Volume as an Intervention Priority

You can revisit our #G2Great chat Wakelet artifact HERE

Guest Blogger Laura Robb

This week, your #G2Great co-moderators were grateful to take on a very important topic that should be a central component of our discussions around the intervention process in every school. Since our wonderful friend, Laura Robb suggested this topic but is also a long time expert on this discussion, we were delighted that she agreed to write the post that follows. When Laura sent me the final draft, I got chills that stayed with me throughout the day. That is the sign of a brilliant piece indeed. We are honored to spotlight Laura Robb’s powerful voice starting with this wonderful quote below.

 Volume in Reading: The Core Intervention for Developing Readers

To become readers children need to read books at school and teachers need to read aloud to their students every time class meets. These words might sound like obvious common sense to educators since we are a storying people, and we think in terms of stories, share our thoughts through stories, and stories enable us to learn and remember information, concepts, and ideas (Newkirk, 2014, Wells, 1986).  A sad truth is that many developing readers—students reading two or more years below grade level—rarely hear stories read aloud or read books they choose.  Reading books and listening to read alouds are usually not the core intervention for moving developing readers forward and improving their reading skill and identities. 

Instead, interventions for many developing readers consist of skills such as phonics practice, developing and improving phonemic awareness, pseudo or nonsense word reading, fluency practice using repeated readings of short passages, etc.  Such interventions are easily measureable and become the data by which many intervention programs measure success.  Though children in these programs can show progress with individual skills, they frequently continue to struggle with reading, recall, and comprehension. In addition to skill practice and a steady diet of decodable texts, offering developing readers outstanding books that are relevant to their lives can change the landscape of intervention.  Moreover, when these students increase their reading volume and listen to daily teacher read alouds, they can understand how:

  • skills fit into the reading of meaningful books;
  • a knowledge of word families supports decoding using analogous thinking;
  •  phonemic awareness supports decoding;
  • hearing fluent, expressive reading during teacher read alouds can improve their fluent reading and why;
  •  practicing fluent, expressive reading with self-selected books can increase their recall and comprehension.

When Data Collection Is King

An intervention program exclusively focused on the data collection of measureable skills not only excludes volume in reading of books, but also often fails to consider the whole child—the person behind the numbers. Numbers can be deceptive and can advance the illusion that children are improving because skill assessments show progress. However, there’s a disconnect that often occurs and raises this question: If children’s skills are solid and show progress, why can’t they read and comprehend texts at their independent or instructional reading level?  The answer is that practicing skills in isolation without students experiencing how these skills link to reading books can inhibit progress in reading with enjoyment and deep comprehension.  The solution is simple: put volume in reading at the center of intervention plans and offer students opportunities to apply skills they’re practicing to outstanding books they select.

 It doesn’t matter if your school has adopted a Response to Intervention (RTI) program or if you intervene using the original intent of RTI: that teachers use information they collect through observations and one-to-one interactions with students to tailor and target interventions to each student’s needs. What does matter is that the core intervention for students always is volume in reading and daily teacher read alouds.  

Research Studies Support Volume in Reading

The research of Anderson, Wilson, and Fielding (1988) tells the story about volume in reading. Their study found a correlation between the time students devote to daily reading and their reading proficiency and comprehension of texts.

In sum, the principal conclusion of this study is that the amount of

time a child spends reading books is related to the child’s reading level in the fifth grade and growth in reading proficiency from second to fifth grade. The case can be made that reading books is a cause, not merely a reflection, of reading proficiency. (page 302)

However, The National Reading Panel rejected the findings of the 1988 study on the grounds that it did not meet their scientific research standards. The good news is that in 2004 Dr. S. Jay Samuels and Dr. Yi-chen Wu completed a scientific study in response to the National Reading Panel and concluded that the more time students read, the higher their achievement compared to a control group.  Samuels’ and Wu ‘s scientific research corroborated the conclusions of Anderson, Wilson, and Fielding!

