One Sunflower


on February 23, 2010

This is the time of year that raspberry vines are bundled.  I pass the workers in the field at sun-up wearing leather gloves, their clippers and ties ready.  When I’m coming home, the tangled vines I passed in the morning have been tamed into trim hoops, neat arches stretching to the horizon. 

I’m feeling a bit like those field hands.  The thorny and wild work of my classroom needs pruning.  I’ve been delaying putting on my gloves; I haven’t been sure of where to focus my clippers.  But the time has come and I’m heading out into the brambles.

The last few days of trainings with David Matteson have helped me figure out where to start.  Yesterday was our monthly professional development session with our HeadStart partners.  We reviewed the work of the past month when we practiced using a rubric to score our student work, specifically the story elements that our children are putting in their drawings.  Do they have people?  Have they identified a setting?  Are there details that indicate emotion or an event?  Are any of them beginning to write below the line – if so, are they using their letter/sound knowledge?  We began to look at the oral language side of the rubric.  Are the students making one or two-word comments about their pictures or complete sentences?  Can they come back at a later time and repeat their stories?  Do their stories have beginnings and endings?

I have been doing this work now for a year while most of my HeadStart colleagues have only been exploring journal work since September.   Yesterday was the first time I felt the learning really take hold for everyone.  Personally, I got more out of my dialogue with the teachers sitting at my table then I did from David’s presentation.  Sharing my work helps me identify key understandings. 

My processing continued today as the K and preK teachers in our district met with David and focused on new directions we want to take in this work.  I came away with a tighter understanding of how to support individual students in their writing and how to document this work in their journals. 

Our journal work is my raspberry field.  I want to direct my interactions with my students in a way that energizes their thinking.   I’m entering a territory of tangled stories – determined to clip, tie and tame the wildness.  I’m thinkin’ hoops, baby, rows and rows of tidy hoops.


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