How much can you fit into one school year?
Many teachers are spending preparation periods working with colleagues to develop a curriculum map for the 2010-2011 school year. Developing a scope and sequence that is developmentally appropriate, interesting to children, and meets state standards is of crucial importance. However, it’s not always easy to plan for the following school year.
Can either of you help me to figure out the role of Writer’s Workshop when I have so many units of study to cover? The expectation that each student publish a piece for each unit seems to be in direct contrast to the philosophy of WW?
My district believes in the workshop model but I truly believe the training and support they provide to us teachers is contrary to the model. Is it me and my misunderstanding of the process?
It’s true… there are a lot of units of study to cover in a short period of time. While the final Common Core State Standards haven’t been released yet, there is a lot that we feel pressured to cover in Writing Workshop in a year’s time. (To learn more about the K12 ELA Standards that are being proposed, click here.) When I was a classroom teacher, sitting and planning for the year ahead with my grade-level colleagues, I often felt a large amount of pressure to squeeze too many units of study into the school year. Quite frankly, it doesn’t do students any good to cram-in all of these units if they’re not learning how to write well within a particular genre.
When push comes to shove, and you’re feeling the pressure to include more units of study then you and your colleagues think is appropriate, I think it’s a good idea to turn to the standards, for your grade level, to see what it is students are supposed to know/accomplish in writing by the end of the school year. When I’ve done this with colleagues in the past, we’ve often discovered that something we were planning on teaching didn’t need to be taught that year since it didn’t fall into what the state was asking fourth or fifth graders to know by the end of the school year. Often this helped us cut a unit of study. Additionally, looking at the state standards can help you think of out-of-the-box ways to combine units of study (e.g., essay writing + content area writing) into one unit of study so that you can help your students meet the end-of-grade expectations in a more manageable way.
Finally, I do think students should publish a piece of writing at the end of each unit of study. However, the type of published piece can vary unit to unit.
If you have any other tips for Rissa as she tries to fit it all in, then please leave a comment here.