 Nancie Atwell also links daily reading to developing proficiency in reading books every day (2010). Volume in reading is an effective intervention for developing readers (Allington 1977, 2012; Allington & Gabriel, 2012; Allington and McGill-Franzen, 2021) and a predictor of learning success because students who read, read, read develop a strong personal reading life as well as meet words in different contexts and enlarge their vocabulary, meet and understand diverse literary genres, discuss books with peers, develop positive reading identities, and find pleasure in reading and learning. 

Even though the research on volume in reading is compelling, a survey done by Scholastic in 2017 and based on nearly 3,700 PreK-12 principals and teachers show that 94% of principals and teachers agree or strongly agree that students should choose books at school and read independently every day. Here’s the big disconnect: only 36% made time for daily independent reading. A startling statistic that most likely affects developing readers participating in RTI.  In addition to more time for students to read at school, it’s would be helpful to study how schools schedule intervention support for elementary and middle school students.

Scheduling RTI Matters

When my granddaughter was in the fifth grade, she complained many times to me about being pulled out of her core reading class to receive support services. Here’s a summary of her complaints: Everyone thinks I’m dumb. They all stare at me when I have to leave class. I always get pulled out when we have independent reading or work with a partner on a project. I hate getting pulled out. I never get to do the fun stuff.  Sometimes, we’re so intent on the interventions  that we don’t take the time to evaluate students’ feelings as well as look for alternate ways of scheduling extra help. When principles, other school leaders, and teachers collaborate to find alternatives to pulling students out of a core class, they can find the solutions that meet the needs of all students.

            My son, Evan Robb, principal of a Johnson Williams Middle School in Berryville, VA created an extra 25-minute class for intervention and independent reading of self-selected books. Students who required extra support received it during that time but also read books they chose; other students read self-selected books during that time and increased their volume in reading.

Robb discussed the need with faculty who agreed to give 5-minutes of their classes toward creating a separate class.  By pooling ideas and thinking out of the box, it’s possible for teachers and administrators to find creative solutions that allow children receiving extra services remain in their core class for independent and instructional reading. Moreover, research clearly shows that a skilled, core ELA teachers can meet the needs of most of their students.

The Core ELA Curriculum Supports Developing Readers

Responsive, skilled teachers adjust their core ELA curriculum so that it’s accessible to every student in their classrooms. Instruction includes whole-class and small-group lessons that meet the diversity of reading and writing levels among students. Instead of practicing isolated skills, all students, including developing readers, practice skills in the context of motivating, culturally relevant instructional reading texts and then have opportunities to apply what they’ve learned to independent reading of self-selected books. These teachers recognize that volume in reading matters for all learners!

Researchers and educators agree that high-quality, responsive teaching in core ELA classes can support about 80 percent of the student population, enabling them to show solid growth during the year (Howard, 2009; Owocki, 2010). Teachers can meet this high level of progress because they try to identify students’ strengths and needs early in the school year and assess students’ progress through kid watching, conferring, and frequent informal conversations (Owocki & Goodman, 2002). They also monitor students’ progress in fluency, recall of details, comprehension, making inferences, writing about reading, etc. in order to evaluate present interventions and adjust their plans so students continually improve. Responsive teachers’ intervention plans also include daily read alouds that introduce students to a variety of genres and develop a keen interest in stories. 

Consider Reading Aloud an Intervention

As responsive teachers build trusting relations with their students and start to know their students as learners and human beings, they recognize that daily read alouds are also interventions. When students listen to read alouds, they develop their imagination while picturing settings, characters, and events. They meet and hear a wide range of literary genres and begin to understand how each one works; they develop literary tastes and discover authors to explore; they tune their ears to literary language and words used in different contexts; they develop their listening capacity and experience pleasure in hearing stories and learning information from past, present and future worlds.  Read alouds form and enhance students’ literary foundation, developing students’ prior knowledge about how stories and informational books work—a prerequisite for intervening with volume in reading.

