Who: Teachers and writers!
What: Mini-Charts (copied 4 to a page or half-sizes where appropriate) for Writing
Where: An easily accessible board
When: During writing studio (my student-driven version of writing workshop, no mini-lesson, all small groups); students set their own goal for the day and sign up to meet in a small group, teach a small group, or have a conference–this simple document is included with the charts!
Why: Give students what they need when they need it
How: Color code with learning targets, teach into goal setting with a goal-sheet, print (4 to a page) and copy mini-charts and display in clear reusable bags (with the top cut off) for easy access for your students! Also use my student conference/small group templates to help you organize what they sign up for and help students prep their small group lessons!
Want more info??? Keep reading below the picture!
My students are fifth graders, but I’ve worked with K-5 and I know in each grade they need help with INDEPENDENCE! Yes, I need to conference with them and give support. Yes, I need to ask questions, to model how to do certain things. And yes, I need to nudge them away from certain topics or ideas to get them going beyond what they’re comfortable with and get them feeling challenged and energized. But I have 2 classes of about 45 kiddos and I just can’t get to them as quickly as they need me to. So, I create opportunities for them to tell me what they need help with, how much help they need–feedback vs. being stuck– and if they want to teach a lesson to others. This clipboard that goes around says to them, “We (the entire class), are here for you. Tell us what you need and we’ll help you get it.”
The sign-up has been a part of my writing studio for about 3 or 4 years now and only recently have I taken it to the next level. I used to pre-make mini-charts for my small groups only, reserving them for me and the groups I put together based on need. This year, with students being so eager and also just feeling like I needed to support independence, I scratched keeping them tucked away in my binder and brought them out for all to see on the “Self-Help” board. The results have been mixed so far, but it is new. What I do know is kids are actively trying to help themselves with whatever goal they have written on their goal sheet. I know they are talking to each other and trying new things. I also know that when I’m leaving comments on their google docs I can direct them to the self-help board for some extra support. I’m hopeful that with more exposure and experience selecting mini-charts to match their goals, the student work and autonomy will only improve not because I’m directing them at every turn, but because they are making choices that matter to them!