Ah Writing Workshop. As we move closer to the end of the school year, we are beginning to ramp up our writing. Most sprouts are flourishing, but there are always a few who resist… they scribble, crumple, rip, and stare… but they don’t really write. We redirect, guide, and try, often without success, to steer them back on track… we also praise those authors who put their nose to the grind.

Today I stopped to read Nicole’s paper. Nicole has struggled academically all year. She has made amazing gains, but still has a long way to go. She had written a lovely story and all the beginning and ending sounds were there along with many other sounds. She had spaces, punctuation, and neat handwriting. She was trying… really trying.

Nicole is a quiet girl. She doesn’t make a fuss over herself and almost never asks for attention. I spent a few minutes reading her story and telling her how wonderful it was. She didn’t say anything, but just smiled.

“What will your next sentence say,” I asked her.

“I put a sun in the sky,” she whispered. She was writing about a picture she made at home.

“Awesome. You get started and I’ll be back in a few minutes to see how you’re doing,” I instructed as I walked away.

This guidance and moving away technique is one I read about somewhere that I find quite useful. I give a simple instruction and let the sprout know I’ll be back to check in and then walk away. It almost always works. I had no doubt it would work with Nicole… she was working independently before I arrived.

I walked away to deal with a few boys who were not writing. I was feeling rather stressed and deflated after trying, unsuccessfully, to guide them back to working. Our Workshop time was over and I was went to ring the bells to signal cleaning up. As I glided by Nicole’s table I looked down and saw, ‘I pt a su’ on her paper. She had done exactly what I’d asked. I waited for her to write her ‘n’ and finish ‘sun’ and then rang the bell.

Instead of giving the directive to clean up, I complemented Nicole on her writing and work ethic in front of the class. Never one to seek the spotlight, she beamed as I told the entire group how hard she had worked on her story. Nothing makes me feel as good as a child who truly tries. Nicole gave her best effort and she made my day.

She gave me a little picture at bus time too. It was the first gift she’s given me all year. That kid made my day today.