Ramp Up the Reading Volume for Developing Readers

When volume in reading is the core intervention for developing readers, they can experience the value and joy of reading, the excitement of learning new information and meeting new people, laughing, enjoying conversations about books with peers, as well as understand the connection between skill practice and reading wonderful books. As you read the list of “15 Benefits of Independent Reading,” reflect on the power of volume in reading as the core intervention for developing readers.

15 Benefits of Independent Reading

  1. Refines students’ understanding of applying strategies, for during independent reading, students have multiple opportunities to practice what they learn during instructional reading.
  2. Develops an understanding of how diverse genres work as readers figure out the likenesses and differences among realistic, historical, and science fiction, fantasy, mystery, thrillers, biography, memoir, informational texts, etc.
  3. Enlarges background knowledge and deepens readers’ understanding of people as they get to know different characters.
  4. Builds vocabulary as students meet and understand words in diverse contexts.  Independent reading, not vocabulary workbooks, is the best way to enlarge vocabulary because students meet words in the context of their reading.
  5. Teaches students how to self-select “good fit” books they can and want to read.
  6. Develops students’ agency and literary tastes. Choice builds agency and as students choose and dip into diverse genres and topics, they discover the types of books they enjoy.
  7.  Strengthens reading stamina, their ability to focus on reading for 20-minutes to one hour.
  8.  Improves silent reading. Through daily practice students develop their in-the-head reading voice and learn to read in meaningful phrases.
  9. Develops reading fluency because of the practice that voluminous reading offers.
  10. Supports recall of information learners need as they read long texts that ask them to hold details presented in early chapters in their memory so they can access these later in the book.
  11. Improves reading rate through the practice that volume provides.
  12. Develops students’ imagination as they visualize settings, what characters and people look like, conflicts, decisions, problems, interactions, etc.
  13. Fosters the enjoyment of visual literacy when students read picture books and graphic texts.
  14.  Creates empathy for others as students learn to step into the skin of characters and experience their lives.
  15. Transfers a passion for reading to students’ outside-of-school lives and develops the volume in reading students need to become proficient and advanced readers.

By increasing developing readers volume in reading, and that includes daily teacher read alouds, you can impact their desire to read which in turn improves their reading skill, offers them a wider range of book choices, and cultivates their reading identity.  As you amplify the message that volume in reading matters by making time for students to read books every day, you telegraph to developing readers that you value choice, volume in reading, and will provide support and encouragement as they embark on a journey of becoming joyful, lifelong readers.

References

Allington, Richard, L. (1977). “If They Don’t Read Much, Hope For Struggling Readers,” Voices from the Middle, 14(4): 7-14.

Allington, Richard L. (2012). What Really Matters for Struggling Readers: Designing Research-based Programs. Boston, MA: Pearson. 

Allington, Richard L. & Rachael E. Gabriel (2012. “Every Child, Every Day” Educational Leadership 69(6), 10-15.

Allington, R.L. and McGill-Frazen, A. M. (2021). Reading volume and reading      achievement: A review of recent research. Reading Research Quarterly. Newark, DE: ILA.e

Anderson, Richard C., Wilson, Paul T., and Linda G. Fielding. (1988). “Growth in Reading and How Children Spend Their Time Outside of School.” Reading Research Quarterly, 3(23), 2d85-303, Newark, DE: The International Reading Association.

Newkirk, T. (2014). Minds Made for Stories: How We Really Read and Writ Informational and Persuasive Texts, Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Howard, Mary (2009). RTI From All Sides: What Every Teacher Needs to Know. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Owocki, Gretchen (2010). The RTI Daily Planning Book, K-6.  Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Owocki, Gretchen and Yetta Goodman (2002). Kidwatching: Documenting Children’s Literacy Development. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Samuels, S. Jay, and Wu, Yi-chen. (2004). How the amount of time spent on independent

reading affects reading achievement: A response to the National Reading Panel

Retrieved from http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/summary?doi=10.1.1.539.9906

Scholastic. (2017). Teacher & Principal School Report: Focus on Literacy.

http://mediaroom.scholastic.com/press-release/new-research-reveals-teachers-value-independent-reading-time-only-36-can-set-aside-tim

Wells, Gordon (1986). The Meaning Makers: Children Learning Language and Using Language to Learn. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Additional References from Laura Robb

There’s an Elephant in Our Classroom by Laura Robb

Our #G2Great Blog post on Schools Full of Readers: Tools for Teachers, Coaches, and Leaders to Support Students by Laura Robb and Evan Robb.

