Sunday, September 28, 2014

Matt Glover

After a district inservice day, especially one with an excellent presenter, I always leave feeling a little overwhelmed and I wonder if I’ll ever be able to process and utilize what I learned in that short time period.  Our first inservice day in early September was no exception. 
Our guest, Matt Glover, an author and literacy consultant spent the day with our district K-3 teachers discussing ways to support and enrich children’s writing development.  At first, I was blown away at Matt’s student’s work samples:  kindergarteners writing multi-page picture books and using challenging, intriguing vocabulary words in their stories.  Then, I felt skeptical and questioned the idea of teachers spending so much time developing writing skills through the process of book writing.  I wondered why the focus on book writing when we’re not developing authors of childrens books. 
Matt Glover

Matt’s response to my question was simple:   most children have experiences with seeing and listening to picture books, so teaching children to view themselves as authors is an authentic, meaningful writing connection for young children.   
For the past month in my classroom, I have seen evidence of the effectiveness of this approach through student work samples and discussions.  During Matt’s presentation, he discussed instructional techniques that help children “read like a writer.”   One technique calls on teachers to identify particular writing skills while reading aloud from a “mentor text.”  For example, while reading aloud to my students, I focused on the author’s (or illustrator’s) skill of using facial expression to demonstrate feeling.  This child applied that skill to her book cover with a drawing of a character with a huge smile above the book title, “How I Love My Mom”.  
Another example – this student demonstrated her understanding of particular genres.  As she was writing in her book titled “Oceans,” she used a book from our classroom library to help create a realistic drawing of the ocean.

Matt Glover spoke about “nudging” writers along in their development and cautioned against “pushing.”   We watched authentic video clips that featured Matt’s patient, gentle instructional approach during writing conferences with young children.   
When I feel confident about my system for organizing and collecting student work samples, and my system for offering a variety of different book formats, I’ll share on this blog. I have an iphone filled with pictures of student work samples, and I’ll share those as I reflect upon the progress of the writers in my classroom.


 Have a wonderful week, all!

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