The past 2 weeks in one of my grad school classes, we have been talking about different types of writing. So often, particularly in lower elementary, middle and high school, students become burned out by writing because they find the task too burdensome, don’t feel like they can write about what actually matters to them, or don’t have the confidence in their abilities to put thoughts on paper. After discussing a lot of these roadblocks, if you will, we began to research different ways to incorporate writing into the classroom to help to overcome some of these obstacles. One of the types of writing we discussed was a list article. List articles are similar to what many Americans read daily on Buzzfeed. They are exactly what they sound like. Lists centered around one topic that can be funny, serious or thought-provoking. We often use these in first grade to get kids to brainstorm before writing or starting a project. After our discussions both in class and on twitter chat, I decided I wanted to try some for myself:
The Five Most Important Things I’ve Learned about First Graders
1. First graders are some of the most genuine people you will ever meet. In my classroom we do a compliment circle every week and I have been moved to tears by some of the incredible things that they notice about each other and acknowledge in front of all of their peers.
2. First graders love to show what they know and what they can do. I find it amazing how much confidence my students have in themselves and their abilities. At some point in my life, I lost that great faith in myself and my abilities. It is incredible to see the certainty that my students have day in and day out, even when they are taking risks or doing something they have never done before. It is inspiring!
3. First graders are quick to forgive and even forget. It is amazing how resilient kids are. It happens all the time. One person does something to someone else that is unkind. But instead of getting that person back or refusing to speak to them again, so often I see kids that just let it go and pick up right where they left off. I am learning a lot about forgiveness and letting things go from my kids.
4. First graders will learn no matter what. This doesn’t mean that I take it easy as their teacher. But this is something I have to remind myself of when I just don’t feel that I am adequate enough. First graders are inquisitive. They are observant. They are constantly seeing, listening, exploring, doing. I am just building onto the awesome things they are learning and investigating.
5. First graders don’t care how much you have left on your to-do list as long as they know you love them. Sometimes I forget this very important fact. I get so busy wanting to have everything prepared perfectly for my kiddos that I forget to ask how their soccer game went or how their dog is doing or what they are doing over Thanksgiving break. Luckily they are quick to forgive and happy to share their lives with me.
7 Habits of Highly Effective Educators
1. They leave their students with more questions than answers.
2. They are still as much learners as teachers.
3. They care about what their students care about more than what they know.
4. They plan as they go, adapting constantly for the needs of their students.
5. They are well prepared but not afraid to do something spontaneous or follow a path where their students are leading.
6. They understand the importance of collaboration and engage with their peers just as they encourage their students to do.
7. They inspire students to push a little farther, go a little deeper, challenge themselves just beyond where they think they can go.
The amazing thing about these list articles is that I felt like I could keep going, whether in adding more items to my list, adding more detail to each item, or starting a totally separate list that I came up with as a result of the ones I’d already written.
So if you feel like you’re struggling with getting your kids excited about writing in your classroom, perhaps give list articles a try, but I warn you, they may become addicting to you and to your students!