#G2Great Educator Spotlight Everything’s A Remix with Paul W. Hankins

by Brent Gilson

For a record of the chat here is the wakelet.

I sat down to write this week’s post and thought about the many different ways I could go about this. The traditional weekly blog is often a recap and sharing of the ideas raised in the chat. We did an Educator Spotlight this past week and typically have them blog about the chat and their experience. As the topic of this week focused on the beautiful work of Paul W. Hankins and his thinking around the “Remix” I thought instead to remix this week’s blog. We don’t often get the opportunity to thank those who inspire us. So, I am going to take that opportunity.

Dear Paul W. Hankins,

I think back to the names of educators who have taught me and inspired me on this relatively short 12-year journey in teaching. I think of college professors, I think of authors and consultants, I think of classroom teachers. I think of you. I remember the first time I saw work from the magical Room 407, and I was in awe. It was a multi-genre project, and the one that sticks in my mind was something about the American Dream. The author had included articles of firefighters, I think… I was completely engrossed in the intricate beauty of the project. I remember asking about it. The extended kindness and the resources offered set me on a different path.

An Example of work from Room 407


I have followed the work of room 407; I have followed your beautiful journey creating with and alongside your students. I have been inspired to try the same. The trust you extend to students is something many talk about but few follow through with. I am grateful for the inspiration.

Example of Paul’s Creations


When Covid hit, and the landscape of education even temporarily began to change, I decided to embrace a lot of the ideas that I had been admiring from a distance. I asked myself, how do we create engaging classrooms when we are limited in close personal interaction? How do we build classrooms that promote inquiry at times only through a screen? These are the questions I grappled with and returned to the ideas you have always so selflessly shared with other teachers.

Another Example of Paul’s work


We embraced both multimodalities and multigenre work. Students embraced the quality over quantity mindset; we explored creation in the classroom. As a result, room 157 became a space that honors students and ideas first and foremost. This, in large part, was inspired by you.

Worked inspired by Jason Reynolds and Paul W. Hankins from Room 157
Worked inspired by Jason Reynolds and Paul W. Hankins from Room 157


Paul, I am eternally grateful for your example to me as a teacher exploring new thinking. I am thankful that through your example, I have become more confident in the knowledge that my students can create beautiful work when given the time to explore. Ultimately I am grateful for your friendship.

Work inspired by Jason Reynolds and Paul W. Hankins from Room 157
Worked inspired by Jason Reynolds and Paul W. Hankins from Room 157
Multimodal work from Room 157


As I looked through the chat, it became clear that more were inspired through, the brief glimpses into the work you do. So, I started this little letter reflecting on the impact of the teachers in my life. When I think about teachers enduring impact, I consider the lessons our students hold long after they have left us. The lessons you have shared and put out for our “consideration” have impacted students far beyond Room 407. Just take a look at all the work done in Room 157.

Thank you.

To close I think the words from the incredible Dr. Gholdy Muhammad beautifully describe the truth that comes from Room 407 and the students who work alongside Paul. I loved them so much I put them on the wall.

Dr. Gholdy Muhammad Quote

We are all grateful for the space you and your students create, Paul.

If you would like to read more about Paul’s work check out his blog and follow him on Twitter .

Blog: https://paulwhankins.edublogs.org/2022/02/07/everythings-a-remix-g2great-17-february-2022/

Twitter: @PaulWHankins

The Writer’s Mindset: 6 Stances that Promote Authentic Revision

You can revisit our Wakelet chat artifact here

By Guest writer, Travis Crowder

Years ago, while in college and trying to find my way as a writer, I sat at the desk in my dorm room and stared hopelessly at a draft of my senior thesis. With just two weeks to go before the end of the semester, I was frantically trying to re-write the thesis I had turned in several weeks before. If I didn’t finish this paper, I wouldn’t pass the class. And if I didn’t pass the class, I wouldn’t graduate. 

