When you teach young primary students, it’s easy to argue that the children aren’t ready for what we expect of them. How can these young students understand success criteria and create anchor charts when they’re still learning to read and write? Are we demanding too much of them? I know that I’ve struggled with this before, and sometimes I try activities with them where I wonder if they’ll be successful. Today though, I was reminded that as teachers, we need to think that yes they [the students] can instead of no they [the students] can’t.
Recently, the Grade 1 and 2 students have started a new TLCP (Teaching Learning Critical Pathway). This week, we slowly started creating a wall of learning goals, big ideas, and success criteria. Yesterday, we worked together as a class to create an anchor chart for point of view. Today, I decided to try something that I’ve never tried before. I had my students work in partners to create the other anchor charts and even the writing checklist. As a class, we brainstormed some ideas orally for these anchor charts and the checklist, and then, I let the students take charge. I decided to believe that even though these children are still young, that they could do what I expected. For months, we’ve worked at creating these anchor charts and checklists as a class, and I was hopeful that with this modelling in place, the students would come through. And they did!
In their partner groups, they spoke about the different writing forms. They used writing samples (that they actually wrote earlier in the year) to highlight the components of each of the forms. They brainstormed resources that they could use as they gathered information for their writing. They even developed their own writing checklist, using the wording that they wanted and the examples that they wanted as well, to use during the proofreading process. The students owned this work, and now they truly see the value in this wall. They also realize that we can add to these anchor charts throughout our TLCP, making this wall a working document and a meaningful teaching and learning tool.
The class didn’t stop working at this point though. They then used examples from our pre-assessment to create our Grade 1 and Grade 2 Bump It Up Walls. Students discussed the different work samples, and came to a consensus on the levels, colour-coding the work accordingly. I decided to leave the stickered work on the Bump It Up Walls, as this work shows that the students understand the different levels and how the success criteria determines these levels as well.
My students may be young, but what they did was incredible! Now they can use these walls of work that they created to help them improve as writers. Today was a day to truly celebrate student achievement, but I don’t want to celebrate alone. What are some of your success stories? When have you said, “yes they can,” even when you’re worried that, “no they can’t?” What were the results? I’d love to hear about your experiences!