trying to control writing and learning. Instead she was more intent on creating the conditions that would allow learning to occur with support and guidance.
I recalled the words of Mary Ellen Giacobbe, who some years ago wrote, ‘In the most predictable classroom environments, the most unexpected things can happen’ As I wandered among the writers, the teacher quietly conducted her roving conferences, guiding, suggesting, redirecting and teaching. Trust is at play here and the writing is taking off.