The margins were filled with the wide loops and flowing script of my professor’s gorgeous handwriting. In graphite, Dr. James had marked nearly everything that didn’t work in my essay. Organization, word choice, and inaccurate references were just a few of the problems she meticulously noted in the essay’s perimeter. More than anything, she implored me to re-read my paper and figure out what I was trying to say. I have no recollection of what I did to “revise” my thesis, but I typed and re-typed until I reached the last page. Then, I opened an email and re-submitted my work. Mercifully, Dr. James responded that the paper was acceptable, so I sent it to the literature department secretary, who promptly printed it, bound it in a portfolio and sent it to Dr. James’s office. It was finished. 

In the last class, each of us in the thesis seminar received a hard copy of our work with final comments and a grade. When Dr. James handed me my paper, I glanced at the first several pages, read the new comments she had inscribed in red ink, then pushed the bulky thesis into my backpack. I carried the essay back home at the end of the semester, eventually surrendering it to the trash. To this day, I do not know what my final grade was. 

When I think about revision—returning to writing and reimagining, rethinking—I flip the pages of my memory to that time in college so many years ago. I could spend paragraphs of this blog post bemoaning the lack of writing instruction and revision practices from my K-12 school years, but here’s the rub: my lack of preparation was not/is not atypical. Students enter college every year without adequate experience with authentic writing and revision practice. I know because I was one of them. 

I even hesitate to use the word practice as it connotes something not real. My point, however, is that each experience, each time we put pen to paper, is a form of practice. This blog post, while written for publication, is me practicing. It will stand among the other pieces I’ve written, supporting what I decide to write next. In public school and college, I wrote a lot. A lot. But I didn’t practice revision. I didn’t know how. My “revision” included a hyperfocus on grammar and word choice. Don’t get me wrong—grammar and diction have an important function. But this hyperfocus affected the quality of my writing. Unfortunately, the roots of this habit burrowed deeper, and I carried it into my teaching life.  

Chris Hall’s (2021) book, A Writer’s Mindset, is a text I wish I had had when I started teaching, but instead of lamenting what I didn’t have, I will carry his wisdom as I move forward. While my writing life has changed and my approaches to teaching writing are much stronger than they were, Chris’s book sits among some of the best books about writing instruction I’ve read. This book is a journey, a crescendo of hope, that explains and models how revision changes students’ writing and students’ self-perception as writers. Chris manages, with clarity and precision, to center students and joy in the act of revision. 

In his book, Chris identifies six stances: metacognition, flexible thinking, transfer, optimism, perspective-taking, and risk-taking. From his perspective, these stances, or mindsets, lift students’ ability to revise, taking their writing from where it is to where it could be. After reading his book and underlining gobs of sentences, dog-earing multiple pages (yes, I’m one of those readers), and sticky-noting intersections I want to take to my notebook and explore with writing, I agree. 

For example, take Chris’s chapter about optimism, the second stance he explores. Optimism in regard to writing isn’t, as he states, about cheerfulness or toxic positivity. Instead, it is about “having a clear-eyed acknowledgement of all the challenges revision poses—and then taking them on anyway because our draft is worth it” (Hall, 2021, p. 43). Writers keep working on a draft because something in it compels them. Writers return, day after day, to the same words, believing that there is something there worth getting on paper. It has value, either for the writer or the world or both. 

Chris’s chapter about transfer helped me understand better how to tap into the skills writers carry with them. As mentioned earlier, everything we write stands behind us when we pick up a pen or open our computers to write. Writers hold skills, sometimes forgotten ones, that just need a little nudging. Chris states that revision lessons are important, but transfer can happen when we enter a state of reflection. “In doing so [reflecting], we call forth a trove of mental resources—whether we’re drawing from minilessons we’ve been taught, books from favorite authors, techniques noticed in our peers’ writing, or self discoveries from our own previous pieces” (Hall, 2021, p. 136). Implied here is the criticality of time and space—to reflect, to think, to notice, to make connections. To challenge the current iteration of a piece of writing. To revise. 

