As we have continued with our school-wide focus on reading and writing, we have learned a few things. First, we have learned that although we are focused on reading and writing complex grade level text as an entire school, it is not going to make a difference to the students if they don’t do the majority of the work. As teachers and administrators, we had to admit that we are addicted to scaffolding, sentence frames and modeling. It is a sickness that is hard to kick! But, these supports are creating generations of students that are waiting to be prompted on what to do next. These supports are not allowing students to use those big beautiful brains that they were born to grow and expand. These supports are producing students that used our brains instead of theirs. YIKES!
So, for the second project of this year, we have decided to do two things. One: we decided to give the students the information, discuss it briefly on the broadcast, and then let them do the assignment on their own. Two: as an entire school we committed to really letting the students do their own work, so we could give a true evaluation of their thinking work. Yes, one and two sound the same but the emphasis is so important– we had to say it twice. By approaching the second project of the year in this way, as a school, we could truly look at the information and then decide with the raw data what to really focus on in the area of reading and writing. Then we can reflect on their reading and writing projects with open eyes and truly evaluate their skills and abilities– if they really were allowed to complete this work on their own. Additionally in a school-wide effort, we can make a judgment regarding if we see an improvement in the area of reading and writing with our students after focusing on this focus for the past two years? The fact remains that we can not judge the worth of this project or the true benefits of the work until we allow the students to complete it on their own without our help. Not even one little suggestion of a transition word or hook sentence.
This might sound simple but it was not. No one likes to see their students struggle. People love to model and scaffold, it is what teachers do –like breathing or eating. But, we did it and what we noticed is that the students could do the work on their own too. It was not the end of the world and they liked the challenge.