There were a couple of reasons to be nervous this week. The first was that I had an unexpected absence--not normally a big deal, but it felt like bad timing when the class just seemed to be establishing a productive rhythm. The good news about my absence was that it came on Tuesday, after a Monday on which I had to ask the colearners to be prepared to be flexible over the next couple of days. Still, as I sent in my sub plans, I held my breath a little after writing:
This class is student-directed by design; they should know what they need to do.
What they needed to do was conduct a writing workshop (a departure from our typical Tuesday, since Wednesday required us to be in an assembly) on narrative drafts scheduled to be finalized by Friday. They’d conducted a workshop exactly once before, and then when at least half of them were still planning or early drafting stages. This was the first major writing project, and I wanted to be there to facilitate the workshop.
But this class is predicated on my giving up control. What better way to do that then to leave the critical workshop fully in the students’ hands? The sub left no notes, but the colearners reported--sounding slightly surprised themselves--that they “were actually really productive.”
I saw evidence of the same on Thursday, as the colearners put finishing touches on their writing and asked for additional feedback.
“Did you mean to put this in quotation marks?”
“You might want to start a new paragraph here.”
“Dude! Read the whole thing before you tell me about that stuff.”
“What if she said this instead?”
It looked and sounded a lot like colearning.
On Friday, everyone but the two who were absent deposited planning pages, edited drafts, final narratives, and peer- and self-evaluation sheets into their portfolios. One complete writing cycle down, seven to go.
And a new cycle has to begin tomorrow. Everyone has books to read, and I need to give them some parameters for creating book reviews. What’s more, in all the collaborating, few of them got through all the grammar diagnostics in the first few weeks, so I’m lacking data. We have some troubleshooting to do on that front.