A last stance I’ll share is Chris’s chapter about risk-taking. Trying a new genre, writing about a personal experience, and letting go of paragraphs and sentences we’ve worked hard to craft are several risks all writers take. Whether it’s a leap to essay after composing nothing but fiction, writing into a traumatic experience, or cutting a gorgeous paragraph that contains poetic language that would make any writer seethe with envy, risk-taking supports a writer’s growth. Part of revision, as Chris states, is imagining a piece of writing as something different. Could this be something else? Would another structure or genre tell this story or convey this idea better? What we create is personal because for most of us, what we write comes from deep inside. However, Chris’s humanity radiates in this chapter. He reminds us that risk-taking is about growth, about taking a chance, about possibility. It isn’t a requirement, but risk-taking is a plunge into the unknown that more times than strengthens the piece of writing as well as the writer. 

These three stances are the ones that continue to resonate even now. I’ve read and re-read chapters and sections, lingering in Chris’s words and knowing that the writers I work alongside will grow because of his incisive thinking. 

I consider the homily I began this blog post with. While that experience continues to be embarrassing and frustrating, it is part of my journey as a writer. Could I have been more optimistic with my senior thesis? Absolutely. Could I have spent more time wrestling with paragraphs and ideas and writing to discover what I really wanted to say? Of course. But since I promised that I would not lament the past, here’s what I’m doing: I’m writing about it. I’m taking a risk. I’m remembering that we all carry stories inside us that shape who we are and make us beautifully human. And sometimes these stories need to come up for air. So we allow them to surface in the form of words. I’m not sure if any of this crossed Chris’s mind as he wrote, but he reminded me of the power of writing and what it means to take risks. I’m sure he’ll remind you, too. 

But he reminded me of something else, too. 

At the heart of our classrooms are our students. We ask a lot of them, especially when it comes to writing. I know I do. A writer’s workshop is a challenging place to sit—for kids and adults. For many, writing is a daunting task. But taking on a revision mindset gives us tools and strategies to break through roadblocks and fears. And to believe that we have something to say. 

At the end of his book, Chris offers an invitation. It isn’t an invitation to adopt his book as a programmatic approach or a plea to implement everything he discusses. It is an invitation of inquiry: What do students need to grow their writing, their beliefs about writing, and how they perceive themselves as writers? By inquiring, we start a journey. And this journey engages us in thinking about our students and what they need to become stronger, more capable, more confident writers. They may enter institutions of higher learning, and if they do, they’ll need something to hold onto as they navigate college-level writing requirements. But beyond that, and more importantly, revision will sharpen their ability to communicate, to convey ideas and stories—either real or imagined—and to discover what they want to say and how they want to say it. 

As we consider the students we work with and the rigorous yet beautiful world of writing and revision, I hope we remember its power. Right now, there are places where revision isn’t popular. Many teachers are expected to submit a year’s worth of lesson plans in the name of transparency. Yet all good teachers know that revision is critical. It’s critical in what we teach and model

But revision is not just for writing or working with students. 

It’s for all of us

Revision challenges what is and encourages us to imagine possibility. I urge you to pick up your notebook or open a fresh document and write. I encourage you to wrestle with that piece of writing, to search for what you want to say, and find the courage to share your writing with your students. To identify the spaces in your teaching life where revision mindsets can set stagnation ablaze and illuminate all that is possible. It is here, as Chris says, that we revise our teaching, our writing, ourselves. 

So, let’s start this journey together. 

Let’s dance in the light of hope, joy, and possibility. 

Our teaching will change, our writing will grow. 

But above all else, we will, too. 

Closing thought from #G2Great

We experience pure elation when we have the opportunity to read and share a book that inspires each of us and Chris Hall has definitely done that. Add to that the beautiful reflections that gifted writer Travis Crowder has so generously shared with us and you have a magical merger of inspiration. Thank you to Chris and Travis for sharing your gifts and passion for revision with our #G2great family

We will close with Chris Hall’s reflections. We asked him three questions to give us more insight on A Writer’s Mindset from his perspective.

