This school year I am collaborating with Katie, a doctoral student. She and I team-teach three times a week. It's an interesting partnership. Both of us are navigating across unfamiliar terrain--we're working with a packaged writing "kit" in order for the students to improve their writing--and we're making modifications along the way so the students' work is as authentic as possible.
Our third graders got to the point this week (after writing several first drafts about several different story ideas) where they were ready to storyboard, write, revise and edit a story. Simple enough--my students do this every year.
This year, however, Katie suggested the students go from the storyboard to the story via their laptops.
You have got to be kidding me. What fresh not-heaven will this end up being? Their keyboarding skills will make them slower than molasses in January. This is ridiculous.
"Sure, Katie. That sounds like a great idea."
Bluck bluck bluck bluuuck. Okay, call me a chicken. So I shut my mouth and didn't express my doubts... so what? Perhaps it wouldn't be the total mess I thought it would be.
And as it happened, Katie had other work to do on Monday and Wednesday, so it was just me. I was tempted to email her and say, "I was thinking about it, and I believe the kids would make quicker progress if they write their stories down in their writing journals instead of hunting and pecking on keyboards. I hope you understand."
But I didn't. And I am so glad...
I will say for many of the students, the typing was slow-going. We worked on the stories for an hour or hour-and-a-half for three solid days. And although I'm well aware that the only way their keyboarding skills will get better is if they keyboard and keyboard and keyboard, I was more interested in their creative writing skills this week. The faster fingers could wait.
Yesterday one of my students shared a mind-blowing story that she had written. She used a simile, even though that's not a craft strategy we've studied. She included some great internal dialogue. And for god's sake, she wrote an author's note. (She initially titled it "Credits" but after I explained what an author's note is, she changed what she called it.)
At the end of the class, she asked, "I sure wish I could share my story sometime." Well, no time like the present. This usually-quiet kid proudly read her story to the rest of the class. Her classmates clapped for her. And when she was asked, "Was that a lot of hard work?" (Yes.) and "But aren't you proud of what you created?" (Yes. With a huge grin splitting her face in half.) it was such an exciting moment.
Another girl's revision was going so much easier than if she had used a pencil and paper, because all she had to do was press enter a couple of times... she could separate a paragraph into smaller paragraphs... so she could then flesh out the story with more details.
So today (or later this week) mix it up. Do something you do all the time--but do it differently. Be open to change.
(Don't be a chicken. Don't get stuck in a rut, And don't be a fool like Sioux.)