H3- Honor the classroom/school community as a milieu for learning.
To me, this program standard calls educators to show children by that they learn and grow through sharing their best work with one another, celebrating the unique talents and creativity each student possesses. One of the traditions our K/1 community has for learning and growing through community is Writer’s Publication Celebration. Recently we celebrated our second Publication Celebration where students shared their “how to” writings with one another. Shown here is a publication sample of a kindergartener’s steps for how to build a snowman. My mentor teacher taught mini-lessons, and we conferenced with our 15 students to help them to create a how-to piece that showcased a personal know-how. We differentiate instruction to allow our wide spectrum of writer’s to work within their zone of proximal development. We encourage students to practice and flow with their writing, rather than stressing technical skills. In this writer’s publication, the Kindergarten aged author demonstrates her best writing through writing a letter for all the sounds she hears in the words of her how-to, and with her impressive detailed drawings. This writer’s workshop sample is exemplary of the thought and care that each of our classroom community members puts into a publication piece. These young authors are highly motivated by the opportunity to share their work with peers. Fletcher and Portalupi (2001) state in Writing Workshop: The Essential Guide that teachers can honor children as writers by showing them that their classrooms are reflective of what they can do. When the children form a circle to honor one another’s writing they, as a community, celebrate how each author is an expert in some aspect of writing. My mentor and I meet the standard of honoring the classroom as a milieu for learning through facilitating this monthly author’s publication celebration. The students learn that recording and sharing their experiences with the end goal of sharing their precious writing is rewarding on a personal and a social level. Some of the many implications for the students’ growth as writers when they share their work with one another are: the students gather inspiration from one another for future writing in a setting that recognizes everyone’s talents; they practice the skill of mindful listening; and they begin to gain skills for public speaking. Overall, through facilitating the classroom tradition of publication celebrations, we nurture an equanimous and encouraging learning environment. In this circle, writers who can spell many words might see that a classmate is proficient in adding many colorful details to their pictures, and a writer who is just beginning to put letters for sounds on paper might be inspired by a classmate to add a few sight words to their next publication.
Above all, I think the most valuable component of young authors sharing their work is getting a practiced sense that their writing does real work in the real world. I have been inspired by this classroom tradition because I see after two Publication Celebrations that children tap into a deeper enjoyment of their experience as writers when their work is honored in community celebrations. Furthermore, these young authors cannot wait to get started on their next publication because this tradition has given them a sense that they are building their identities as writers within a supportive peer community. My mentor and I will increase the effectiveness of publication parties as motivation by emphasizing that each child has a particular strength in their writing that they can emulate to enrich their own publications.
Fletcher, R. and Portalupi, J. (2001). Writing Workshop: The Essential Guide. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.