What motivated you to write this book? What impact did you hope that it would have in the professional world?

Like most ELA teachers I know, I would groan when I heard my students say, “I like it the way it is,” about a draft of writing. I wanted to get to the heart of that revision resistance and figure out how to help students move past it, so I made it the focus of an action-research project. My language arts classes became a learning laboratory, where we tried—and continue to try—different approaches to create a culture of revision.

I hope teachers reading The Writer’s Mindset will find ways to make revision more authentic, engaging, meaningful, and joyful for their students. I hope the book helps educators see their writing instruction with fresh eyes—that it inspires them weave the stances of a writer’s mindset (metacognition, optimism, perspective-taking, flexible thinking, transfer, and risk-taking) into their existing workshop structures. Instead of just teaching revision as a series of craft moves or items on a checklist, I hope the book prompts educators to see how important mindset is for our student-writers—and how transformative it can be once we’ve started cultivating it.

Researching and creating The Writer’s Mindset sparked some subtle but seismic shifts in my teaching practice. I hope it does the same for educators reading it.

What are your BIG takeaways from your book that you hope teachers will embrace in their teaching practice?

Contrary to those ubiquitous writing process flowcharts, revision isn’t just a single step in the writing process. It’s not a stage after “drafting” and before “editing.” Revision is an awareness that’s present in every part of writing. When I observe my students at their best and most engaged—and when I consider my own experience as a writer—it’s clear that revision is happening throughout the writing process, not just after the end of the first draft. Writers stop periodically to review and re-read their words, making small and big adjustments along the way. They pause occasionally to notice what’s working and what feels off. They’re aware of the moves they’re making as they’re writing (their decisions) —and why they’re trying these (their intentions).

For this reason, it’s important to not wait until a draft is over to revise—we need to ask students to periodically reflect and revise during drafting, before their ideas start ossifying. We need to show them ways to be in a “process present”—to do quick metacognitive bursts throughout the life of a draft, not lengthy “process histories” after it’s over.

Another big takeaway is the importance of modeling our own writing process with our students. Each paragraph they write contains dozens of decisions, but our students aren’t always cognizant of them. Ask them, “What’s going well with your piece?” or “How’s it going with your draft?” and we often get a shrug. By sharing our own think-alouds with our drafts—our own messy, uncertain, unpolished drafts—we can take our internal writing voice and make it heard for our students. We can take all our unseen revision moves and make them visible. This helps students start to notice and name their own emerging revisions.

What is a message from the heart you would like for every teacher to keep in mind?

For our students—for all writers—even a little revision can feel like a lot.

As writing teachers, we want our students to embrace revision with zeal, but perhaps it’s enough that they appreciate it—that they feel, in the words of my student Molly, that “revision means hard work, but it’s worth it.” There are times we want our young writers to overhaul their drafts, but maybe it’s enough that they make a few modest but consequential changes.

Revision doesn’t have to be radical.

The same is true for you as an educator reading The Writer’s Mindset. All the stances and practices in the book aren’t intended as a recipe to follow or an outline to revamp your entire language arts program. Instead, it’s a smorgasbord to sample from and an invitation to shake a few things up.

Above and Beyond the Writing Workshop

By Fran McVeigh

Wakelet link for entire chat archive

When the stars are perfectly aligned, nature often has a message for us. Thursday, February 3, 2022, the #G2Great chat was graced with an author who has also been a teacher, principal, superintendent and staff developer. Her books include:  Going PublicLasting ImpressionsLifetime GuaranteesWriting through Childhood, Novel PerspectivesMessages to Ground ZeroLook Who’s Learning to Read, and her most recent Above and Beyond the Writing Workshop which we were discussing. Shelley Harwayne’s depth of knowledge is vast. Her understanding of reading, writing AND students is equally vast.

With so much information in the book, in the chat and in the questions we ask our authors, I have decided to begin with Shelley’s motivations in order to understand the end goal.

