Slice of Life 12: Writing Territories

March 12, 2009

Slice of Life Challenge Hosted by Two Writing Teachers

Today I heard Carl Anderson speak on conferring with writers.  I always enjoy seeing him again, as he has been a mentor to me since I’ve become a literacy coach.  Carl spoke about writers having writing territories, topics that they return to and write a lot about.  We often have children who like to write about the same topic, and that’s okay.

The discussion sparked a memory I had of a retired first grade teacher, Mrs. L.  She was trained and began implementing writer’s workshop three years prior to her retirement.  Mrs. L said that she was ending her teaching career on a high note.

She had a particular red-headed first grade boy who loved to write about his swimming pool.  Day after day, Phil wrote about activities he did surrounding his pool.  Even if he tried another topic, he somehow would tag in a page about his pool.

Finally one day in February, Mrs. L conferenced with him.  Phil began to share his idea and then stated something about his pool, a tag on.  Mrs. L looked at Phil and said, “Phil, I’m sorry to say that it is February and the pool is closed!”

I laugh thinking about her way of trying to have the little first grader try something other than “the pool”.  I believe Phil felt comfortable with his topic and was having trouble releasing it.  Phil did write more pool stories that year, but he did learn how to move on and try some new ideas in a risk-taking safe environment.  I’m glad Mrs. L was there to confer with him.  Otherwise, Phil might still be swimming in the pool.