What motivated you to write this book? What impact did you hope that it would have in the professional world?

I was concerned that some of the hallmarks of the writing workshop had gotten lost amid overwhelming curriculum mandates. I hoped to remind teachers about the joy of exploring new ideas. I hoped to re-energize the writing workshop for students and teachers alike.

My biggest goal was to inspire teachers to create their own meaningful, joyful, and accessible writing challenges for their students and to do so in the company of their colleagues.

Shelley Harwayne, email, 1/26/2022

Joy.

Joyful.

Exploring.

Create.

These words caused me to reread this response again. So much wisdom and so many hopes and dreams for the writing workshop to achieve! And what about the “hallmarks of writing workshop”?

The quote below was shared before the chat began. Read through it and think of the students in front of you. Is this a description of your students? Yes/No? And then is it a description of engagement or compliance?

PreTweet for Twitter Chat

Does that sound like your students? Are they curious? Do they wonder? Do they share with others? Last week in #TCRWP Supper Club, Tyrone Howard shared that our students come to us in kindergarten as question marks and exclamation points, and yet they leave elementary schools as periods. That curiosity and excitement has died out. Or has it been worn out day after day and year after year?

Stop.

Think about some kids you know. Are they still curious?

Think about some teachers you know. Are they still curious?

And are they joyful?

Let’s move onto the second question we ask authors: “What do you want to stick with readers?” Let’s see what Shelley hopes for!

What are your BIG takeaways from your book that you hope teachers will embrace in their teaching practices?

I hope teachers will participate in all the writing tasks that they ask their students to accomplish.

I hope teachers will find ways to keep up with children’s literature and share that responsibility with their colleagues.

I hope that teachers will recognize that there are many benefits to introducing shorter genres. 

I hope teachers, (and their administrators), realize that there are many ways to achieve curriculum goals. 

Shelley Harwayne, email, 1/26/2022

So let’s dig into those hopes that Shelley has shared by looking at tweets from Shelley and #g2great chat participants.

Teachers will participate in all the writing tasks that they ask their students to accomplish.

Opening Twitter Chat Quote

TIP: Writing and also reading like a writer is important. Check out Jill’s wisdom, (ShelfieTalk), in these two tweets. I can’t wait to try this tomorrow when I’m reading.

Teachers will find ways to keep up with children’s literature and share that responsibility with their colleagues.

Teachers will recognize that there are many benefits to introducing shorter genres.

Twitter Chat Closing Quote

CHALLENGE APPLICATION:

Teachers, (and their administrators), realize that there are many ways to achieve curriculum goals.

Where do you see these four “take aways” in your school or life? Which ones are essential? Which ones are you going to work on? How will you continue to work on matching what you need and want in your school environment for your students with the hallmarks of writing workshop? It doesn’t have to be a perfect match. How closely are those hopes aligned? How can you increase that alignment?

To emphasize those hopes, here is the final author question Shelley was asked about a message from the heart for every teacher.

What is a message from the heart you would like for every teacher to keep in mind?

Long to be surprised. Create the kind of writing workshop in which you are surprised by students’ topics, their areas of expertise, their questions about the world, and the words they use to share their ideas and information.  Long to learn, as deeply as you long to teach.

Shelley Harwayne, email, 1/26/2022

In closing . . .

What was the message from nature that I alluded to in my opening paragraph? That perfect alignment? Expertise, Skill, Passion, Surprise and Joy are needed by teachers and students alike in writing and in life. Both groups must remain curious and adventurous. Both groups must continue to read, write, talk, and think with other groups of people. Both groups must continue to be surprised by life around them. Joyful learning does NOT occur in a black hole. It requires a collaborative willingness. Joy; where will YOU find it? Joy; where will YOUR STUDENTS find it?

Additional Resources:

Melanie Meehan’s TWT Blog about Above and Beyond the Writing WorkshopLink

Study Guide for Above and Beyond the Writing WorkshopLink

Online Resources for Above and Beyond the Writing WorkshopLink